Oxnard: Constitution Week; Cannabis Regs; Ormond Power Plant Demolition Fund; Sales Tax Pitch Delayed

On 9-15-20, the Oxnard City Council proclaimed the Celebration of Constitution Week September 17-23

They also heard recommendations, public comments and provided guidance to staff on cannabis retailing and cultivation regulations. They favored restricted future cultivation to indoor only and tweaks to application/permits/fees.

The Senior Services Commission made their annual report, highlighting their efforts to create a new senior center and find funding, as well as reviewing services provided and the impact on their service operations from government handling of COVID-19.

The approval by the state water board of continuation of Ormond Beach power generation activities and an agreement with operator GenOn to set aside a portion of revenues for future plant dismantling and land remediation was presented and celebrated by Council, staff and the public.

The presentation to sell the 1 1/2% Measure E Oxnard sales tax increase was continued until 9-26-20.

 

Meeting AGENDA and VIDEO

 

B-1- Oxnard Senior Services Commission Annual Report.

The Oxnard Senior Services Commission is one of the most active and successful Citizen Advisory Groups. They described programming as “robust” and do a lot more than just advise — they work hand in hand with city departments.

There are 33,358 Oxnard seniors over 55.

No Commission meetings have been held since the COVID crisis began.

They ran a video of Senior Services activities, but it was all but inaudible on the Internet Youtube video livestream.

Senior Facilities: Wilson, South Oxnard and Palm Vista facilities.

Oxnard senior services include nutritional  (40,000+ meals last year, expanded this year for COVID), exercise, recreation, addiction programs. Nutrition is funded through Measure O sales tax and the county.

There were 473 volunteers, 26 partner agencies, 44,363 volunteer hours, many donations of material.

They are trying to raise money for an ambitious new senior center.

ORCSD- Oxnard Recreation center for Seniors for educational nutritional and recreational purposes. Working with architectural firms on requirements and conceptual design.

 

@oxnard seniors

[email protected]

 

Public Speakers

Kay Brainard- Senior Services Commissioner and on ORCA nonprofit. Thanks to Council, Nyguyen. Look forward to kicking off fundraising for state of the art senior center.

Larry Barbarine- Thanks to seniors for continuing our Constitution week- thanks to Council for recognizing it. Appreciate supplemental nutrition for his mother. Did Pepperdine help with seniors’ web page? Helping seniors should be a family function first. We may not prepared for expansion of number of seniors coming. Hope for an Alzheimer’s cure.

Council Comments

Mayor Pro Tem Ramirez- thanks for great presentation and senior services. Important to honor our elders.

Perello- Thanks to Ms. Sweetland to bring up meal prices and funding. Claims we need Measure E to feed seniors. A lot of work going into new seniors center. Lack funding.  Thanks to Senior Commission. He is on the Commission.

MacDonald- Thanks for presentation. Architect’s rendition was interesting. Amazing number of hours donated to Commission. He is on the Commission.

Mayor Flynn. He is on the Commission. Proposed seniors center is exhilarating. This Citizens Advisory group is very effective.

Overall Council Comments

Flynn- Thoughts and prayers to fire victims. Blamed it on “climate.”

Ramirez- Noted the passing of Norma VanRiper, a great friend of library, arts, Ramirez explained.  See obituary: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/venturacountystar/obituary.aspx?n=norma-vanriper&pid=196746280&fhid=26201  

 

D-1- Celebration of Constitution Week September 17-23.

Mayor Flynn read a proclamation celebrating the 233rd anniversary of drafting of US Constitution in 1787 in Philadelphia. Celebrated authors, especially James Madison.

Bizarrely, they turned it into a sell job on responding to the census, which always has problems getting responses in Oxnard, made MUCH worse this year by the COVID-19 situation.

Anna Maria Rugell(?)- census bureau. Census is more important than ever to support services . Census started 1790. Deadline was April 1, but due to COVID, it is still ongoing through September. Going door to door on non-responders. Funding for next 10 years will be based upon census. see https://my2020census.gov.

Ramirez- also used the Constitution to promote the census and said she could find relatives in old census records. Difficult to get into gated communities. Please cooperate.

Perello- Mentioned President John Adams as saying facts are stubborn things. Passions cannot alter them.

City Attorney Fischer read a quote from American Bar Association writer on the census, about undercounting. Selective Service act allowed comparisons of census vs draft registration. Census counted fewer draft age men tan the number who registered for the WWII draft . More black men were missing from the census than anyone else. Estimate a 2.5% undercount and 11% of blacks. Bad censuses led to reapportionment litigation and “one man one vote” movement. Law presumed violation of 15th Amendment if voter registration was less than census numbers. Looks like California has “solved” that problem in the opposite extreme now.

 

E- Public Comments on items not on the agenda

Douglas Partello- Do we have accountability and transparency? Measure L requires monthly reports and posting to website, with treasurer overseeing. Performance measures established. Requires independent auditor and licensed public accountant. Now is like the fox running the hen house. Treasurer’s functions wrested away from him by zCity Manager and Council. Measure L would correct this. For full text of his comments, read: Doug Partello Comments at 9-15-20 Oxnard Council

Pat Brown- Her ancestors were from Virginia. Weather getting hotter every summer. May not have any rain. Got to do something about our atmosphere- power plant, batteries, diesel trucks. Everything has to be done in a different way. We want it like it was 10 years ago. Sea rise faster than expected, poles are melting, people are astonished.

Larry Stein- Staff not providing public documents to City Clerk for info requests. He mentioned that he can’t get requested golf course info, Halaco toxic waster site info.

Ray Blattel- On  September 1 meeting, item I-7: $200,000 downtown fund for police overtime. Just another device to get police overtime money. Why not get additional police officers? He said  they could hire 6 more officers. Sounds like multi-year expense, he said. (editors note: Police and City manager have previously stated that schedule and cost considerations actually make it cheaper and more effective to use overtime than make new hires).

James Arragon- Supports Measure L.  City can’t wait for year end audit to find problems.  20 year military veteran. Concerned about state of union, degradation of Constitution. Example 18th, 21st Amendments (prohibition and repeal). Federal govt decides amendments aren’t necessary and president’s initiative to start and end wars at will. Nullification of federal law-  marijuana legalization is an example. Don’t look to federal govt. to find out what you can do.

 

F- City Manager Report

COVID-19 report on local emergency by City Mgr. Nguyen

Ashley Golden started report- Farmworker assistance program- via housing dept to help fill out applications for aid.

Nguyen picked up here, pushing the census response- appealed for people to respond. Said it is important and safe. Filling out the census is safe, he said.

Need to formulate climate action plan. Need a logo, encourage youth to develop one   Oxnard /climate action plan to  be submitted.

Upcoming INCO election forums: 9-23 6 pm ballot measures; 9-24 Mayor and County Supervisor race; Sept 30 District 3, 4 and 6 council races 530 PM; Oct 2 City Clerk and Treasurer contests.

Rising rent- This was done in response to CAUSE speakers at last meeting complaining that the rent is too damn high (one actually said this). AB1482 Tenant Protection Act 1-1-20 is rent control statewide. Condos and non-corporate single family dwellings excluded. 5% plus inflation is the maximum increase. Landlords must show just cause when terminating a lease. Need more housing, preserve affordable housing, not enough low income housing, need legal support for tenants’ rights. How to preserve existing housing stock?  Latest news: CARES Act provided $1.5 million CDBG (Community Development Block Program) funding. Many speakers at last meeting identified as farmworkers. There is an underground tenant/renter economy.

Perello- What are the parameters off CARES CDBG funding? Nguygen- we will be bringing to Council. Housing Director Emilio Ramirez- must be used under CDBG requirements- low income and COVID purposes.

Mayor Pro Tem Ramirez- There is a reprieve on rents, but landlords need to pay mortgages.

Council Comments

Ramirez- Speakers should let City Clerk know of problems with phone in system. Mexico independence parade canceled. Where can people vote/turn ballots in? Get info out to the people. People are concerned about the Vagabound Hotel conversion to homeless facility. Must go before Planning Commission. Would be state, county, federal funded. We are in Climate Change now. Ability to breathe clean air impacted. Red alert. Alarm. Looking forward to climate action plan- address pollution, greenhouse gases.

City Clerk Michelle Ascencion- County has list- 47 in the County.  6 in Oxnard including one downtown. Voting locations open for 4 days 10 am-6 pm, 7 am – 8 pm on election day. All registered voters will receive mail ballot. Answers to election, voting questions

Lopez- Thanked recreation workers, senior services. COVID impact is heavy on small businesses, indoor dining restrictions, etc. Consider temporary ordinance to cap/reduce commission fees by food delivery service companies. Happy Mexican Independence Day.

Perello- Thanks to City employee Chantel. Helped him when he had an accident. Climate Change: whether you believe in “The Science” or not, climate has changed. No mention of 9/11 tonight. Only one car honked a horn by a 9/11 ceremony.

MacDonald- attended 9/11 ceremony. We’re in a “New Normal” (COVID). We’re still doing duties, going to meetings.

Basua- Friends of Ormond Beach did a cleanup, city picked up what they got. It will be every weekend in Oct- sign-up with Surfrider Foundation

Madrigal- 9/11 memorial at Fire Station 5. County will provide COVID-19 tests on 9-22, 9-29, noon-5Pm at Lady of Guadalupe church. Walk in.

Flynn- Re: Fisherman’s Wharf. Coastal Commission has stopped condo project.  Country is sponsoring citizens “visioning committee” on development there. Should be for everyone. Also, South Oxnard residents want to know what is being done about redevelopment there. He suggested a Zocalo (public square, Mexican style).

Perello- Project was for apartments, not condos.

 

Information Consent Agenda

Items pulled for discussion:

Perello – 2& 4

2- Says Larry Stein is concerned about related legal costs. Perello explained that we don’t have internal expertise on groundwater stability law, environmental, health issues.

4- Project completed under budget, but amount budgets to power wastewater- $1MM/year. $400,000 to rebuild engines with a long life. Burns natural and sewer gas. Thanks to wastewater staff.

Flynn- will be an update report on all city utilities to committee, then council.

Public Comment

Pat Brown- Is there a new way of doing it to defray costs? (Do what?). What are they doing, what can change, what can we hold off on? Maybe new equipment instead of repair. Can we use waste  to make energy? (It was previously explained that they already are).

James Arragon- (candidate for Treasurer) Increase in last year for funding for outside counsel. Spent 6 years auditing such things. Are there any controls in place concerning billing hours? How to avoid errors/padding?

Perello- Ms. Brown was at meetings, so she should know we are making people aware of meetings, agenda.

Re: Arragon billable hrs concern. Share concerns with City Atty and Finance. City Atty Fischer: his dept is well aware of outside attorneys attending meetings.

Vote- Passed unanimously 7-0

 

K-1-Cannabis Equity Program and Cannabis Cultivation. 

This was a discussion of cannabis retailing regulation and what kind of cultivation to allow. How to allocate 1% “cannabis contribution”?

City Mgr. Nguyen- This has been a long, iterative process, with many viewpoints and interests. He hailed cannabis as a new gold rush, extremely lucrative, it’s about serious money. City is gearing up with policies and ordinances. John Boehner stands to make millions on cannabis, after opposing it for years. Also Tom Daschle.

Re: permit process, initial application process. Applicants get litigious if they are not accepted. All who failed appealed, Four sued. Coming to the end of the process. We ask Council direction on 4 policies.

Kathleen Mallory- No local retail permit reservations, but recommend increased local 1% of gross revenue and one time homeless funding. It is local equity, not just social equity. Want local jobs, training, apprenticeship. Not considering race and are gender-blind.

Community wanted a different approach. Wanted 2 reserved local permits. Money should go to youth and seniors ($373,000/yer). Want more than 8 permits, flexible payment options.

Revised programs- 10 retail permits, 2 reserved for locals, with flexible payment. $2.2 million total one time donation fund unchanged, improvements to South Oxnard’s multi-service building. $210,00 for homeless services. Still require community benefits program- “voluntary?”

Define what a “local resident” is. City, County? Company ownership must be at least 50% living in city limits. Only 4  applicants meet this test.

Issues that Council direction is required on:

Perello- is Ownership including investors? What is equity? Flynn interrupted him, telling him to wait until the end of the presentation and to save time for agenda item K-3, which is a sales job for a much higher sales tax ballot measure. That item was later continued to 9-26-20.

Mallory- also want direction on a cannabis cultivation ordinance, including indoors. Could generate up to $324,000/yr. for the city.

Public speakers variously like and wanted to clarify residence requirements, levy higher taxes, waive tax for medical users. Treasurer candidate James Aragon wanted no limits on number of outlets- let them compete. He also advocated focus on funding one-time projects (renovate buildings, etc). A cannabis company rep proposed a 2% donation and flexibility on the one time payment, supported local requirements, outreach, currently has 4 stores in Long Beach and OC. Another Santa Barbara company rep. praised city approach. Also wants to cap total licenses at 10. Another one said the $200,000 contribution is “exorbitant.”

Council members argued about the issues. Perello couldn’t support waiving or deferring the $200,000 fee. The 2016 Bernie Sanders DNC delegate viewed it as a subsidy, not the business owners ‘ own money. MacDonald supported “amortizing” it over time. He saw the total permit, planning, fee and annual fee requirements as burdensome. Wants city to be “reasonable” – maybe a 5 year amortization. Mallory said applicants did not previously oppose the fees.

The Council was clear on permitting only indoor cannabis cultivation due to the smell.

Ramirez wants a DA report on expunging convictions of drug crimes previously illegal but not now.

No final vote was required for this item- it was proposal and discussion only.

 

K-2- State Water Resources Control Board Approval of the Ormond Beach Generating
Station Three-Year Extension, Triggering the Process for the City of Oxnard and GenOn to
Establish the $25M Trust Fund with the Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) to
Dismantle the Power Plant, and Continue the Effort to Achieve the Ormond Beach Restoration and
Access Plan.

The City Manager disparagingly labelled Oxnard’s two power plants “monuments to the 20th century.” The operator previously proposed, in response to a state request, a 21st century state of the art natural gas peaker plant to replace the old Mandalay Beach plant, which was defeated by opponents. The Ormond Beach plant, which was to close, is now being kept open, as the state recognized that it can’t make it without additional fossil  power at this time.

Operator GenOn has agreed to pay into a trust fund to pay for dismantling/remediation of the plant after it finally closes. It is not yet clear when that might happen.

Nguyen made a long, flowerly  speech about shutting down the plant and restoring the Ormond Beach wetlands, even saying it was a big reason he took the job as City Manger for Oxnard. Shutting the plant is not actually a prerequisite to do much of that, but it would clear out the last structures in the area.

 

Public Comment

Pat Brown blamed hot weather on things like the power plant and said to put solar roofs anywhere instead. She said the hot water from the plant is ruining the ocean, and Ormond Beach is destroyed by the power plant. She also said “pulling cars off ships” (Port of Huememe car imports) must stop.

Larry Stein- Re: $25 million Ormond plant restoration cost – some might be allocated to Halaco Superfund toxic waste site (also in Ormond Beach) restoration.

Council Comments

Ramirez- thanked activists for “keeping this on the front burner.” It was state water board making the decision. Ormond Beach needed for the economy, one of the most important birding places on the planet.

MacDonald- agreement is dependent on GenOn getting resource adequacy contracts. What if they don’t get them? Nguyen says he has confirmation that they already have the contracts.

Perello- Happy to hear the above. Ormond Beach activists have accomplished much. Thanks to Council/City Manager for supporting this. Tremendous accomplishment. Should have done this at Mandalay plant, too.

No vote was required- information and discussion only.

Previous article on this.

 

K-3- Informational Presentation regarding Measure E (1 1/2% sales tax increase)

To be rescheduled to 6 pm September 22, 2020. This appears to be a sell job for a new tax to raise the city’s sales tax to 2%, in addition the 1% from the baseline tax. The increase would raise an additional $40-45 million annually.

 


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


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3 Responses to Oxnard: Constitution Week; Cannabis Regs; Ormond Power Plant Demolition Fund; Sales Tax Pitch Delayed

  1. Tom September 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    I thought that was obvious.

    Reply
  2. Tom September 16, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    How can you make such a statement? “This appears to be a sell job for a new tax to raise the city’s sales tax…”

    After page after page of all the wonderful things that would happen if Measure E passes and the terrible things if it fails, the City Manager states “The City does not advocate a yes or no vote on Measure E”

    Reply
    • Citizen Reporter September 16, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      I hope you’re being sarcastic, or you obviously haven’t been following the council and city manager’s actions surrounding this. The city has pushed it at every opportunity, using taxpayers’ time and money to do so and not giving equal time to opponents.

      Reply

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