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As an example, the Fountain Valley Municipal Code authorizes the police chief to set staffing levels at whatever level the chief feels appropriate. Courts have recognized this discretion rests solely with policy makers such as a police or fire chief or an elected City Council.
Don’t police officers or firefighters have any duty or responsibility? Of course they do; it’s called a “public duty doctrine”. This legal duty does not involve setting staffing at a particular level. A police officer’s duty to act affirmatively to, for example, perform CPR or make an arrest- is only mandated if a “special relationship” exists, which is a high standard to meet.
In summary, cities are not required to set staffing at given levels, even for first responders, and are under no threat of liability in this scenario.
The Police Department’s overtime results from staffing basic functions such as Patrol, Traffic, 911 or Detectives. The Police Department currently has 62 funded positions and only 60 filled, with at least one pending service retirement. In addition, over the last 18 months, there have been 5-8 officers off duty at any given time due to injuries. In order to fulfill staffing requirements officers are required to either come in early or stay late. Without these expenditures, enough officers or dispatchers would not be deployed. This means that cases would go unresolved or calls not timely handled; even with overtime expenditures the department's response time to priority one calls has gone up almost 30 seconds since 2014. All overtime expenditures reflect tasks completed which the Department deems essential to core functions.
The Fire Department’s overtime for this fiscal year are due to the following circumstances:
1. An employee becomes sick mid-shift 2. An employee is attending training 3. An employee sustains a long-term injury 4. There are vacant positions within the workforce 5. Crews are assigned to a long-term mutual aid deployment (often reimbursed by the State) 6. Vacancies created by employees on vacation.
In many cases, paying existing employees’ overtime is just as economical as having full time employees working. According to data supplied by Fountain Valley’s Finance Department, the cost is the same to pay an existing tier one employee overtime to fill vacancies in caparison to hiring an additional full-time employee. The savings are achieved because existing employee benefits are not enhanced when paid overtime. Overtime is based on the department’s needs and all overtime worked are monitored by staff to assure public safety employees are not overworked.
The "Crossings" is the nickname given to the aging industrial area at the south end of town (around Fry's, Mike Thompson and the former Staples).
The city wants to help encourage the landowners in this 155-acre industrial area to someday think about using their properties for other purposes, such as retail, restaurants, the arts, offices and housing.
But the area is not currently zoned for all that, so the city is looking at the entire industrial park and is suggesting adding zoning categories (shopping, retail, etc.), and then setting some specific guidelines in place to regulate building heights and setbacks.
That way, if a current or future landowner would like to build, say, an office building, the landowner would have both the permission and guidelines already in place to do so.
The end result: The land becomes more valuable for resale because it's now more usable, and there will be specific guidelines already in place so any future development is done in an orderly manner.