By Carolina Valencia/Orange County Tribune
Facing a heavy agenda Wednesday night, the Westminster City Council took on the fate of the controversial Quang Tri Monument, retooled its program to deal with homelessness and took action to cut the practice of the theft of catalytic converters.
The council granted a request to extend the deadline for the Quang Tri Monument Committee and Community Services and Recreation Commission in regards to the design and location of the proposed monument.
The council unanimously voted to extend the deadline to have an agenda item by May 25 or to have members of the committee address the council if they are not able to have a proposal for council review regarding the Quang Tri Monument design and location.
This recommendation comes as it was brought up to the council that the committees had not met. The council wanted to know the details of the “unforeseen circumstances” for the committee’s meeting cancellations.
To tackle this, the council directed the Quang Tri Monument Committee to meet on May 9 after a meeting was rescheduled and then canceled by the committee. The Community Services and Recreation also canceled its meeting which was scheduled for April 14 and is to meet May 16 to make a recommendation.
“My concern is that the committee has direction from city council to reach an agreement and decision with a deadline, but it seems like the city committee is doing whatever they want and do not follow the council direction and I am really concerned that we need to fix that,” said Councilmember Tai Do.
If the project moves forward, it would commemorate the second Battle of Quang Tri in 1972 in which South Vietnamese forces – with help from American units – retook a vital citadel from Communist troops.
The Quang Tri Monument has been a matter of contention as some people expressed concern that the proposed monument would take away from the existing Vietnam War Memorial and others fear it is not historically accurate.
The council also approved the allocation of grant funds for the Mendez Freedom Trail. The Mendez Freedom Trail will honor the key court case that ended racial segregation in California public schools. The Mendez Tribute Monument Park is expected to be completed by September 2022, according to a city staff presentation.
Addionally, the council reviewed the CityNet relationship that was established in 2017. A 30-day notice is required to terminate the contract with the firm that handles Westminster’s outreach to the unsheltered.
“The Westminster Police Department appreciates everything CityNet has done,” said Special Operations Commander Kevin MacCormick. “It is my personal recommendation and opinion that we start moving towards a more self-sufficient in-house Westminster specific approach to case management.”
The city council unanimously voted to terminate its agreement with City Net and to add a full-time community outreach coordinator position as an alternative. The fully burdened cost of a full-time of a community outreach coordinator would be $113,500 per year, which would be funded with savings realized in the contractual budget.
The council also voted unanimously to request for an ordinance making it illegal to possess an uninstalled catalytic converter without proof of ownership. The item was requested by Do who has had his catalytic converter stolen from his car.
The thefts of catalytic converters have increased in Westminster in the past few years. In 2018, the city reported 18 catalytic converter thefts. In 2020, 123 catalytic converters were reported stolen and in 2021, 301 were reported.
The city will be hosting an etching event for catalytic converters on May 21.
The next city council meeting is set for Wednesday May 11, 2022.