Ventura City Council Meeting
December 12, 2011
Ventura City Hall - 501 Poli Street
Awards were presented before Council to winners of the 8th Annual City Photography Contest, sponsored by Parks, Recreation and Community Partnerships Departments. Winners were Tracy Lee, Robert Garvin, Michael Kims, Jim Sully, John Ferrito, John Osumi, John Witt, Jack Keogh, Kathleen Goode and Bethany Thankhauser.
To View a listing of the agenda items for this council meeting, go to www.cityofventura.net/meeting/city-council-meeting-89.
Mayor Tracy brought the meeting to order with a rap of the gavel, then asking Council Member Weir to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance. There was no roll call vote to open the meeting. All were present however.
Special Presentations and Announcements – Awards were presented before Council to winners of the 8th Annual City Photography Contest, sponsored by Parks, Recreation and Community Partnerships Departments. The contest is open to both professional and amateur photographers and over 200 images were entered in 5 categories. These included people, culture and landscape among other categories. Winning entries of the art will be on display in the Bridge Gallery at City Hall for the next 30 days. The judges were Claudia McFadden, Public Arts Commissioner, Mary Ann Irving, Ventura High School Art Faculty Member and Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Dan Holmes and John Nichols, Photography Professionals and Denise Sindelar, Community Partnerships Manager. Members of the public also cast votes online, which were tallied up to determine the People’s Choice Award. Each winner received a certificate of appreciation presented by the mayor. Examples of the art will be published locally in magazines and newspapers, including My Ventura Magazine.
Winner in the Environment category went to Tracy Lee for People’s Choice; Robert Garvin in the Judgment Class – In the Architecture category, Michael Kims for People’s Choice; Jim Sully in the Judgment Class – In the Portraits category, John Ferrito for People’s Choice; John Osumi in the Judgment Class – In Community Life, John Witt for People’s Choice; Jack Keogh in the Judgment Class – In Altered Images, Kathleen Goode for People’s Choice; John Ferrito in the Judgment Class.
In the Youth Category both the Peoples Choice and the Judgment Class first-place award went to Bethany Thankhauser . And lastly, the People’s Choice Photo Voice Award went to Heidi Eloich, who was unable to accept in person. Mayor Tracy remarked on the high level of talent we have in our local arts community.
Closed Session Report – City Attorney Calonne indicated that a closed session was held with no action being reportable.
City Council Communications – Council Member Morehouse sent out a reminder that next Tuesday is the beginning of Hanukah with no City Council meeting being held on the 19th.
Council Member Andrews mentioned that on Sunday the 18th between 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM at Plaza Park in the gazebo there will be a memorial service for the homeless individuals who have died on our streets and in our neighborhoods. All were invited to attend. Find a videolog of the event at Homeless in Ventura Memorial 2011.flv.
Council Member Weir stated that Surfrider members have added stepping stones between the bike path and areas left open for future plantings. The councilwoman also wished to remind people that in this holiday season it is not a good idea to give handouts to the homeless. It was said that the Salvation Army does a “great job” with the homeless, and best way to help them is to feed the Salvation Army kettles, which, according to Ms. Weir, is more effective than handing cash to folks who may not be using the money “in a healthy way.”
[Comment] No one asks the councilwoman whether she spends her money in a “healthy way,” now do they? At this holiday season, whose call is it to decide that getting wasted on alcohol or drugs inside your home is any more “ healthy” than imbibing on whatever change you can scare up before rolling yourself in a blanket at night.? Whose call? We request an answer.
We reported on the sudden closure of the Drop-in Center at Project Understanding, which was a consensus move on the part of city management (VSSTF) and community lobbyists, including (but not limited to) Capt. Bill Finley of the (ahem) Salvation Army. So where are the homeless now seeking their “comfort services?” ... why, in the libraries, of course. So, of course, Friends of the Library has gone public in asking that the homeless be returned to Project Understanding, where there are (ahem) no longer any “comfort services.” What you see is what you get when public/private partnerships are allowed to run public policy, and clearly, Mr. & Ms. Ventura, it’s not solving problems. Instead it’s all so – how shall one say … “whack-a-molean?” [Ed.]
Council Member Brennan apprised the public of the fact that Mayor Tracy will be doing a stint with the “Red Kettle Patrol” from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, the 17th at the Smart & Final in Midtown. This opened an invitation to come by and donate while giving the mayor a “piece of your mind,” should you so desire.
Regional Boards, Commissions and Committees – Council Member Morehouse stated that as the Ventura County Alternate on the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Committee as taken up by SCAG last Friday, the committee recommended to the association’s policy committee adoption of the criteria governing the number of housing units that will be dedicated to the City of Ventura.
Community Development Director’s Report – Jeff Lambert took up position at Staff’s location joined, also by Chamber of Commerce Director Ed Summers, in presenting a company profile and later, a certificate of appreciation to a small enterprise making its home in Ventura. The entity receiving business recognition this month was “Stewart + Brown,” a company named as “The Most Sustainable Fashion Brand” at the recent Global Fashion Awards, for its line of handcrafted knitwear and sportswear using organic cotton and cashmere from renewable and sustainable sources. Owners Karen Stewart and Howard Brown, partners in business and in their personal lives, were on hand to receive their recognition award. In delivering a word or two to the council while he “had their ear,” Mr. Brown mentioned, somewhat awkwardly perhaps, that during the relocation process into Ventura, the fledgling company was unable to obtain a business loan locally, being forced instead to secure a loan out of state. The couple later received an apology and were promised a close inspection of the details by officials “high up” in city government.
At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, Mr. Lambert went forward with a community report touching on a couple of land use issues currently under consideration and approaching the City Council approval stage.
2012 Annexation Schedule, showing: (1) January; Public Information Workshop – (2) February; Planning Commission – (3) March; City Council – (4) May/June; LAFCO
CONSENT // FORMAL ITEMS – (1) 2012 Council Meeting Schedule – (2) Private Sewer Lateral Legal Authority – (3) Fiscal Year 2010 and 2011 Report for Local Agency Developer Improvement Fees – (4) Waterline Replacement Project Phase 2 Fairview Drive Neighborhood Authorization to Advertise – (5) Street Resurfacing – Main Street Project Mills Road to Telephone Road Award of Contract – (6) Kingston Raw Water Reservoir Cover/Roof Project – (7) Development Impact and Building Permit Fee Deferral Extension – (8) Workers Compensation Claims Administration – (9) Information Technology Programming Consulting Services – Advance Consent Item** No. (10) PUBLIC HEARING CONSENT ITEM; Aldea Hermosa Project Tract No. 5433; Maintenance Assessment District No. 20 and Final Map for Property Located North of Darling Road and East of Wells Road; City Ventures Homebuilding and Housing Capital Company, Applicant (** Agenda item advanced to January 9, 2012)
Consent Item No. 1 contained a change to the meeting schedule – move April 16 to April 9, accommodate a schedule conflict with Council Member Morehouse. It was asked of any council members as to items that might be pulled. Council Member Brennan wished to pull Item No. 5.
Public Communications – Brian Rencher commented on Item No. 2, saying that “After being sued the city entered into a consent decree with Wishtoyo Ventura CoastKeeper agreeing to reduce sewer overflows from private laterals and prevent the destruction and operation of public sewers.” [Quote from admin report] According to the ordinance, owners will be required to inspect at their own expense the condition of sewer lines on their property and repair deficiencies, to include the removal of tree roots, grease and other matter. The ordinance provides the city with enforcement authority, and within 90 days the city is required to develop a maintenance inspection program and provide that to CoastKeeper. The speaker just thought that the public should be so informed.
Council Member Brennan moved to accept the Consent Agenda, withholding Item Nos. 5 and 10. With a second having been obtained, the city clerk conducted a roll call vote – all members voted yes with the exception of Mr. Monahan who voted no on Item No. 2 – yes on all others.
Consent Agenda Item No. 5 – Council Member Brennan wished to discuss with the engineer from public works the “Green Streets Initiative” put forward by a previous council. Staff said that the city allocates about 20% of all gasoline tax revenue to projects which involve the public rights-of-way on so-called “Green Street” components. On the item at hand, however, there will not be Green Street improvements to take under consideration, according to the speaker. The current item will be funded under Prop 1(b) and must be completed by June 30th in order to retain the funding. This stretch of Main Street is due to receive Green Street improvements in late 2013 or just beyond. Median stretches will be treated to handle storm runoff more efficiently. It was also said that Green Street improvements do not occur within every overlay project handled by the Department of Public Works.
Council Member Monahan asked whether the current project would be an overlay or a slurry seal. It was said that the project would be an overlay, with the surface being removed. The new layer is to be a rubber asphalt composition layer.
Council Member Weir brought up the issue of bike lanes, saying that, conditions permitting, the city has agreed to widen bike lanes when street improvements are made. It was also said that trees are another element of the Green Streets initiative.
Council Member Brennan made note of the plan to paint the bike lanes green this time around, going on to request clarification on the concept of a “bike box.” Staff was not prepared answer the question, saying that Tom Merical could be contacted. Councilman Brennan introduced the motion to approve Consent Agenda Item No. 5. With a second having been obtained, the mayor asked for a roll call vote to be taken – all members voted yes.
Agenda Item No. 11 – Council Advisory Group Appointments. Council Member Monahan announced the recommended appointment of David Ferren to the Design Review Committee for a partial term expiring in 2015; Karen Schatz to the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee for a term to expire May 11, 2012; Eric Nazarenko and Patrick Squires to the Library Advisory Commission for a term expiring July 1, 2015. Serving on behalf of the Downtown Farmer’s Market, Karen spoke before the council, reminding all of the 25th anniversary of the market being observed this past year. It was also mentioned that the market will be closed on Christmas Eve this year, but will be open on New Year’s Eve.
Council Member Monahan introduced the motion to accept the appointment recommendations. With a second having been obtained, the mayor asked for a roll call vote to be taken – all members voted yes.
David Ferren delivered a short note of appreciation, saying also that it was his honor to be stepping into the slot opened by DRC Member Scott Boydstun who had served for eight years. Eric and Patrick also stepped forward to express their gratitude and their eagerness to be of service to the community.
Historic District Overlay, Ivy Lawn Cemetery, showing: (1) General Plan policy, “… ensure proper treatment of archeological and historic resources” – (2) Owner initiated Historic District [HD] Overlay Zone to protect and distinguish property’s importance
Definition, showing: (1) A geographically definable area – (2) Significant concentration – (3) Continuity of site – (4) United by past events or aesthetically by plan or physical development
The cemetery opened in 1917 with growth beginning to be significant in the 1960s along with the opening of a mausoleum, the developer of which is the son of Albert C. Martin, the noted Los Angeles architect who designed the Ventura County Courthouse in 1912. [This magnificent, landmark, white marble “Beaux Arts” edifice at 501 Poli Street remained the center of county government until 1972 when it became Ventura’s City Hall building.]
Purpose, showing: (1) Protect against destruction or encroachment – (2) Encourage uses which promote the preservation
Guidelines, showing: (1) Architectural and development guidelines required – (2) Land uses within zone must comply with adopted guidelines after designation – (3) Two proposed alternatives for a future master plan [Design Review]
Significance, showing: (1) Reflecting or exemplifying a particular period of the national, state or local history – (2) Reflects “City Expansion and Civic Improvement” Period of Significance [1906 – 1920] – (3) Mirrors city’s development – (4) Large concentration of significant individuals interred [E.P. Foster, Orpha Woods Foster, Judge Felix Ewing]
Recommendation, showing: (1) Introduce and waive the first reading of an ordinance to establish a [an] Historic District Overlay Zone for the Ivy Lawn Cemetery property – (2) Set the proposed ordinance for a second reading on January 9, 2012
Alternatives, showing: (1) Deny the request – (2) Determine modifications to the district guidelines is [as] warranted and refer back to staff [Staff] including review by HPC for further consideration
Council Member Morehouse asked whether or not “we are doing this proactively,” wondering whether or not the cemetery is under some sort of development threat. Staff replied that as shown in one of the slides there is development beginning to encroach, with the owners being sensitive to the historic nature of the property. Mr. Morehouse noted the M-1 designation while thinking that with the light industrial classification perhaps that would mean cemeteries are in the business of “packing and boxing them.”
The inquiry also came up concerning a possible alternative entrance gate coming off Victoria. That said that alternatives were mentioned but not part of the overlay project, explaining that a long process dealing with Caltrans, the DRC and the Historic Preservation District would eventually become involved.
Public Communications – Terry Taylor Gonzalez, President of Ivy Lawn Memorial Park, wished to reassure the council that nothing will be “more grandiose” than what is already there in terms of future plans involving their property. It was thought that in taking these proactive steps, everyone in the community will be benefited.
Cynthia Thompson said that the historic nature of Ivy Lawn may seem as surprising to many as it was to the speaker herself. It was also said that most notable aspect of the property lay in its “honor roll,” of the deceased within. They range from city council members to mayors like Charlie Wesley Pettit and fundraiser Kay Haley, whose vision for the museum turned a dream into reality. The speaker also noted the interesting history surrounding cemeteries in general and the City of Ventura.
Council Member Weir announced her ringing endorsement of the video narrated by Ms. Thompson on which the report was based. The ½ hour presentation illustrates the evolution of cemeteries in the U.S. along with the creation of Ivy Lawn, including an amazing “reveal” of those who are interred there many of whom were re-interred from the old St. Mary’s Cemetery (now known as Cemetery Park).
Greg Smith, Ivy Lawn Memorial Board Member, indicated on behalf of the board its support for the historic district overlay being proposed this evening. It was noted that Ivy Lawn is a not-for-profit entity and as such does not stand to gain materially or financially from an historic preservation status. The only benefit to be seen by board members would be its extra layer of review and therefore a measure of protection beyond the structure of M-1 zoning.
Brian Rencher indicated support for the recommendation saying that this is the proper way to honor our ancestors, and that this would make it more difficult for future city councils to create a secondary version of the St. Mary’s Cemetery fiasco.
Council Communications – Council Member Monahan thanked Terry Taylor Gonzalez for her work in remembering our veterans at all the appropriate times of the year including Veterans’ Day, Independence Day and other national holidays. That it was said that remembering our veterans has always occupied a high place of priority at our beautiful Memorial Park.
Council Member Morehouse entered a motion to accept Staff’s recommendations 1 and 2 (a and b of the Staff Report). With a second having been obtained Mayor Tracy asked that a roll call vote be taken – all members voted yes.
Jay introduced Rudy Livingston, new Assistant CFO for the city. It is his responsibility as the Lead CPA in the department to ensure that all necessary elements in the financial reporting process are completed on time.
The Importance of the CAFR served as the opening into a series of slides, hereby organized in what could be called a self-guided tour through the endlessly fascinating world of public finance.
Council Member Morehouse questioned the possible noncompliance with the State’s Health and Safety Code, saying that the issue might be “minor” even though the issue was mentioned in one of the four points of weakness. Staff felt that the councilman had possibly referred to the RDA section of the report, which was true, and that last year there were several issues with the audit with this being one of them. These issues resulted in a delay in getting a final report to Council ahead of the deadline. This resulted in a “ding” on the item by the auditors. Mr. Morehouse then remembered that on health and safety, this is where the RDA steps in, but that with the future of redevelopment still unsure, items such as this may actually “go away,” never to be dealt with again.Public Communications – Brian Rencher wished to address the Honorable Chairman of the San Buenaventura Redevelopment Agency, Commissioners of the Board, the Director, Legal Counsel, Secretary, Staff and Citizens. In speaking to the RDA audit issue before Council, the speaker was expecting 5 minutes of time, but was then informed that he would be allowed 3 minutes only. Mr. Rencher then said, “No, let me correct you, Mr. Chairman.” It was the speaker’s contention that when there is only one item on the agenda dealing with the RDA or the Public Facilities Financing Authority, the public is allowed the entire 5 minutes to speak on a single item. The issue was referred to the city attorney for a brief check. The silence was interrupted as Mr. Rencher asked whether any of the agency members were familiar with [Orwell’s] Animal Farm, calling it a “great lesson in politics.”
Reading from the report, Mr. Rencher quoted (1) Net Assets, negative $15,639,000; (2) Long-term Liabilities, $22,922,000; (3) Line of Credit, [It was said that the deadbeat agency (RDA) repaid the city $233,000 out of an expected $500,000] (4) Long Term Debt, [The allocation bonds for 2009 which is where the city got some money and then blew, according to the speaker, on the Jobs Investment Fund] (4.1) Principal, $6,225,000; (4.2) Interest, $2,399,000; (4.3) Total Cost, $8,624,000. These figures were contrasted with the city’s need to build schools and hire cops, but instead, the money has been used to line the pockets of Wall Street bankers.
It was claimed that yet another $8,465,000 was borrowed bringing interest expenses into the $10 million range over the life of $18 million in debt. It was further claimed that the city’s loss through interest alone amounts to $1.6 million, easily enough to keep the H.P. Wright Library up and running.
Council Communications – Deputy Mayor Heitmann asked whether the budget subcommittee does any kind of audit review prior to the council receiving the department’s financial report. Mr. Panzica responded by saying that the answer is no, based in this case on the time frame between the department’s audit receipt and the agendized item. It was said that scheduling could be arranged differently at the council’s direction.
Watch this space for more to come.