Civic Auditorium

The Hanford City Council meets inside the Hanford Civic Auditorium.

Sentinel file photo

HANFORD — Hanford City Council met Tuesday night adopted an ordinance that will allow the police to impound any bike not secured in the designated bicycle parking racks at Civic Center Park.

Hanford Police Chief Parker Sever said he has received several complaints about bikes strewn about the park and that they are “getting to be an ongoing issue.”

Sever said people have been tethering their bikes all over the park onto things like poles, traffic signs or signals, trash cans, benches, handrails and especially the fence around the Bastille.

“[This ordinance] does not stop people from riding through the park or traversing through the park,” Sever said. “What we’re saying is, once you stop, put the bikes where they belong in a bike rack. Let’s keep our parks looking neat and clean like they should be.”

Along with bikes tethered in inappropriate places, Sever said some people are repairing bikes in the middle of the park and leaving behind trash or other items. He said the left behind material is causing a hazard when the park lawn needs to be mowed.

One issue that popped-up was a lack of bicycle racks at Civic Center Park; there are only a few parking racks at the park.

Sever said the departments currently has in stock several brand new bike racks that were purchased and never used. He said they can be installed if the city feels more need to be at the park.

There was a general consensus from council that more bike racks be put in at the park because the city encourages residents to ride their bikes, and so there should be more proper places to park them. 

The ordinance states any bike that is discovered to be in violation would be impounded by the city and held at the police department, incurring a daily storage fee. Any person who violates the ordinance would have to pay a fine for each violation.

Sever said any impounded bike that is not claimed by its owner will be donated to charity.

The ordinance was unanimously approved by council.

Police Department building remodel

Council also discussed Tuesday a building remodel project for the Hanford Police Department building.

The remodel will provide redesigned work space specifically for their investigations division, problem-oriented policing and administration of those divisions. The project is intended to provide twice as much functional work space than exists in the department’s current building.

The bid for the work was awarded to Carvalho Construction Inc. of Lemoore, which had the lowest bid at $999,500. The police department has around $837,000 for this project, so the city needed to agree to loan the department an additional $262,000.

The loan for the building remodel was unanimously approved by council and will be paid back by the police department after the department collects impact fees.

Once started, the project should be complete in 120 days.

Downtown theater

During a study session Tuesday night, council discussed the potential for a downtown theater.

This discussion comes after a May 2015 discussion the council had regarding a 10-screen downtown theater and parking structure.

Since then, the zoning ordinance has been changed to allow theaters outside of the downtown area, but council asked the item be brought before them again.

Community Development Director Darlene Mata told council that in order to attract another theater downtown, the current theater, Metro 4 Cinema, would essentially have to go away.

“You don’t get two theaters right next to each other because there are limited releases on the movies based on how much their distance is apart,” Mata said.

Metro 4, which was in jeopardy of closing in July, has recently changed ownership and the new owners are trying to save the theater by offering a paid membership for unlimited movie watching.

Mata and council also discussed parking space downtown.

Currently the downtown area does not have a parking space issue, Mata said, but city standards require at least one parking space for every four seats inside a theater. Depending on how many seats the theater has, a new parking structure may have to be built.

Councilman Justin Mendes was not happy with the discussion because he said the council had previously agreed to be lenient on zoning and implement a hotel tax to incentivize a downtown theater. He said a zoning agreement was not reached and the hotel tax was scrapped by council earlier this year.

“You guys can talk about a parking structure all you want,” Mendes told the other council members. “I’m afraid this was a waste of time.”

Mendes said living spaces and shovel-ready lots in downtown are what council should be focusing on to make the area more prosperous, not a theater.

Although there are no proposals from any theater companies wanting to locate in Hanford, Vice Mayor Sue Sorensen said she thought the city should still have a vision and a plan for downtown, including more parking.

By the end of the discussion, the potential for a new downtown theater was still inconclusive.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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