Monday night’s Escalon City Council meeting had only a couple of scheduled items on the agenda – with the bulk of the discussions coming regarding a non-agendized item: local business.
Councilman Ed Alves and Mayor Jeff Laugero brought the discussion to the forefront, noting their support for the city taking a look at some longstanding city codes and ordinances that may actually hinder new businesses coming into the community.
Alves said the city should be more in tune with bringing businesses to the city; he said many of the existing codes appear to be too limiting for the business owners.
“We need, somehow, to find a way that’s more palatable,” he said of businesses locating here. “We need to become more proactive in bringing businesses; I don’t want negativity in our business community.”
One specific incident, he said, concerned a restaurant that has a fire code limit of 30 people but a section in city code allowed for only 10 seats. It’s that kind of confusion that Alves said needs to be alleviated, even if it means a thorough review of the existing codes and reworking some of them to fit the 2017 business climate.
“I can’t agree with Ed more,” said councilman Robert Swift. “I think we are trying to move in the right direction. The attitude needs to be ‘what can we do to make business happen?’.”
Laugero said as the economy improves, city officials are seeing more of an interest from prospective businesses, and the community needs to be ready.
“We really need to take a look at the codes on the books,” he said, adding that in most cases, the council has been ‘reactive’ in helping to alleviate some business concerns, dealing with issues as they arise. But the proactive approach is preferred, he added.
“As we go through this process, if we see an ordinance that needs to be revised, we need to work with those businesses.”
Council members also indicated a council-planning commission joint session might be in order to review ordinances and determine which ones need to be revised.
“Our ordinances should be driven by public safety and health,” Alves said.
“We want to capture the dollars that pass through this community without changing the flavor of this community,” added Laugero, noting especially the chance to capitalize on Highway 120 corridor traffic.
Meanwhile, the council was also updated by Police Chief Mike Borges about arrests made in connection with a stolen vehicle case on Sunday (See story and photos, Page A5) and the receipt of a donated vehicle, received from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, for use by the police department’s Senior Volunteers.