Oxnard Approves Harbor Water Problem Testing/Analysis & Planning; Finalizes New Controversial Committee System

By George Miller

Agenda items  J-2&3- The Council finalized, but not without major public dissent, via the consent agenda, the “Sunshine ordinance” for added transparency and the new committee meeting approach approved with contention at the last meeting on October 23 (ref .10-23 meeting report below):

Oxnard Rams Through New Committee Management System & 100% Clean Power “Default” Option

Oxnard Rams Through New Committee Management System & 100% Clean Power “Default” OptionBy George Miller- At the October 23, 2018 Oxnard City Council meeting, an alliance of City Council and staff members pushed through a new committee management structure/system, which they said would result in shorter meetings (disputed) , more public participation (disputed) and streamlined approval of votes- but also much less content/detail in regular council meetings.  […] 


Objections to the latter were again ignored or refuted as they were at the last meeting. 

There was great debate on the harbor water quality issue- its cause, studies to determine the underlying problems, symptoms, remediation, and magnitude and the split of funding costs. Due to the urgency of the matter, the Council ultimately agreed to approve the contract for testing and analysis, but fund it from the Measure O 1/2 cent sales tax and also look for other funding sources.

The Council, staff and public spent the most time debating the approach and payment of handling the water quality issue, said by longtime residents to be the worst ever, finally agreeing to spend $316,000 more for the next phase of testing, analysis and planning, without a dollar for mitigation yet.


Memorial Services for Sergeant Ron Helus

Memorial Services for Sergeant Ron Helus

The memorial service for Sergeant Ron Helus (VC Sheriff Deputy killed while trying to stop the Borderlines shooter)will be held on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm. The memorial service will be held at Calvary Community Church, 5495 Via Rocas, Westlake Village, CA 91362.  Immediately following the memorial service, there will be a short procession and graveside service at Pierce Brothers Valley Mortuary and […]

The Mayor noted and regretted that  Jake Dunham, the son of a city employee Ken Dunham, was killed in last week’s Borderline shooting and the other victims. Also paid tribute to fire victims.


J- Information Consent Agenda

Items are all voted on together by default without debate, unless they are pulled specifically for debate by a Council Mmeber(s)

Carmen Ramirez & Bert Perello pulled item 3- the new committee meeting approach. Ramirez wants City Council meetings to be more efficient/effective. Supports new ordinance. Election turnout not great.

MacDonald wanted to approve other items then return to 3. Flynn refused.

Public Comments

Lauraine Efress- Re; Process and product., Insufficient outreach to public over this. This is an enormous change , with only one reading and nowhere near the attention like District Elections had. Many questions in my mind. Too hard to cover all meetings, Why not consider another model? Needs much more outreach. Urges  tabling motion, more outreach first.  We gave short shrift to the process and have no idea what the product is going to be.

Pat Brown- Agrees with Effress. This will not engage younger people- (busy/working). Not sure what to do, don’t think this should be rushed.

Audrey Keller- Ordinance passed immediately before the election. Unintended consequences.  Serve on 2 committees, work free, have become advocates for the  City. Helped dissuade council from voting for new Harbor Agreement with the City. Don’t want Harbor Task Force disbanded.  Councilman MacDonald: we’re not going to disband the CAG’s.

Don -President Westport HOA and serves on Harbor Task Force- Disappointed in this major change buried in the consent calendar. Should have had more debate, multiple position papers, other cities’ experience. Concerned about how sessions will be run. Hours are inconvenient. hard to believe that Citizens were included. Will eliminate groups with “heartbeat” such as the Harbor Task  Force. Lots of inefficiency in the city. Process is awful. Excluding the public inadvertently or advertently.

Alicia Percell-  Previously offered to provide parliamentary procedures training- reiterated (she is a registered Parliamentarian). Painful to see how meetings proceed when you know better. Has anyone gotten opinions of apparent District 5 + 6 winners of their take on new meeting system?

Jackie Tedeschi- agrees with most except committee meetings- 5 different committees. You need to be retired and dedicated to follow what is going on. Don’t want meetings going to 1 AM.

Woody Thomas- We didn’t understand what he was saying.

Debby Mitchell- Agree with everything Don said. also concerned about item 6. How justify doubling amount of MG engineering services contract amount? Answer from City Mgr- specialists required.


Council Comments

Perello- Voted no because new council members not considered. Committee meetings during working hours. Support City Managers plan, but not doing it without new members.When you’re only hearing from seniors, you’re missing a big chunk of the population,

Flynn- re: item 3. Got a number of calls. Said it has been an ongoing process over the last year for a more robust committee system. Trying to run a part time govt. with full time requirements. Says Council is a full time job. Yes, many can’t attend proposed committee meetings.  Council makes $11.26/hr plus benefits. Feels new system is more accountable to the public. 5 standing committees proposed.  Channel Islands (CI) Task Force is only temporary. Has more successful engagement than all other tasks forces combined- up to several hundred meeting attendees. (Mayor failed to note that “engagement” is high because hundreds of outraged people show up to protest city actions/inactions on critical harbor problems- most created or neglected by the city).

Flynn asked Nguyen to comment. Nguyen: not permanent- we can change it. CI Task Force meeting engagement has been very effective. Only 2 Council members at meetings, no mechanism to bring reports back to Council (why not). Feels Committees would work better. Consent items have always been used. Items will be vetted by committees. Tuesday meetings not the only vehicle. Longer advance notice will help- more time to prepare.  This should have been done when District Voting was approved.

Flynn- re: appointment to committees- consult with Council Members every two years to see which committees that they want to be on. Propose engaging public in 6 months to see how well new Committee System is working.

Perello- I’m the other member of the Channel islands Task Force. I’m not aware of other meetings or conversations between Mayor and County. I want these meetings agendized.

Voted t o approve- 4-1 with Perello dissenting on 3,  and 5-0 for other consent agenda items.


Item E- Public Comments

Woody Thomas- Met w/City Attorney on Friday with Denise Kelly about his complaint concerning police allegedly injuring him. 12-19-18 hearing in Superior County Court. He was named incorrectly in paperwork.

Al Reeves- Lives in mobile home park. Sycamore trees in a city park are dumping leaves into yards. City stopped cleaning them. Want action.

Jeremy & Roberta & Walter- Will join Al in meeting with park official

Walter Hagadon- Oxnard Shores- Thanks for Heritage Square venue and Michelle Kenny of La Dolce Vita restaurant, Residence Inn.

Ray Bluetel- Oxnard wastewater facility, re: capital improvement and cost of service study questions.  First and second set of answers still did not address questions.  Waiting for four months since last questions.

Jackie Tedeschi- Congrats to election winners, thanks to Oxnard Fire Dept fires response. Winners represent the whole cit, not just their district

Lance Ralston (ran for District 2 council) – Congrats on re-election- conceded to Ramirez. Urged city to improve the permitting process. It took 2 years to get permits that should have taken 4 months.  Ramirez+ thanks for running nice, dignified campaign

Lauraine Efress- Congrats to winners. Going through horrible time with fires. Spectrum cable.phones were done totally- over-dependent on Internet. Alarming lack of communications.

Bill Clark- President of Channel Islands Homeowners Association. Mandalay Sea Walls condition is getting worse. 15 years working with the city have resulted in nothing. Only thin that has progressed is size of cracks in wall and cost estimate- now $80 million. Flynn said met with assoc and had a plan- wants it re-communicated to Mr. Clark.

Pat Brown- Worrying about whether you (incumbents) would win. All fire depts are staging at Camarillo Airport to fight the brush fires.

Tom Shiver- Had boat here in 1988, moved here 2011- Seawalls situation is embarrassing. REALLY need your help or we are gonna have a real problem.

Debby Mitchell- CI Homeowners Assoc and Assessment District. In 2006, city presented deficit assessment and said seawalls were approaching end of life. City estimate $1800/home (she didn’t specify, but that might be per year). Nothing had happened by 2014. Continued to meet with Nyhoff and consultants. All new people in 2017.


F- City Manager Report

Public safety report for last weekend’s events- Police Chief Whitney- police response- 7 officers sent. 2 were already there in Borderlines, helped to evacuate people. Re: Fire- 6 police officers and 1 sergeant for patrol services, traffic control- will go through Thursday. People have asked about services for Sgt Helus, who was killed trying to stop Borderlines shooter – Nov 15 Noon, Calvary, T.O.

Fire Chief Base- Most devastating fire of his career. Brought in off duty firefighters, sent 52. Now 35. Homewood Suites provided sleeping quarters.

Council Comments

Madrigal- Condolences to shooting victims, CLU students.  Many of his Oaks Christian students lost their homes to fires.

Ramirez- Very hard week for entire county and community. It’s just part of Climate Change. We’re in along term drought. Violence is visiting us every day, everywhere. Perpetrator a veteran. 22 veterans commit suicide daily. Have to do very difficult things overseas. Ventura County still holds gun shows- wants city to take a stand against that. Wants to get to the bottom of the Spectrum outage. Very big upcoming budget decisions, Need to get ready for “The Big One.” Re: Todd McNamee Airport Director, passed away, terrific guy, helped the city a lot,

MacDonald- Keep in prayer those who lost family, property.

Perello- Re: losing sleep over election- it takes a lot for candidates and supporters to run. But no one is irreplaceable. Thanks to Chief Base for keeping us informed about the fire.Re: Spectrum- we’re in a super hi-tech community- and then there’s a fire and everything goes down. There’s a change in this country. Communication, banking rules changing- elections have consequences.

Flynn- Sad about death of Todd McNamee- very dedicated, committed, conscientious. Acknowledge sacrifices of firefighters, soldiers, police. Lamented lives lost, hope people pull together.


K-1- SUBJECT: Camino Del Sol Senior Apartments Affordable Housing Payment (10/10/10) 
RECOMMENDATION:1. That the Community Development Commission Successor Agency adopt a resolution entitled “Resolution of the Board of Directors of the Oxnard Community Development Commission Successor Agency, Approving, and Recommending to its Oversight Board Approval of, (1) the Transfer of a Housing Asset to the City of Oxnard, in its Capacity as the Successor Housing Entity to the Oxnard Community Development Commission, Pursuant to the Provisions of the Dissolution Law, and (2) Related Actions to Effectuate the Transfer of the Housing Asset;” and2. That the City Council adopt a resolution entitled “Resolution of the City Council of the City of Oxnard, California, in its Capacity as the Successor Housing Entity to the Oxnard Community Development Commission, Approving (1) the Acceptance of a Housing Asset from the Oxnard Community Development Commission Successor Agency, Pursuant to the Provisions of the Dissolution Law, and (2) Related Actions to Effectuate the Acceptance of the Housing Asset.”
Legislative Body: CC, SA Contact: Ashley Golden Phone: (805) 385-7882

Rather confusing, huh? Dan Smith attempted to clarify. Camino Del Sol housing project is exempt from property taxes, but pays a “pilot fee” of $1.4MM.  The redevelopment agency mandated selling the properties to the Successor Housing Entity.  “Housing Asset” now includes payments” including the pilot fee, proposed  to be transferred to the City for affordable housing purposes.

Council Comments

Perello- who will control funds? A:  probably housing dept. Perello- how to avoid funds commingling?

Vote 5-0 to approve


K-4- SUBJECT: Approval of First Amendment to Agreement for Ongoing Water Quality Sampling, a Nutrient Study, and a Long-Term Water Quality Plan at the Channel Islands Harbor (5/5/5) 
RECOMMENDATION: That the City Council:
1. Approve and authorize the Mayor to execute the First Amendment to Agreement No. A-8093 with Aquatic Bioassay & Consulting Laboratories, Inc. in the amount of $306,045 for ongoing services relating to the Channel Islands Harbor water quality issue; and
2. Authorize a budget appropriation totaling $315,806, as follows – General Fund ($27,500), Waterways Zone 1 ($153,200), Waterways Zone 2 ($25,069), Seabridge CFD ($36,913) and Westport CFD ($36,211) – to fund the First Amendment to Agreement No. A-8093 and transferring funds from Project Z43801 – Seabridge Waterways TR5266 into Fund 173 ($36,913).
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Rosemarie Gaglione Phone: (805) 385-8055

This is about addressing the Channel Islands Harbor water quality problem which has gotten much worse since the NRG Mandalay power plant cooling pumps were shut down, reducing water circulation. Problem is also attributed to run-off into harbor of ag nutrients and pollutants. Algae blooms figure in, too. City has been testing to determine what’s in the water so it can formulate effective responses and also seek grants.

Nguyen is trying to expedite this in spite of requests to delay. Don’t want to take chances with the weather.  Need samples right after the first major  rain run-off of the year, which will contain the main contributing nutrients going into the harbor from fields, landscaping, storm runoff. Need accurate data to help make decisions on mitigation of problems. Will be working to get grants, but need accurate, timely data to help justify funding requests.

Sanda Burkhardt, Special Districts Mgr. presented. CI Harbor experienced water degradation event, resulting in discoloration and wildlife deaths. Approved $72, 650 for initial tests, program management and presentations. Now spent. Asking for $306,045 (not to exceed $759,933) more to finish items and get into causes and long term plan. nutrient sources, long term monitoring and hydrolics (water refreshing times).  Allocated percentage split expenses among districts plus some general fund amounts.

A consultant discussed original MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding) re: what would happen if Mandalay Power Plant closed. Had $ percentage splits allocated, only for remediation measures, not steps leading up to them.

Rosemary Gaglione, Public Works Director reached out to 67 vendors- only 12-13 indicate interest, only Aquatic Bioassay responded and was selected. Deemed  highly qualified. Actually 2 separate projects for one consultant- simpler, more transparent this way.

To monitor outfall- they will take samples, test, report., This work calls for analysis, requires more skilled scientists and technicians. Contract structured for maximum flexibility, speed. Working on potential grants.  Some are volunteering to help do some of this work (such as sample collection). This  presents complications of liability, chain of custody and more.

Public Comment

Things got hot and heavy when they proposed taxing and fee-levying harbor property owners to deal with the opaque, smelly water which started to occur a couple of months after the NRG Mandalay power power plant cooling pumps were shut down. The power plant itself was shut down earlier. The city has conducted various tests and attempted to determine what caused the problem, initially blaming it on a temperature -induced algae bloom. That’s interesting, since it started during a seasonally cool month.

15 public speakers signed up”

Meggie Hawthorne- Secy- Channel Islands Neighborhood Council- Numerous residents requested this item not be covered until fire emergency is over. Many of her questions were addressed, but need clarification: many parties would be involved for remediation. Why are only 1/3 of homes being held accountable for nearly all expenses?

Carol Taylor- Mandalay resident- Labs were offered to city- are they being utilized? Ramirez did this is a worldwide problem- so is city reaching out to state and fed, collaborating with other cities? Why would a handful of homeowners bear all costs when there are many other users/stakeholders?  What about landscaping, dredging, (Mandalay) seawall condition? What will city do when seawalls fail?

Mike Di Martino- Setting precedent by having city take on obligation to do this. talked to Julia Brownley and Monique Limon’s people. There are grants available, but we must have info available. Need to press for legislation, What does public need to do to press legislators? Who is coordinating this/grants in city? Who do we lobby?

Mike Schultz- Mandalay Bay resident. What chemicals are farmers using?  We begged to stop further development which would cause more pollution. Public commercial harbor. Other stakeholders- boat owners, hotels, restaurants need to share expenses.

Rocco- Glad to hear we’re not locked  into the program. Seems like most money be spent on studies, not mitigation. We pretty much know ag is a major source of the pollution.  Need problem definition, analysis, deployment. I fear analysis paralysis. Let’s have some scope definition, keep $ for solutions. Do analysis, data collection, solutions in parallel to save time. Focus more on solutions, not just studies.

Bill Clark- support study, reject finance plan and Mandalay paying 2/3 of costs with least impact on its water. Our channel by design is the largest. Other areas should pay more.

Tom Sidler- a lot of things could have been predicted. Water quality problem when the power plant was shut down. Perfect storm- warm water, algae bloom. Work with the county- just can’t get along.

Debbie Mitchell– Thanks to City Mgr. and Sandra Burkhardt. Hope compromise can be reached. approve 100% on testing- need for grants and to direct solutions. There were water quality concerns way back- a beach at Seabridge was shelved for that reason.

Audrey Keller- Proposal to tap our reserves son the table (CBD money). Corps of Engineers designed water flow. With power plant closed, things have changed. Updated study was supposed to have been done when power plant was closed. Power plant, water quality board and other players, Centerpoint Energy, not participating/paying. The (Edison) canal is longer than the harbor itself and south of the bridge area is omitted. They plan to allocate expenses by boat slip areas. County was to have contributed 67%.

Dan Keller- Elf in the room is Ventura County. Calculate rates based on community service- 172 acres= 45% of total land area of the harbor. But reallocate funding.  Should be a harbor-wide solution.

Chuck Carter- Mandalay Bay resident- reject contract increase. Only one vendor. Need county, state, federal govt for support. Ventura County should do some samples.  VC irrigated land council has done runoff studies. These people are already doing similar stuff.  Find other cooperative facilities. Need weekly surveys. Other ways besides grants to get funding. $400K is way too much.

Patricia Young- Thanks to staff, (Public Works Director) Gaglione for responsiveness. Vendor charging more on this new contract for the exact same work description- 90% more- same title- $325/hr for senior scientist. Agencies up and down the state already doing this stuff.

Robert Chattenburg- Thanks to Sandra Burkhardt for reaching out to stakeholders. City cost split proposed – 23% Seabridge, 0% for county, based on water surface area, excludes Edison Canal and area South of bridge.  MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) said county share should be 67% and Oxnard 13%.

Woody Thomas- Re: Vendor contract $306K for initial testing. Need to do quickly, costs will only go up. Allocations- County’s 2048 boat slips are over 50% of cost they should pay. He made an ethnic remark which was challenged by Ramirez.

Alicia Percell- MOU contains obligations by parties. This split was not used, as it was only  for remediation. But County is left out of split completely and some other stakeholders. It just included County and Oxnard. No CFD.  What are ranges of options for possible remediation?

Pat Brown- Heard about “stinky” water elsewhere.  Attributed it to an old Chinese ship not abiding by regulations.



Rozelle-Re: why are other parties not involved. Q: why is county not paying? Asked for County to pay 1/2 of hydrology study (NOT including nutrient study).  Feels that using CFD funds is appropriate. Chattenburg split numbers were just for dredging/ 40% seabridegh, 20% Westport

Gaglione: Re question: why not use regional board? Because 6-8 week turnaround would miss grant application deadline. No funding found yet. We are the first area to lose  a power plant and lose water circulation as a result. We don’t know what the solution or cost is going to be. (she missed point of Percell’s request). Scientists are saying that circulation might not be problem and we may have been building up nutrient problem for a long time, Must do all studies before designing any solution. Residence times of water should have been predictable but may not be the main culprit.  Maybe dredging required.

Council Comments

Madrigal- crucial  issue. Can we get business to pay some costs….

Nguyen- I understand why no one wants to pay costs. Seek other areas to explore. It’s in our back yard, so we must address it. Had conversations with county- not fruitful yet. Waiting for this is rolling the dice. Must be ready for first significant rain. Want to get this emergency project approved and ready for “first flush.”

Madrigal: that wasn’t my question.

But Flynn did not redirect question to Nguyen and instead called upon Ramirez.

Ramirez- Not in my district. Hope everyone has made a wise decision on who to vote for. Harbor very important to city’s future, Would vote against waiting, desperately need rain. Not comfortable with having a lot of costs to the homeowner, but that’s what it’s for. This is not a wealthy city ; would like more cost sharing. Oxnard is one of the highest pesticide users in CA, but it is taking a toll on our water and our health.

MacDonald- Questions for Gaglione- costs for 1st flush testing? Drain on SE corner of Mandalay Bay comes from Port Hueneme. May be other outfalls from other jurisdictions and within Oxnard. Let’s go forward with this but look for additional financing later. Maybe borrow from CFD’s with repayment promise.

Nguyen- Testing requires first flush test, but not ONLY this- need complete testing. Funding is a separate issue.

MacDonald- let’s look at other funding sources.

Perello- Agrees with MacDonald comments. Rain unpredictable. Will take too long to chase funds. Need to start now.  Describe as a loan? Need to get other parties on board. Only two  County Supv’s  are receptive. Met with Senator Jackson and Assemblywoman Monique Limon.  Being “blackmailed” on Fisherman’s Wharf, Casa Sirena, Lobster Trap by county. They want city’s agreement on their development plan in return for consideration on things the  city wants. Rolling the dice by delaying for more funding. Don’t want to miss “first flush” rain and wait another year. Receptive to partial funding from Measure O money.  Must make decision for city, but not just  District 1 people he represents. Re: volunteers- too risky- must keep chain of custody.

Flynn- Tonight is excellent example of why we need more robust committee system (what about CI task Force, Mr. Mayor?). Issue is who pays for this, not contract (some of public disagreed with him). Have larger issues- seawalls, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc. Burkhardt had little to do with this in her job description, but she has taken it on. County has been very difficult to work with. Wants to approve contract. Make solution driven by science. Work out the funding later. Work on one harbor, one water approach.

Perello- Pay no more than 50% with Measure O money.

Ramirez- consider Measure O funding a loan. Can we find other sources?

Nguyen- expect $7MM year end Measure O balance.

Flynn- OK, continue on Work on one harbor, one water approach.

Nguyen- avoid loan , work on getting more funding.

Vote-Move forward w/contract, pay with Measure O money. Vote was 3-2, with  Perello, Madrigal dissenting.


K-2. SUBJECT: Oxnard Fire Department Advanced Life Support Services (5/5/5)
RECOMMENDATION: That City Council adopt a resolution approving a paramedic differential for those Firefighters who are assigned to work as paramedics in the Advanced Life Support Program.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Darwin Base Phone: (805) 385-7700
Document: K-2 Staff Report
13 paramendics in a pool. Only 1 squad, which receives a 15% incentive pay and secondary squad gets 8%. This is in line with county compensation.
Approved 5-0
K3. SUBJECT: Award Agreement for Biosolids Disposal (5/5/5) 
RECOMMENDATION: That the City Council award and authorize the Mayor to execute Agreement Number A-8103 with Holloway Environmental Solutions LLC in the amount of $3,900,000 for a three-year period for biosolids disposal services.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Rosemarie Gaglione Phone: (805) 385-8055
Contract is with Ventura Regional Sanitation at $15/ton(?)  (they won’t bid anymore). Solicited bids- 4 bids in Kern County $40-89/ton. Hollaway Environmantal solutions- a strip miner. They have contracts with Thousand Oaks and LA.

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

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