Santa Paula: Projects, Schedules and Taxes

By Sheryl Hamlin

This is the second installment in a multi-part report on the Santa Paula City Council Meeting of April 18, 2016. The first installment can be read here. To watch the video of this installment, click here and start at 00:49:16.

City Manager’s Report

  • The Fire Sustainability Study which was approved previously will be available next week. Mr. Fontes plans to have the consultants who prepared the study available for several hours on the 28th of April for a study session to which the public is invited. The $50,000 study was approved in January 2016 and is described here.
  • The planning for the grand finale of the Ojai Music Festival is in process. Recall that this event will be held on Main Street in Santa Paula and involves extensive planning to use the street for a big music event.
  • The response to the California Energy Commission (CEC) about the Calpine Mission Rock Project (MREC) is underway. The council discussed this project at a previous meeting. The council is preparing a list of issues to be sent to the CEC by May 1, 2016.
  • Limoneira applied and received a “rock remediation permit” … “months ago”, which means noise, dust and progress on East Area I.
  • The 10th visit of Santo Nino de Atocha will arrive on May 28th saying through June 5th for a final mass. There will be thousands of visitors to the holy icon with food and music to celebrate the holy infant’s visit.

Ventura Country Transit Commission (VCTC) ½ cent Proposed Sales Tax Increase

Daran Kettle, Executive Director of VCTC) previously visited Santa Paula to launch the campaign for the sales tax increase. He appeared at the April 18, 2016 council meeting at the request of Mayor Hernandez to provide an update. Council Member Gherardi, who is Santa Paula’s representative to the VCTC and former Executive Director of VCTC, said that the commission will be briefed on the results of the polling this Friday. If the commission decides to proceed, it will approve money for a ballot measure which will then require approval of 50% of the cities in the county as well as by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Kettle explained that he has been on a three month outreach effort with the public and that it requires a 2/3 vote of the commission to send the measure to the Board of Supervisors. The parameters have changed slightly since he first presented them. There will be a 45% local return to the cities (up from 40%) plus monies for bicycles and pedestrians, which augment the cities’ return to 60% or more. Discussion ensured between Mayor Hernandez about the best return for Santa Paula. Council Member Gherardi said as representative, she will determine the best return and that it is premature to discuss until the commission approves the measure to go forward. Council Member Tovias said there was a “big concern” that the monies generated will actually come to Santa Paula, citing a tax that Santa Paula residents pay for a college (Measure M), which was never built. For a detailed report of this “broken promise”, click here.

Martha Brown spoke on this issue in Public Comments saying that she felt the VCTC tax would detract from the more important issue of public safety for which there is consideration of another ballot measure. What she said has been noted by others who have commented on the 2016 ballot measures. Nine initiatives have been approved with dozens more in circulation. 2016 could be the longest ballot in California’s history, according to ballot watchers. Locally, the Santa Paula Unified School District is placing a parcel tax on the June ballot. Strategically coming first, the school tax may be a disincentive to vote on more taxes in the area, including the VCTC proposal and a potential Public Safety tax in Santa Paula.

martha_brown

Martha Brown

The council voted not to take a postion at this time until more information is returned from the VCTC.

Cross Town Water Pipeline

This major construction project was approved previously by the Planning Commission. The item for consideration at the April 18th meeting was the approval of the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for this project. This massive effort will bring water from the west side of town to the east side of town to support East Area I and II predominantly where there is not enough water pressure.

Below is a description from the staff report.

cross_town_pipeline

Council Member Gherardi asked about construction time. Capital Projects Engineer John Ilasin said that the schedule would be determined after the RFP (Request for Proposal) is issued to a design consultant. They expect a six to nine month design cycle, so effectively this pipeline is two years away.

It was identified initially in the 2005 Potable Water Master Plan. The MND was approved.

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For more information about the author, visit sheryhamlin.com

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