Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

The six remaining councilors decided Tuesday to wait two weeks to appoint someone to fill a vacancy on the Baker City Council.

Three people applied for the position that opened when Dan McQuisten resigned because he moved outside the city limits — Morgan DeCarl, Raymond Rienks and Randy Schiewe.

Of the three applicants, only Rienks attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilor Loran Joseph nominated DeCarl, and Councilor Adam Nilsson seconded the motion.

But the motion to appoint DeCarl failed in a 3-3 vote. Joseph, Nilsson and Councilor Rosemary Abell voted in favor of the motion. Mayor Mike Downing and Councilors Arvid Andersen and James Thomas were opposed.

Nilsson then suggested that the Council wait until its June 26 meeting to appoint a new councilor.

Nilsson said that will give councilors time, should they choose, to talk with each of the three applicants and learn more about their thoughts regarding city business.

Nilsson’s motion passed 5-1, with Thomas voting no.

The Council will choose from among the three applicants rather than re-open the application process.

Sidewalk cafes ordinance

Councilors passed the first reading of an ordinance setting new rules for restaurants that have outside seating.

The sidewalk cafe ordinance requires restaurant owners to obtain a permit from the city and to pay a one-time fee, which has not been set.

The ordinance would require restaurants with sidewalk cafes to ensure that the sidewalk has a minimum width of five feet that’s free of tables, chairs and other items “for continuous unobstructed pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk between the sidewalk cafe area or the nearest obstacle.”

The city’s current regulations on sidewalk cafes are included in an ordinance regarding the storage of personal property on city rights-of-way. That ordinance states that restaurant owners can place tables, chairs and other items no more than four feet from the edge of their building. The ordinance also allows sidewalk cafes from April through October each year.

City Manager Fred Warner Jr. said he proposed the new ordinance, which specifically addresses sidewalk cafes, because several restaurants have started offering outside seating over the past decade.

“It appears that these add vitality and are economic generators for the surrounding businesses,” Warner wrote in a report to councilors.

Nilsson cast the lone dissenting vote against the first reading of the ordinance.

Nilsson, who said he likes sidewalk cafes, described the five-page ordinance as “overbearing.”

He said he opposes the clause that prohibits smoking in sidewalk cafes.

Although an Oregon law prohibits smoking outdoors within 10 feet of a restaurant’s entrance or exit, air-intake vent or window that opens, Nilsson said it’s likely that some sidewalk cafes would be outside the 10-foot limit, which means the city’s ordinance would in effect extend the smoking ban beyond what state law mandates.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Nilsson said he voted against the ordinance because he believes the city can encourage sidewalk cafes without passing what he considers an overly complicated and potentially punitive set of rules.

“If there’s a problem, address that,” he said.

Councilors will consider the second reading of the sidewalk cafes ordinance at their June 26 meeting.

City manager evaluation

Prior to Tuesday’s regular meeting, councilors had a 20-minute executive session, which was closed to the public as allowed under Oregon’s Public Meetings Law, to evaluate Warner’s performance.

Warner’s contract requires that the City Council evaluate him at least once per year.

Councilors rated Warner in 46 areas divided into 10 categories: public relations, employee relations, city council relationships, leadership, communications, personal traits, goal achieving, fiscal management, decision making and other.

Ratings were on a scale of 1 to 5 in which 5 is excellent.

Warner’s average rating ranged from 4.2 to 5.

See more in the June 13, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.

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