Oxnard City Council: La Dolce Vita restaurant fights for turf; Council Recall discussed; City Lobbying; Fire Dept. review; Trash deal trashed

By George Miller

Report on the 1-9-18 Oxnard City Council meeting.

La Dolce Vita restaurant building sale approved; Council Recall signatures discussed; City Lobbying plan semi-presented;  Fire Dept review presented; Trash bin deal approved; Osuna out as Asst. CM; Whitney is officially Interim CM; Oxnard crime down 11%

City Council Meeting Jan  9, 2018 – 05:00 PM 04h 39m Agenda   Video


Council Recall Signatures Certification Presented

Aaron Starr initiated the recall of Council Members Oscar Madrigal, Bert Perello, (Mayor) Flynn and (Mayor ProTem) Ramirez, for their vote on wastewater rate increases and other complaints about their performance.

We already reported  that recall signatures were certified, but this was the official presentation of the results by the City. Councilman Perello is very upset because he has been led to believe that the special election will cost far more than the county’s $220,00 estimate- perhaps as much as $500,000.  The election will have to be after April 1 per Perello.

Aaron Starr’s wife Alicia Percell noted that the City was unsatisfied with the standard 5% signature sampling procedure and opted for an expensive $30,000 for 100% counting which she said resulted in a further one month delay, which pushed the election schedule out, which raised the cost of the election. Perello says the Council did not make that decision. It was the City Clerk, he claimed. Flynn denies it was to stall the election.

The Council is to set the date of a special recall election at te 1-23-18 meeting.

2. SUBJECT: Certificates of Sufficiency of Recall Petition Signatures.
RECOMMENDATION: No City Council action is required at this time; however a resolution calling a special election for the recall will be brought to the Council for adoption at the January 23, 2017 regular meeting.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Michelle Ascencion Phone: 385-7805
Document: J2 Staff Report

City Manager’s Report & Council comments

New Interim City Manager Scott Whitney gave his first City Manager’s report: See document: F1 Presentation

He announced a new Downtown Director, Claudia Pedrosa, an architect, planner and highly qualified new employee. Announcement previously appeared in Citizens Journal.

Oxnard crime dropped 11%.

Announced that Assistant City Manager Ruth Osuna is no longer with the City and wouldn’t say why in the meeting or to Citizens Journal subsequently. Osuna had been right in the epicenter of the wastewater rate controversy, including the heavy-handed supervision of the Utility Ratepayers Advisory Panel (URAP). Large legal expense and time have been poured into fighting Aaron Starr’s opposition to the City on this since then. Some say that the matter could have been resolved more smoothly long ago. But we don’t know the actual rationale for her departure.

So Oxnard now needs a City Manager and one Assistant. They should have lots of leftover candidates from the last searches to get them started.

There will be a 1-17-18 meeting on Council Districting.

Martin Luther King Day celebration will start at 0815 on 1-15-18 at Plaza Park for a march to the Performing Arts Center events MORE INFO

Fiscal Policy Task Force meeting 1-10-18 at 4 pm in Council Chambers.

City of Oxnard Announces New Public Works Director

Whitney also noted that a new Public Works Director is coming on board: City Manager Greg Nyhoff had previously announced the appointment of Rosemarie Gaglione as the city’s new Public Works director, effective Jan. 16, 2018.


It’s official- Scott Whitney now Interim City Manager, in addition to Police Chief. So, we’re getting 2 for the price of 1.1, although it’s difficult to see how anyone could do justice to two such big, high pressure jobs simultaneously.

City Attorney Department
3. SUBJECT: Resolution Designating Interim City Manager (5/5/5)
RECOMMENDATION: That City Council adopt a resolution designating Chief Scott Whitney as Interim City Manager effective close of business January 5, 2018 for a temporary period while the City Council recruits a new City Manager, and during which period Chief Whitney will continue to act as Police Chief and shall receive a 10% temporary pay upgrade.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Stephen M. Fischer Phone: 385-7483
Document: G3 Staff Report
Council comments
Oscar Madrigal- Condolences to Thomas Fire victims
Noted a booK; 21 Miles of Scenic Beauty- Then Oxnard. Some discussion therein of district voting.
Mayor ProTem Ramirez- Thanks to first responders/firefighters. Heed evacuation orders. Work needed on homelessness, Winter shelter not adequate to address homeless problems. Don’t want to be like LA.  Thanks  to police dept. for opioid overdose kits.
MacDonald- Working on legislative packet for military activities at Naval base VC.  Working with post office re: updating gang mailboxes for West Village(?)- big theft problems now.
Perello- Asked VC Supv.  for help on special election costs. Acknowledges Freeman Diversion advocate concerns about Steelhead Trout, but also need water here. Fish ladders could have a $93,000,000 impact in jobs, land use, tax revenue, doubling of water price. Deadline of 1/22 to file for fire help. deadline of 2/28 to apply for money owed by city- see list in LaVida newspaper.
Mayor Flynn- Made tremendous progress last year. Will visit Halaco site, to reach out to residents- make it clear there are services available to them. 88 offered, only about 8 were interested.  Thursday meeting with San Diego Mayor Faulkner (ex Oxnardian) to see how they are dealing with homelessness. Advocates council districts- wants it on the June ballot.
Councilmen complain about lack of bidders for $497,000  trash bin contract

Wastequip refuse bins, similar to those now in use in Oxnard.


Bert Perello and others complained that a competitive contract award is proposed, but with only one responsive bidder (of 6 bid requests), who provided the existing refuse bins in use in the City. (Editor’s note: The winner, Wastequip, was a former client of this article’s author, who introduced them to Oxnard).  There was much discussion, but it was agreed by MacDonald and others that the process was followed properly for this specialty item.  Contract approved.
6. SUBJECT: Purchase Order with Wastequip Manufacturing Company, LLC for Supply and Delivery of Commercial and Industrial Waste and Recycle Containers
RECOMMENDATION: That City Council approve and authorize the Mayor to execute Purchase Order No. 6606 with Wastequip Manufacturing Company, LLC in an amount not-to-exceed $479,315.63 for the supply and delivery of commercial and industrial waste and recycle containers for a one year term.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Thien Ng Phone: 432-3575
Document: J6 Staff Report

Fire Department Review- Community Risk Assessment and Standards of Cover Report 

The City hired Facets Consulting to perform a review of the Oxnard Fire Dept., per guidelines laid out by the Center for Public Safety Excellence and Commission on Fire Accreditation International. See details in links below. A few summary points follow.

Reviewers believe that staffing is light for a city like this, especially admin. staff; a strategic plan is lacking; management training opportunities are lacking; reviewers noted a “can-do attitude, excellent apparent physical fitness, poor morale due to conflicts with departed management, well-maintained equipment (in spite of that, they said support services were inefficient and sporadic).

Some recommendations included reorganizing battalions for better coverage, adding Commanders, improving night Commander coverage, expanding traffic preemption system to speed up call response, increase equipment and staff, improve training, education, records management, expand Emergency Medical Services, improve disaster preparedness.

In spite of all this we hear few complaints about Oxnard’s fire department.

  Fire Department
1. SUBJECT: Standards of Cover Review (30/10/5)
RECOMMENDATION: That City Council receive an oral report presented by FACETS Consulting of a Community Risk Assessment and Standards of Cover Report conducted on behalf of City of Oxnard Fire Department.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Darwin Base Phone: 385-7700
Document: C1 Staff Report
Document: C1 Attachment
Document: C1 Presentation
Report was approved

La Dolce Vita Restaurant City property finally dispositioned

La Dolce Vita Restaurant Oxnard- 740 South B Street

The McGrath House, built in 1901, was moved to the Heritage Michelle Kenney’s landmark restaurant “La Dolce Vita” at a Heritage Square redevelopment property, which must be sold off due to state laws. It was appraised at $790,000 a year ago, for highest and best use (office space). Ms. Kenny has been attempting to purchase the property and has determined that about $247,000 in repairs are needed. The Kenneys have proposed a purchase price of $475,000, and have asked for their existing debt of $221,000 per Oxnard Eco. dev. to be written off. Rent was currently $3000/month, but a special lease expiration provision raised it to $10,500, far more than market value. Sucvh terms are used to moivate tenants to quickly renew or leave. Because of the Redevelopment law being rescinded, no new leases could be made.

The City received a second offer of $450,000 from the Garcia’s. Now looking for a best and final offer. Offers are subject to successor agency, Oversight and State dept. of Finance approval.

Mayor ProTem Ramirez says the Council wants to keep it as a restaurant. She supports the deal. Councilman Perello says that there was a past vote to sell 1400 square feet of the building for restaurant use and wanted to know what the vote was. City Attorney Fischer said that isn’t reportable under the Brown Act. Perello said City should be more transparent on this. He also said actual rent should be much higher now (triple) now that lease has ended. He referred to the Kenneys as “squatters.” He wants to sell it for “highest and best use.” He says La Dolce Vita could relocate to downtown.  Mayor Flynn pointed out that some highest and best use sites would be skyscrapers, but the City doesn’t want that. He said the City wants to keep La Dolce Vita to maintain diversity of restaurants. Councilman MacDonald said the building isn’t worth $10,000/month and that no other restaurant has survived there that long. He says having a restaurant there is part of the City vision.

Ramirez moved on the motion, MacDonald seconded, vote passed 4-1 with Perello dissenting. The Kenneys will likely be buying the property, subject to the aforementioned multiple layers of bureaucratic approval.

Public comment

Fernando Garcia (his family made the other offer) asks Council to weigh the number and accept the best offer (his?). Joshua Ruiz says lots of tax breaks were given for downtown development. He referred to Garcia’s other local businesses favorably and doesn’t approve of City giving Kenneys a special deal. Michelle Kenney said  building had been vacant for 10 years, that they had paid $90,000 of debt and are agreeing to pay more than the original deal. She said that the City Manager agreed to eliminate triple rent premiums and had no idea what the sale price should be. Says she owes $110,000, not $250,000. She claims that the City wasn’t allowed to rent to another party because of successor agency rules. Aaron Starr says you have two offers and you’re about to accept the lesser offer. It looks like a $200,000 subsidy and picking winners and losers.

Leasing agent for Oxnard said he has been marketing the property, listed it with several hundred commercial websites, with only 2 offers- said Kenney’s offer was higher. Original offer from Garcia was $400,000, later raised to $450,000. Kenneys say that they are also paying a settlement to Oxnard. Holdover rent of $10,500/month is a  “club”-  “crazy.”

Document: L1 Staff Report
Document: L1 Presentation


Approval of City of Oxnard Legislative Program for 2018 (5/5/5)  and lobbying agreements

The City appears to want a re-invigorated program to lobby legislation to the advantage of Council and staff priorities, which were never even mentioned in the process-oriented presentation (and that process looks pretty good), but were buried in the staff report (see links below).  The priorities are heavily oriented toward getting federal and state money and increasing naval base activities, enhancing local control and promoting preferred social goals, attempting to compel NRG to demolish power plants and remediate sites, and programs to deal with alleged Global Warming impact.  Some have very political overtones- example: “Oppose legislation that allows non-public safety individuals to carry a concealed firearm outside their state of residence or the state issuing the permit.” Water objectives focus on regional programs and fail to call for any state expansion of water collection/storage capacity.

There is a report by E.P. Consulting services describing the scope of the legislative program and a number of specific legislative goals,

As far as who sets the legislative policies, how and why? All we have is this cryptic statement in the consultant report:

“The City’s Legislative staff will review federal and state legislation proposals and
policies throughout the calendar year. Proposed legislation that is consistent with the
Program may be supported by the City, while policies inconsistent with City interests
may be opposed. The City’s designated legislative staff will be authorized to prepare
position letters for the Mayor’s signature. Items not addressed in the Program may
acquire further Council direction.”

The “legislative staff” members and how they are appointed were not discussed at this meeting.

These are the targeted overall areas, but the devil is in the details:

Federal Policy Areas
1. Community Services
2. Economic Development
3. Finance
4. Housing
5. Labor Relations
6. Libraries
7. Local Control
8. Military Bases
9. Public Safety
10. Sustainability (Energy and Environment)
11. Transportation
12. Water

State Policy Areas
1. Community Services
2. Economic Development
3. Finance
4. Labor Relations
5. Local Control
6. Housing
7. Land Use
8. Libraries
9. Public Safety
10. Sustainability (Energy and Environment)
11. Telecommunications
12. Transportation
13. Waste Management
14. Water


Council comments

Madrigal hopes it will be “very Progressive.”  MacDonald wholeheartedly supports it. Advocates working with League of Cities. He’s involved in the Regional Defense Partnership. It’s good to show up in DC and meet with reps, he said.  Perello impressed with her interview her. Perello opposed to out of state CCW’s (firearm concealed cary permit-holders) coming to California. Wants to oppose that U.S. bill. Flynn feels that new state laws on housing hurt City quality of life. City should get pass to have jurisdiction over its OWN affordable housing programs. He is not in favor of turning single family into multiple family housing neighborhoods, lacking infrastructure, parking etc. He said that on Section 8 Voucher- 20% can be project-based vouchers. Wants more.  State has eliminated economic enterprise zones- Flynn wants them back.  Need someone here to prioritize legislative priorities.

Public speakers

Jeff Burum said he is running for Congress District 26 against incumbent Brownley.  Said we can do better than Julia Brownley. He said he is is very familiar with doing federal budgets, Need strategic plan- exactly what he did in USAF for years. Burum said “you can have a Congressman from Oxnard to represent you in DC.”  Pat Brown said there may be multiple families/residents in houses, with multiple cars- insufficient parking. State rules call out inadequate parking- fighting for space.

Motion passed


1. SUBJECT: Approval of City of Oxnard Legislative Program for 2018 (5/5/5)
RECOMMENDATION: That the City Council:
1. Discuss and deliberate on the 2018 Legislative Priorities;
2. Adopt a resolution approving the 2018 Legislative Program for the City of Oxnard; and
3. Take such additional, related action as may be desired.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Jesus Nava Phone: 385-7497
Document: G1 Staff Report
Document: G1 Presentation
2. SUBJECT: Federal and State Lobbyist Agreements (5/5/5)
RECOMMENDATION: That City Council:
1. Approve and authorize the Interim City Manager to execute an agreement with HROD, Inc, John R. O’Donnell (A-8049) in the amount of $196,200 beginning January 14, 2018 through January 13, 2021 for federal lobbyist services; and
2. Approve and authorize the Interim City Manager to execute an agreement with Michael J. Arnold and Associates, Inc. (A-8050) in the amount of $144,000 beginning January 14, 2018 through January 13, 2021 for state lobbyist services.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Jesus Nava Phone: 385-7497
Document: G2 Staff Report


Halaco homeless encampment

The Halaco toxic waste superfund site hosts a homeless encampment which the city intends to clear out this month, after multiple warnings to those present. Some of the residents are in need of assistance, which has been offered by the county and the city. We were told that there are very few takers. The woman depicted below claims to be a Halaco resident and said that she hadn’t been offered any assistance.

Self-described Halaco site resident at 1-9-18 Oxnard City Council meeting

Some remarked that this year’s winter warming homeless shelter located in Ventura is too far away to be a practical destination for those who are working locally.


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

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