Santa Paula Council: Citizen Comments and Announcements

By Sheryl Hamlin

Fifteen citizens spoke in the Public Comments section of the September 6, 2016 Santa Paula City Council meeting.  This is the second in a multi-part report on the September 9th meeting. To watch the video, click here.

  1. Tim Jones (Limoneira/Lewis) presented one page in a series of conceptual designs for the 38 acre park which is planned for East Area 1, 23 acres of which will be “active sports” with the rest open spaces. Mr. Jones encouraged citizens to attend one of two meetings about these designs and share their opinions. The dates and locations are as follows: September 15 (6pm to 8pm) at the Santa Paula Community Center and Saturday September 17 (10am to noon) at the Limoneira Pavilion. Citizens may also view the plans in the library and email comments to [email protected]. Look for large announcements in the local paper, he said.
  2. Daniel Wreesman (citizen) requested council to reopen Public Comments on the Hardison property which had been discussed at the August 15th council meeting and closed for all further comments. Mr. Wreesman indicated he had met with the developer who may consider “entertaining offers” and he said there may be a potential buyer from the preservation community. Saying that proper steps have not been followed in the planning process without an EIR, Mr. Wreesman said there had been a “disregard of the rules and regulations” which land cities in litigation. According to Mr. Wressman, Williams Homes offered the land in front of the Hardison House to the city, but this was not accepted. He stressed need for transparency in the process and cited the “numbers wizardry” of Chris Williamson, contract planner.
  3. Gabriella Muratori (citizen) requested reopen Public Comments for the Hardison property. She indicated letters from San Bonaventura Conservancy, Barn Alliance, California Cultural Resources and the Office of Historic Preservation said an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) was necessary.
  4. Kevin Byer (citizen) – gave minutes to others.
  5. Donna Hamer (citizen) thanked the council for its vote to reconsider Resolution No. 6891a which was passed by the prior Council in June 2014, which gave all East Area 1 in lieu fees to the Santa Paula Housing Authority. She referenced the City’s Housing Element which identifies the primary need for family housing, including farmworker housing. In her letter from the ‘House Farm Workers!’ coalition, she writes: “We request that a hearing on your reconsideration of the Resolution be placed on the City’s Agenda at the earliest opportunity and that you provide us notice when the matter will be heard.”
  6. Jack Pitluk (citizen) announced a Candidate Forum sponsored by the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters on October 5th at 6 pm to be held at the Santa Paula Community Center. There will be three segments and translation services. There is a possibility the event may be televised, but this is not certain at this time.
  7. Pam Murphy (citizen) whose family has lived in Santa Paula 90 years, requested Public Comments of the Hardison House property be reopened. She brought up the Historic Ordinance signed in 1984 establishing a Historic Preservation Commission and establishes procedures for historic designation. She noted that the Design Assistance Committee was never convened in regard to the Hardison property. It’s time, she said, to “re-up” the historic review process in Santa Paula. With many beautiful historic homes, perhaps the ordinance can come in to play again, she said. And, she said, It is a mystery why this did not occur with a project the size of the proposed Williams Homes property. She reviewed the meeting with Willaims Homes. Because the design has changed, she said, the public has not had the opportunity to review the new design.
  8. Gabriel Zamora (citizen) spoke at 36:54 on the video. He brings out an issue called “de novo review”, which means a “new trial” when a decision has not been made in a manner dictated by law. For example, the significant damage to the house which occurred during the neglectful ownership of Williams Homes raises questions about the applicant’s ability to fulfill protection measures in the permit. He said the application cannot be approved now with the house in this state. The design is not unique or innovative and does not benefit the property; does not conform with the purpose or intent of the Planned Use Overlay Zone or with the allowable circumstances of the use of such a zone; is incompatible with all preservation agency commentary; and does not inspire confidence that a permit will be followed. What holds Santa Paula back is the “opaque application” of laws and ordinances which has been revealed in this process. Santa Paulans deserve protection of their resources. He also requested reopening public comments on this item.
  9. Miriam Zamora (citizen) concurred with previous speakers and requested reopening of Public Comments and stated that the revised site plan is not available for public review.
  10. Pak Kennedy (citizen) requested Public Comments be reopened. National and State agencies have called for EIR. Design Assistance Committee and Historic Preservation Commission review steps have not been carried out, so now it will be going backward to follow the law. Commission and Council ignore ordinances at will.
  11. Cathy Hicks (citizen), event coordinator for the 49th annual Citrus Festival, says the city charged the Kiwanis $6500 for services, yet the fees were waived for the Ojai Music Festival. She is working on the Halloween Parade. What will costs be? Clubs will not be able to afford these events.
  12. Tim Hicks (citizen) comment on homeless in town saying businesses and organizations are spending money to control and keep them off property. No answers, but this needs to be reinforced.
  13. Mary Cain (citizen) requested Public Comments be reopened on the Hardison House saying it is the council’s job to “preserve the past, be mindful of the present and ensure the future”. Supporting the Williams Homes project does not meet these goals, she said. It would be a “sad breach” in not opening the comments again. Citizens value that breath of fresh air with the sight of the ranch.
  14. Steven Cain (citizen) requested Public Comments be reopened particularly in light of developer’s new site plan. Williams Homes, he said, is not always very forthright in what they present in aggrandizing features like lot size. Williams Homes was disrespectful at the Planning Commission by proposing homes up the hillside to relieve the density, yet adding more. Important that the public review the changes to the development.
  15. Brianna Cooper (citizen) requests reopening of Public Comments and agrees with others, especially the testimonies of Daniel and Muriel Zamora.

Staff Communications

With a reported illness of City Manager Fontes, Chief Araiza donned his City Manager uniform to report on the big event on Saturday “Moonlight at the Ranch”. The Chumash donated $25,000 in free playing money and party favors because, he said, the Chumash are pleased with what the Foundation has provided the city. The second event on the 13th is the Breakfast of Champions, hosted by the Boys and Girls Club, at 7:30 am.

Council Member Procter praised the one hour long Labor Day Parade. Council Member Gherardi concurred and also expressed concern about inconsistencies in city billing for events. She then asked for minutes and agenda from city commissions, which she has never received. Staff should be sending the council the agendas and minutes, she said.

Mayor Hernandez concurred with Council Member Procter about the Labor Day parade in its 12th year now which brings in people from around the county.

Under future agenda items, the council added charges for events and configuration of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Measure T. 

The meeting ended in about one hour.

Note two members were absent at this meeting: Council Member Tovias and Vice Mayor Crosswhite.

Part One of this Report: HERE

For more information about the author, visit sheryhamlin.com

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