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New council member sworn in, commissioner chosen

Tehachapi City Council Update

Before any other business was transacted at the Jan. 7 City Council meeting, new council member Joan Pogon-Cord was sworn in by City Clerk Tori Marsh. Pogon-Cord had been out of town at the time of the Dec. 17, 2018 meeting. That done, Councilman Kenneth Hetge nominated Mayor Pro Tem Susan Wiggins to be the next mayor. She was unanimously elected. Councilman Mike Davies nominated Phil Smith as mayor pro tem and he also was unanimously elected.

Kim Nixon was appointed to complete the Planning Commission which had been operating on just four members since June 30, 2018 when the terms expired for two of their members and the City Council was unable to appoint a fifth member.

The Council unanimously adopted an urgency ordinance presented by Assistant to the City Manager Corey Costelloe that would allow the City to maintain control over the possible building of facilities for 5G networks. On Sept. 5, 2018 the FCC issued a ruling eliminating regulatory impediments that might delay and add costs to bringing these advanced wireless services to the public. Costelloe said that these new facilities are smaller and look different from the 3G and 4G cell towers. The new unsightly antennas are about the size of a backpack, have a range of about 300 to 500-feet and may be attached to existing power poles and street lights throughout neighborhoods. The City of Tehachapi and other Kern municipalities have consulted legal experts to determine what to do and how to deal with such concerns as public safety, right-of-way access, noise levels and zoning standards. The new Federal provisions took effect on Jan. 14 and local municipalities needed to have regulations in place prior to the receipt of any permit request so as not to violate the provisions of the federal order.

A parcel map for the future development of Red Apple Pavilion was also approved by the Council on the recommendation of the Planning Commission who had approved the map, EIR and architectural design of the project at their Dec. 10, 2018 meeting. In response to questions posed by Councilman Hetge, Developmental Services Director Jay Schlosser reminded the entire Council that they were not voting to approve the project which has been in the planning stages for many years; they were voting to approve the parcel map as some of the prospective tenants like Panda Express and Carl's Jr. require ownership of the land on which they intend to build.

City Manager Greg Garrett reported how proud he was that the City of Tehachapi has had zero time lost due to incidents for the years 2016 and 2017. This was a first. The City has also received two awards from the Kern Council of Governments. The first was a Regional Award of Merit for Journalism to Community Engagement Specialist Key Budge for his community video series educating the community on public projects. The second was the Richard A. Maxwell Regional Award of Merit for Public Safety awarded to the Tehachapi Police Department for innovative thinking in police investigations. As the department cannot afford detectives, each officer is empowered to conduct their own investigations.

Garrett also congratulated City employees Andrew Norton, Trevor Hawkes, Jason Wyatt and Corey Costelloe for completing new job related certifications in 2018.