By George Miller
In the last scheduled Oxnard City Council meeting of the year, they covered a number of items. Among them were:
- Received four of of the Aaron Starr/Moving Oxnard Forward ballot initiatives and agreed to get third party impact analyses of them and the fifth one first before placing on November 2020 ballot.
- Public pressure impelled the Council staff to address the impending PACC (Performing Arts & Convention Center) closure even though it wasn’t on the agenda. City Mgr. pointed out the problems with trying to keep it open, but expressed support for finding a way to make it work with the Sterling/Board partnership proposal, since the winning bid dropped out. It looks like PACC will remain open, at least for now. It has funds to do so, council staff will consider a negotiated proposal at a January meeting.
- Received a report from CAUSE on the housing crisis.
- Celebrated the Pacifica HS Tritons football team winning the state championship for first time in country history.
- Downtown Revitalization status report by New City America consultant was well received.
- Approved what they said were more competitive benefits for Operating Engineers and SEIU.
- Proposed Clinicas medical facility on Statham was finally approved, with a few compromises. It will focus on the poor.
C-1- Oxnard Housing Report Update by Central Coast Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)
Re: Housing crisis 805 report (previously published on Citizens Journal:
Representative said there are no comparable surveys in the central coast. Focused on working class and immigrants.
Rents are up 27% in 5 years while wages are only up 7%. Median 1 bedroom apt is about $1800. Farmworkers make about $27,000., which is 80% of income. 80% of survey respondents reported “habitability” issues with apts., many not addressed by landlords.
Renters say they need to cut food or health expenditures, take a second job, move to cheaper place, get roommates or room with friends or just leave the area. Having to provide an SSN, not allowing kids, not accepting Section 8 funds, housing shortages, are all impediments to getting housing.
Oxnard has second highest eviction rate- women have the highest rate. 45% report drastic rent increases. Oxnard has highest habitability issues. There are more empty homes than homeless people. Half have no formal lease- subject to rent increases or evictions.
Then CAUSE had residents speak- in Spanish- translated. Two residents spoke of many problems- moisture, landlords won’t fix things, no maintenance, large rent increases. Slow farm work at this time of the year. Multiple families living in apts- rents too high. Want better tenants’ rights. Can’t make ends meet. Want city to prevent rent increases. Once you lose a house, it’s very difficult to get an affordable one, even with so many vacant homes. Typically $2000 rent + $2000 deposit and 2 even additional months rent.
Their report is on their website-
Community Organizer presenter said that council has to represent residents.
Graciella- (translated)We trust God in finding solutions. Anguish surrounding housing. People said we should not blame home/ranch owners or God. Fields, ranch, rains, are gift to the owners with one condition- give work to people. Can’t work if it rains, then no salary, can’t pay rent- must borrow/pawn. Expenses can’t be met. Cost %5 for a ride each way to and from work. Sometimes food is scarce. I’ve applied for Section 8 housing, bu there are still 40 people ahead of me.
Madrigal- Housing is a tough subject, affects our community every day. Only 28% of residents are able to buy a home (yet ownership rate is much higher.) In 20 years, housing costs have tripled. Housing wasn’t built during the recession, playing catch-up. It is supply and demand, pushing prices up. parking is tight. Will get worse if we don’t do anything right now.
Ramirez- We have a housing crisis, apparent from people living on the street. Adversely affects children’s’ lives. Want stronger code enforcement, encourage complaining without retaliation. Need enforcement. Can withhold rents if conditions poor.
MacDonald- Sits on Las Cortes board, knows of the housing crisis. Poor condition of much housing- owners are responsible. Let me know if you have a problem. I will report it so you aren’t involved, implicated. Have new state quotas.
Perello- I received no info on lady who needed explanation. Need help from CAUSE for this. Re: SSN, credit rating- landlords need credit data. SOAR constrains housing- do you want it or not? Also impacts jobs.
Flynn- Safe Homes/Safe Family program passed addresses conditions/code enforcement.
B- Opening Ceremonies- Celebration of Pacifica HS state football champs
Amazing first time ever for Pacifica High Tritons football team state CIF/State champions. Principal Brown spoke up to congratulate the team and thank Community support. Coach was feted and thanked all. He gave the most credit to the players who he said deserve congratulations. He said many had to overcome major obstacles to do this.
The Council issued a commendation to players, coaches, staff, communities, parents and mentioned tomorrow’s 4:30 pm procession (see link below, which Citizens Journal previously published). That championship game was won 34-6- first team in Ventura County to win a CIF state title.
The Council spent almost as much time congratulating the football team as they did hearing poor peoples’ housing woes.
State Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson aide Angel Garcia also presented a commendation and invited the team to have a commendation presented on the Senate floor in Sacramento.
State CIF Div 2-A- OXNARD COMMUNITY CREATES ‘CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK’Series of Events Planned to Celebrate Pacifica High School State Football Champions OXNARD, Calif. – The Pacifica High School football team will be celebrated at various events throughout the City of Oxnard this week in honor of its recent […]
D- PUBLIC COMMENTS ON ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA
Vincent Ines- Retired Oxnard employee. Homelessness problem in St Anthony’s church areas. Homeless are defacing facility, robbing poorbox. New facility is a terrible idea- glass front, no parking
Ray Blutel- Great game
Jeff Burum- Our community should be running our PACC. Port should be funding PACC. City Mgr cut spending in wrong place.Invest in vision – cultural arts.
Jessica Campiere- Supporting keeping PACC open- various programs depend upon it.
Gary Blum- Thanks for dealing with PACC critical issues. Hope to make the partnership go. Also Anderson PAAK?
Manuel Herrera- I’ll be blunt. We were in all good faith participation in RFP, partnered with Sterling and Anderson PAAK. Not as bad as all of that painted by City Mgr . Wants special meeting to address all of this.
Unknown- PACC supporter
Sheryl Pulie- Theater company owner (uses PACC)- supports keeping it open.
Susanna Acheson- Theater participant- supports keeping PACC open. Sang us a song. to applause.
Olivia Chuly- Oxnard Musical Youth theater- PACC is only venue with sufficient space.
Lauren Kagle, Hannah, Melissa- Theater group (OMI?) participant, Group sang a song-
Darren-Navigation center outreach starts next week. Invites council to 1-15 meeting of CalGisler (conflict)neighborhood.
Pastor Terrence Nivens- local pastor PH speaking on behalf of PACC which he said kept him going as a youth.Stephanie Huduwara- Pre Oxnard Gem and Meeting- need PACC for meetings, shows. Need activities beyond just surviving. Closing is throwing out baby with bathwater
Dan Pinedo- Proud of Pacifica HS champs, Also congratulate Newton HS won CT state championship on anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting.
Aaron Starr- PACC discussion tonight may be a Brown Act violation
Angela Montgomery Timmons- Commend activities to keep PACCopen. Have used PACC extensively. Community include sculpture- PACC is a vital institution for this.
E- City Manager Report
Special PACC report by City Mgr. Alex Nguyen. We confronted a $9MM+ deficit. Recommended PACC closure. It must be a revenue- generating resource. Council funded it through 12-31-19 to honor events that had been booked. Funding, physical assets, needs and commitments all factor in . The venue is simply not up to date- decades of deferred maintenance. No Knowledge of seismic conditions (big potential danger/liabilities). Paid over $200K in injury payouts. Too far from freeway access. City has proven it can’t compete in modern entertainment market. Lack local amenities- restaurants, bars, clubs. Business model is strictly unsustainable.
How do we save the PACCin the long run? Issued a formal RFP- received 3 responses, but not from major companies. Selected (Venue-Tech).- withdrew. RFP now closed.
Going forward, must be clear-eyed in the goal. Need it to be sustainable, with money to maintain, upgrade for safety, amenities. Is the goal to save the PACC or for the board to maintain control of the PACC? Now talking to Sterling Ventures (a board member told Citizens Journal they submitted a joint proposal). He will attempt an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with them next week. Sterling would be primary manager/booking agency. Option to also manage the public spaces. Says we are close to an agreement. Would bring a contract to council for approval. They have funds to operate through February. Staff should select., not the Council.
Public Comments are in item D since this isn’t on the agenda.
E-1- Downtown Oxnard Revitalization Presentation.
Development Director Lambert says we have made progress in turning the ship around for downtown revitalization/development.
Marco LiMandri, President of New City America Inc., described the success of San Diego’s Little Italy project., Property Based Improvement District (PBID) and the potential for Downtown Oxnard. They have formed 85 such districts.
Oxnard downtown is not what it was years ago- true of many downtowns. Showed examples of confusing business presentations and drew an analogy to confused city marketing. Promotes “walkable” downtowns. Uses San Diego Little Italy as a poster child. Old industrial buildings became condos. Wants affordable and market rate housing. Need to accommodate young women and children.
Made infrastructure improvements, + chairs, tables, umbrellas, landscaping. “Intimacy” is important. Built a dog park. $1MM in parking revenues from meters. Valet program. Public spaces- piazzas. Added public artwork, farmers market nets assn $400K year. Seasonal displays. Holiday events. Marketing/public relations. Built strong social media presence. have a 501C3 nonprofit, 28 people on board of directors. $3.5MM budget with parking, event, assessment budget- spends it all.
Oxnard downtown has some great old architecture and is walkable. Have beautiful Park (Plaza Park). Have new zoning code, renewed downtown district hired his company. Train station is a great asset
Alex Nguyen- Stress cleanliness, safety first. Attract top tier development projects and leverage city-owned property. Multiple past fits and starts- unsuccessful. We art picking up momentum now, Some similarities to Little Italy which is roughly the same size as downtown Oxnard.
This is very consistent with what has been said in the past.
Ray Blutel- Only administrative changes have been accomplished so far. Don’t ignore Oxnard Blvd corridor- not attractive, uninviting now. Need more enticing environment- “curb appeal.”
Pat Brown- We gotta get on this now. Wants high rise buildings because we lack land.
Jeff Burum- Alex, this is an absolute home run and I can’t wait to see it. Need housing, jobs. Invite people to the too. What about farmers- what are they doing to house their people (employees?).
Aaron Starr- A property based improvement district is not enough. You make it impossible to put up a building. Need new
Nguyen- we’re gonna build those buildings and create permit simplicity. Flynn wouldn’t let Starr rebut., although he allowed Nguyen to opine.
Ramirez- Loves Little Italy redev. City doesn’t build housing- we need private developers to do it. Agree with Oxnard Blvd corridor comments
MacDonald- Liked presentation. Time to make this come to fruition.
Lopez- appreciate presentation and forward thinking.
Flynn- Speakers’ frustration is shared. He believes Nguyen when he says buildings will be built. But when will there be a deal with Madison Park for Social Security building and two other properties. tem sheet in January? Next version detailed plans in process to incorporate latest city input.
Lambert- most important thing was to modify the zoning regulations and allow most approvals at the Director level.
Nguyen- Retail as an anchor is slowly disappearing. Most successful downtowns rely on a community benefit district. Times Square is a premier example. Lack a clientele critical mass. Only 900 residents. Office space is sparse. Zero class A office space – for biggest city in the county. Almost no nighttime corridor. No Class B office space either. Will have to lead with a critical mass of residents.
There was not a vote to accept this report.
E-2- List of City Manager Approved Contracts – Informational Only
Nguyen only said it was published, said nothing else about it. Find it in the agenda package if you must know.
Council Member General comments
Ramirez- Congrats Sgt. David Walker retirement. Re: PACC- we seem to be moving in the right direction with City Mgr. negotiations. Thanks for looking at negotiations. Happy holidays all.
Perello- Saw several Pacifica games. Tremendous Oxnard attendance at games. Thanks Lisa Bonier for her service. Implies that Treasurer Molina was taking credit for this. Criticize people for negative comments about city on social media. Pointed out hazards of PACC condition. Potential operators must meet requirements. We killed our own downtown. Current management deserves support. City has done lipe service on cleaning up south Oxnard. Must mandate civic education.
Madrigal- Saw an OMI theater performance. Attended toy giveaway. Cited upcoming events. Listen to the video if you want to here it all.
MacDonald- Pacifica pep rally Wednesday noon. Encourages public service.
Basua- Happy holidays/Merry Christmas/Happy New Year. Not sure how a special meeting on PACC would help. Council sets policy, not negotiations. Don’t want to put any more money in PACC,don’t want layoffs. We will do everything to truy to keep them there. I understand the city managers’ predicament.
Lopez- Congrats to Pacifica HS. Community outreach townhall Wednesday on Navigation Center (proposed Saviers Road homeless shelter and services) 6 PM at S Oxnard Ctr- 200 E. Bard Rd. Thanks to city staff. It was a challenging year, look forward to a more positive one next year,
Flynn- Lauded Elks and other nonprofit charitable works. Thanks to Nguyen for his leadership. No one on Dais wants to close the P:ACC. It comes down to dollars and cents. Only cut $6MM of the $9MM budget. Nguyen is pursuing keeping the PACC open.
G-I- Information Consent Agenda
Items pulled for discussion:
5, 8, 4
#5- Perello- problems with employees getting benefits illegally. Illegally accrued time was clawed back. Some employees were getting confidential employee and SEIU benefits.
#4 typo- Should be 1,186,560. Extending agreement with Mercy at the current shelter site to avoid a gap in service until new facility is ready.
#8-Perello cant support- wants 1000 ft buffer.
(some name spellings are phonetic)
Ray Blutel- Re: I-6 – for Construction Inspection
Services for the OWTP Emergency Repairs Project. – Start date for outsource was Oct 2018? Numbers seem discrepant. Why no certificate of insurance.
David Forteth- Flavored tobacco- it wasn’t brought to public attention. He was able to quit smoking with “-Liquid.” No health complaints, Sons own a factory in Camarillo which make sit. Problems are actually linked to THC. Not true that flavors are the main attraction. Euphoric effect is due to nicotine. Vape is less powerful. Limit to 21 and over locations- vape and tobacco shops. Being sold to minors illegally
Ed Gutierrez- United Food & Commercial workers including 700 in Oxnard, 4000 in VC. Want stable jobs, fair wages, a real voice in cannabis industry. Want this is any cannabis ordinance. Enforce compliance. Wants stronger ordinance- provide proof they will enter into an agreement with a labor organization, per state law (!). Must provide proof of anti-discrimination.whistleblower protection. Make sure permits may be revoked if any labor laws violated. Sales taxes will fund all this.
Pat Brown- #4- Navigation Centre (Homeless shelter)- Public she spoke to were upset about new shelter location. Vaping can be very dangerous, Does not help quit smoking. THC levels are far more dangerous than 1960’s/70’s.
Carolyn Abulhas?- Representing Mandalay Shores timeshare . A timeshare operates more like a hotel. Short Term rental regulations are not really applicable. Ventura exempts timeshare completely. They have engaged an attorney.
Nguyen responses- They have 10 days to provide an insurance certificate.
Lambert- It is simply a difference interpretation of regulations as they apply to time-sharing. Only applies when they are renting. Doesn’t believe any changes are required., Doesn’t believe changes to cannabis ordinance are need to meet union rep’s concerns.
Atty Rozelle- Agrees with Lambert on timeshare issue. On Gutierrez demands- Rozelle says labor agreement is already a state law/Prop 64. Anti-discrimination./retaliation are already part of state law, Already requires state law on labor requirements but union wants revocation, which city cannot unilaterally do.
Vote- MacDonald wants 5 & 8 to be voted separately
Vote 1- unanimous on all items except 5&8
Vote on item 5- was 6-1, Perello opposed
Vote on item 8- was 6-1, Perello opposed
J-1- new Clinicas Medical Office Building at 2001 Statham Boulevard, Subject to Certain Findings and Conditions. 2001 Statham Blvd & Oxnard Blvd.
They wanted three exceptions including offsite parking and more. Was 41,000 sq ft medical building, now 34 ,000 sq ft with all parking on site but still less than code. reduced loading zone, increased height to 40+ ft. Now 135 parking spaces, which they said was justified.
Developer will make some roadways and other improvements.
Planning Commission is now OK with it.
Pat Brown- Still concerned about parking. She thinks it will get busier and need more parking.
Ramirez- It’s great. parking won’t be a problem. Support
Perello- Where is building entrance. Drop-off on Oxnard Blvd side? A: Yes, there and main entrance.
Lopez- Will construction use local union labor. A: Union-free shop.
Vote- 7-0 unanimously approved.
K-1- Successor Memoranda of Understanding with Service
Employees International Union and International Union of Operating Engineers.
Ray Blutel- Wants Total cost of MOU’s disclosed. What was presented is not the actual cost. His request has been ignored. On.ly the “delta” (change) for first year is included. Same old format with misleading data for transparency.
Aaron Starr- How much of this cost is to general fund vs other funds. What is total cost of employees. It’s a piecemeal and other city comparisons are not accurate. Public employee benefits are not available so much in the private sector.
HR Mgr- IUOE Mostly 70%in utilities, SEUI only about 40% utilities vs general fund. Our medical benefits were lower than other areas- trying to bring them into line.
Ryper/CFO- disagrees with Blutel. Thinks incremental costs are OK. Look at budget to see total cost. Nguyen- fundamental differences with private sector. Comparison is to municipals. Staff is stretched thin, staff works very hard. The economy has been quite strong for many years (!). We need to be competitive or we will be losing employees and have higher training and recruiting costs.
Ramirez- Painful cuts in last budget cycle, but we must be competitive. Totally support this.
Perello- I’d like to see total costs, too.What is cost impact of stuifflike bilingual pay? Support it.
Vote- 7-0 unanimously approved
K-2- Internal Auditor’s 2018-19 Annual Work Plan, Contract Amendment and Resolution
Increasing medical contribution of $1543/mo/employee or $1243 if waived. Increase in uncontrolled standby rate. New rates for bilingual employees from $35 to $125/hr. New 401A plan. Total cost is 19.54% IUOE, 15.25% for SEIU.
Ray Blutel- Payroll overtime analysis was worked on , but auditor shifted the approach multiple times and he doesn’t think it was finished. Work plan hasn’t been approved. Public safety overtime is up 60%- unsustainable.
Flynn (Chair of Finance Committee)- wasn’t sufficient oversight of internal auditor. Inordinate time was spent on whistleblower hotline and other priorities weren’t addresses sufficiently. Overtime auditing should be a high priority. Golf course and PAC got attention, now lower priority. Flynn attributes changes’more to that and changing circumstances.
Ramirez- Supports, but where are the audit results? She said she was toild most whgitslkeblwoer issiues werelabor-related. Klima says payroll and overtime audits are nearing completion. PACC, Golf course CityCorp audits now on hold.
MacDonald- We put $200K extra into police overtime to deal with downtown/homeless related issues, so let;s not blame OPD for that. How we track, justify and funding sources are all issues. Nguyen- when you see overtime report, some of your concerns will be addressed.
Vote- 7-0 unanimously approved.
K-3- Sale of City of Oxnard Rule 20A Credits.
Adam Smith (City Mgr’s office).
These credits are for burying electrical lines underground, come from utility rate money and local funding.
$280, 000 is accumulate dannuallyHave $3.965,787. It costs about $2mm per mile to do this. No known Oxnard projects right now. Have done about $6MM worth. No current projects.
Due to utility fire risks, credits are to be transferred to other higher risk areas. We can sell these credits, at a discount. This sale would be at .55/dollar.
Perell- can we get more? .55 is the best we heard.
We didn’t hear atoytal dollar amount mentioned.
Vote- 7-0 unanimously approved
K-4- Certificates of Sufficiency of Signatures for Four Initiative Petitions
That the City Council receive and file the certificates of sufficiency for
the following four initiatives. These are the Aaron Starr/Moving Oxnard Forward initiatives):
1. “New Requirements Regarding the Way in Which City Council Meetings, Council Committees
and Other City Legislative Bodies Are Run”
2. “Early Termination of Measure O Sales Tax If Specific Pavement Standards for City Streets and
Alleys Are Not Met; Extension of Measure O Sales Tax For Additional Five Year Periods If
Specific Pavement Standards Are Met”
3. “Expedited Processing of Certain City-Issued Development Permits If Projects Meet Specific
Requirements and Project Applications Are Filed By Specified Professionals Who Have Received
Required Training Pursuant to the New Program; Program Includes Audits of Approved Permits
and Appeals of Certain Denied Permits and Adverse Certification Actions of the Specified
Professionals to Newly Created Appeals Board and to the City Council” and
4. “Expansion of Duties of Elected City Treasurer By Appointing the City Treasurer as Director of
Finance and Giving the City Treasurer Additional Duties Pursuant to that New Role: Authority
Over City’s Finance Department; Selection and Oversight of Internal Auditor; Establishment,
Preparation and Submittal of Monthly Financial Reports; Establishment, Preparation and
Submittal of Monthly Performance Measurements for City Departments; and Preparation and
Submittal of Annual City Budget.”
8401 signatures for each were requir3d. 4 of the five passed the statistical sample. The term limits one did not and will require a100% check.
Aaron Starr- Thanks to the community. We spent the whole summer and early fall gathering signatures,. He reviewed ad promoted them very briefly.
K-5- Consideration of Action on Certified Initiative Measures Titled:
For each of the above agenda item initiatives:
RECOMMENDATION: That the City Council:
1. For each initiative certified to date as sufficient by the City Clerk, either: a) adopt the ordinance,
b) call an election, or c) order a report pursuant to Elections Code Section 9212; and
2. If calling the election, adopt resolution(s) ordering consolidation with the November 3, 2020
statewide election and requesting the County Clerk to conduct the election and authorizing the
Board of Supervisors to canvass the returns.
Nguyen does not support these measures, especially the permit one. Says he will look forward to presenting this info to the public
Wants the 9212 report on the other three-0 which he said are very dangerous- which would provide an impartial third party analysis and would present at the 1-15-1=20 Council Meeting.
Aaron- Never thought that having meetings after 5 is very dangerous. These proposals wee good, easily gathered signatures. Analysis would be very expensive. Objects to the title city gave his initiatives. Wants language changed. His initiatives are being treated differently from the city’s own. He urges just putting them on the ballot.
Greg Runion- I understand why you might want to take a look at these initiatives. Are you trying to find a way to not put these on the ballot? I’;m kinda getting tired of the politics. Can we do it without aloways having to vote and go to court. Figure out together how to solve probelms. Support putting Aarn’s item son the ballot. Very impresed with City Manager.
Ramirez- It would be responsible not to see the impact? Could someone just put up a liquor store next to a residential area? signing a measure doesn’t mean everyone understands the impact. (She sure doesn’t seem to based on these comments).
MacDonald- Would the measure make this into a special purpose tax for streets, for example? Treasure claims to be checks and balances son financial system,. If Treasure measure passes it would put him in charge of finances, losing said checks and balances/.
Madrigal- As Pastor Runyon said, the public did sign the initiative- should go to votres, rules were followed, signatures are there.
Perello- Yes needs to go to the ballot, but we need to know the impact. I want a third opinion.
Basua- these will create an additional staff workload. Agree with staff recommendations. Complimented Starr on getting it this far.
Flynn- =The initiative process is very democratic. It is an attempt to be part of the solution. Objects especially to concentrating the power in the hands of one person (Treasurer). Makes him a dictator. (An elected dictator). Takes function away from City Council. Negates role of City Manager. Says it is dangerous, irresponsible. Term limits is a harmeles thing. Hasn’t been effective in state legislature. Don’t have term limits in federal govt. elective offices. Getting council meetings prerecorded is befuddling. Says committee system with daytime meetings is effective. Carrying on to 1 or 2 in the morning isn’t transparent.
Lopez- Can we add the fifth measure also? Atty Fischer- Only when it comes back from the county. Then he chan
City Atty Fischer- Recommendations on what to study: fiscal impact, infrastructure funding impact, any other matters the legislature wants in the report, example- city governance, administrative oversight impact.,
Vote- On 9212 reports plus on term limits, with Fischer recommendations. 6-1 approval with Madrigal opposed.
George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.