City to host public meetings on downtown zoning

By: 
Terrance Vestal
Managing Editor

The city of Bishop is gearing up to host its first virtual workshops regarding its proposed downtown mixed use overlay and specific plan that could lead to more housing and “in-filling” in downtown Bishop.
Elaine Kabala, associate planner/economic development coordinator for the city, said the virtual two-day workshops are scheduled for 6 p.m. on July 22-23.
The city has been working on an overlay zone for the downtown area for years as a means to revitalize the area. With mixed use, there also is a potential for increased housing with an ordinance that would allow for commercial use on a first floor with apartments on the second floor.
Kabala, speaking at the virtual Bishop City Council meeting Monday, said based on the work she’s seen from the consultants the city has contracted with, “I’m very confident that they have a very good strategy for engaging the public and getting good feedback.”
She said a project website has been set up at DowntownBishopPlan.com.
According to the website, the Downtown Specific Plan will be a path forward to create a vibrant downtown by:
• Updating the city’s mixed-use zoning code;
• Elevating the city’s small-town character in downtown while creating a vibrant pedestrian friendly environment;
• Providing for an increase in residential development and a broader mix of uses; and,
• Ensuring that there is adequate and efficient infrastructure to support existing and future development.
The website states that the city will be launching a pre-workshop survey through the website on July 20.
Kabala said the city has received a “draft existing conditions report” from the consultants in which the consultants review all of the previous planning efforts, environmental studies and all of the documents that the city typically uses in developing its planning process to inform the consultant’s team about what’s been done in Bishop.
Kabala said this means the consultants will be approaching the community well prepared to listen.

Whitney Alley Project
Kabala said the Whitney Alley Project, which is separate from the overlay plan, also is moving forward.
The grant-funded project aims at improving the Whitney Alley area through greenscaping to promote pedestrian-friendly spaces in the downtown area.
She said the city plans to kick off that project the first week of August, starting with outreach directly to business owners and property owners surrounding the project area.
“I will be reaching out to them to have one-on-one meetings in person or Zoom, however, they’re comfortable, to get their specific feedback on the project and what their ideas are and how they use that space and what their concerns might be,” Kabala said.
The city will then follow up with a public workshop that everyone may participate in during the second half of August, she said.
Kabala said the city continues to look for and pursue many different grant opportunities, which includes grants for the Parks and Recreation Department as well as the Public Works Department for an “active transportation grant.”

Bishop Volunteer Fire Department
Bishop Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joe Dell said at the meeting that the fire department continues to be busy with this time of year being the busiest due to fireworks season. The department responded to eight vegetation fires over the over the last couple of weeks as well as commercial carrier fires and some house fires.
Dell said the department also is gearing up for the Demolition Derby, which it hosts traditionally at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fair. He said while the fate of the fair might still be up in the air given the ongoing pandemic situation, “we’re going to continue to plan for the derby as is, hoping that everything moves forward, knowing that there’s some hurdles in front of us.”
“So everybody who’s got a derby car should be getting it ready,” Dell said. “Because we don’t have it now, we’ll have it sooner or later.”
Dell also reported that the Fourth of July fireworks show was a little different this year, it proved to be a success and was actually in the black financially.
“It was fun to see through the GoFundMe and all the donations that came in, we were able to get into the black by a couple thousand dollars,” Dell said. “So we’re going to use that money to build a new training prop at the training facility.”
He said the prop will allow for chainsaw training, among other types of training.

Bishop Police Department
Bishop Police Chief Ted Stec said last week he attended a meeting at the Bishop Paiute Tribal Chambers regarding the tribe’s new juvenile healing and wellness support program. Stec said his department and other law enforcement agencies are collaborating with the tribe as part of a mutual assistance agreement.
Stec also discussed the department’s recent deployment of a speed radar near the Bishop city limits.
“Slowing drivers down early is a good strategy,” Stec said, adding that a number of citations have been issued already to some drivers traveling 20 to 25 mph over the speed limit, while one driver was 48 mph over the speed limit.

Bishop Public Works
Public Works Director Deston Dishion reported that Tesla plans to start its supercharger station at the city parking lot on Warren Street July 20.

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