Controversial issues tackled by Business Advisory Committee

The newly established Business Advisory Committee

BRAWLEY – On July 15, 2014, the Brawley City Council established the Brawley Business Advisory Committee (BAC) and submitted them with the duty of making recommendations to the City Council concerning the city’s Economic Development Program, policies, and strategy.

The group held their first meeting Wednesday where officers were elected and they discussed the issue of peddlers’ licenses.

Committee members, appointed by the City Council from submitted applications, are Sarah Chairez with Community Valley Bank, Alan Huber with Elms Equipment, Lupe Navarro, a downtown property owner, Audrey Noriega with Rabobank, and Sean Wilcox with the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation.

City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore and Brawley Chamber of Commerce Director Jason Zara will serve as ex-officio members and Brawley City Councilman Donnie Wharton helped officiate the meeting.

The first order of business was to elect officers of the committee with Sean Wilcox voted as chairperson and Alan Huber as vice-chairperson.

The first issue discussed was the Peddler’s License presented by Finance Director Ruby Walla.

The current cost of the license is $35 per day for businesses that do not have a regular business license.

Jason Zara with the Brawley Chamber of Commerce suggested that for their Farmer’s Markets, a one-time fee of $35 for the series of six Farmer’s Markets would be more affordable for the vendors, most of whom are local artists and craftsman and other small scale businesses. 

This would create a “Brawley Event Permit” and be applicable to all city and chamber-sanctioned events excluding Cattle Call, like the Farmer’s Markets, car shows, and sporting events.

These events are in line with the city’s goals and objectives for downtown Brawley. The city hopes to revive the downtown area through the Downtown Specific Plan, the newly established Downtown Arts District, and the city’s Healthy Eating, Active Living initiative.

The committee decided that this would be appropriate to recommend to the City Council.

The second issue discussed was Sidewalk Sales presented by City Planner Gordon Gaste.

Currently, in order to put items for sale on the sidewalk in front of downtown stores, a business must secure a Planning Commission Conditional Use Permit. These permits cost the City approximately $4,000 to produce, but charge the businesses $2,000, and some downtown merchants have complained of the high cost.

The high cost is a deterrent to the stores to keep the downtown sidewalk areas free and clear for pedestrians and to avoid the “garage sale atmosphere.”

The Brawley Planning Commission came up with a plan to consider a yearly permit that would cost a modest fee of $100 to $200. The plan also included specific layouts and conditions for the permit.

The discussion was mostly negative from all members of the committee and audience mainly because of the nature of the businesses located in the downtown area like used clothing and household items.

It was pointed out that restaurants could benefit from outside seating that would fit in with the city’s Downtown Specific Plan.

Councilman Wharton said he would take what was discussed to the council for further review. The second Tuesday of the month was established as the meeting date. However, because of the holidays, the next meeting will be November 19.