Camarillo City Council returns to public meetings. July Fireworks MAY be coming back!

News

By Chris Bailey

2 May 2021, Camarillo

The Camarillo City Council reentered the in-person meeting world on Wednesday, April 28th, and it went off without a hitch for the most part. A little about “for the most part” later in this report.

I’ve been to Camarillo Council meetings in the past. Reflecting on why I’ve attended before and why now, it was the same reason. I needed something. I needed to say, witness, ask or experience something that would help ME. This time around I was satisfying my curiosity, and perhaps looking for a little normalcy. So there I was, watching 15 council members, staff and security(a Deputy Sheriff) present the business of the city before 8 people. Either the citizens of Camarillo have supreme confidence in their elected officials, have become frustrated to the point of apathy to NOT be present, or it’s just not that important to come to public meetings. 

Life gets in the way. So perhaps all of the above.

In modern Camarillo, you don’t need to attend the council meetings to watch them, as you can watch live with no rebroadcast on local TV, Spectrum Channel 10 and Frontier Channel 29.  The proceedings are also gavel to gavel on youTube as well, as the city posts the meetings online shortly after the evening is complete. I actually watched the entire YouTube feed (https://youtu.be/Ybe8cHmYx6E) in preparation for writing this article, as did 30 other souls. That’s a good thing. More transparency is always better with the workings of government. This could also be a good reason why many aren’t coming physically to meetings.

Another nice benefit of our information driven World is the ability to know what will be discussed at council meetings, and review MOST background information on any topic for discussion prior to the meeting either online or in hard copy. Agendas are published the Friday prior to each council meeting online, and printed copies of the agenda are available at the city clerk counter on Friday as well. In addition, the city clerk and staff are available to answer questions about city practices and functions. They are cooperative, professional, and WANT to help. I asked questions in person the morning after the council meeting and any question they couldn’t field was referred to who could help with my concerns. An observation I had during the council meeting that I wrote on a yellow comment card regarding Non Destructive Inspection and Vibration Analysis of city owned generators was actually forwarded to the appropriate department by the City Clerk before I arrived to ask other questions that morning. Overall a good, learning experience for me.

The meeting itself was segmented into 3 parts. A Consent Calendar, Discussion Items, and Public Comments. 

The Consent Calendar is typically passed without discussion, and tonight only one item from that calendar was discussed, that being the committees the city is involved in concerning Camarillo Airport management and future goals and plans, and the exposure city officials have concerning the Brown Act. I will not get into the concerns that were brought up, because the Brown Act and the way all municipalities guard against violating it will be a future article. 

Citizens can make comments to be read by staff at the meeting(yellow card) or can speak for 3 minutes concerning Consent Calendar items if a blue comment card is filled out and given to the City Clerk before the council meeting begins. In addition, any person may email ([email protected]) the City Clerk, or call the City Clerk office (805) 388-5397 to generate a comment as well. If I were unable to attend a meeting or had to arrive after the meeting started, that is what I would do.

Discussion Items that stood out were forecasts for tree removal in areas where hardscapes are damaged by mature trees. City crews work these issues constantly, and there will be more funds allocated for this year and following years to expedite the improvements faster than the current schedule. ADA requirements for access to government buildings is also ongoing and a steady expenditure for the city.

There is a good chance Camarillo will have a 4th of July fireworks display. It’s not set in stone, and will NOT be at Camarillo High School, as the school fireworks launch site is being converted to other uses. Expect it to be near the Camarillo Factory Outlets and offered as a Park and Watch event from your cars. No bleacher seats and no concessions. If the city can pull it off, it should still be a great activity for the Holiday. The city doesn’t expect to finalize a plan for the event until the end of May, 2021. As I learn more, I’ll post it on Citizens Journal.

The most discussed item in my personal and family circles was discussed by the city council as well. The proposed underground walkway at our Metrolink train station at 30 S. Lewis Road. 

First, there is a need for useful pedestrian access to both sides of the railway. There are two tracks, and the transit authorities plan to use both tracks with enough frequency to necessitate increased pedestrian access. Secondly, though the existing pedestrian overpass DOES allow commuters to transition across the rails to enter a train, it is a very long step free climb. I have walked the overhead pedestrian crossing and biked it, and it’s demanding in good health and with no backpack or luggage. It seems challenging for those of us with limited mobility.

A newer steel reinforced staircase has been added in a past improvement to the existing pedestrian walkway. Shortens the walk to transit the tracks, but only for commuters who can navigate a staircase. I plan to report on the potential options to improve pedestrian access in a future article.

When Discussion Items closed, and after a recess, the council reconvened for General Comments. Any person can have 3 minutes to say whatever they wish concerning anything city related, and can range from informational statements about current businesses, happiness with the restart of in-person city meetings, or comments about government overreach. The most noteworthy comment was a woman, who expressed her happiness the city was back in an in-person posture, tempered with a concern that there isn’t a clear data record that masking satisfies any requirement to protect persons from contracting any virus. Her mask was low on her face, then on her chin before her 3 minutes were up. The next comment was a man who took exception to the lockdown in general, and the efficacy of protective measures as well. He wasn’t wearing a face covering of any kind. This last statement was met with a council member asking the city manager to do something, and the Deputy Sheriff in chambers did speak with these two individuals outside.

Every city will reenter the in-person, post virus World. Camarillo has put up plexiglass between individual council members and staff who assist with the council proceedings.

Camarillo City Council Virus Counter Measures

Placards and strips have been wrapped around seats to prevent anyone from sitting too close to each other in the auditorium seating. There were clusters of three seats together, should members of the same household seek a seat.

Camarillo City Council Gallery

Face coverings are required, though the covering could be a napkin, a scarf, a sewn cotton mask, a surgical mask or an N95. There was no concern, as long as a covering was worn. I personally believe plexiglass is a good shield in publicly trafficked areas, and anyone who has eaten at a buffet in the past 10 years has been separated from food choices by what is called in the food industry a “spew shield”. Individuals who are at risk to catch airborne contaminants with poor immune systems have been wearing face coverings for years. The general population hasn’t cared or noticed because it’s not them wearing the protection.

I’m not identifying any of these people involved in this issue. It’s important to review, as the virus fades and our city opens up, that the tremendous hardships “flattening the curve” and lockdowns have put on ALL citizens of Camarillo. Every Camarillo resident has their own personal experience this past year. The decisions that were made to slow down a viral spread will be criticized in the future as more information is learned about how SARS-2(COVID-19) or any virus can spread, and it would be in the best interest of ALL citizens to become more informed and make more informed decisions in the future.

Chris Bailey is a reporter-at-large of citizensjournal.us, a business owner, military veteran and long time resident of Camarillo


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George Miller

Welcome to Citizens Journal and “learning the ropes” of city council meetings, Chris.

Readers: most cities meetings work pretty much the same, although most haven’t yet resumed the in-person meetings for the public.