Oxnard Council: 144 low income apartments approved; more $$$ for lawyers to fight power plant; transit & street paving plans move ahead

By George Miller 

A fair amount of heavy discussion of Council agenda items transpired, spanning low income housing, transportation priorities, power plant (again) and street paving

Next phase of Las Cortes apartments approved- $59 million 144 units

LasCortesPhaseI

Recently completed LasCortes Phase I project

The 55 year old Las Cortes development near the La Colonia neighborhood, located at NE corner of 1st and Marquita,Oxnard is gradually being replaced by UHC 00.5.58 Oxnard, L.P., a California limited partnership. It is labelled “The Courts Development Project. “Old units were deemed beyond repair, obsolete and not cost-effective to renovate.

The first phase is complete and developers just obtained approval for Phase II, which will include 144 apartments.  There wasn’t much opposition to the project, which sailed through unanimously with ease, because the groundwork had been already been laid and there is a tremendous need for low income housing in the city.

The presentation was very light on descriptive material, specification, etc., including no layouts, square footage, artists’ conceptions, features, appointments- only an exterior photo of the Phase I project,

This is a private development, which could only be made possible with large developer tax credits, which we will pay for, since it would not be possible to obtain sufficient rent money from the occupants. Even some of their rents may be paid with welfare money.

There was a question about high unit cost, averaging about $410,000 per unit for 144 units, at a total cost of about $59 million.  When asked about this, the developer cited costs of completing new infrastructure/roads, development and mitigation fees (from Oxnard), tax credit/subsidy costs, and a community center. We don’t recall it being mentioned at the meeting, but the developer is also responsible for the demolition of existing structures and infrastructure on the property. This phase occupies about 10 acres.

4 Phases:
Phase 1: Terraza de las Cortes – 64 units (2-3-4 bedrooms) Community Center. Phase 1 is done.

Phase 2: Las Cortes (UHC) -144 units (1-2-3-4 bedrooms) Community Center (2,998 square feet ) [4 BR units eliminated?]

Phase 3: Las Cortes (UHC) – 120 units (1-2-3-4 bedrooms) Community Center (4,500 square foot)

Phase 4: To be determined – 2.8 Acres

Resident Pat Brown continues to protest that modern units will still lack any in-apartment laundry facilities, instead employing a common area laundromat approach. This was previously ruled out for cost reasons.

See meeting agenda material below:

Housing Department
2. SUBJECT: Authorization to Proceed with Phase 2 of The Courts Development Project.  (381)
RECOMMENDATION: Adopt a resolution approving Phase 2 of The Courts Housing Project and authorize the Housing Director or designee to take all needed actions in consultation with Authority’s General Counsel relative to entering into U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Disposition Documents, Ground Lease, Right of First Refusal and Option Agreement and any other agreements for the purpose of developing, maintaining and operating Phase 2 of The Courts Housing Project.
Legislative Body: HA Contact: Arturo Casillas Phone: 385-8096

 

More litigation $$$$ to fight a new power plantMandalayPlantMap

The Council has consistently voted to fight the development of  a new power plant at the existing Mandalay site. While NRG’s proposal, approved by SoCal Edison and under review by the Public Utilities Commission does not call for demolition of the old Mandalay and Ormond Beach facilities, NRG has said in writing that they would do this and more if Oxnard would negotiate a community services agreement with them and drop opposition to the project. Mayor ProTem Ramirez has led the movement to stiff-arm NRG and refuse to negotiate. Quite a few residents have warned against that and advise the city to negotiate, in case the project is approved.  Multiple Council Members are now receptive to “talking” to NRG, which they differentiate with actually “negotiating.” It is our understanding that this will be agendized for a future meeting.

The battle also includes the addition of energy development prohibitions in a new Local Coastal Plan under development.

Due to state legislation, home rule on such decisions has been eliminated. Approval will hinge on what the California Energy Commission decides next year, which could be influenced by PUC advice. Opponents believe that political action could influence it as well. There are numerous articles on the Oxnard power plant situation on CitizensJournal.us.

Council voted to increase the appropriated amount to pay for litigation by $150,000 for a total not to exceed amount of $350,000. They voted to have a future closed session on strategy, since they reasoned it would be dumb to tip their negotiating hand in public. Public comments were mostly in favor of stopping the power plant, with some warnings to negotiate anyway.

Meeting Document: L-1 Attorney (pdf 2.14 MB)

 

Next phase of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan approvedOxnardBus

The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) had previously approved the City’s application for a $150,000 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant for a traffic and trip demand management plan. 

The consultant presentation was by Brian Canape of Nelson/Nygaard. He said the project is to support implementation of the General Plan, The study would track greenhouse gases toward a feasible reduction target, find a way to track miles NOT traveled because of strategies implemented, analyze projected commuter vehicles’ GHG (GreenHouse Gas) emissions, summarize existing TDM programs/policies and find money to pay for all of this.

Some recommendations made were: more mixed zoning (business/residential/industrial) to reduce vehicle trips, more mass transit (mostly buses), more densifying, to reduce travel distances and provide critical mass of riders on mass transit, more encouragement of bicycle use (roads tend to be hazardous as currently configured) and providers like Lyft, Uber and ride-sharing.

OxanrdModeTransportationWork

Oxnard transportation heavily favors automobiles.

One product of the TDM project is the website Oxnard On The Go at http://onthego.oxnard.org.

There was pronounced criticism of heavy traffic and crowded, dangerous arteries such as Vineyard Ave. and heavy commuter traffic/delays into LA.

This plan is directed less at congestion and actual pollution than at “greenhouse gases” and the theoretical disastrous effects of climate change and sea rise on human activities and even survival, although it also addresses congestion. This meshes pretty well with certain recent political pronouncements from The UN, The Pope, Obama, media, Jerry Brown, EPA and even city government. This has become de facto priority 1, above the economy, above actual toxic substance removal.

The city has been collecting fees from large non-residential projects for mitigation to pay for programs, along with traffic safety funds.  Some money for related programs comes from state and federal programs, such as the gas tax, cap and trade and other programs. Some have protested diversion of funds intended for road improvements. The opposing view says it’s good to use some of that money to shift demand away from cars to other modes of transportation, or to revise the physical architecture of civilization’s logistics  to require less transportation and/or less polluting transportation. Automotive and fuel improvements have already greatly reduced toxic/particulate pollution, but many regard “greenhouse gases,” with predicted warming and detrimental effects, to be the greater threat.  There is mounting opposition to this, as some people point to the flagging economy, other priorities and legitimately question whether threats aren’t greatly exaggerated.

Meeting materials:

K. APPOINTMENT ITEMS
  Development Services Department
1. SUBJECT: Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan. (193)
RECOMMENDATION: Adopt a resolution approving the Transportation Demand Management Plan and direct staff to implement the recommendations, excluding Appendix A, consistent with available funding.
Legislative Body: CC Contact:  Ashley Golden Phone:  385-7868
ACTION: Approve as recommended with directing staff to study traffic flow on Ox. Blvd and Rose Avenue.

 

Speaking of Transportation: Before the previous item was discussed, the council made a stealth special appropriation of Stealthnearly $600,000  for bicycle paths, with zero debate. It was buried in the “Consent Agenda,” which has a streamlined mass approval process with debate only by exception. Residents have previously protested large expenditure approvals via the Consent Agenda route before, but Council and staff have not really responded. In contrast, a $7 thousand+ expenditure for electric vehicle charging was passionately debated for the better  part of an hour. Go figure.

The bicycle path money was taken out of traffic safety funds & Air Pollution Buy-Down Fund No’s. 118 & 214.

 

More street paving projects moving ahead- Orchard Park, Pleasant Valley Estates and general paving maintenance

Street paving was a very big election issue in 2014, which likely partially accounted for Mayor Flynn’s blowout 60% vote in a three way race. The City has made good on this, with the help of the whole council and Public Works Dept.  Orchard Park and Pleasant Valley Estates areas projects were authorized to proceed.  The city is also paying more attention to preventive maintenance and authorized bid solicitation for such work in 14 neighborhoods. The overall project is moving along well with neighborhood streets and some arterials, but lacks funding for the very large alley repaving needs. Meeting matrials follow:

Public Works Department
4. SUBJECT: Approval of Lowest Responsible and Responsive Bid and Authorization to Issue and Execute a Contract for UD15-38 Orchard Park Neighborhood Street Resurfacing Project. (465)
RECOMMENDATION: Award contract to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder, Granite Construction Company (A-7839), in the amount of $895,343.00 for UD15-38 Orchard Park Neighborhood Street Resurfacing Project, and authorize the purchasing agent to issue and execute the contract upon receipt of final documents.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Daniel Rydberg Phone: 385-7880
5. SUBJECT: Approval of Lowest Responsible Responsive Bid and Authorization to Issue and Execute a Contract for PW13-15R2(Rebid) Localized Pavement Maintenance Project. (549)
RECOMMENDATION: 1) Award contract to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder, Berry General Engineering Contractors, Inc. (A-7843) in the amount of $1,281,840 for PW13-15R2 (Rebid) Localized Pavement Maintenance Project, and authorize the purchasing agent to issue and execute the contract upon receipt of final documents; and 2) Approve a budget appropriation in the amount of $1,600,025 to new Localized Pavement Maintenance Project 163101.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Daniel Rydberg Phone: 385-7880
6. SUBJECT: Approval of Lowest Responsible and Responsive Bid and Authorization to Issue and Execute a Contract for UD15-07- Pleasant Valley Estates Neighborhood Street Resurfacing Project.  (607)
RECOMMENDATION: Award contract to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder, Toro Enterprises, Inc. (A-7834) in the amount of $1,868,511.00 for UD15-07 Pleasant Valley Estates Neighborhood Street Resurfacing Project, and authorize the purchasing agent to issue and execute the contract upon receipt of final documents.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Daniel Rydberg Phone: 385-7780
 
 

Other meeting newsOxnardCityHall

Councilman Perello called for agendizing discussion to authorize a Citizen vote on the proposed utility increase. Current law says a majority of ratepayers are required to rule on it, but it would be virtually impossible to get a majority without an election.

Resident Maury Navarro warned of potential flooding in River Park. He also urged disposal of the remaining 51 redevelopment properties which have been in limbo since the state outlawed redevelopment agencies. He also supports rerouting heavy truck through-traffic on Oxnard Blvd., as numerous residents have complained about.

Frank Nielson spoke up for the redesign of Oxnard Boulevard with is no longer PCH (CA route 1), but is under local control now.

Larry Stein complained about inaccurate Oxnard financial numbers, as he often does.

Multiple resident requests were made to move forward with an internal audit procedure and whistleblower protection ordinance. City Manager Nyhoff said that will be taken up when Consultant Bob Deis returns.

Approval to reallocate money to start on the police body camera project is covered in a separate article.

 

Next City Council Meeting November 17, 2015 – 04:30 PM View Agenda

__________________________________________________________

George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us, “retired,” residing in Oxnard

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