City projects see progress with Dinuba council approvals

Dinuba City Council takes action on zoning code updates, service fee increases and waste hauler contracts

The Dinuba City Council listens to city staff members during the regular council meeting at Dinuba City Hall Feb. 13, 2024. (Serena Bettis)
The Dinuba City Council listens to city staff members during the regular council meeting at Dinuba City Hall Feb. 13, 2024. (Serena Bettis)
Serena Bettis
Published April 12, 2024  • 
10:00 am

DINUBA – Ongoing projects and discussions within the city of Dinuba are coming into focus as the city council takes action on smaller items that will lead to bigger-picture results.

At its April 9 meeting, the Dinuba City Council passed multiple items — all through 4-0 votes — to support the city’s efforts to update its zoning code, waste hauler contract and general service fees; Councilmember Linda Launer was absent. The council will revisit the zoning code update and waste hauler contract at future meetings, but city staff said looking at pieces of them now will help later on.

The council first approved a zoning ordinance amendment that added two new chapters to the city’s zoning code, which is undergoing a complete rewrite and update, City Planner Karl Schoettler said. 

The zoning code explains what types of activities, or uses, are allowed on specific land parcels based on the zoning designation assigned to that parcel, such as residential or commercial. It also explains what kinds of land uses are allowed by-right — meaning a resident can do something without seeking city permission — in each zone and what uses require special permits and applications.

Schoettler said the overhaul to the zoning code is being done for two reasons: the city needs to incorporate new state-mandated housing standards into its zoning code and it wants to rewrite and reformat the zoning code to make it easier for developers, the general public and city staff to use and read.

The new chapters presented at the council meeting are just two of 31 chapters yet to come to the council. One of the chapters, covering permitted uses in commercial zones, was edited to remove limitations that were “more bureaucratic” than needed. The other chapter combined various special uses that had previously been “floating over the zoning code with no rhyme or reason,” Schoettler said.

Schoettler said he would likely bring the rest of the updated chapters to the council at one time and the council may hold a work session on the updated zoning code before voting on it as well.

The council next approved an updated fee schedule, which lists out the fees charged for various services available to the public and require the attention and assistance of city staff, such as park rentals, participation in recreational sports and permit and application processing for development.

Administrative Services Director Karina Solis said that fees were adjusted based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a metric that reflects annual inflation of certain consumer goods, which for 2023 was 3.4%. 

Solis said that the city has reviewed and adjusted fees on an annual basis since the adoption of the comprehensive User Fee Study, which was conducted with help from Willdan Financial Services. The fees approved by the council will be for the next fiscal year and will go into effect on July 1. The annual fee schedule is posted to the city website.

Councilmember Kuldip Thusu said the fee increases reflect how the cost of doing business is not cheap, but these were very marginal increases. 

“I’m not too sure if this even suffices what the cost is truly reflective of,” Thusu said. 

Solis said that the city does not recover 100% of the costs associated with some of its services but is mindful to not make fees too burdensome for residents. 

Continuing with its approvals, the council also agreed with a recommendation from Public Works Director George Avila to enter into a contract with City Green Consulting to receive guidance in preparing the city’s Request for Proposal (RFP) for waste hauler contractors. 

City staff first brought up their wish to open up the bidding process for waste hauler contractors in January because of the slew of new garbage and organics disposal mandates coming down from the state. Not only that, there was the fact that the contract has not been competitively bid on since 1981. The city opted to start amending and renewing its contract with Peña’s Disposal instead, but would like to do its due diligence.

The contract with the consulting firm is for $32,500 and the firm will work with the city to draft a new waste franchise agreement. 

Avila said that staff performed an informal bidding process to find the consultant and received quotes from two out of the five firms they contacted. City Green Consulting’s service quote was significantly less than that of R3 Consulting Group, which provided a quote of $90,000. They then conducted interviews, and Avila said that while both firms were experienced, “it came down to price.” 

Additionally, Avila noted the consultant the city will be working with also recently worked with both Reedley and Selma on their procurement of new trash haulers, making him “familiar with our local area and the unique challenges we face with contracts such as this one.” 

Council members confirmed that the RFP will include the scope of services that they requested during previous discussions on the topic and that they will continue to be involved in the process. 

“I hope this company will dive deep into the nitty gritty of what we’re asking for, and we’ll make an evidence based, logical decision here,” Thusu said. 

The council will have the chance to review the RFP, most likely in May, before it is issued, Avila said. 

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter