Oxnard Council: COVID Emergency Declaration; Financial Transparency at Last; $400K Climate Action Plan Spend OK’ed

By George Miller

On 3-17-20, the Oxnard City Council:

  • Ratified an emergency proclamation to address the Coronavirus pandemic;
  • Approved a $411,400 contract to do a climate change plan (yes they believe they can change the climate);
  • Approved the 2020 Ventura County Regional Consolidated Plan (for housing);
  • Put 375 city vehicles on an outsourced maintenance plan and will lease news ones;
  • Finally introduced some modern, public-friendly financial transparency;
  • Heard a mid-year budget review and were told it’s close to plan, but that Coronavirus will screw all that up’;
  • Recognized Caesar Chavez’s accomplishments in labor rights and set aside March 31 to honor him;
  • Approved opening negotiations on Sakioka Farms Development Agreement Authorization. This is the largest remaining developable parcel in Oxnard.

 

Only Mayor Flynn and Council Members Lopez and Madrigal were at the meeting. The others called in, due to the Coronavirus scare, since seniors are supposed to self-isolate. (see photo below of the kids on the Council)

Meeting AGENDA, VIDEO

 

 

City public statement on Coronavirus

Mayor Flynn endorses CA Governor and VC Public Health Officer statements. Don’t panic. Help friends and neighbors. Stay home if sick. Practice “social distance.” Stay  home if 65 or older. Utility penalties waived. Visit VCemergency.com. He made no mention at all of federal statement or information.

Mayor’s statement published separately: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kovhXYwUH48

See more in item H-2, below.

 

D-1-  Finance Department- Preview of City’s Online Financial Transparency Portal. (20/10/5)

The City has finally started to deliver on at least some of the promised financial transparency to public.

Donna Ventura, Asst CFO,  presented intro. A new position was filled by Jim Costello to address this 50% of his time on transparency, 50% on cost allocation.

Jim Costello  presented the new financial transparency portal. It shows financial information and helps explain how the financial system works. It presents both graphical and tabular data, with click-on “drill  down” capability for getting more detail, with multiple “views.”

Financial data are presented by: revenue type, fund or dept., fiscal year/period, down to the account level, by period or cumulative. Detail transactions are NOT available.  It will available about two weeks after the end of  a month. He said it is downloadable, too.

District level data are available, including revenue and disbursements.

Enterprise funds/utility info is available.

The Measure O supplemental sales tax fund data function presently lacks project sorting/summaries.

It looks way friendlier and public-accessible than the current system, if it works OK. It should help reduce the bottleneck and costs of public information requests. The proof will be in actual performance. Costello said it was a requirement of Measure B, but this was underway long before it was passed.

Mr. Costello solicits further public feedback. He sees this as a starting point, with a tool that has much more capability for future use, but they wanted to get the basics out first.

Council Comments

Ramirez- See “Budget 101” October session given to the public.

MacDonald- Likes it. Feels we may have more input after seeing it.

Perello- this will be very helpful, to get info at public’s time and speed. Compliments management and calls for support of it.

Madrigal- Likes it.

Lopez- Really good to see. How much history will be in it? A: Not prior to 2016.

Flynn- Impressed and grateful to staff for providing this. He also linked this project which was already complete before Measure B. This will help inform the public and regain their trust.

 

F-1- Proclamation of Caesar Chavez Day

The Council proclaimed Caesar Chavez Day on March 31. He is known as the guy who organized agricultural workers and defended their rights in the West. Oxnard claims him as one of their own, since he and his family lived here seasonally in his youth during farmworker migrations by crop. He came here in later years for organizing efforts and has a monument in town dedicated to him. The house where he lived in La Colonia still stands.

 

G- Public Comments on Items Not on the Agenda

PW Robinson- Is concerned about shelter funding and whether numbers released are accurate. Stressed public safety and claimed that Ventura County has the highest homeless death rate in the country, which he said was 82.  Cited an example when a homeless person was killed by a car and the perpetrator was not revealed. He said VC initiated legislation to keep death records from the public.

Greg V.- Re: The cardboard container plant on Perkins Road. Operator’s permit is up in June and he doesn’t want it renewed. Claims that it creates air pollution, very noticeable from his condo at Surfside 3 in nearby Port Hueneme. He also said it is noisy all night long. Claims it has its own water treatment plant and suspects pollution from it, including noxious odors. Says it is hurting his property values. Says owner is a billionaire- Robert Kraft.

 

H- City Manager Report

H-1-  SUBJECT: Status of investigation of personnel complaints against elected City Treasurer Phillip Molina.

This item was deleted from the agenda without explanation. There has been a power struggle between  elected City Treasurer and Phil Molina and City Manager Alex Nguyen. It involves providing public information transparency, check approval authority and more. Nguyen removed some of Molina’s delegated responsibilities, barred him from entering his own office and blocked his access to the city computer and email systems. Molina has filed harassment charges against City Mgr. Alex Nguyen, then two women supposedly filed harassment charges against Molina. We have been unable to obtain a copy of the complaint due to confidentiality reasons. Molina’s charges were denied by the city and the city did not respond to the harassment complaint by the time limit.  Stay tuned.

Census Report

Vanessa of VCCF (VCCF.org) gave a report on the 2020 Census. Ventura County is said to be 59th in the nation as at risk of an undercount. May lose up to $2BB in social; safety net money. Wants to address the undercount. Could cost $2000/yr/person for an undercount.  VCCF is the lead agency for 6 counties, with 300 partners, $1.6 million in funding for the effort. Census went live on March 12, during the Global Coronavirus pandemic, which is really hampering the effort. Urged people to fill out their personal unique census form online, by phone or form. Census ends 7-31, hope to extend it this year. About $300,00 left in the budget.

Editor’s note; The Federal government has delayed the start of the census

Council Comments

Mayor ProTem Ramirez- Need a door to door effort, wants deadline extended.

Madrigal- Thinks federal signoff date is 12-31-20

 

H-2- Proclamation of Coronavirus Pandemic Emergency

City Manager Alex Nguyen, Fire Chief , Police Chief and City Attorney will report….

City Manager Nguyen- We will come together and continue to serve the city while attempting to mitigate the emergency

WHO, medical, economic and information crisis. Understand levels of fear and anxiety, due to the unknown. Afraid he might contract the virus and/or bring it home to his 88 year old mother.

Business is declining, people will be out of work. Much misinformation on line, scams and wrong-headed advice. Recommends using official info sources.  Levels of govt expertise/resources. Must rely on expertise of County and State public health authorities.  Says county has been very helpful- Dr. Robt Levins.  President has declared a national emergency. Other govts following CDC guidelines.

Fire Chief Darwin Base- We took action immediately, formulated plan early on. Medical Services Mgr. worked on employee hygiene training, inspection. Admin staff is scaled back. Please don’t abuse 911 system. Use 211 or primary care unless you have severe symptoms, chest pains. If you have other conditions, tell the dispatcher at time of emergency call for help.

Police Chief Scott Whitney- There was a pandemic emergency in 2009. They have some experience with this. Have been planning, working on it. Precautions might have seemed silly a couple of weeks ago, but being taken more seriously now. Set examples: wiping, social distancing, make it the norm. Hand washing, sanitizing workplaces, social distancing, stay home if sick. Some young people are not taking it seriously. Canceling public meetings, events, limiting access to police building, clear as many calls for service over the phone as possible. Arrests, stops, contacts being minimized to keep resources available, reduce risks of infection.

Appreciates retailer efforts to maintain supply, sanitation. No price gouging- ILLEGAL. Educating business community on this. Only one recent assault at a retailer. Crime is actually reduced. Anti-hoarding, this is creating a short-term supply problem, but basic supply chain is working OK. No need to stock up, he says.

City Attorney Fischer- Director of Emergency Services declared an emergency last week. He has authority to react to emergency, but Council must called upon to ratify this (approved at this meeting) under CA Emergency Services Act and Chapter 6 of the City Code. Will attempt to get reimbursed for some costs. Will report at each Council meeting on emergency status, as required by law

Council Comments

Ramirez- Thanks for taking the necessary steps. Look at what’s happening in Italy- got completely out of hand- couldn’t provide medical care to everybody. Some confusion about roles of officials.

MacDonald- Very serious. Hopefully we can return to normal later. Could be very challenging for city employees. This will be challenging for businesses. Encourages take out orders.May have to remove food waste from treatment plant and process it in Wastewater plant biodigesters.

Perello- This is the most serious issue that has come up since he’s been a council member.  A team effort is required. More civility has been observed. Make sure Spanish translation of proclamation is distributed.

Basua- I feel for people. Have seen much kindness from residents.

Madrigal- Better to do too much than too little. Thanks to first responders. People please help out your neighbors. You may get friends and family sick even if you aren’t. Thanks to custodians/housekeepers for dirty work to keep things clean.

Lopez- Thanks everyone- leaders/staff. A very challenging time, changing every minute. Risks faced. We will get things together.  Also translated into Spanish.

Flynn- Thanks to City Manager, Police Chief, Fire Chief for report. Public safety is #1 priority.

Vote to approve proclamation- Unanimous 7-0

Will issue proclamation Wednesday March 18

Madrigal- Lots of universities cancelling graduations (ceremonies anyway). Hopefully do later.

Perello will pursue box plant complaint

Flynn- No homeless status tonight, but concerned about keeping virus away from them. Nguyen- working with County and state to provide services in a larger space. Training is needed.

 

J,K,L. Information Consent Agenda

Perello- L-2, L-5 pulled for discussion

L-2- Thanks to Councilwoman Basua for her committee work. Looking forward to working with Lopez.

L-5- Why didn’t Via Madera appts go to committee. Ramirez- No time. Need to happen before April 1.

Vote to approve- 7-0

 

M-1- 2020 Ventura County Regional Consolidated Plan (for housing)

Housing Director Emilio Ramirez presented (see agenda items)

Consolidated plan, impediments, action plan and amendments. It is now a regional consolidated plan with Ventura County and incorporated cities.

$13 million in block grants + other funding sources.

A needs assessment is done with some community input (Participation Plan. included a survey 749 responses and 6 meetings, focus groups, affordable housing, 30 day public comment period to 3-18-20). An impediment analysis is necessary. Eliminating housing discrimination is one of the criteria.

 

Plan has 6 goals-

These have 15 underlying priorities to support them (see agenda materials)

The annual action plan identifies how 5 years in funding will be used. $18 million is involved. The plan must describe how the goals are to be accomplished and how the funds will be used.

Must meet national objectives for low and moderate income persons, eliminate  slums and blight and meet urgent needs, such as national disasters.

$2.574 million for coming year. ($221K is for emergency services).

Home investment partnership program, for renovations, affordable housing.  ($776 thousand. Focusing on building new affordable rental housing).

Community block grants of $3,423,773. Some will be used for a mobile response center . $125,000 for 20 of these fire dept. units to be replaced.

Public Comments

no speakers

Council Comments

Ramirez- Complex document- thanks for efforts,. Favors this regional approach.

MacDonald- Very complex, agree with Ramirez

Perello- Yes, Fire Dept needs equipment, but shouldn’t that come from general fund so grants can be used for housing?

Madrigal- What was average attendance in sessions, what neighborhood? Ramirez- small attendance. Max was 10 . Meetings in each council district. Madrigal- what about seniors- any funding needed? Ramirez- there is a need everywhere. We can’t use these funds for public housing.

Flynn- What about Section 8 and project funding? Ramirez-  a whole different plan to be presented in April- a 3 inch thick document.

Vote to accept- 7-0 unanimous.

 

N-1- Climate Action plan agreement

The city contracted with Environmental Services, Inc. $411,400 budget with $350,00 appropriated, to do a Climate Action Plan (CAP) or Climate Adaptation Action Plan (CAAP). It was previously approved 3-0 in committee. The plan will be used to help produce the 2045 General Plan.

Kathleen Mallory presented- Jeff Kayden on telephone, too.  The plan will focus on reducing greenhouse gases and other relevant climate policies.” through 2045.

Must inventory greenhouse gases, quantify them and targeted and actual reductions.

add risks slide

Seeks council approval.

Council Comment

Ramirez- Very comprehensive, likes it. She is on SCAG environmental committee. Discussed elimination of natural gas and much higher rate increases. Claims VC is warming faster than any other county in US and we must “get ahead of the curve.”

MacDonald- No Comment

Perello- City challenging some water usage decisions. Should we wait for decision on challenge before proceeding? Who was the evaluation committee? Mallory: Public works and development- 3 people. Public works is updating water usage plan.

Flynn- Is climate action plan mandatory? Mallory- Addresses elements of state law, including safety islands, heat islands.  There are reduction targets,must be tracked to demonstrate compliance. Flynn- Institute of Local Govt has sustainability guidelines. Why spend money if there are already established best practices? Mallory- still need plan to track, implement these, make Oxnard-specific. Flynn touted the Navy climate action plan and noted that constituents had said no evidence of sea rise. Stressed that it was mandatory. Nguyen- easier to get grants if we have a climate action plan. He said this is about Conservation and Conservatives conserve- obviously a subtle shot at those who don’t agree.

Public Comment

Same guy as earlier, commented on gross polluter (the box manufacturer New Indie Oxnard on Perkins Road). He is angry at Council for lack of feedback on his complaint, angry at “billionaire owner” Robert Kraft.  There’s your greenhouse gases, he exclaimed.

Vote to approve- 7-0 unanimous

The desire for a climate action plan is based on the assumption that manmade greenhouse gases are the major contributor to climate change and, unchecked,will radically alter life as we know it, raising the sea level considerably, altering climate patterns/weather, food production, wiping out many species and more. Our editor won’t allow an opinion on all this in a news article, so you’ll have to go to  a separate upcoming editortial on that if you want to.

 

N-2- Sakioka Farms Development Agreement Authorization.

Development Director Lambert presented….

South of 101 between Del Norte and Rice. City staff recommends 15 year term with extension rather than 20 year with 10 year extension. Requires public improvements-  extension of Gonzales road and new interchange. Water rights will go to the city.

8,500,000 sq. ft. of business, research park light industrial and commercial use. Will bring jobs and taxes.

Council Comments

Ramirez- what about transportation options? Can it be discussed/negotiated?  Lambert- yes, this would initially be only a tentative map and transportation agencies will be involve

MacDonald- Did you mean Del Note interchange, not Rice Ave? In favor of action- didn’t want 20 +10 agreement. Don’t want to bind future councils. Want 15/10 year approach.

Perello- Don’t want automatic renewal. Basic site project was approved in 2012.

Madrigal- Hates traffic there already- it will only get worse. Plan on file is 8 years old. He’s OK with 20 year deal. This is our version of what Camarillo has next to Home Depot. People are looking at this for economic growth. We have to help ourselves economically.

Lopez- supports staff recommendation. On Community benefit #2- 3 additional firefighters -how is that secured? Lambert- via district funding on landowners.

Flynn-last open space suitable for industrial development. Jobs, tax base. Has concerns about terms, duration. Cited Amazon application, where he said he was instrumental. Disappointing when it didn’t come to fruition-said Amazon expectations were unrealistic. Wants this project. Clarifying some project ambiguities.

Nguyen- 15 years is a compromise. This project is a very good idea. Things can change over the years- unpredictable.

Vote- Unanimous- 7-0  Only voting to initiate negotiations.

 

N-3- 2019-20 Budget MidYear Review

Budget review, $4mm golf course appropriation, plus some other appropriations

CFO Kevin Riper presented. This was presented to finance committee 2/11 and written Feb 4. Since then, market has crashed and Coronavirus occurred, so it must be updated.

In January, revenue was close to budget, up 1MM. Revenue down about a half million, mostly because they couldn’t fill some open positions. Budget was $17.5 million reserves.

Measure O. Not all can be spent, will be some carryover, now forecast +$.8MM instead of $2.

Enterprise funds about on budget, but water fund spending down due to employee vacancies, can’t get projects moving.Water fund balance is higher than budgeted. Ditto Wastewater (revenue up some $3MM for one time connection fees and higher consumption)and Environmental Resources funds.

Golf Course Fund- New contract w/American Golf Corp. yielded $4.3MM in fees, vs contract of $4.1MM. But city must pay another $1MM+. So it’s still in deficit. anticipate it will be better in a couple of years and break even.

Because all golf revenues and expenses run through the city, an appropriation for the entire amount is needed.

IT has to prepay some services in advance. You have to prepay to operate in today’s tech world (must have changed a lot since I retired).

CIO Brooks- 2 position reclassifications, systems administrator and ERP Project Mgr. (need higher salary to be competitive).

Council Comments

Ramirez- seems reasonable, making a lot of progress

Perello- Slide 13 bank charge appropriation. Per Treasurer, we should be able to recover credit card fees from customers using them.  Riper- requires Council action.

Flynn- How can it be said we are still subsidizing the golf course, when your numbers say we are not?  Riper- no general fund subsidy. Flynn credited Nguyen for that. Nguyen- new capital improvement would be subject to negotiation.

Vote- Unanimous 7-0

 

N-4- Amending Enterprise Fleet Management Agreement and Restructuring of Fleet Services
Division.

The city elected to include 375 existing vehicles (average age 13.3 years) to go on maintenance for an estimated savings of about $750,000 annually. Three positions will be eliminated, but no layoffs are anticipated due to transfers and attrition. New  vehicles needed will be leased. There will be no loan or debt incurred.

Vote Unanimous 7-0

 

 


George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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4 Responses to Oxnard Council: COVID Emergency Declaration; Financial Transparency at Last; $400K Climate Action Plan Spend OK’ed

  1. P W Robinson March 21, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    We DO have the highest death rate in the country, which is 4.91%. It seems likely that hit and run murderers go on safari in Ventura County. Is this the excuse for local news to NOT investigate, or is it just that everyone knows the ones who will go to prison over it? All are on the hook from the day they knew. All will pay in full.

    Reply
  2. William Hicks March 21, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Politicians answer to everything:

    1. Through money at everything so you look morally superior to those with a more pragmatic approach to problems.

    2. In the meantime, stick as many items in the bill that sane people would never vote for if a line item approach to problems where how things were done.

    Reply
  3. Tom March 20, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    I logged in at the Oxnard web site on 3/17/2020 to view the city council meeting. Everything was OK until 7:02 pm. While Mr. Nguyen was giving his report, the video froze and went silent and stayed that way until 10:02 pm when the mayor closed the meeting.

    Shortly after 7:02 pm I went to the Oxnard YOUTUBE site. The video and audio worked fine and continued to do so until the end of the meeting.

    While the meeting was still in session, I tried downloading it from the Oxnard web site. All I got was a rotating circle segment. Nothing loaded. Next day the replay of the video from the Oxnard web site was normal.

    In the past Mr. Miller has mentioned the problem it is to summarize a meetings without video markers. Apparently the City does not require them.

    3/17/2020: No video markers exit.
    2/4/2020: No video markers exit.
    1/21/2020: No video markers exit.
    1/15/2020: No video markers exit.
    1/7/2020: Event Bookmarks:
    12/23/2019: Event Bookmarks:
    12/3/2019: Event Bookmarks:
    11/19/2019: Event Bookmarks:
    11/7/2019: No video markers exit.
    11/5/2019: Event Bookmarks:
    10/29/2019: No video markers exit.
    10/15/2019: No video markers exit.
    10/1/2019: No video markers exit.

    PS
    Too many Molina’s involved in this lawsuit?
    “Molina has filed harassment charges against Molina, then two women supposedly filed harassment charges against Molina.

    Reply

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