STILL There: Oxnard’s Most Remote “Homeless” Encampments By the Sea

By George Miller, David Scrivner & Abraham Mendez

Ormond Beach, Oxnard, CA  

 

We recently visited the numerous, remote, persistent and illegal Oxnard beach encampments and have some news to report to you (most photos were taken on 9-7-19). In summary:

  1. The encampments are far from being “cleared out” as we had been told and may actually be growing again. We spotted at least 60 tents/shelters, some with multiple occupancy and there are other areas we didn’t even reach. Staff at Oxnard City Council meetings gave the impression that clearing the area was going better than what we actually observed.
  2. People said they were encouraged to move from the Oxnard Ormond Beach property to areas under Nature Conservancy or “federal control”.
  3. The areas are difficult to reach, police and provide services to. Oxnard resources to do so are rather limited.
  4. We did not observe any encampments on City of Port Hueneme land.
  5. These people are technically not “homeless.” They are illegal squatters living on public and private land.
  6. Many are distressed and need help getting their lives in order.

Administering the area is difficult due to its remoteness, multiple ownerships/jurisdictions (6).

The homeless problem in Oxnard and many other California communities continues to worsen, even in the face of a strong economy and efforts to address it. Without getting into a comprehensive analysis of why they are here, it appears that some people fall through the cracks. Many have mental/emotional/physical/addiction problems. But many are unwilling or unable to initiate or even consent to the sometimes difficult steps to get out of the holes that they are in. Some programs to help the homeless go begging because target subjects will not go even when solicited multiple times.

I saw more examples of this on Saturday, September 7, 2019 as we toured Oxnard’s remote south beach areas of Ormond Beach, the Halaco Superfund site and all the way up to the Port Hueneme borderline. At that time, many people enjoyed the beautiful sunny beach on a weekend afternoon, sunbathing, fishing on the pier, surfing, walking, sightseeing, or picnicking, seemingly oblivious to the misery only within walking distance.

It occurs to some of us that these people in the encampments are not technically “homeless.” They have staked out turf and established homes in the area, some very primitive, some more sophisticated. But those are unauthorized homes on private and public land, which makes them squatters, not homeless.

Illegal Ormond Beach encampments located in sensitive environmental zone with endangered species. Photo: Jim & Joan Tharp

Citizens Journal has relied upon the reporting efforts of Lang Martinez, Christina Zubko, David Scrivner and Hueneme Voice Publisher Tom Dunn for bulletins on the situation here. They, along with Port Hueneme Councilman Steve Gama, persuaded me to make this visit and write about it with them.

At the 9-3-19 Oxnard Council meeting, homeless advocate Lang Martinez referred to emails circulating about the homeless situation and wanted to know if he could get council members’ response. Martinez claimed that 5 encampments still exist at Ormond Beach as of 9-5-19. Reports to us are that some homeless have moved from there to conservancy and City of Port Hueneme land (we saw none at the latter on 9-7-19).  Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn told me on 9-7-19 that he would meet with us on this and he did (see writeup later in this article)

Here’s what’s at stake:

Tour of Ormond Beach area homeless encampments

On 9-7-19, several us met at the picturesque, iconic Port Hueneme pier and beach area, then headed over to the south parking area. Local businessman and charity volunteer Abraham Mendez guided us, walking the beach south to the Oxnard borderline, where we spotted some encampments past the lagoon. We cut inland to observe dwellings and talk to some people living there. It was an interesting assortment of people, not what I expected, being more familiar with the down and out types in the downtown area.

We spent about 3 1/2 hours walking around there with Abraham, Lang, David and our guide, encampment resident Greg. We went through dunes, brush, the Halaco Superfund toxic waste site and around the lagoon. We saw at least 60 tents. There are other areas we didn’t get to with even more. So there are probably at least 100 if not many more people living in the area. We observed significant environmental damage in this precious wetland/marsh/wildland area. These included garbage/trash/human waste strewn around, vegetation trampled, numerous new paths cut, wildlife disturbed. Recently, there were even attempts to drain the lagoon. This is taking a significant ecological toll.

Activist note:
I did some more studying of Oxnard’s Local Coastal Plan and found language that cites Coastal Act policies.  This one in particular stood out:

Coastal Act Policy 30240: a. Environmentally sensitive habitat areas shall be protected

against any significant disruption of habitat values, and

only uses dependent on such resources shall be allowed

within such areas. 

In essence, not only is Oxnard out of compliance with its own city ordinance (2906), it is also out of compliance with the Coastal Act. 
.
If we need language to fall back to, here it is.  
.
Christina Zubko (local activist)

A few weeks ago, Oxnard Police started a major clearing effort to get squatters out of the area. But, some are still where they were before or just moved around. Some have moved onto the Nature Conservancy land or outside the Halaco Superfund toxic waste site. More than one resident told me that they were told to go there and to leave by March. Why March, I asked? Nesting season (birds) they replied.

“Greg” was our volunteer guide for nearly all of our 3 1/2 hour tour. He proved to be resourceful and knowledgeable in what is going on and is somewhat of an informal local leader. He says he helps to maintain security, cleanliness and even water supply, which comes from fire hydrants, in one section of the encampments. Garbage is buried (but only near some encampments). Only some area residents attempt to police/clean up. Most other areas were very messy, strewn with tons of trash/garbage/waste. There are no toilets at all in the area, no trash dumpsters, no running water, no sewers. There are toilets, sinks and cold showers at Hueneme Beach, 1-2 miles away via paths and the beach.

Lang Martinez and Citizens Journal Publisher George Miller talk to guide Greg at his residence in Ormond Beach area. Photo Abraham Mendez.

Greg told us that he is 33, was a heroin baby, made money selling/delivering cannabis, used meth and is currently on probation. Homeless 7 years, he has been in the area for 2 years. He looks very lean, but not emaciated. His encampment was sprawling, messy, but fairly well equipped with the necessities, if not the luxuries, of life. He offered us food and drink. His speech sounded somewhat slurred to me but he was quick-witted and had a sense of humor. He said he would like to be in “a program” and off drugs, but he didn’t exactly leap at an opportunity offered by Lang. He was relatively lucid. He said he has 5 children via multiple relationships (divorced), not with him here.

Greg pointed out a nearby multi-acre charred fire area within sight of Perkins Road- arson 4 days ago he said. Oxnard FD came and put it out. He thinks nearby gang members set it. He said it would be dangerous for outsiders like us to wander about alone here and claimed we might be attacked.

Our guide Greg points out a recent (4 days ago) burn area, extinguished by Oxnard FD. Photo: Abraham Mendez.

 

Lang Martinez secures resident permission for George Miller to enter for an interview. Photo; Abraham Mendez.

In our travels, we had the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the residents. Maria has a larger tented complex (above), well outfitted, even has battery powered devices and cooking facilities in the most orderly residence we visited. She said most of her stuff is scavenged from things just lying around or donated to her. She said she has lived at this location for 6 months and in the area for three years. My understanding is that she was told to leave the beach area and went a bit farther inland. She appeared to be living with a young man who didn’t speak English and seemed rather uneasy in my presence. Maria has no medical insurance and says she relies upon FoodShare to eat. It was hard to see her in the murky lighting inside her tent, but she seemed to be relatively healthy. She never got out of bed while we were talking, after noon.

Another camper, John, said “the feds came” and “said we have to leave in March.” He said the Hueneme Police were here at the same time and “kissed ass” with the “feds.” (No one seems to know for sure who these “feds” were).  He says he has been searched, with his consent. He has MediCal and uses FoodShare.

Area vagrant goes canoeing on creek parallel to Perkins Road. Photo: Abraham Mendez.

 

Local improvised dwelling. Photo: Abraham Mendez.

 

Primitive encampment along creek. Photo: Abraham Mendez.

 

Another encampment adjacent to the marshland. Photo: Abraham Mendez.

 

Ormond Beach vicinity encampment. Photo: Abraham Mendez.

We detected the mouth-watering aroma of pancakes being cooked by three friendly women living along the edge of the Halaco toxic waste site and walked over to talk. One was dressed in a rather provocative leopard print dress. I told her she looked like a soap opera star.  The three had been homeless 5, 3 and 2 years respectively. One, Miriam, said that her husband (living there, but not present while I was) was injured and lost his construction job, which triggered the homelessness. He is working now, but disabled and making far less. I was wondering how he could get to work on time every day, with no car, no nearby public transit and a long walk to even reach the nearest road. On questioning, she revealed that she had a diabetic condition and no medical insurance, which she blamed on stolen ID. When I told her she could get ID via Community Action’s “One Stop” service, she demurred, saying she couldn’t leave her pet alone. Oxnard Homeless Coordinator Mark Alvarado and I were comparing notes later, to learn that she had told both of us the same thing.

All three agreed that they would like a social worker to help them, a phone, and that porta potties and dumpsters would go a long way toward better hygiene. That might be logistically difficult there and would help enable indefinite squatting.

There are basic survival support services available, such as disability payments, welfare, food stamps, MediCal/medical, private FoodShare and social services, and more, but many residents do not appear to be utilizing them. It doesn’t seem to be because of ignorance of their existence. Keep in mind that many are addicts, mentally/emotionally challenged, or possibly fugitives.

More encampments toward the coast. Photo: Abraham Mendez.

 

Miller and Martinez interview dunes resident. Photo: Abraham Mendez. 

“New York Vic”, a senior citizen living in the dunes in a tent (above), is anxious to get help for his wife, who he says is seriously addicted. He had arranged to have her brought to an interview, but she balked at the last minute. He thinks that another woman could best talk to her about it, so someone is trying to arrange that.

 

Encampment near Ormond Beach coast. Photo: Abraham Mendez. 

 

Oxnard Police Dept. Weighs in

Although the Housing Department has overall responsibility for the homeless program, the police department is responsible for law enforcement and is taking the point on the Ormond Beach situation. I spoke to Oxnard PD Assistant Chief Sonstegard about it this week. He just got back from a conference. He told me he had 56 emails, about 35 of which were homeless-related.  The police workload is disproportionately skewed to the homeless problem, which encompasses only 1/4% of the population and only some of them are criminals.

He remarked that it is getting progressively worse, that he is a bit frustrated with the situation and is requesting some additional tools and resources, which I’ll get to in a bit, after listing some of his thoughts conveyed to me, namely:

On a day to day basis,  OPD is attempting to protect Ormond  Beach and nearby areas with daily patrols. The area is large and logistically difficult to access. You can’t just drive by the affected areas in a patrol car. You have to park and walk considerably, or come by in a 4 x 4 “Polaris” vehicle and still walk to less accessible areas. (During our tour on 9-7-19, we did not see any police presence, but it would be easy to miss them in such a large area).

He somberly pointed out that they only have two homeless liaisons and that they can’t both spend all their time at Ormond Beach (which we estimate may contain about 25% of the city’s homeless total of about 600). Sworn officers (about 230- a much lower ratio than most jurisdictions) are spread pretty thin in a city of over 220+ thousand people, with an estimated 1800 gang members, 600 homeless, other assorted criminals, traffic enforcement, assaults, sex crimes, car thefts, burglaries, home invasions, shoplifting, white collar crime and more. They need to cover the city 24/7/365, including vacations, sick time, court time and training time. Budget constraints have made it tough to address the city’s many problems. He says that they need more resources/tools to get the job done. He agrees that we shouldn’t “criminalize the homeless,” but understands that statutes must be enforced.

Sonstegard said that enforcement action is very time-intensive. It takes at least two hours to do even a minimal patrol, with two officers and much walking required just to get to the patrol areas. Offenses like under the influence of controlled substances, for example, may involve 3-6 offenses before a prosecution occurs, with arrest, booking, transportation and court time involved for police resources. He said that it is also difficult to respond to medical emergencies in the area (a Fire Dept. task).

Further complicating matters is that the area involves six different jurisdictions, public and private: Oxnard, Port Hueneme (currently clear of encampments, but there are enforcement issues), Ventura County, Halaco area (under new ownership), State Coastal Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy.

When I asked him how the police can enforce ordinances on private property, he said that the mechanism for that is an “agent authorization.” I asked him if there was such a document for The Nature Conservancy land here and he said he did not know.

I asked him if the city has posted signs of prohibited activity and he said no. I asked him why not and he couldn’t answer that.

Sonstegard said that California Proposition 47 and 57, AB109 and the Boise court ruling (people can sleep on public land unless there is someplace else available for them) have greatly complicated enforcement. He then pointed out that the Police Dept is proposing changes to City Ordinances to better deal with the situation and requests that residents come to the 9-17-19 Oxnard Council meeting to opine on these, which include what he calls “Quality Of Life” ordinances and that these do not apply just to the homeless:

Item M-2. City Attorney Department
SUBJECT: Camping, Removal and Storage of Personal Property, Park Exclusion, and Aggressive
Panhandling and Solicitation Ordinances. (20/20/20)

RECOMMENDATION: That City Council approve the first reading by title only and waive further
reading of an ordinance amending Article XVIII of Chapter 7 of the Oxnard City Code related to
Ormond Beach, and adding Articles XX, XXI and XXII to Chapter 7 of the Oxnard City Code
regulating Camping, Removal and Storage of Personal Property, Park and Park Facility Exclusion,
and Aggressive Panhandling and Solicitation.
Legislative Body: City Council
Contact: Stephen Fischer, (805) 385-7483

For ordinance details see agenda item M-2 starting on  page 266.

 

Homeless Assistance Coordinator Mark Alvarado

The Housing Department is the point department for homeless programs. Grant money comes through Housing. The problem is viewed somewhat through a housing prism. Their approach to homelessness is “housing first,” with the assumption that people must first have a place to call home to have any stability.

One might think from that that they are proposing immediate permanent housing, but that is not the case. In a conversation weeks ago with the Housing Director Emilio Ramirez, he explained that homeless might first need to undergo treatment, live in a shelter then maybe be in a sober living home, then transitional housing, before ever having a permanent place. He understands that some people might never be capable of managing a household and may require some form of assisted or even institutionalized living. But he wants housing available to accommodate all of these. This could take years and involve many millions of dollars. Where all the money will come from and how much is unknown at this time,

Homeless Assistance Coordinator Mark  Alvarado is currently a one man band with a part time helper. I asked him how many homeless liaison people he had and he responded “I’m it.” He throws himself into his work every day with good cheer and passion, however. He also tries to set up and manage public private partnerships with service providers, since the city hasn’t the money, manpower or organization to address the needs of the homeless.

But Alvarado has been out to Ormond Beach to assess and attempt outreach to the homeless, when he’s not in Plaza Park or elsewhere trying to deal with the situation or obtain and coordinate resources to do so. With new Housing Director Emilio Ramirez and City Manager Alex Nguyen both making it a high priority and the council and state getting up a head of steam to better address it, moving the needle is becoming more likely.

But practically speaking, the city hasn’t yet shown much results in addressing the Ormond Beach situation and the public is increasingly demanding effective action- both enforcement and treatment. Mark hopes to have a staff some day to make more of an impact.

Other

Abraham Mendez, who helped lead the tour and took most of the photos for this article, later told me that it’s not safe to walk at night in the Hueneme Pier area. Homeless from the Ormond Beach area hang out there, may not be mentally sound, some are morally-challenged and attempt to solicit money from the public.

Homeless advocate Lang Martinez has approached some area residents, with outreach efforts offering to help them obtain services. He is met with much resistance. In conversations with residents about obtaining services, I heard lots of excuses. Too far to walk to town. ID was lost/stolen. Don’t want husband-wife separated. Can’t be away from my pet/stuff, etc.

But, there are some hurdles to be cleared to obtain services. For example, one needs to be cleared by county medical as drug free before obtaining an assessment or entering a sober living program. Not so easy for addicts. Mr. Martinez, or Mark Alvarado- Oxnard Homeless Assistance Coordinator can help direct people to these services, as can several other organizations..

 

Mayor Flynn Visits the Area

At the last City Council meeting, Lang Martinez asked the Council to weigh in on the Ormond Beach homeless situation. Mayor Flynn demurred, citing Brown Act prohibitions, but offered to meet with him. I also asked the Mayor for his thoughts, but he instead said let’s meet and walk the homeless encampments together and talk. Lang Martinez and David Scrivner joined us.

Homeless Advocate Lang Martinez, Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn & Port Hueneme activist David Scrivner at Ormond Beach north end on 9-12-19. “Homeless” encampments visible in background. Photo: George Miller/CitizensJournal,.us

So on Thursday afternoon, 9-12-19, we met at the South end of Hueneme Beach. David Scrivner explained the landscape and locations of the encampments while we walked south on one of the finest wide, flat, smooth sand beaches around. We spotted the encampments when we reached the end of the lagoon. We immediately noticed some people in uniform (Fire Dept.) and some other well-dressed people who didn’t look like they lived in the encampments.

When we got there, Mayor Flynn refused to walk with us to the encampments, citing that it was a restricted area due to bird habitation and a sign/fence marked it (he didn’t already know that?). I said if your Fire Dept. people can be there, so can you, but he wouldn’t come in, citing that he is “a public official.” While I was talking to Flynn and Scrivner, Martinez just walked in and determined that Fire Dept., Nature Conservancy and some other organization were in there.

While Scrivner and I were chatting with the Mayor on the beach, we asked him how he would deal with the homeless situation. Eyeing rows of tents up in the dunes, with people walking on delicate vegetation and scaring away the birds, he realizes that the existing approach is not working so well. He is also aware of many people having an aversion to treatment programs. He said he was leaning toward a “three strikes” approach. After the three strikes, which he didn’t then define, he said offenders should be offered three options: 1)- treatment program, 2)- bus ticket back to wherever they came from, 3)- prison. This would help end the revolving door justice which is now a nightmare for the police and the public. This might mean that the county and maybe even the state has to cooperate to make something like this work, which outside the control of the city, but not completely outside of its influence. That evening, in a subsequent conversation, he defined the three strikes as resisting three attempts at intervention.

Martinez and I talked to a couple of tent residents. One was 60 year old “NY Nick” whom we spoke with last Saturday. No progress with his addicted wife. We sent Nick down to the beach to talk to the Mayor and we saw them having an animated conversation. When he came back, he said that Flynn had offered him a job. When I asked about that later, Flynn said he had merely offered to introduce him to some construction industry contacts and asked him how he could get to and from work on time from this remote location.

We also talked to “Sher,” a 68 year old woman in a bathing suit who looked a lot older. I asked for her story. She said she had lived at the Halaco toxic waste site for five years, has kidney, liver and colon cancer and took responsibility for it. Lang asked her if she had been offreed county medical services here. She said they were last here about three weeks ago.

I pointed to the Mayor down on the beach and asked her if she wanted to meet him. She said no, she already knew him and his father and had told him what to do about this long ago. I asked what she would recommend. Incredibly, she said move all the people to the Halaco site and provide them with services there (hey, just writing down what she told me). Lang and I asked her if she would like to see a nurse, who was waiting for Lang back at the car at Hueneme Beach. She said yeah and said she had to get a few things. Twenty minutes later, still no Sher. Just another day in paradise at Ormond Beach. Gee whiz.

 

News articles are supposed to be about facts, not advocacy. So we will leave it to you, dear readers, to evaluate this and make up your own minds about what is wrong with this picture, what should be done about it, with what resources, by whom and whether they are up to the job.

View of the Ormond Beach Lagoon from the Port Hueneme side. Photo: George Miller/CitizensJournal.us

 


Ormond Beach – Personal Observations from a tour on Sept. 7, 2019

From: David Scrivner
Sent: Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 2:50 pm
To: Nguyen, Alexander
City Manager Nguyen,

Two weeks ago PHPD and OPD cooperated in a joint effort to evict the vagrant population from The western end of the dunes and beach area on Ormond Beach.  As you know, many of these people just moved east and set up new encampments in front of the slag pile.  According the PHPD, fifty people were contacted and offered a bed in the shelter and/or residential drug treatment.  Two of them accepted the offer, the other forty-eight declined and continue living there.

Assistant Chief Sonstegard repeatedly assured the public that OPD was committed to a sustained effort to remove the vagrants from Ormond Beach and a clean up of the   trash and destruction left behind.  So what actually happened? Apparently, what happened was exactly what two OPD officers on August 24 told me would happen, that is, OPD would pull back enforcement on Ormond Beach in two days and that there were no plans to remove any more encampments. Seventeen days later that’s exactly what has

On Saturday,  I accompanied two homeless advocates and another individual on a guided tour of the entire area, which was lead by one of the vagrants living there. To put it mildly, I was blown away by what I saw.  Here’s a summary of what I saw and

  1. The vagrants currently living in front of the slag pile told us that PHPD and OPD told them during the eviction process that they would need to move off the west end of the beach but could relocate in front of the slag pile.  I have no way of knowing if they were actually told this but I recognized some of the tents that had been in the dunes prior to the clean up and on this past Saturday they were, in fact, located in front of the slag pile with no apparent OPD action.  The area in front of the slag pile belongs to Oxnard.
  2. OPD is doing the same thing that has repeatedly failed in the past.  Set up a taskforce, move in in force, evict the vagrants, remove their encampments and declare victory watching passively while they walk down the beach and set up new encampments a couple hundred yards away.
  3. We walked along the drainage canal that empties into the lagoon between the Halaco site and the slag pile.  This area has lots of trees.  There were too many encampments under the trees to count. Certainly more than fifty and as many as one hundred.  The drone videos cannot film them because they are so well hidden in the brush.  This area belongs to TNC.  It is my understanding that TNC has asked for help removing the population there.  It is in a protected wetlands area.  Apparently, OPD has refused to help.
  4. The people living there are quite well organized.  They have a a security system to warn of intrusions by law enforcement, a bicycle repair center, a gym, multiple ways to get across the waterways and they get their water from fire hydrants scattered throughout the area. They have been living there for years.
  5. As we walked along, we came to the site of a recent brush fire which appeared to have occurred within the prior week. The fire burned at least a couple of acres.

Our guide told us that it was the result of a turf battle.  An unnamed motorcycle gang had recently come into the area and tried to take it over. The vagrants responded by burning them out.  I had a hard time believing this until Sunday when I drove to McWayne Parkway off Arcturus.  To my surprise there was a motorcycle gang there roaring around on their motorcycles, pulling wheelies etc. I quickly left because they appeared to be aggressive and threatening.

The gates blocking access to the TNC property were open because someone had removed the locks.

  1. Our guide told us that he has been living in the area for several years and that his family also lives there. He told us that there has been an ongoing struggle for control of the area by rival gangs which include Colonia, Southside and the motorcycle gang ( Mongols?). The struggle is over who controls the drugs.
  2. There are multiple encampments in and on the slag pile.  There people are living in a superfund site, digging into the toxic waste and creating the conditions for the material to be washed into the wetlands come the first rain.
  3. OPD is not enforcing OCC 7-301 A & B as posted at the entrances to the area in multiple locations.

David Scrivner

Port Hueneme

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Some help resources

Community Action of Ventura County

621 Richmond Ave (5th Ste), Oxnard, CA 93030/ (805) 436-4000/ https://www.ca-vc.org/

Mon-Fri 7 am – 12 pm. Showers, laundry, mail service, get new ID, food, food stamps, get MediCal card,

Tuesdays 8:30 – 11:00 am is “One Stop” day. County help resources on site, along with above services.

Oxnard Housing Dept., Mark Alvarado, Homeless Assistance Coordinator/805-385-8044/ [email protected]

Oxnard Police Dept (lead agency for Ormond Beach Homeless situation), 805-385-7600, https://www.oxnardpd.org/  Report a crime 805-385-7740 / EMERGENCY: dial 911

“Nobody Knows But Me”- Homeless Outreach referral services Lang Martinez- 805-940-5852

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Miscellaneous relevant correspondence:

From: Praskins, Wayne <[email protected]>
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 1:39 PM
To: Kira Redmond <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Halaco homeless issue

Kira –

Yes, we’re aware of the encampments on the waste pile property.  We have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to get the property owners to take steps to remove the encampments and better secure the property.  The waste pile property was sold a year or so ago.  The new owners have not been responsive.

We’ve also been talking with city representatives, and are hoping to talk to Nature Conservancy staff this week about the encampments straddling their property and the waste pile property.

Our likely next step is to meet with the occupants of the encampments and strongly encourage them to leave the property.  To do that we first need to work out access, and coordinate our efforts with the Oxnard police, other city representatives, and TNC.

There is no protective layer on the waste pile, as stated in the email below.  Nevertheless, we do not want anyone camping on the property or disturbing the wastes.

Wayne Praskins | Superfund Project Manager

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9

75 Hawthorne St. (SFD-7-3)

San Francisco, CA 94105

415-972-3181


Coastal Commission correspondence:


August 27, 2019
As you are likely aware, there’s been a large influx of vagrants, homeless and drug addicts who have illegally moved into the protected Ormond Beach wetlands. Over the last 2 1/2 years they have decimated a large area of Ormond Beach with trash, human waste, used needles, etc. and have vandalized much of the infrastructure put in place to protect the endangered species living there. Recent drone footage provide photographic evidence of this activity. Photos have also revealed that the vagrants have set up encampments in and around the contaminated slag pile left by Halaco. Equally disturbing is the fact that they have begun excavating portions of the slag pile destabilizing the protective layer installed by the EPA. To date, the attempts by Oxnard Police to evict these people have largely failed. My concern is that this degradation of protective layer that mitigate leakage from the slap pile will lead to wide spread contamination of the already compromised wetlands when the winter rains begin. I’m attaching a link to pictures taken on 8/17/19 (see img 4963) and drone footage from 8/15 for your review. Anything your organization can do to help is much appreciated. Please feel free to contact me.
https://www.facebook.com/huenemebeachca/videos/456292151829796/
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-O5AOdDajvbd0vLIJ8QrcjpvRseys4rT


PMWC LTR TO PLANNING COMMISSIONERS RE ORMOND BEACH RESTORATION PROJECT – 20 AUG 19


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Read complaint letter from US Fish & Wildlife Service: LOCAL, VEN, City of Oxnard Homeless Encampments, Ormond Beach, Comments, WSP, CLTE, 2019-CPA-0131

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LOCAL, VEN, City of Oxnard Homeless Encampments, Ormond Beach, Comments, WSP, CLTE, 2019-CPA-0131

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From: “Whitney, Scott” <[email protected]>
Date: August 22, 2019 at 5:19:49 PM PDT
To: Carmen Ramirez <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: Ormond Beach
You’re welcome
On Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 5:04 PM Carmen Ramirez <[email protected]> wrote:

Thank you Scott.

🌿🌿🌿
On Aug 22, 2019, at 4:12 PM, Scott Whitney <[email protected]> wrote:

Hello Mr Medina,

You ask good questions and there are no quick solutions. Every day our officers respond to many calls for service about vagrant activity.   If there are laws to enforce, the officers make appropriate arrests; but generally what they do is make social service referrals to the homeless individuals and if they’re on private property, the individuals are asked to leave. It’s very frustrating for the officers as we know we’re not solving the problem, just addressing the immediate complaints.
There are no social service funds for cities to provide mental health or drug abuse programs. Housing funds are limited.
No city, including Oxnard will solve their homeless problem solely through policing. Our city manager and our housing director understand this issue. They’re working toward more comprehensive responses.
The problem at Ormond Beach got so bad that it couldn’t be ignored.
The Oxnard Police Department will always be a good partner and work with whomever we can to address this problem and make our city safer for everyone.
Sincerely,
Scott Whitney
Sent from my iPad
On Aug 22, 2019, at 3:11 PM, Bert Perello <[email protected]> wrote:
Mr Medina
Jose I will forward your questions to staff for a response as I do not want to give inaccurate information.
Councilmember Perello
On Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 2:56 PM Jose Medina  wrote:
Hello, I would like to know what is the plan for the vagrants on Ormond Beach after it has been cleared out? I am happy that the vagrant issue on the beach has been addressed but I am concerned that now the vagrants will be walking the streets right along our children who are walking to school or waiting for the bus. What is the plan besides telling the vagrants to move down the road? Is it possible to designate an area for the vagrants and give them porto potties and trash bins? Wouldnt that be beneficial for everyone? The vagrants are away from neighborhoods and schoolchildren and they are left alone until there is housing for them?
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The City of Oxnard, the State Coastal Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy would like to inform you that the public comment period for the Ormond Beach Restoration and Public Access Plan preferred alternative has been extended to September 30, 2019 at 5 p.m.

You can review the preferred alternative and submit comments at: https://ormond.scc.ca.gov/


From: Sonstegard, Eric

Sent: Saturday, August 24, 2019 1:23 PM
To:
Cc: Ashley GoldenEmilio RamirezAlexander NguyenScott WhitneyLambert, Jeffrey
Subject: Ormond Beach

Good afternoon:

I have seen a few email correspondences circulating around with inaccurate information about our current Ormond Beach efforts and I wanted to take a minute to address some of the concerns.

We sent out two (2) press releases this past week and in each one, we emphasized that this was a joint effort with several local partners. I personally spoke with numerous media outlets and in each conversation, I stressed that this was the “first phase of a sustained effort” to address the issues in and around Ormond Beach.

While we were contacting the individuals camping at Ormond this week, we also had Environmental Resources personnel evaluating the area to determine how long a clean-up might take. They determined it would take approx, six (6) days to complete the initial clean up operation. We began the clean up on Thursday and plan for it to continue all next week. Mr. Scrivner’s assertion that “the cleanups and evictions are over” and “they have no intention of completing the job” is patently untrue. It is not productive when inaccurate information gets spread via email.

I also saw a comment that “OPD only intends to enforce the law on Ormond Beach for two more days“. This is also not true. As part of our sustained effort, we plan on having frequent patrols of the Ormond Beach area. We also plan on staggering the days/times so the individuals in the area can not plan for our arrival. I apologize if any of our responding officers misrepresented our intentions. In a city of almost a quarter of a million residents, our patrol officers aren’t always privy to all of our current operational plans.

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions/concerns in the future. I’m always willing to share whatever we can and  we look forward to working with all the stakeholders at Ormond Beach.

Have a good rest of the weekend.

Assistant Chief Eric S. Sonstegard

Oxnard Police Department-Field Services Bureau

W (805) 385-7801 C (805) 990-1079[email protected]

  F.B.I. National  Academy Associates, California Chapter-1st Vice President



Enhanced Abatement Efforts Planned for Ormond Beach



George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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