Oxnard Approves New Ordinances on Homeless/Vagrant Offenses

By George Miller

At the 9-17-19 Oxnard City Council meeting, a package of several ordinances was proposed by staff- and approved by Council-  to deal with vagrant offenders, which they differentiated from merely being homeless, an important legal point, it turned out. What prompted this is an expanding and sometimes aggressive population of homeless people and squatters in the downtown/Plaza Park and Ormond Beach areas. Members of the public have been complaining that city steps to address it had been too tentative, too late and too ineffective, but the Council and staff stepped up to the job. After hearing the presentation and public views pro and con, Council members debated it for a long time. But they felt a strong need to pass it to help restore order and safety to the city, even though they don’t believe it is a comprehensive solution. More on that later in this report.

Then after a break, the Council went into fast forward and quickly dispatched and approved several other items, including The annual Housing Dept. performance report, formalization of the previously approved new cannabis rules, nd subdividing a land parcel. The middle manager’s compensation memorandum of understanding item was continued. 

The Council also recognized the 65th anniversary and positive influence of the Boys & Girls Club, then celebrated the victory of the El Rio Senior Boys little League for Winning a State Championship and Finishing 4th in the Western Regionals.

F. Public Comments on Items Not On The Agenda

Alice Sweetland, Chair of Senior Service Commission: 425 coupon books distributed for poor seniors’ food. Prevention of falling forum Friday at S. Oxnard Senior Center.

John Jay- 75 y.o. Viet Nam vet. Concerned about alarm system permit fee paid to someone in Los Angeles via Internet and disclosing this info online. Subject to hacking/sale of info. He held up what he said was a “2600 Hacker Quarterly” publication, shown as a how-to example. Social Security and banks have been hacked, he warned, seemingly implying that doing it to Oxnard would be simple in comparison.

Peggy Rivera- Real picture on  homeless,: 600 homeless but only 110 beds (emergency shelter). She didn’t even mention all of the private beds. Solution is almost impossible, she claimed. Housing Director Emilio Ramirez has done more for homelessness, moving forward, but not fast enough. Don’t have resources to handle it. We have the only homeless shelter in the county. She has concerns. There are other issues with the same priority.  This is having an impact on community/city.

Stan Moorman- Have housing/homeless/affordability deal. Signed lease with city to build modular low cost housing. Working with First Modular of LA. His associate thanked city for working with him. May work to clean up downtown alleys and more.

Jack Villa- Chair of Hobson Park East neighborhood announced a 9-26 town hall for District 4. Crime, parking and vagrancy are the three main issues.

Kevin Ward- 8 years ago the largest mining company in the world was prevented from doing the LNG project by Oxnard. Youth played a significant role in this. The kids shut down a meeting for the NRG thing. International climate strike coming up at Mission park, Ventura, Fri Noon and more venues.

Larry Stein- The purpose of the water neutrality policy is to reduce water inputs as development proceeds. Water credits are the key. Water coming in from the GREAT program (recycled) is not being blended with regular water. Policy is based on water not being made available. Policy is ineffective because of this. Also, debt service on the GREAT program- fixed costs plus variable costs are charged. The three agricultural customers get GREAT water and pay only finance charges on fixed fee. 44,000 other customers are paying for debt on GREAT program and get none of it. Illegal?

Steve Nash- Saviers Road design team met on the Ormond Beach area. Ventura Land Trust has restored areas, such as Hobo Jungle. Urges working with VLT. Walter Fuller (volunteer Ormond Beach south caretaker) was attacked. Need to end takeover of public space by vagrants not respecting public space or the environment. He wants Measure O money and maybe a new tax (at least it sounded that way)?

Deborah Baber-Savalla-  Mariano Rivera was honored by President Trump. 237 years ago on Sept 17, our Constitution was ready for ratification. For the first time, Citizens put together for other Citizens this document, which gives us laws which make our liberty possible and our lifestyles.  Per public law 915,  Constitution week is to be celebrated. Please put this on as an annual event. Today is our Constitution’s birthday. Then, she led a happy birthday song for the Constitution! She told me she gave out about 30 copies of the Constitution in English and 9 in Spanish. Said she is a believer in making them available in multiple languages and that was done with the original Constitution, too.

Larry Barbieri- Local govt is check and balance on all govt. Happy Constitution Day. We the people are also a check on all forms of govt. We should celebrate our AMERICAN culture as well as diversity. Crime is a spiritual problem. Appreciate police enforcement.

Pat Brown- District 4 is downtown area and south of Wooley Road and some above it. On September 26 Thu 6 PM there is a District 4 Town Hall at PACC – session on what’s happening in downtown Oxnard.

Lucy Cartegena- Quoted in Star was OPD Asst Chief Sonstegard that Prop 47/57/AB 109 have greatly complicated enforcement/quality of life. That is a political statement. Affects blacks/Hispanics, Next year, these props come on the  ballot, so police shouldn’t be making such statements.

 

City Manager Report

Asst. City Mgr. Ashley Golden- Housing  Dept communications meeting will be on Oct 2, 5-7, Oxnard Library Room D. on consolidated plan 2020-4 housing priorities.

Need to appoint League of CA cities annual conference (Oct 16-18) voting delegate and alternate.  Alex Nguyen: Mayor Flynn will attend, be so designated. Vote on resolutions– CPUC rule 20A amendment & U.S. Mexico border water program to restore proper funding to address trans border water flows and pollution. Also vote on issues on protecting exposed energized power lines and fire danger. Change criteria for protecting them. Mayor ProTem Ramirez (a voting  alternate) says US provided assistance to Mexico on water flows in and out of CA. This is an important river.  Proves walls don’t work. (talk about inappropriate political statements). Perello favors both resolutions, cited scary statistics on sewage dumping in referenced rivers. Perello moved that the Council support both of these actions, unanimously approved 7-0. Approved delegates, too.

Council Comments

Madrigal- Went to sold out PACC concert. Went to Marshall school opening K-8. Lemonwood Elementary School opening is next Wed. 5PM. McKenna School is nearly complete. Rose Ave school will be complete next year. Notes crime uptick.

Basua- Gets email from many people, we are listening? Apparently yes,  as we learned later during the discussion on new vagrancy ordinances.

Ramirez- also attended concert. Large crowd, high energy. Went to emergency mgmt. conference in Long Beach. People get left behind in tragedies. Typically low income,,Spanish speakers and seniors who get left behind. American Planning Association gave her award for Planning Dept. for preventing the new power plant. Condolences on passing of (former Asst City Manager and longtime city employee) Karen Burham.

MacDonald–Gold Coast Transit District recognized a Filipino group donated money for local lighting. Will build bus stops on J St.  Chamber of Commerce will host military appreciation day at Courtyard Marriott. See on Chamber web site.

Perello- Toured (Mandalay Bay) seawalls(much deferred maintenance).  City staff working hard to protect you via Public Works. Re: Constitution week/Deborah Baber: why can’t city recognize Constitution Week annually? RE: Crime uptick claimed, but actually reduced (in the aggregate). Please phone in crime tips.

Lopez- Went to Cal Gisler and Bryce Canyon North neighborhood Council meetings. Much hard work, thanks for resident participation. Went on boat tour of Mandalay neighborhood (seawalls).

Flynn- Council members getting many emails. City appearance an issue, is worse for budget cuts. Maintenance districts in north and west are running out of money due to no cost escalators in them. Upset about graffiti in his neighborhood. Police Chief and others are involving more Citizens in cleanups. Supports Perello’s ideas of an annual Constitution Week celebration. Constitution was one of the greatest examples of compromise ever. Hoping that Constitutional ideas will be adopted in Washington.

 

I, J,K- Consent Agenda

Pulled for discussion (other items usually approved by default):

#3- Ramirez- Invoice for animal services. We don’t have a lot of choices. People need to be responsible pet owners. Animals turned in to shelter. Asst OPD Asst. Chief Sonstegard says local animal control activities will be restructured. Perello- current policy is no kill, costs more, but he favors it.

#2 Perello- Supports CAG Citizens Advisory Group) appointments but still need Library Board commissioners. Flynn nominated Dave Littell for Homeless Commission

Public Speakers

Mr. Blutel- Why is there no license revenue (pets) for Oxnard? The only city without license revenue. No licensing, canvasser, citation revenue. Why? Sonstegard- Oxnard was only city with its own animal control previously. Will show up next year, to offset shelter costs. Was $500,00-650,000. Will use county licensing system to do it online- anticipate $700,000 revenue annually.

Vote on Consent Agenda 7-0 approved.

 

M-2-  Homelessness/Vagrancy Ordinances-

That City Council approve the first reading by title only and waive further
reading of an ordinance amending Article XVIII of Chapter 7 of the Oxnard City Code related to
Ormond Beach, and adding Articles XX, XXI and XXII to Chapter 7 of the Oxnard City Code
regulating Camping, Removal and Storage of Personal Property, Park and Park Facility Exclusion,
and Aggressive Panhandling and Solicitation.

Deputy City Atty Zaragosa presented-

Will add discretion on camping infraction to include misdemeanors. (gives police more enforcement discretion for hard cases).

Problems are not unique. 134,000 homeless in CA, 20% of national homeless. These ordinances will not solve all vagrancy problems, but it is an important first step in protecting residents. Must be mindful of compassion and constitutional rights.

Asst. Police Chief Eric Sonstegard  presented next- Thanked OPD Asst. Chief Benites for his work on this.  This is most complex social problem of 21st century. Illegal dumping, unsafe, unsanitary, denies use to public. Ordinances address encampments and property stored on public land. Parks and beaches are being denied to residents. Ordinances will improve safety and quality of life.

 

 

Housing Director Emilio Ramirez- These ordinances will not negatively impact homeless plans. Dept working on other efforts- homeless vouchers, RFP for outreach, housing, permanent shelter. This is just a piece.

Legal considerations (he has a law degree). Can we adopt ordinance? Yes. Enforce? Yes, with certain limitations, Need to store seized property

Martin v City of Boise court ruled  on citing people for sleeping on public property. Can’t do it unless there is available sleeping space in a shelter. Can impose reasonable time/place restrictions. We don’t have enough shelter space- only 110 beds. (he didn’t consider private beds) Can limit camping zones. Limit on central business district, Wilson Park. Cannot block public rights of way. City must store impounded property for up to 90 days, except obviously abandoned (Lavon v City of LA)

Park exclusion ordinance is modeled on Ventura’s. Can be appealed.

 

 

Public Speakers

John Fukie?- Chair of Bryce Canyon North/Cal Gisler- Channel Islands Blvd, Saviers. complaints about noise, petty theft, loitering, defecation. There have been aggressiveness panhandling at car wash, and other areas. Activities have decreased recently. Can’t enforce our way out of this, since it;s failure of the system. He said addiction is not a character flaw.

Patrick Skinner- Concerned about ordinances. Might exacerbate the problem. Concerned about wide amount of discretion on determining if property is abandoned. Concerned about wide areas where aggressive panhandling is banned.

Peggy Rivera- Ordinances not as broad as they were, but still not quite right. What will be financial impact on city and impact on Oxnard PD? Had 2 homeless officers and now 4 . Concerned that OPD is stretched so thin that it can’t address the problem. Want homeless to be treated with decency and respect. Want them qualified for homeless court and to be made productive. Oxnard PD does a great job. Wants to hold off and get ordinances right.

Pat Brown- It is a psychological problem. Some don’t even want jobs, they have just totally given up. panhandlers going from table to table at Starbucks. Knocking on stopped cars’ windows right out in the middle of a street.  They came here from other parts for the weather. Don’t just put them in a boarding  house. Dorms would be cheap to build..

Lucy Cartegena- Was Vice Chair of Homeless Commission. Problem with ordinances is specificity., Do they qualify for homeless court? Nothing wrong with ordinances, but want to make sure they are humanitarian. These are being used to help solve a social problem. They do not have money to pay fines. Warrants are a barrier to gaining employment. i was once homeless. Need means and tools to help them. No waste dumping available for RV’s. Need to control shopping carts. Want homeless court.

Nancy Lindholm- Chamber of Commerce supports ordinances and appreciates. Aware of city’s financial status. What will it costs and who will pay for it? Want to see alternative approaches and funding,

‘Abel Mangama- Exec Director of Oxnard Downtown Business District- Have petition signed by 35 business people plus 60 market patrons. Everyone complaining about negative impact of homeless situation. Heard so many horror stories of theft, unsanitary  conditions. Downtown community backs ordinances. Even Liberal cities are taking a tougher stance. We are dealing with vagrancy, not just homelessness. Want more dialogue on addressing this.

Darlene Miller- Gonzales- Need housing and mental facilities before we start doing this. Need to build bridges not walls. Lack money. Be compassionate., They are not criminals. Drugs are  a problem. Many seniors. Youth injured,. now dependent on medication (drugs). Need people to work with them. Need housing.  They use drugs because they would rather be in another place. Need (shopping) carts to carry their life. Take care of your own.

Gabriel Teran- Fremont South Council Chair and a Park Commissioner.- Credit to Housing, Homeless Commission and PD for their work. Problems are homelessness and vagrancy- not the same. These ordinances will help deal with both. Some homeless go to work, send people to school, live in vehicles or “sublets.” Encampments at PAL and elsewhere. Want restrictions for camping in other areas. Can’t see how city can manage (seized) property storage.

Dr. Ray Lopez- Deal with homelessness every day. We let people in to use restroom in our office. Someone stole his phone. Deals with mental illness and drug abuse. Need more than police- also county and state. Agree with plan but why did it take so long?

Sal Gonzales- Why it takes so long-. Do not support these ordinances. They should not be in parks or behave illegally. These are just punitive measures. Also need year round shelter, Don’t even have a site. Need a campsite too. Only making a bad situation worse. Need to do other stuff simultaneously. These do not address solutions. We don’t have a place for them to go.

Owner of KO Gym- Dog stolen by a homeless man, incidents in his gym. This is like a 3rd world place People smoking crack, naked man removed. Lost 30%% of his membership. Did not understand before he came here.

Miguel Trevar?- Was homeless. Got proper help from court, recovered. Work with addicts, homeless. Have been assaulted, treated in hospital.  People lack stable residencies. Police have done wonders.

Joe Handliger- Was homeless 11 years. Now in a rehab camp for 3 years. – No longer use or drink. Had my problems. Never knew if I was gonna wake up the next day. Have mental health issues. Just graduated from a mental health course. Thanks for letting people to have their say,

Manuel Herossa- Homelessness hard to handle, need to have compassion, but need to have order or we will have the wild west. Got to quit talking about it and do something.

Lorenzo Castille (does extensive work with homeless)- Thanks for doing what you do, thanks to police Dept. Saw an (relevant)  video recently- Seattle is Dying. I was forced to get straight. Drank and used cocaine. Was forced to get help after arrested. Now a real estate agent. This is not about homelessness. These people don’t want help, do not want to be told what to do. They need to be put into recovery. Law must be enforced. Not about punishing, it’s about helping. Housing is NOT the solution.

Albert Romo- Solution is right in front of us. Use old Oxnard HS. Will get them off the streets. You should be able to get funding. Come together as a village to solve problem. Every night sirens, gunshots. Turn on the sprinklers at the park. Stop pointing fingers,.

Albert Romo

Council Comments

Flynn- this is the first of several stages.

Lopez- We have heard from a large number of people on both sides. People don’t feel comfortable coming downtown. Must take steps, Must have compassion- they are human. To what extent is our city going to take  care of everyone who comes here. I recognize that we have to do something- this is a first step. We have to take care of our city first.

Perello- Supports. Public questions. Don’t know if there is an RV waste dump site, but should be. Shopping cart thefts not prosecuted. Not cool (for me to say), but people are hauled away and back hours later. Tired of revolving door, slap on the wrist. Not acceptable. Likes the idea of using old high school. Disagrees with Sal Gonzales, but it’s getting worse every day, people will not put up with it anymore.

MacDonald- Have asked about this for months, bypassed committee to get a quicker council vote. Talked to formerly homeless people who accused him of losing compassion, but he only lost his patience. Farmers market losing people, Stranger walked into his back yard, said he was just checking out your yard. Some downtown businesses keep their doors locked. Downtown attorney had people going through his office refrigerator, If people need assistance we need to get them into programs. Some are resistant to service. Need something to engage them when nothing else works. I see this program as an assist- discretionary. People living on vacant private land, chased away owner, set it on fire.

Ramirez- We do have a crisis and it is lack of housing and people who are committing criminal acts (not all homeless). Need solutions to deal with the behavior hurting our city. We need to support more housing and more services for people. Haven’t been able to find a permanent shelter site, because people don’t want it by them. We have the only public shelter in the county. Will Oxnard be responsible for sheltering all Ventura County homeless? We have drug problem in our society. Are they on opioids, alcohol, o…? OPD Chief Whitney:  yes and meth, too. He estimates that the majority are using.The majority of drug crimes have no prosecution, so there is no consequence to chronic low level offenders. No longer any “stick” to go with the “carrot.” At least these ordinances will carry some consequences. Ramirez: county provides social services, not cities. A little uncomfortable with some tings about the ordinances- will watch their enforcement. Neighboring cities have “zero tolerance.”

Basua- I don’t want to sound like I have no compassion, because that is not true. But I have no compassion for vagrancy, no compassion for criminals. As a community and a society, we have rules for safety and quality of life. Yes, we have an obligation to protect the homeless, but what about us? Strongly in favor of the ordinances, public safety and have also lost patience- my compassion, like MacDonald’s, has run out, she said. She looked angry and fed up and took the strongest stance of any Council member.

Councilwoman Basua: compassionate, but out of patience.

She asked why aren’t private beds considered and said she and fellow council members just received an email from Ventura County Rescue Mission declaring they had beds available, which is what they told me and showed me when I went there myself to see for Citizens Journal. She asked how many were removed from Ormond Beach. OPD Asst Chief said 30 encampments were cleared, others left sooner. She fears the unintended consequences of ordinances dispersing people elsewhere and would like to include the whole City. Atty. Zaragosa thinks ordinance as presented is consistent with the Boise ruling and hers wouldn’t be. He hopes for more guidance with the courts in this rapidly changing area of the law. Interesting how comfortable the legal profession is with having judges legislate. Zaragosa opined that VC Rescue Mission beds were deemed “unavailable” by the Boise ruling because the court opposed a “religious barrier.” VC Rescue Mission told me that they impose no religious requirements. Would beds in other jurisdictions count? Zaragoza doesn’t know.

Basua said that it is totally unacceptable that Oxnard has the shelter for the whole county and that we need to take care of Oxnard first.

Madrigal- This is a band-aid approach. Are we any better off- many residents would say no. Lack permanent shelter and are nowhere near having one. Will get complaints from all over the city- vigilantism possible. Suggested using the adjacent city parking lot. Housing Director Ramirez (who occasionally hosts homeless on his doorstep at the Housing Dept.) hat would come with management responsibilities.  Zaragosa- we don’t currently have a restriction on camping in the central business district. There is a fine line between “camping” (living accommodations) and just “sleeping.” Madrigal: what are we spending on overall homeless costs. Nguyen estimates $4 million annually, including grants- it has doubled in 2 years. MacDonald says Ventura is rehabbing a building as a shelter.

Flynn- Said he strongly supported the ordinances, but also feared some unintended consequences, such as dispersing the homeless all across the city and incurring liabilities. Should have happened  along time ago. It is managing, not solving- the problem. Downtown businesses have taken on a disproportionate burden- made business almost impossible.,He waved around a report he said was the President’s council of economic advisers, which he asserted said that long term housing was the answer to homelessness. He told his San Diego homelessness approach again, encompassing three major tent city facilities: 10- women and children only, 2)- veterans, 3)- single adults. He predicts the ordinance will disperse homeless all over the city. Now, it is out of sight, out of mind- public expects us to deal with it.

A White House report contended that San Francisco and Los Angeles could cut homelessness by at least 40 percent simply by relaxing building regulationsSacramento Bee | USA Today

Flynn brought up his three strikes you’re out , then go to the facility idea. This time, he didn’t say what the three strikes are or where facility space and money to pay for it would come from. He estimates it will cost $31,000/yr to house a homeless person, which he says Housing Director Ramirez claims is too low. Even this lower  number would come to $21,000,000/yr, per Flynn. (I came up with $18,600,000). Flynn said that Oxnard and Ventura have 2/3 of county homeless. We need to go to Sacramento to get money to deal with this- now, he excalimed. The situation (homeless are just 1/4% of the population) will consume all of their attention.  He thanked Nguyen for finally acting.

Ramirez- concerned about people not having a safe place to sleep. Feared that people may be underequipped when attempting to avoid being charged with illegal camping. Whitney- ordinance only applies to some parks (and Ormond Beach). All parks are close after dark.

Perello- Respects MacDonald’ comments about letter vs spirit of law. Want to avoid litigation. Atty Zaragoza says ordinances modeled on other cities, so this is less likely. Also concerned about vigilante violence.

Basua- Don’t want to get city sued, but there are consequences to every action. Need to be ready.I don’t like to walk- I like to run

Asst OPD Chief Sonstegard- The homeles know what’s going on. When they see we are doing what the other citie are doing, some will leave. Plus police have powers of persuasiuon ad discretion, we have lacked tools, have only been bluffing, This would give them tools. Some will leave.

 

Vote for the motion on the ordinances was unanimous- 7-0, although some, like Ramirez, seemed to have some reservations.

Analysis

It’s very true that this will not solve the underlying problems, but it’s a start to address safety and quality of life issues. 

Most officials seemed to realize that this wouldn’t solve the homeless or even the vagrancy problem, but saw it as an important step to help restore order and safety to the city. Things have been getting worse and worse and the Council and staff have rightly sensed that the public has passed a point where they will tolerate it. It appears that every Council Member has been approached by concerned and even irate residents.

But they are also mindful of compassion for the afflicted and legalities as well.

Since these ordinances are mostly modeled on those of other cities, the liability risk is at least somewhat lower,.

No one at the meeting hazarded a guess as to what this would all cost, what manpower would be required and how this was done. A couple of people didn’t see how the city could manage the property seizure and impoundment rules, which could involve hundreds of people and many tons of material. How would it be cataloged, ordered, stored, administered?

The longer term shelter needs and housing issues are in work but have a long way to go. Since Oxnard has a disproportionate share of homeless, it will need outside help. City officials have vowed to seek legislation.grants to help address it.

There is some concern tat the ordinances will just push people in to places all over the city. OPD Assistant Chief Eric Sonstegard believes that with new ordinances more in line with neighboring cities that some vagrants/homeless will see Oxnard as less of an easy mark and may leave.

Implicit in the Oxnard “Housing First” Approach, seems to be an assumption tat there is an obligation to provide housing for all. In fact, there is no such inherent constitutional right and the cost would be unknown and very large.

At least at council meetings, city officials do not seem to be taking private sector help seriously. Socials services, outreach, detox, sober living, counseling and even housing are already being provided. In meetings with a couple of city officials, they seemed dismissive when I brought this up. Ventura County Rescue Mission, for instance, was written off as a “religion thing,” when in fact they do not require any religious adherence, but do offer it. There are others. In any case, if a facility which has “barriers” to entry per courts, there’s nothing to stop the city and outreach services from offering it anyway and maybe getting some takers.

Multiple Council members have said that the county is the source of social services, but again, the private sector can help here. Homeless Coordinator Mark Alvarado seems to understand that and had dozens of private sector, county and city people at a strategy session I sat in on a while back.

 

 

 


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


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4 Responses to Oxnard Approves New Ordinances on Homeless/Vagrant Offenses

  1. P W Robinson October 20, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    I’d say that long before these anti-personnel ordinances get laughed out of court, several more homeless folks will have been killed by cars. Oxnard has taken it’s lead from it’s leadership…we now live where a 37 yo homeless woman can be run down by a car, and the next three cars hit her, too. No one stops. This grows directly from the Homeless No Go Zone, the ‘Vagrants’ hit piece, 0 all the bathrooms in the city, etc. Hostility toward the most diminished of us.

    Reply
  2. Pamela M Briscoe September 27, 2019 at 12:27 am

    Imposing fines on the homeless is not going to do anything accept have unpaid fines on the books. These people are homeless, this equates to not having money to pay fines. I do not believe ordinances that keep homeless out of the parks, etc. resolves the issues of homelessness. They need an alternative placement, more beds, and housing are needed. Then sobriety, and mental health intervention can occur, but stability is important first and foremost.

    Reply
  3. Tom September 22, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    At the 9/17/2019 city council meeting agenda item C.2 stated: “CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – ANTICIPATED LITIGATION (Government Code section 54956.9(d)(2))
    (City Council)
    Based on existing facts and circumstances, there is significant exposure to litigation against the City in one potential case.”

    The mayor followed with the comment that was not part of the agenda packet: “A point has been reached where, in the opinion of City Council on the advice of its City Attorney, based on existing facts and circumstances, there is significant exposure to litigation against the City and all the other entities claiming groundwater rights in the Oxnard subbasin. Due to the current drought and lack of surface water, the agricultural community is especially vulnerable to restrictions in groundwater pumping. As the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency considers a proposal to restrict such pumping, and as the GMA has stated publicly that it wants to put a groundwater sustainability plan in place by this fall, some members of the agricultural community may file suit to adjudicate the basin, which would bring the City into litigation. Such suit has already been filed on March 27, 2018, against the GMA regarding the Las Posas Valley groundwater basin, which is a neighboring basin that is separate from, but hydrologically connected to, the Oxnard subbasin, which is the City’s basin.”

    Section 2-221(A) of the Sunshine Ordinance defines agenda as: A document that informs the public about a meeting, published in advance of the meeting, which at a minimum: (i) identifies the policy body conducting the meeting; (ii) specifies the time and location of the meeting; and (iii) lists each item of business to be discussed or transacted and describes the proposed action for such item.

    Section 2-224(A) states: Twelve days before a regular meeting of the city council, and seven days before a special city council meeting and any meeting of all other policy bodies, the policy body shall post an agenda containing a meaningful description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting.

    Section 2-224(B) states: A description is meaningful if it is sufficiently clear and specific to alert a person of average intelligence and education whose interests are affected by the item that he or she may have reason to attend the meeting or seek more information on the item. The description should be brief, concise and written in plain, easily understood English.

    Does the city contend the mayor’s passing remarks delivered minutes before the closed session rectified the deficiency of agenda item C.2?

    Reply
  4. c. e. voigtsberger September 21, 2019 at 11:33 am

    I didn’t bother to read all the verbiage about this ordinance. But some thoughts occur to me that apply to any law, ordinance or regulation.

    It is meaningless without regular, constant enforcement. A two-week enforcement period, a 2-month enforcement period are just putting a band-aid on gangrene. Even a two-year enforcement period will not be enough. It needs constant, continuous enforcement.

    Enforcement means all along the line, starting with the police department, the city attorney if it is going to be prosecuted by the city, the courts and the jails.

    It does little good for the police department to issue citations if the city attorney’s office fails to prosecute. The same applies if the city attorney’s office prosecutes but the courts fail to impose significant sentences. The courts can impose all they want but if the sheriff decides that his jail is too full and turns loose prisoners, misdemeanor offenses are the first to be kicked loose early. That means that a jail sentence would likely entail getting booked and then released. A lot of wasted effort.

    Finally, don’t expect miracles. Folks who have been arrested and convicted under these ordinances are not going to suddenly turn over a new lear, get sober, find employment and lead a constructive life. They will continue in their chosen life style until they get tired of the jail rotation and move to a jurisdiction where they are more tolerated.

    The big ‘BUT” is that the politicians HAVE DONE SOMETHING ABOUT THE HOMELESS PROBLEM. They passed a law against it. Whoop dee doo! How many times have we seen that happen? So when you call your local pol’s office to complain. They wring their hands and say, “There’s nothing more we can do. We did our part. We passed a law. Stop calling us. Call somebody else.”

    Reply

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