Oxnard Council: Update on utilities projects, problems; $8MM settlement on downtown cinema suit

By George Miller

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Mayor Flynn presents Oxnard employee of the year Felipe Marinez with a commendation, sweetened with $500, on 2-3-15. (L-R): Council members Bert Perello, Mayor Pro-tem Carmen Ramirez, Felipe Ramirez, Mayor Tim Flynn, Genl. Svces . Director Michael Henderson, Council Members Bryan MacDonald and Dorina Padilla, Recognition Committee Vice-Chair Roger Brooks. (Photo: Dan Pinedo)


Name Date Duration Agenda Minutes Video
City Council Meeting February 3, 2015 03h 54m Agenda Video


 Utilities Update Report- $600-700 million needed


Daniel Rydberg gave a report on the state of utilities- water, wastewater and streets in Oxnard. Staff Report: http://oxnard.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=46&event_id=8&meta_id=146846

City utilities, along with public safety, are among the most vital core services provided by the City of Oxnard.   The utilities directorate has been beset by underfunding (attributed to the Great Recession), manpower shortages, deferred maintenance, troubled operations and management turnover. City Manager Greg Nyhoff split it into two groups for manageability: Utilities and Streets.

There are over 40,000 accounts and  100’s of miles of pipelines and approximately 45 employees each in water and wastewater divisions. Nearly all water meters require replacement in the next three years, a major undertaking and expense in itself. Wastewater, water and streets all have major deferred maintenance. Additional water supplies are needed to offset potential loss of external supplies and a significant drop in the groundwater level.

Overall, steps are being taken to improve safety, costs and service. Over a 7-10 year period, $600-700 million may be needed in capital investment/maintenence, including:

Streets- $89-108MM

– $30MM residential

–  $28MM arterial

– $40-50MM alleys

consisting of:

• Neighborhood street resurfacing projects

• Arterial stop gap resurfacing project

• Citywide crack fill/seal

• Citywide crack fill/seal

• Hueneme widening- Saviers-Arcturus- Ventura County Transportation Commission funding, justified by port traffic.

• Rose Ave resurfacing- 5th St- 101

• Brice North- cast iron pipe also + resurfacing- Jan-June

• Harbor Blvd., from the harbor to 5th street- waiting for 52 deg+ weather.

Normal estimated annual street costs would be $3-4MM maintenance/yr, $8MM total/yer per Rydberg. It is higher now due to the backlog.  Mr. Rydberg told us that they use a 10 year lookout horizon for projects. They attempt to do projects concurrently, where it makes sense, combining subterranean pipes/cabling.


Wastewater- $305MM

Numerous projects are underway or envisioned, including elimination of the need for a new $30 million biotower, used to break down solid wastes in suspension. Some additional projects include system flushing (inhibited now due to drought), cathodic protection from electrolysis, rehabilitation of the “belt press” which squeezes water out of solid wastes before disposal, water wells rehabilitation. A new asset management system will be implemented, which will facilitate planned as well as reactive maintenance and spare parts management. Magnesium hydroxide will be added to wastewater to help control odors.

Work on a concentrate collection line and design of the Hueneme Road pipeline is continuing.


Water- Cost estimate is being updated- past estimate $250-300MM+

– GREAT (Groundwater Recovery Enhancement and Treatment) program of desalting/recycling, which involves desalters, water conveyance and treatment systems, backup power and more. Startup of the desalter facility is still in process.

– Water meters- all to be replaced over three years.

– Aquifier Storage and Recovery (ASR) is being upgraded. Groundwater management is a high priority. Mr. Rydberg attempted an explanation of our ASR system, for laymen (watch it on the meeting video).



An overall  utilities master plan will be developed, including urban water management, salt & nutrient management, wastewater, storm water, environmental resources, streets, utility vehicles and software.

Of the $600-700 million overall utility cash needs, most would be financed via ratepayers.  The forecast is mostly for steadily higher rates, we were told at past meetings, not only because of inflation, but also expansion and regulatory compliance.  The street budget is financed via the general fund and comes from taxes, fees and grants.

Not covered at this meeting were storm water requirements. The levee and drain projects have been presented and discussed at past meetings.


$8MM Oxnard downtown Plaza Cinema settlement


Oxnard Plaza Cinema, the crown jewel of the downtown renovation


The city attracted a 14 theater multiplex cinema to downtown as part of a major rehabilitation years ago. Several incentives were provided including a promise not to build another such theater in town. All that went out the window when a new 16 theater multiplex, the Century Riverpark 16,  was built at the Collection mall in 2012. Part of the deal was that the developers had to put up $8 million to mitigate the effects on downtown, which are now being severely felt there, according to merchants we have spoken with. We hear that downtown theater business has slowed, too.

On Tuesday, after a closed meeting, an $8MM (million) legal settlement regarding the impact of Century Riverpark 16 on the downtown Plaza cinema was announced, as a result of the earlier closed meeting. Money was already in an account deposited with the Court by SOCM (successor to Riverpark) to satisfy their obligation to fund a downtown assistance program.  Most ($6.3MM) went to the city downtown fund, but $1.2MM went to Strand Theater property owner/developer, for unpaid traffic mitigation fees, $1.5MM credit was awarded to Strand toward principal and interest of P.P. promissory note and lease guarantee consideration promissory note, per previous agreement. Strand will convey a vacant lot on A St. to the city. This is contingent upon Oversight Board and CA  Dept. Finance approval.  Another $1.2 million will be awarded to San Carlos, theater operators, for improvements.


George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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Oxnard employee of the year Felipe Marinez with family at City Hal;l 2-3-15. (Photo: Dan Pinedo)


George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.


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