Oxnard Approves Budget; Declares Police Brutality/Racism “Public Health Crisis”; Moves Ahead on $34MM Homeless Facility

By George Miller

The Oxnard City Council on 6-30-20 addressed:

– The 2020-21 fiscal year budget approved, with massive loans and new taxes promised.

– A resolution declaring racism and police brutality a public health crisis.

– A $34 million dollar homeless center, now dubbed  a solution center, with an additional $2-3 million in annual operating costs. Exclusive right to negotiate was granted to Community development for this project, over the opposition of 125 local business owners, the Homeless Committee Chair, Vice Chair and other residents.

Meeting AGENDA, VIDEO

 

Agenda Item H-1- Resolution to condemn police brutality and declare racism a public health emergency

Resolution was read (below). Some changes were made (watch video).

Public Comments

Barbara Macri Ortiz- Do not impugn police chief Whitney. Saw a police military vehicle at a protest march.

Brendan Hutchinson- Shouldn’t do budget until racism addressed and incorporated into budget. Feel more represented  by youths than council.

Jessica- Give up police funds for community action especially people of color. Reimagine PD, replace with trained professionals.

John Carazello- I support any and all BLM movement to reallocate funds to community and oversight board, condemn brutality, health crisis, institutional racism. Racist policing even if friendly or intentions good in joining PD.

George Miller- Described Council resolution as “virtue signalling.” Why now, if these terrible injustices as claimed have existed so long? Never mind that city and police dept and the nation have already made excellent progress. Never mind that vast majority of police killings are justified, that only a handful are unarmed blacks, nearly all are justified and the trend is down. These are hugely outnumbered by the killing of whites, including black on white crime. Then there is the much larger black on black killings, which are in turn dwarfed by 20 million plus abortion killings of black babies. But that doesn’t fit the narrative.

Larry Barberini- Happy Independence day to this imperfect but freest nation on earth. Resotion says that racism is but evil, but broad implied brush directed to all police, racism is a public health crisis. The real epidemic is that 70% of black kids grew up without a father. Huge marker for future violent crime. Self described Marxists who started BLM- want get rid of nuclear family- need mothers and fathers. Racism is is not the main problem. Many more blacks kill blacks than whites kill blacks. 18X more killings of police than police killing blacks. Don’t like the paint brush approach.

Council  Comments

MacDonald- Need to include all elements so no one gets left unprotected.

Ramirez- Firmly believe our city needs to make a statement. Focus is on black lives, but problems related to poverty, inst racism Need to learn our history, forgive, don’t forget, learn history. Whitney’s statement that Floyd killing is appalling, unacceptable. History started with removal of native people, then slavery. Came here unwilling, uncompensated, tortured, families destroyed. Our city should be example, not just in policing, but with poverty. COVID i striking black, Latino people very hard. Proposed changes. African American, not black. Start with slavery, original sin, not just Jim Crow. Add paragraph to resolution-  Declare that black lives matter

Lopez- This resolution was an effort not only by council, but police chief. We are all in this together to make meaningful change. Target racially segregated communities for well being COVID

Madrigal- A first step- what is next. How does it help the young kid who is probably hungry. Next steps are most important.

Perello- Supports the basic concept. The two proponents requesting changes: should we bring it back finished later? I agree with it all, plus MacDonald’s comments- don’t want to see anyone left out. Police brutality is a fact.  This community has come  a long way. Are we trying to curry favor with certain groups? Education needed. Oxnard not involved in education business- that’s the schools.

Basua- Agree. Needs more- everybody. Do we need funds for this or will it just sit somewhere? Want action, funding.

Ramirez- I didn’t draft this. Police Chief had a lot of input. My edits come from African American community- they are the spotlight. Want city to know what is going on in the African American Community

Councilwoman (Lopez?)- talked to African Americans. Recent events highlight longtime  issues. We should move ahead with this and recommended edits.

Flynn- Council is unanimous in condemnation, taking a stand against racism, a public health crisis, but not complete. Conversation starts Wednesday with panel discussion (special meeting).  I support the 6 points in condemnation. But a lot needs to be filled in. Don’t exclude community.  We should commit to  a stronger, more enforceable resolution- not just symbolic. A lot of work left to be done. Should it include an appropriation?  Prepare a roadmap.

Ramirez- It is lacking actions. Budget constraints. MUST pass budget today- state requires. Want public to know we are serious about this- people are hurting, scared, what might happen to them when they go out in public. OK to get more input.

Perello- Don’t want community think we are blowing this off- black lives do matter. Put a time frame on this. None of us are against this.

Lopez- Our way to commit to our community to look at next steps to take. Not saying that no other lives matter, but working on systemic racism against blacks.

Basua- agrees. Don’t forget about this- work on it- how will we be able to assure action.

Vote- approve with amendments- 7-0 unanimous

 

Council Comments section

Ramirez- glad short term rental issue being addressed. Antibody testing- on city website- sign up! Glad for SCOTUS nondiscrimination ruling. Criticized for not having normal meetings, but COVID cases are rising. No way to do safe enough in person. Hospital overwhelmed, 600 died in CA

Perello- Recent exposures, LA county closing beaches- they will come here. Beach community leader tested positive. Don’t take health for granted. Watch out for dangerous situations at restaurants, etc.

Madrigal- Concerned about COVID- wear mask, be careful, avoid gatherings. Oxnard cases rose drastically- farmworker housing 100+ case out of 260 residents.

Lopez- Concerned over rising COVID cases, esp S. Oxnard. Make sure we have resources, testing, to deal with it.

 

Information Consent Agenda

#7 pulled from agenda

#2 #7 pulled by Perello from agenda for discussion  K-9, K-10 recused due to potential conflicts

Madrigal recused self from K-2

#2- Attended Ox Downtown Mgmt. District meeting. They were concerned they missed meeting. Said their mgmt did not inform them. send invitations directly. a member of the public made disrespectful accusations,

Public Comments

Lucy- Downtown is heart of city. City mgr overreaching, taking some council responsibilities and downtown management. Should be overseen by officials, not staff.

 

#7 discussion- Change in insurance market. Risk Manager- Lower from $30 million top $15 mm $18MM aggregate, Premium 779,801, 225K savings. Bids were withdrawn from Oxnard and many other cities. Staff thinks the $15MM is adequate anyway. Coverage is much better.  Defense costs are not included. actuary sees no impact on reserves, because city has already reserved. Savings will also go into reserves.

Arthur J. Gallagher agent on the phone- Susan Blankenberg-

Perello- please explain legal defense costs situation? Why did insurers all pull out? Many co’s have withdrawn from public sector. BISEP had $25MM aggregate limit. New policy does not deduct defense costs. Now all is covered.

 

Vote on Info Consent agenda- Approved 7-0

#2 Madrigal recused

2,9, 10 Perello recused

 

Reports

L-3- Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Community Development Partners for the Development of a Homeless Solutions Center.

This is for the controversial proposed $34 million (latest estimate) for a homeless “solutions: center downtown on 2nd St.

Per City Manager Alex Nguyen:

Staff recommends that Exclusive Right to Negotiate be granted to Community Development Partners- 241 w 2nd street. Economic Development Committee voted a 3-0 unanimous approval.  (He did not cite the  Homeless Commission, which was badly divided).

City Mgr. Nguyen- There is nationwide Homeless crisis. 25% of this is  in CA alone- statewide crisis. There was no discussion why it is more than twice as bad in CA as the rest of the nation overall. It is only one of 6 crises here in Oxnard (these were not enumerated). Referred to his 2019 report- where he claimed that the “Housing First” approach is a “proven model.” (no proof was provided). So why is CA the worst? City adopted 5 year homeless action plan 2018.

Cities spend significant resources to address homeless:
1. Community impact

2. Services to homeless

3. Invest in homelessness. Few cities have done. Too much reliance on police dept- dealing with impact, doesn’t resolve homelessness.

Shelter is now the primary tool . Using housing as primary tool is much more effective to achieve stability.  (.25%, .17% homelessness nationwide).

Top offenders. Top offender arrested 92X in 5 years. Chasing people around from neighborhood to neighborhood- whackamole and wastes precious resources. He is accused of rushing this. We have not, he claimed. This is a crisis, an emergency, move with deliberate speed. Claims it wouldn’t make downtown worse, it will make it better. Receive numerous complaints about downtown homeless- 2000 in recent 18 months (or was this all calls). 95% of these did not end homeless status. More achievable to provide services (to homeless)  indoors. Common denominator in complaints- people feel that homeless community should be on fringes of city. That is not something this administration would prioritize morally, ethically  to resolve homelessness. Accusations about his relationship with Mercy House- friends with him or would benefit from transaction, Claims they are the “gold standard” and were here before Nguyen’s arrival. Will only serve 150 of 700 homeless people, but we must start somewhere, can’t serve all 700 at once. But this would make a drastic impact on the city.  This is not just a K Street replacement shelter, but a comprehensive solution.

Housing Director Emilio Ramirez-  Present exclusive negotiating agreement. 89, 4 trans and 455 unsheltered . Improved due to K Street shelter. He said nothing about impact of county leased hotels housing 355  people.

Must leave K Street facility due to airport proximity.  Previously unsuccessful in finding site.  1258 Saviers Rd selected, abandoned for a more complete solution. Most sites not interested in renting as a homeless shelter. Decided to look for a more complete solution.

Shelter only $8.5MM + $2.5 MMM operating costs (of the total $34 mm,he claimed).

Mixed use approach preferred, leverages building costs. Says it saves $8.5MM with housing included,

52K ft site on 2nd street.,. 13K sq ft for shelter vs current site 10K. Cost comparable TO Other urban housing projects.

City’s contribution leverages $30MM (grants and developer), he claimed, but most of this will ultimately be borne by taxpayers, whether via loans, grants or tax credits.

He said that the Homeless Commission “protest motion” (both Chair and Vice Chair opposed to the proposal) failed.

Larry Haines of Mercy House, Kyle Bain of Community Development President were there for questions,

Kyle Bain of Community Development (video screenshot)

Kyle- Affordable Housing developer Low income, seniors, homeless, special needs, substance abuse. 1600 units completed. Gave examples. Santa Ana cited. Newport Beach. 5 projects , 383 units under development, with 254 more in the pipeline. Partner with organizations like Mercy House. Provide “wraparound services.” Leverages local resources, vouchers grants, tax credits,

Won Awards in LA and Riverside.

Larry- Mercy House Director  for 30 years, 1000 beds, singles, families, couples. Will ensure no impact on local business and residential community. Says that they have no complaints. Already operating under less than ideal conditions on K Street. Now have an opportunity to build an extraordinary facility  from the ground up. Claims only 10% turnover in housing tenants (subsidized housing might do that). Claims there is no dispute that Housing First is the best approach- nationwide. Excited about working on this project.

Public Comments

Samuel Galluci (Kingdom Center Founder/CEO Gabriel House, to deal with domestic violence victims, etc)- Serve 140/year. High quality program and remote location. People feel safer there. Attacked those who want to put the navigation center there. Displacing his center.

Sue Brinkmeyer- In favor of this. Have seen  positive affects with residents a SD/LA, actively engaged in job search, education, mental health. People do not hang outside without purpose.

Melissa Campbell Langville- Support proposal (sound cutting out). Mercy House uniquely positioned to serve and eliminate strain on community.

Barbara Macri-Ortiz- Fully support proposal. Need to end homelessness. Resistance met- seen that tune over and over again, dire prediction never seems to materialize. Just myths about crime by homeless population. Taking care of homeless takes care of the problem. Can’t keep looking for the perfect site.

Chris Ridge- Director People Services for Oxnard School District. Recapped previous advantages cited and none of the disadvantages. 24 hr security. Mercy House has proven management ability.

Jose Negretti- Have a potential site. Feels community needs met. Was a former homeless commissioner. Yes, some current commissioners oppose this. Internal micro-eco-system. Claims mainly private funds will be used.

Lucy Cartagena- Vice Chair Homeless Commission- not in favor of project or price. How do other cities build these so much cheaper? Even with owning the land it costs more. Uncomfortable with plan. His wife is  housing director of the company- a conflict.

Lance Ralston- Pastor of Calvary Chapel Oxnard.- A privilege to have Ramirez as Housing Director. Center would improve neighborhood situation.  Opposes Gabriel House location, remote location and would displace residents already there.

Pastor Michael Coloso- Likes the proposal. Gabriel House is successful, private, hard to enter into. B street has access to local businesses. Restores dignity of those involved.

Gabriel Teran- Freemont South Chair- Mostly in support of 2nd Street site. Makes sense financially, logistically. Be inclusive of downtown businesses and residences.

Margaret Cortege- Psychologist, Mental Health and advisory board, speaking for self. Nice to have homeless people hanging around on 6th street.

Peggy Rivera- Chair of Homeless Commission- We are not against shelter, but have problems with this site. Approves of Mercy House. It should not be downtown. I will leave it in God’s hands.

Lucia O’Connor- On  Homeless Commission- favors it. Commission hasn’t met in 4 months. Was supported before. Prefers downtown location.

Ruby Dorias-  Was on Homeless Commission- Had homeless students. supports proposal. Every homeless is a casualty of the system.

Ed Shute- On Gabriel House staff. Supports proposal. This is where homeless already are. Gabriel House location is integral for its success.

Mara Klassen- Homeless not treated well on the Ventura side- NIMBY. Actually have a proposal with a solution. Gotta be somewhere.

Manley Klassen- Serve homeless last 8 years with Kingdom Center. Like Housing First approach.

Irma Lopez- Husband was long time council member and mayor. Downtown property owner- negative impact, vandalism by homeless. Want a shelter but not in downtown. Kingdom Center looks better. Opposed to proposal

Kevin Basinger- One of OPD Commanders manages homeless and anti-vagrancy effort. Supports center.

Justin Eger- Own Sandpiper Property Manager, own s tow adjacent properties. Mercy House has excellent operators. He has a potential local $15MM project.

Pat Felm- With Nature Conservancy, supports proposal. People living at Ormond Beach superfund site in squalor- fires, medical emergencies.

Joanna Navarrez- Opposed to this location from the beginning. Support a shelter but not there. Trying to revitalize Oxnard- this will not help economy or safety. People don’t want to go downtown. Need revenue-producing businesses.

Christy Madden- Sr. Deputy Exec officer for County. County supports proposal. K Street can’t be used due to hazards.

David B. Luttel- Involved with Utilities Commission, homeless commission, have financial management background. Opposed. Concerned about this location. 1450 Rose Ave site is 5 times as large.

Amanda Nacla- Live at Gabriel House/Kingdom Center, lived on street, had abusive relationships. Gabriel House has worked well for her.

Robert O’Reilly- Manage downtown office. Homeless are our neighbors, historic, cutting edge, “shovel ready.” Supports.

Pat Brown- Likes location.

Jennie Lye- Opposed. Had 125 business owners signing opposition petition. Was property owner since 2007. Many property owners not outspoken. No customer wants to come downtown with homeless hanging around.

John Fowler- President and CEO of local housing developer. Supports. Good location. Has done Ventura, Santa Barbara and other downtown centers.

Margarita Escontia- CEO of largest affordable VC housing developer.  Cabrillo. Strong support. Homelessness not a law enforcement problem. Housing First advocate.

Veronica Andreas Garcia- supports. Wouldn’t prevent them from going downtown. Includes market rate housing. Affordable housing for most vulnerable.

Susan Whitewood- Supports. Don’t live in Oxnard, but has an office there. Regardless of where center is, homeless will be there.

Greg Runyon- Supports. Let’s not think about the worst behavior of homeless, but the mother sleeping in her car.

Joan Lucas- Was homeless, not addicted. 14 months at Gabriels. Housing Dept got her apartment.

Kenny Dus- Director at Gabriel House. People sleep in parks and by buildings. Don’t want to be displaced.

Abel Magama- Exec Director of Downtown District and lives nearby. Have empathy for homeless. Opposition petition circulating. For every objector signing there are many more who also oppose.

Kelly Bruno-Nelson- Supports. CEO of National Health Foundation. Serve 1000 people including one in LA. operate recuperative center in VC.

Sal Gonzales- Supports. Time is past to act. Cost is comparable to rental housing projects.

Magda White?- Supports. On Board of Community Action and downtown business owner. Steady visibility by officials. Have never been approached by an aggressive homeless person.

Jorge Escalera- 125 signatures of downtown business owners opposing. Many didn’t even know about it. Downtown has become less attractive, trashing, defecating, begging. Most (homeless) are outsiders, don’t want structure. Find another location, revitalizing area, not localizing poverty.

Jack Villa- Opposed to location. Sent you reasons why, will be a detriment to business future of downtown. Agreement should be transparent- reports, security, monitoring success rates.

Joyce Chavez- In total disagreement. Unfair to businesses. Concerned about Oxnard revitalization- I want a nice downtown. Move Kingdom Center. Already have one in Colonia.

Council Comments

Ramirez- Supports. Most questions asked in a way to support the projects. Many called in who do not support the project. Rabobank exec had submitted a proposal for 56 living units. No one has mentioned any problems with Mercy House. Enough homeless children here to populate an entire household. (Funds) Won’t come out of general fund. Here’s a way to get our rightful tax dollars. Council should be urged to support

MacDonald- talking to people about this project for days. Winter warming shelter is just warehousing people. Santa Barbara transitional housing is in downtown Carrillo St. It’s just an exclusive negotiating agreement with a 2 year window. Could look at other sites if it doesn’t work out. Have to get out of K Street. Agrees with Housing First approach. Open to entertaining agreement. On the fence about appropriateness here (downtown), but will vote for proposal.

Perello- Supports.

Madrigal- This is a long time coming.

Lopez- Not perfect. Need dialogue with downtown business owners (who seem to be overwhelmingly opposed). Be partner to downtown community.

Basua- Some reservations with site- won’t own it, amount of money, location a concern. Business owners- we heard you loud and clear- understand issues. Will have to figure it out as we go.

Flynn- Opposition feels project would exacerbate homeless situation. Must have some relief for those bearing the burden. Thinks project will turn this area around. Has to be a homeless free zone one block around this. We have to make sure this site will be an asset, not a liability. What value does a citizen advisory group have. Homeless Chair (an Vice Chair) opposed. He will work with her to engage her.

Vote- approved unanimously 7-0

L-4- Second Amendment to Agreement A-8194 with Mercy House for the Provision of
Shelter and Navigation Center Operations

Approve the Second Amendment to Agreement A-8194 with Mercy House for the provision of
shelter and navigation center operations in Fiscal Year 2020-2021, in the amount not-to-exceed
$1,944,209 (inclusive of the COVID-19 Contingency Costs) bringing the total cost for the Amended
Agreement to a not-to-exceed amount of $3,367,476 (inclusive of $936,727 for COVID-19 Cost);
2. Direct staff to return to Council to recognize the appropriation of $241,916 of Coronavirus Aid,
Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funds; and
3. Direct staff to return to Council upon receipt by the city of Permanent Local Housing Allocation
(PLHA) funds for acceptance and appropriation of $744,209 of said funding for the purpose of
covering the cost of shelter operations.

Approved unanimously 

 

L-1&2- Approval of City Budgets

These were discussed at previous meetings and tentatively approved. This was the final approval as required by state law by 6-3-20, right on 6-30-20.

 

 


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

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One Response to Oxnard Approves Budget; Declares Police Brutality/Racism “Public Health Crisis”; Moves Ahead on $34MM Homeless Facility

  1. William Hicks July 11, 2020 at 2:52 am

    We have an experiment here. What people should compare are results of this experiment with those cities that haven’t embraced the unchallenged goals of BLM.

    Just a word of caution….It’s a whole lot easier accepting what BLM offers than reversing them. What you get may be with you for years to come. Is this really what you want?

    Reply

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