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    Santa Paula: Governing by Consent Leaves Voids

    By Sheryl Hamlin

    The April 3, 3019 Santa Paula Council meeting agenda contained 12 items in the Consent Calendar. Recall that the Consent Calendar is used to approve perfunctory items for which no discussion or explanation should be necessary.

    Other than Consent Item 7, which was pulled by Council Member Sobel, there were no questions from the public or the council on the other items. Below are a few samples which could have elicited questions:

    Item 4. Police Department Monthly Report

    Source: Police Monthly Report

    Questions for this item could have been: 1) quantify “numerous”, 2) why were merchants “appreciative”. 3) were the homeless exhibiting anti-social or illegal behavior, 4) what were the benefits of the sweep?

    Source: Police Monthly Report

    The obvious question to the “sexual favors” findings could have been concerning the continuation of the business license. Is this a cause for termination?

    Item 5. Community Development Department Monthly Report

    With many columns of statistics on permits and fees, the report from Code Compliance stands out:

    Source: Community Development Staff Report

    With 60 new cases opening and only 8 closed, is a backlog building? What is the total number of open complaints? Is there enough staff assigned to this important function?

    Item 6. Parks & Recreation Department Monthy Report

    Source: Monthly Staff Report Parks & Rec

    While Council Member Juarez reminded the audience of the many offerings of the Community Center and the Senior Center, the improvements to the parks is always an opportunity to highlight a successful project.

    Item 7: Public Works Department Monthly Report

    Council Member Sobel asked for this to be pulled. He questioned why Peck Road was not included. The answer was that Peck is an important road, but there are others too. Will East Harvard be edge-to-edge? The Public Works Director said ‘yes, eventually’. Council Member Juarez asked about digouts. City Manager Rock said that they must get the entire report ready to submit to county who does the digouts.

    The entire Public Works report includes much valuable information: 1) Santa Paula High School Neighborhood Safety Improvement, 2) Harvard Boulevard Water/Sewer Improvements 3) Mesa Tank Study and Replacement, 4) Peck Road Pavement Improvement Caltrans. 5) Pavement Slurry Seal and Rehabilitation Program: FY 2018/2019 Project, and 6) Water Recycling Facility.

    This report should not have been in the Consent Calendar, but highlighted as a feature report including a staff Powerpoint presentation.

    The last item about the WRF is particularly interesting. With post-treated chlorides at 125 mg/L and well chlorides at 126.1 mg/L, how can the city recommend pumping this water to Limoneira as recommended by MKN? Blending this down to 110 mg/L seems impossible without an on-site RO (Reverse Osmosis) plant somewhere in the system.

    The city has three new vendors: Veolia (plant operator), VRSD (Collection System Maintenance) and Synagro (hauler of processed and compressed solids to Bakersfield). All three of these vendors have experience with biosolids, particularly waste-to-fuel. VRSD shut down its plant which operated from 2009-2015 due to mechanical and production issues, although the facility met the USA EPA Class A or B standards for dried biosolids, according to the staff report. This topic is gaining worldwide momentum as the population increases and emphasis moves to renewable fuel. Watch the video of the successful Minnesota plant here. Though not discussed at this meeting, the topic will have a future.

    Items 8 and 9 were minutes to be approved.

    From the Planning Commission, the following item was approved without adequate proof of when the West Expansion Area was added to the CURB. No resolutions were provided to substantiate claims of inclusion. 125 acres requires a vote per SOAR

    Source: Staff Report

    Item 10. October 2018 through February 2018 Certification of Accounts Payable Checks

    With a year’s worth of checks, many items pop out as interesting and worth inquiry.

    010795 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON 02/08/2019 Regular 0.00 104,221.08 320053
    011024 CALIFORNIA PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT SYS 02/08/2019 Bank Draft 0.00 49,195.88 991120
    100-2114 P/R LIAB PAYABLE – PERS 120,708.87
    014919 CITY OF LANCASTER 01/03/2019 Regular 0.00 25,000.00 319671
    014812 DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELO0P1M/0E3N/2T019 Regular 0.00 178,256.00 319680
    010928 VENTURA COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT 01/03/2019 Regular 0.00 4,000,000.00 319731
    011922 VENTURA COUNTY TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION10/11/2018 Regular 0.00 120,000.00 318898

    Questions from the above drafts:

    With over $1 million in payments to Edison, when will the addition of solar become a priority? With payments to CalPERS increasing monthly, is there consideration for how fast this escalating for future budget planning? What is the status of the Community Choice Aggration? Why the large payment of $178,256.00 to HUD? Did Limoneira provide the $4 million payment to VCFPD as part of the East Area 1 fire station swap? VCTC payment of $120,000 is for what service?

    Item 11. Approval of the Bond Release in the Amount of $28,013 for Completed Construction of East Area 1 Padre Lane Sewer and Water Improvements

    While this represents progress, was there consideration for the historic importance of the Packing House and the 100 year old Canariensis Palm Trees? Both of these should be designated as city historic resources. What is the status of the bridge and the NMFS/Army Corps of Engineers debate?

    Item 12. Amendment with E.D.G.E Technologies Agreement

    While the Canyon booster pump is essential, it would be important to know if this pump is degraded or inoperable now or in the near term?

    Item 13. Project List for SB-1 Projects

    With roads as top priority, this item should have been highlighted for presentation.

    Source: Staff Report

    Item 14. Housing Element Annual Progress Report

    Although the dates for this appear to be a year away, the threat from Governor Newsom about rescinding SB-1 funds for cities who do not meet the housing requirements could be real. The question would be as follows: is the amount in the report sufficient to meet the Governor’s wishes? Planning Manager Mitchem directed me to the discussion from the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #4 . The SB-1/Housing connection has yet to be quantified and there appears to be pushback in Sacramento per this article. According to Mitchem, the City and its General Plan consultant are aware of these issues and are crafting the updated Housing Element to meet these contingencies.

    Source:Staff Report

    Council Silence

    Everyone enjoys a brief meeting, but is communication sacrificed in the name of brevity? How can citizens stay informed with such a heavy handed use of the Consent Calendar?

    To watch the meeting, click here.


    For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com

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