Summer break over for Oxnard City Council 9-9-14- Organizational review announced, police killings discussed by residents, major debt obligations

Status on city organizational review, Citizen grassroots pressure on police reforms

By George Miller

After no meetings since July, the council quickly got back to business with major issues:

– City Manager Greg Nyhoff announced 9/23 start of organizational review findings

– Persistent Citizen grassroots pressure to act on police killings

– Major debt obligations for developmental projects

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Some Oxnard Purple Heart winners- 9/10-14 at Council meeting designation of Oxnard as a “Purple Heart City.”  Photo: Citizensjournal.us

 

Name Date Duration Agenda Minutes Video
City Council Meeting  September 9, 2014 04h 35m Agenda Minutes Video

 

City Manager to move ahead on Organizational review, plans

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Oxnard City Manager Greg Nyhoff (photo: Citizensjournal.us)


City Manager Greg Nyhoff reported that he and staff will present preliminary findings/conclusions of parts of the city
organization review and improvement plans undertaken when he began employment with the city, which will include:

– Policies and procedures review- 9/23

– Budget update at 9/30 special meeting, which will include some priority-based budgeting plans.

– Paving bond issue- 9/23

– Organizational assessment- 9/23 or 9/30 special meeting

– Project approval/permitting streamlining, including “one-stop shopping” approach- 9/29 public meeting

– Homeless Commission/HUD report- 9/23

 

Councilman Bert Perello is a very strong supporter  of a comprehensive city organizational review. He wasn’t initially too keen on bringing City Manager Nyhoff on board, but he changed his tune rapidly when he got to know him better. Read Perello’s statement released at the 9-10-14 meeting:

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 Persistent Citizen grassroots pressure for reforms after police killings

Alfonso Limon, innocent passer-by killed by police during shootout with criminals

Several civilians have been killed by the Oxnard Police Dept. in the last few years. Some were criminal suspects. At least one was an innocent bystander. Residents are questioning whether these deaths were necessary, what procedures, training, equipment deployment helped cause them to happen and what could be done to avoid unnecessary, excessive use of force.

Residents’ complaints have been going on for months. People bring it up over and over again, have press conferences, street protests, news articles are written about it, but it has never been agendized for a Council meeting, never really debated. 

At the meeting, multiple speakers decried these killings, loss of loved ones and demanded steps such as equipping all police with cameras, improving street lighting and even establishing a civilian oversight/review board.  

Speaker opinions ranged from criticizing police procedures/action and making suggestions, all the way up to accusations of murder leveled by Elliot Gabriel of TodoPoder al Pueblo. He also objected to a number of other issues; the lack of OPD accountability, killings of Ramirez and Mahoney, the Department’s use of “tanks,” harassment via jaywalking tickets at protests, excessive police overtime and the overpowering police presence at peaceful protests.

Tanya Coles spoke for the Limon family, also citing Ramirez and Mahoney deaths, advocated police body cameras. Another speaker said he has been a resident for 17 years, people are afraid, public safety is not a priority.

There appears to be strong support by the public, City Council and Police Dept.- by most- for the body cameras. They are not a panacea, but are believed to be correlated with reduced police use of force and reduced civilian complaints, according to multiple speakers at the meeting.  Video records could help answer questions, reduce false statements, simplify investigations, verify civilian and police claims.  However, the devices are rather expensive, although dropping in price.  The question is, would they sometimes inhibit law enforcement from applying necessary force, which could actually jeopardize public safety and safety of law enforcement officers?

There was some support but less consensus on the establishment of a civilian police oversight/review board.  Councilman Perello agreed with some speakers about the cameras and review board.

There is also a need to improve cooperation with the police to detect and remove crime perpetrators.  The public can help tremendously by tipping off police. But trust has been an issue, as well as fear of retribution by criminals.

A meeting of the Community Relations Council was held on this on 9-10-14, to be covered in an upcoming Citizensjournal.us article.

On another security matter, Mrs. Gonzales, mother of Joshua Vann, a young man murdered by an unknown person, spoke eloquently that she could not bring back her son, but she wanted to help bring about changes to avoid such things in the future. She advocates area security cameras, better neighborhood lighting.

 

Debt obligations payment schedule (ROPS) reviewed

Several years ago, the state legislature abolished redevelopment agencies, throwing hundreds of city agencies into confusion and disarray while they tried to dissolve many complex projects/arrangements. However, even after dispositioning these properties, significant debts are left.  There are other significant payment obligations as well.

Councilman Bert Perello, Steve Nash and another resident complained about the meeting presentation, which they believed did not do a good job of communicating the situation, clarifying the debt, how much is self-funding and how much made up by the general fund, terms, or options. No visuals were presented, using the reason that the underlying spreadsheet was too complicated.  A summary would have been welcome. It turned out that spreadsheet handouts were available, but were not placed on the table up front next to the City Clerk, as is customary. 

Studying the spreadsheet (in agenda item K), which was way too big to be viewed properly on a cell phone,  revealeOxnardDebtd that total obligations are $130,809,038. A sore spot discussed is the $22 million downtown theater obligation, which will not adequately self-fund.

These obligations do not encompass total city debt, which is in the neighborhood of $440 million (see chart on right) and will only increase, based upon what is happening now and projected in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Stratham Blvd./Pacific Ave. area re-zoning approved

There was little opposition to the plan to develop multiple parcels, which was approved unanimously by Council members present (Ms. Padilla was absent).

from agenda:

SUBJECT: Planning and Zoning Permit Nos. 14-620-01 (General Plan Amendment) and 14-570-01 (Zone Change), and Negative Declaration No. 2014-02, for the properties located at 2011, 2100, 2201 Statham Boulevard, 1600 Ives Avenue, and 1741 Pacific Avenue. (001)
RECOMMENDATION: 1) Adopt a resolution (i) approving Planning and Zoning Permit No. 14-620-01 (General Plan Amendment) to change the existing General Plan land use designation from Industrial Business and Research Park (BRP) to Commercial General (CG) and Industrial Limited (ILM) to Commercial General (CG); (ii) amending the General Plan Land Use Map; and (iii) adopting negative declaration (ND. No. 2014-02), for the properties located at 2011, 2100, and 2201 Statham Boulevard, 1600 Ives Avenue, and 1741 Pacifica Avenue; and 2) Approve the first reading by title only and subsequent adoption of an ordinance (i) approving Planning and Zoning Permit No. 14-570-01 (Zone Change) to change the existing zoning designation from Business and Research Park Zone (BRP) to General Commercial Planned Development Zone (C-2-PD) and Limited Manufacturing Zone (M-L) to General Commercial Planned Development Zone (C-2-PD); (ii) amending the City of Oxnard Zoning Map to change the zoning designations of property; and (iii) adopting negative declaration (ND No. 2014-02), for the properties located at 2011, 2100, and 2201 Statham Boulevard, 1600 Ives Avenue, and 1741 Pacific Avenue.

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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