Santa Paula Council: Pets, Pot and Public Safety

By Sheryl Hamlin

The January 19th 2016 Santa Paula council meeting took the city one month into the second half of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2016. Why is this significant? This is significant because the council should expect to hear a mid-year financial report from the Finance Director soon.

Highlights of the January 19th Meeting

  • VCTC Executive Director Darren Kettle presented the ½ cent sales tax increase the county is considering for the 2016 ballot which would help with the $3 billion county shortfall. $1.2 billion cost to widen 101 and 118. The measure will give $750,000 to $850,000 to Santa Paula.View here at 3:36.
  • VCTC Program Manager Aaron Bonfilio presented the changes to the Valley Express which included service cuts, fee increases and expanded Dial-a-Ride service. Santa Paula received a grant for transit equipment so there may be benches in the future. The fees collected from riders only cover 6 to 7% of the costs. He reminded the audience of the January 26th 2016 County Transit meeting at the Community Center in Santa Paula. View here at 31:25.
  • Joseph Alexander, who moved to Santa Paula six months ago from Oxnard, noted that the Dial-a-Ride disable fee increase was disproportionate to the other fee increases. He also complimented public safety on a year without murders in Santa Paula. View here at 47:50.
  • Fred Robinson, CEO of the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce invited the public to the annual Chamber awards luncheon on February 24th at 11:30am. This sell-out event will be held at Casa de Mexicana and will cost $40.00. Tickets are available at the train depot or at the Santa Paula Times offices. Awards winners are: Calavo, Tom Lugo from St. Vincent de Paul FoodShare, Don and Debbie Johnson of the Santa Paula Times. Santa Paula Hospital and the Santa Clara Valley Boys and Girls Club. View here at 51:24.
  • Rubin Zaragosa, Government and Community Affairs Manager of Recology, invited the public to the ground breaking on January 25th, 2016 at the Simi Valley facility where the major environmental project will be launched. The event starts at 10:00 am. View here at 55:10.
  • Mayor Hernandez reported that the water subcommittee (Council Member Tovias also a member) had approved the “base rate sewer rate program” starting in January 2016, which means that every quarter starting in April 2016 there will be an adjustment on the water/sewer bill. City Staff will present details at the next council meeting. View here at 1:00:40.
  • The applicant of the Peck/Foothill Hagaman Project requested a continuation and a study session. Previously the Planning Commission had approved the project and the council had continued The Study Session will be held at 5:00 pm on February 16th where citizens will be able to learn more about this project. There will be no vote taken at the council meeting on that night. The project will return when the applicant is ready. View here at 1:03:49.
  • The council approved an ordinance restricting all cultivation, dispensing and delivery of medical marijuana. This was a defensive move because the state requires each municipality to enact an ordinance by March 1st 2016 or else the State of California would take control. The council will revisit this draconian ordinance later on after the City Attorney has had time to become an expert in medical marijuana. The council had qualms about removing citizens’ ability to receive medicinal marijuana so, in a second motion, instructed the City Attorney to return with an updated ordinance about use and access of medical marijuana. Note article in LA Times about the federal change to medical marijuana which was not mentioned at the meeting. There were no public speakers although Council Member Procter read a letter from a citizen who needs medical marijuana. View here at 1:09:25.
  • The Spay/Neuter Ordinance returned to the agenda with the City Attorney reporting that he had not become an expert in veterinary matters, but found that there was not agreement in the literature about the correct age to spay/neuter a pet. The Santa Paula ordinance specifies four months and many feel this is too young. However, this point was overshadowed by the discussion of cat registration, which is not currently required in Santa Paula but will eventually be required in order to facilitate the spay/neuter database. The ordinance was approved with a 3-2 vote (Vice Mayor Crosswhite and Council Member Gherardi voting ‘no’.) View here at 1:55:05.
  • The council approved unanimously a water leak policy which will guide city staff in processing requests from residents with respect to billing issues resulting from leaks. View here at 2:16:21.
  • The council approved a $50,000 sixteen week study to analyze options for achieving fiscal sustainability of the Fire Department. Recall that in 2014, a sales tax measure requiring 2/3 vote failed which would have provided funds for police, fire and streets. The consultant will look at organizational issues, benefits of joining county fire and another potential ballot issue. The city manager did not indicate what would be cut from the budget for this project nor did anyone ask. Recall that the current fiscal year budget was barely positive by $10,000 by using a $200,000 carryover of an unaudited fund. A first quarter financial report was produced earlier, which showed the General Fund at 28.87% of budget, a slight overspending of 3.87%. Breaking down the first quarter budget further showed that Benefits were 42.26% or 17.26% over budget and Supplies and Services at 40.9% representing 15.9% over budget. No mention of the current budget position was given or asked. Joseph Alexander spoke saying that the $50,000 could better be used for personnel or equipment. View here at 2:30:05.

To read the agenda and staff reports, click here.


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One Response to Santa Paula Council: Pets, Pot and Public Safety

  1. Citizen Reporter January 22, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Please note correction by author:

    NOTE*****Transit Finance Proposal Clarification****
    $3 billion county shortfall. $1.2 billion cost to widen 101 and 118. $22.2 million shortfall in Santa Paula over 30 years.
    Measure will give $750,000 to $850,000 to Santa Paula.
    Sorry for the error.


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