Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : City Hall Returns to Regular 5-Day Operation : Government: Residents’ complaints prompt the action. The new schedule will still meet air quality rules by having just half the work force on the job on Fridays.
City Hall will once again be open for business five days every week after residents criticized a schedule that shut down city offices on alternating Fridays.
The biweekly Friday closures were instituted in May to help meet South Coast Air Quality Management District requirements aimed at reducing the number of commuters on the road. But the complaints caused the Santa Clarita City Council to unanimously adopt an alternate plan Tuesday that has half of the city’s employees working on a rotating basis each Friday.
Councilman George Pederson said he did not receive a lot of complaints, but there were enough to make reopening City Hall every Friday worthwhile. He said the main concern expressed to him involved lack of services.
“Somebody . . . wanted to have a planning check made and had to come in on a Friday, when there was no one there. (That) prevented them from working on Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” he said.
But many complaints also came from people who never came to City Hall, Assistant City Manager Ken Pulskamp said.
“It just seemed like the general public didn’t like it,” he said. “I don’t think they liked the image.”
The revised schedule, which begins March 10, keeps intact longer operating hours established by the city when the biweekly closures took effect. Standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shifts were changed to 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to make up for the lost day of work.
But the new schedule meets AQMD requirements by having only half of the city’s work force on the job each Friday.
“It’s a schedule that works for meeting the AQMD air quality regulations and gives the public the best possible benefits,” Pulskamp said.
The revised plan also requires the city manager, assistant city manager and all department heads to work five days every week, he said.
AQMD regulations state that any agency in Santa Clarita with 100 or more employees must have an average of 1.3 commuters per vehicle, said Kevin Tonoian, administrative analyst for the city. Noncompliance can result in fines up to $25,000 per day.
The city had half of its employees report to work on alternating Mondays beginning in January, 1992, when it first exceeded 100 employees, Pulskamp said. Numerous problems arose, however, because staff members were often unavailable on what turned out to be the busiest workday of the week.
“Friday is one of our least busy days,” Pulskamp said.
Even though the AQMD requirements are designed to get commuters off the road, plenty of city employees used the day off to run errands or go on road trips, said Pulskamp, adding that he himself often skipped taking his Fridays off.
“To be perfectly honest, a lot of them I ended up working,” he added. “There’s still a lot of stuff to do. It was a day to catch up on paperwork.”