Simi Valley | Member Champions First Amendment While Trampling on Second as Council Resets Protocols

New meeting protocols and proposed increased sanitation rates.

By  Gina Harden

SIMI VALLLEY – During August 26, 2019 City Council meeting, Councilman Judge called the question, ending heated exchange between Luevanos and Mayor Mashburn concerning the adoption of a resolution to establish City Council Meeting protocols. The resolution passed 4-1 with Luevanos dissenting.

Luevanos highlighted first amendment concerns that “the total amount of time for Public Statements may be limited to 45 minutes” and fiercely opposed the Mayor’s option to request concurrence on future agenda items proposed by a City Council member.

The Mayor expressed concern about signs becoming potential weapons, which opened the door for Luevanos to advocate for metal detectors and the disarming of CCW permit holders at meetings. Judge questioned her comments on this issue.

Other procedural recommendations from the office of the City Manager that passed include ceasing the distribution of speaker cards once Public Statements have begun, limiting speakers to one trip to the microphone even if they’re addressing multiple topics, no clapping, and no giving remaining time to others. Council Members will be allotted an extra 60 seconds to respond to personal attacks. The new protocols were referred to as a “living document” and are subject to amendment.

Council Sets New Service Rates:

New business also included the 4-1 approval of proposed Sanitation Service Rates. Litster did not favor the five year plan to increase rates about 7.5% annually, suggesting that a bond measure would be more appropriate for capital improvements that would provide services for multiple generations. The suggested rate increase was described as a ceiling that will be discussed further at a public hearing October 28, 2019.

Special presentations included the 65th anniversary of the Arc of Ventura County and a Proclamation recognizing Women’s Equality Day.

Judge, Litster, Luevanos, and Cavanaugh were selected to interview and nominate prospective Neighborhood Council Executive Board members.

The Council approved a request from Premiere Interior Development, a general contracting business, to construct two industrial buildings on Cochran Street. The company raised safety issues regarding the planning commission’s requirement for a sidewalk between a K rail and a steep slope. The Council voted 4-1, Luevanos

dissenting, to waive the sidewalk requirement. The Mayor said they’re “not here to spend their money” on “useless items” and didn’t want to be known as the city with a “sidewalk to nowhere.” Luevanos also opposed the “deference to developers” being permitted to give their presentation prior to the public comments and thought they should “show preference to our residents.”

There were nearly an hour of public comments, with many Luevanos supporters in attendance. Laura, a Jewish resident, gave an impactful comment defining concentration camps and explaining Luevanos’s flag. Another commenter decried “MAGA hatters” and “meaningless MAGA memes.” Scott Fitzgerald gave an impassioned plea to get body cameras for Simi police after his 13 year old son was a police victim.

The full council agenda is available online.

Gina Harden resides in Ventura County. You can follow her @libertygrows on FBYoutube.

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