Homeless Shelter May Allow Additional Car Sleeping

Will Ventura’s homeless population increase?

By Lori Denman

Top discussions for the Ventura City Council included the topic of the upcoming homeless shelter, the Amgen Tour for 2019 and water issues.

Deputy Mayor LaVere opened up the Ventura City Council meeting of October 29 with the first special presentation, in which Mayor Neal Andrews was absent. As part of Ventura Unified’s Character Development Program, fifth graders across the district are asked to submit essays. This month’s theme was “Courtesy,” and a student from Loma Vista Elementary read her essay at the city council meeting.

The second special presentation by LaVere included him stating that It’s been 100 years since the end of WWI. The city joined with the WWI Centennial and will be participating in “Bells of Peace” on Nov. 11 at 11am. On the 11thday, at the 11thhour, the bells will ring at the Government’s Center. They will honor the end of that war. Four and a half million Americans are honored for being in that war. Ventura residents who have worked with the Centennial commission for the past five years were honored with a proclamation by LaVere during this presentation.

City Council Communications

. The council noted/lamentedthe recent attack on the Temple in Pittsburgh.

Consent Calendar

It was stated in the agenda that, “Matters appearing on the Consent Calendar are expected to be non-controversial and will be acted upon by City Council at one time without discussion unless a Councilmember, the Administration, or a member of the public requests an opportunity to address any given item. Items removed from the Consent Calendar will be discussed at the beginning of the Formal Items. Approval by the City Council of Consent Items means the recommendation of the Administration is approved along with the terms and conditions described in the Administrative Report.”

Item 8A asked: “Move all resolutions and ordinances presented tonight be deemed read by title only and all further reading be waived.”

Monahan pulled 8C, “City Share for Architectural Plans for the Knoll Drive Homeless Shelter.” It was recommended upon the agenda that city council:

  1. Authorize the expenditure of $108,263 in Measure O funds previously designated for the Year-Round Homeless shelter acquisition and improvement costs in the 2018/2019 adopted budget for Architectural Consulting Services on the proposed 2323 Knoll Drive Homeless site.
  2. Authorize the City Manager, subject to the City Attorney’s approval as to form, to execute documents necessary to facilitate this request.
  3. Authorize Finance and Technology to assign current appropriations to the proper projects and accounts for their use.

Monahan said that they are working with the County to develop the shelter. As Monahan placed his hand on his chest, he asked that the parking lots behind the structure be used for a “safe sleep” area, where homeless people can sleep in their cars.

 Councilmember Monahan

On one hand, it has been said by homeless advocates that when a person is living in their car, they are one step closer to wanting to and making a move to living in their own residence. On the other hand, adversaries believe that this “low barrier” homeless structure and also allowing the homeless to sleep in their cars in designated lots would draw more homeless people to Ventura. More homeless people would hear that Ventura offers this and would travel to the city to stay here.  Monahan suggested that that council or city “work with the Salvation Army” or other homeless entity to make this happen, but does Monahan know that Salvation Army requires after entering their shelter that the homeless person becomes sober and is then routinely drug tested and also needs to show proof of attending programs and services? The new Knoll Drive homeless shelter has none of these requirements thus far, in which many Ventura community members are concerned of, especially those who belong to Quality of Life Ventura.

Interim Asssistant City Manager Barry Fischer said that they are working with the County and they are drafting a MOI. They have an agenda item with the County to discuss architectural plans. Monahan asked that they use the back parking lot for the safe sleep program and that the homeless arrive in the late afternoon, then leave in the morning. Again, those homeless advocates who support the idea of a higher barrier homeless shelter that requires the clients to accept programs and services are asking – where would the homeless persons in their cars go during the day then? Out and about into the city of Ventura? If more homeless persons in their cars arrive to Ventura for this program, that would then mean that that increased number would then be let out into the city during the day. LaVere said that the discussion of this safe sleep program in the parking lot behind the shelter would be brought up in their upcoming subcommittee but a time of this was not stated.

Another item was about the homeless shelter but was not pulled for discussion. Item 8D read upon the agenda, “2018/2019 Homeless Pilot Shelter Funding.” It was recommended that council:

  1. Authorize the reallocation of $160,000 in Measure O funds previously designated for the Year-Round Homeless shelter acquisition/improvement costs to the 2018/2019 Homeless Pilot Shelter, and;
  2. Authorize Finance and Technology to assign reallocation from current appropriations to the proper projects and accounts for their use, and;
  3. Authorize the City Manager to execute an agreement with the City of Oxnard and the County of Ventura as appropriate that is approved as to form by the City Attorney and that meets the criteria for operational characteristics outlined in this Administrative Report.

Item 8G was pulled was pulled by Eric Nasarenko and he asked about grading permits to expedite for Thomas Fire recovery victims to acquire permits to comply with municipal ordinances. Item 8G was, “Authorization to Execute Professional Services Agreement for On-Call Land Development Plan Review Services – Thomas Fire Recovery Action Support.”

It was recommended on the agenda that council: Approve and authorize the Mayor to execute a Professional Services Agreement with Kasraie Consulting to provide engineering services for On Call Land Development Plan Review Services in the amount not-to-exceed limit of $50,000 per task order. The term of this five-year agreement is from October 23, 2018 to June 30, 2023.

An additional consultant is being acquired in order to assist with the workload of those applying for grading permits. A grading permit is 3K. Over 200 people are seeking grading permits.

Nasarenko also pulled and discussed Item 8H, “First Amendment to Professional Services Agreement – Kennedy/Jenks Consultants; Environmental Review for East to West Waterline Interconnect.” Interim Public Works Director Mary Joyce Ivers discussed this item, which involved information about piping and other technology. It was recommended that council, “Approve and authorize the City Manager to execute the First Amendment to the Professional Services Agreement with Kennedy/Jenks Consultants to provide environmental review services for preparation of an initial study pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), May 8, 2018 – December 18, 2018, in the amended not-to-exceed amount of $80,520; and the encumbrance of contingency funds for the project in the amount of $8,050 for a new total amount of $88,570.

Public Hearing Item 11A was pulled and this was, “Amended General Plan Refinement Project for a Land Use Designation Change for a Portion of the Montalvo Planning Community and Update General Plan Figures 3-1, 3-3, 3-5.” Community Development Director Jeffrey Lambert discussed that the general plan is being refined. It was recommended that council:

  1. Conduct a Public Hearing on amending a portion of the Montalvo Planning Community.
  2. Adopt the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP) for, and approve a resolution approving the amendment to the Montalvo Planning Community and update to the General Plan figures to reflect previously approved General Plan Amendments

There were public speakers on this item. Chair of the Montalvo Community Council, Mark Abbey was in support of Montalvo community and he asked that council continue to deal with this issue in order to resolve it. He thanked LaVere and council for reaching this time after five years of effort. Overall, the general plan is being updated. And if there are any more changes, they will be done to the zoning and it would have to be addressed.

Formal Items

Item 12A was “Consideration of Ordinance Prohibiting Shared Mobility Devices in the City.” It was said by City Attorney Greg Diaz that in California there has been a recent surge of on-demand personal mobility devices, otherwise known as scooters.

For this mobility device, there is no pick up or drop off location. A person would pick up the scooter, ride it and drop off at any place. This model runs the risk of running many problems and issues. Sister cities have experienced reduced parking and sidewalk areas; “urban clutter,” as scooters are left everywhere; trip and fall accidents as scooters are left everywhere; and there have been conflicts between scooter riders and pedestrians and drivers. These are just a few problems that cities have encountered. (Writer’s note: if a person would like an example of these devices in a city, visit Venice Beach, where the city is littered with these scooters and its drivers have been seen sharing scooters, driving too fast and endangering the safety of others).

Council is considering doing a ban on these devices forever, as it was stated by Diaz that it makes more sense. He said that Ventura can learn from those who are using these devices in their cities. It is recommended that: they adopt the emergency ordinance; or that they adopt a permanent ordinance or that they vote on this issue at the next meeting. LaVere said that this is the future of Ventura, as it is an environmentally friendly way to travel and that they should bring this issue back to discuss. The item will be discussed again with a temporary ban on the scooters.

A Letter of Intent for Ventura being the host city of 2019 Amgen Tour of California was read as a following item, Item 12B. The women would start their tour in Ventura, which would be a new difference. During the public comment, speakers representing Visit Ventura voiced their support for this item. It was recommended upon the agenda to:

  1. Authorize the City Manager to submit a letter of intent to Amgen Tour of California indicating the City of Ventura’s commitment to be a host for the men’s stage finish and women’s overall start and finish for the annual Amgen Tour of California cycling race on May 16, 2019
  2. Authorize the Director of Finance and Technology to adjust existing citywide General Fund appropriations as necessary to ensure costs can be absorbed in the Non-Departmental General Fund budget; not to exceed $177,492.

Councilperson Christy Weir asked about Jeffrey Lambert about financial costs for this change and if Amgen was “negotiable” in assisting Ventura on costs. Lambert said that the majority of costs would be covered by donations. The recommendations were moved forward by council and LaVere added that the item continue to be negotiated by council members.

Formal Item 12C was next, which read: Agreement in Principle – State Water Project Water Supply Contract Amendment for Water Management and California WaterFix. Kevin Brown, Ventura Water General Manager discussed this non-binding contract. It was a explanation of what was to happen with the State Water Project. It was recommended that council: Adopt a resolution directing the Ventura County Watershed Protection District to concur with the Agreement in Principle for the State Water Project Water Supply Contract Amendment for Water Management and California WaterFix as per Section III, Paragraph 1 of the Agreement in Principle.

The project would be a disaster and drought resilient project. Maps were shown and said that it would hopefully be done by 2022 with State Water experts. An agreement between Casitas and DWR would need to be reached. Nasarenko said that he wants to make sure that water rates would not increase because community members have shown him their water bills that have increased and they are “burdensome.”

The last item discussed was scheduling City Council meetings for Ventura for 2019. It is proposed that there would be two meetings a month on Monday evenings. Additional special meetings could be held. Heitman said she did not support the resolution. Weir said that in the past, three meetings per month had worked best.  It was suggested by LaVere that they return as council to discuss holding meetings three meetings per month.

Ventura City Council Video, Oct. 29: https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/718/Videos

Agenda, Oct. 29: https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10292018-1739

Lori Denman has been a professional journalist since 1996. She has worked as associate editor for the Los Angeles Daily News TODAY Magazines and has freelanced for LA Weekly, Surfline.com and more. She is now the Ventura reporter for Citizens Journal.

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