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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Council starts search for new planning director


Last updated 11/23/2020 at 7:02am | View PDF

The City Council appointed three new members to the Planning Commission for a term beginning in January and also began its search for a new planning director.

There was a pool of eight candidates that submitted interest in the positions, with the three top receiving the seats. Peter Franz, John Sanchez and Gus Olvera were chosen to serve a term. The positions are four-year terms with a stipend of $50 monthly, with meetings being held the second Tuesday of each month.

The council opted to use a yes or no vote system to determine the top three candidates, with each council member picking their top three candidates to serve on the commission. No tie-breaker was needed as Peter Franz and John Sanchez were selected by four of the five council members. Mayor Gilbert Alvarado selected James Harmer, Gus Olvera, and John Sanchez. Mayor Pro-Tem Cesar Lopez opted for Franz, Olvera and Sanchez. Council member Cathy Prout chose Franz, Kirk Mouser and Christine Wilson. Chad Givens selected Franz, Sanchez and David Piuser. That gave Franz and Sanchez four votes, and Olvera the third spot with three votes.

In the meeting, there was also an item on the agenda asking the council to approve a one-time budget amendment in the amount of $100,000 to hire a new planning director. The current director, Wayne Clausen, will be retiring in May 2021 after over 20 years of service.

City Manager Gabriel Gonzales said that Clausen has such extensive knowledge of the city and its needs and operations, that it would be beneficial to hire a new director now and have that person shadow Clausen for the remaining few months of his contract to take in a lot of this knowledge.

“Most agencies wait until the current person retires, then start the recruitment process, hire an interim, and the process takes a few months and the person is learning on the job. This way, we could have the person in place and knowing the job and its intricacies by the time Mr. Clausen leaves,” Gonzales said.

Councilor Prout had a question of the amount of the budget amendment, thinking that it seemed high. Gonzales answered that the number is within the pay schedule for the position and it also includes base salary, and benefits that come with the position.

Prout also said the council should start the process of hiring a building inspector for the city as well, citing the number of projects ongoing in Shafter.

Gonzales said that this would have to be added to a future agenda. The agenda item was voted on and passed by a 4-1 vote, with Prout being the No vote.

The council also authorized the beginning of gathering community input regarding the street parking policies in the city.

Concerns have been heard, especially in the area of East Ash near the Modified Correctional Facility and parts of Beech Avenue, which have seen issues with traffic flow problems brought on by semi trucks being parked along the route.

The council decided that a number of workshops will be held to gather community input on the subject and the solutions that may be reached to handle the parking situation. Councilor Lopez said that being a former truck driver himself, he knows the importance of having a place to park safely and legally. Council member Garcia also commented that he had been asked about the parking situation. Gonzales will now work with the Public Works Department and will report back to the council in early 2021 with information from the workshops that will be held.


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