Ventura City Council Meeting
May 9, 2011
Ventura City Hall - 501 Poli Street
The meeting's focus was on the Second Dwelling Unit Amnesty and Legalization Ordinance. One public speaker said that her property was inherited through family members. The granny flat on the property has meant the possibility of losing the home through noncompliance and with family members who are ill with cancer it makes the situation untenable. The speaker was emotional in speaking of the family problems and was really not able to continue – helped along by a second speaker who stepped in to say that they will be charged $400 per day if the houses cannot be brought into compliance. Another public speaker offered several illuminating phrases found in official Construction Appeals Board texts – where it says that the “financial hardship is not a consideration in their deliberations” – also noting that the “composition does not necessarily reflect the composition of the broader community, including income, ethnicity and neighborhoods.”
City Attorney Ariel Calonne said that the sunset date of June 30, 2013 for the amnesty program was not to be inflexible but that a firm closing date needs to be six months after Council's directed date of December 31, 2012, with this six month period being the normal life of a permit.
To View a listing of the agenda items for this council meeting, go to www.cityofventura.net/meeting/city-council-meeting-49.
Mayor Fulton brought the meeting to order with the call of the roll – all present. It was then asked of Council Member Monahan to lead in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Council Communications – Council Member Morehouse suggested that the meeting be closed in memory of Hugh Oliver. He was active in protecting Ventura hillsides.
Council Member Weir said that the city has been forced to discontinue support of the Art Walk. A new Art Walk is volunteer driven, called Westside Art Walk. Billed as the best party EVER is the upcoming fundraiser for the all-new citizens-run ArtWalk. Mark your calendars for May 19, 5-10 p.m. at Jonathan’s on Main St.
They have amazing aerial performers – Ventura’s very own AiRealistic Circus and Flying School. A completely unique night, purchase tickets here.The troupe will be doing a demonstration; there will be a $50 contribution to support the Westside Art Walk.
Council Member Andrews wished to honor Hugh Oliver as well, adding his congratulations to the Music Festival. The musical experience was of the highest level, according to the councilman.
Council Member Monahan received a letter from the American Legion Auxiliary, noting that Thursday and Friday, May 21st and 22nd are the annual VFW and American Legion Poppy Days. The proceeds from Poppy Days help support our disabled and hospitalized veterans.
Deputy Mayor Tracy asked that at adjournment, Karen Ebell also be remembered by the council.
Mayor Fulton noted that as part of the Library Strategic Plan, the public survey forms have been printed up, the results of which after collection will be be turned back into the library Steering Committee. The questionnaires are available at the libraries and at other places around town, in addition to being available as an Internet-ready questionnaire.
Regional Boards Commissions and Committees – Council Member Morehouse noted that this weekend is the state meeting of the League of Women Voters. Southern California Association of Governments had its annual General Assembly meeting. The Regional Council adopted a comprehensive budget, then moved onto the General Assembly items. There were minor changes to the bylaws. The basis of the council was called getting back to Golden jobs and transportation in California. The SCAG region is the largest technical order organization in the nation. Recognizing the importance of education was brought up, along with profiles for the cities – all 109 of them – now available in published form. As Channel Counties Division President of the California league of Cities, Mr. Morehouse heard from a freshman assembly member will be speaking to the League of Women Voters.
The league is supporting the California Redevelopment Association on its efforts.
Council Member Weir said that this is National Travel and Tourism Week. The city collects over $30 million per year in visitor spending. This will yield $3 million in transient occupancy tax – the TOT. The average visitor to Ventura spends $60 per day over and above lodging. The councilwoman invited visitors to the visitor center on California Street. Jim Luigi on was on hand to pass out bumper stickers.
The Gold Coast Transit Board meeting in Oxnard was attended by the mayor. The mayor noted that Route 6 will be restored to its former level of service. The SEIU represents bus drivers and mechanics, and contract negotiations are not yet completed.
Closed Session Report – the first of two involved a Washington Mutual securities lawsuit in addition to the ongoing Wishtoya ChannelKeepers situation with no reportable action having been taken.
Community Development Director's Report – Bruce White and Bruce Stenzlie began the presentation on the VOCTID (Ventura Oxnard Camarillo Tourism Improvement District) with Mr. White beginning. Bruce Stenzlie is President of the Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County.
Overview, showing: (1) City/EDC, the city partnership – (2) Business assistance program – (3) EDC, the city services – (4) Leveraged partners – (5)Services and outcomes – (6) Campaign for business retention and expansion – (7) Moving forward
The group is leveraged with city partnerships, where there will be discussion of a campaign for business retention.
Regional Partnerships for Economic Prosperity, showing: (1) Leveraging city and regional services – (1.1) EDC and Small Business Development Center – (1.2) Professional one on one consulting for turnaround growth and and entrepreneurship, full range and expertise – (1.3) Concentration on lending and access to capital – (1.4) Business training, workshops – (1.5) The Campaign for Ventura County Grows Business – (1.5) Coordination and connection to additional resources
City of Ventura, showing: (1) Small Business Development Center network – (2) SBA partners, SCORE, Women's Economic Ventures, local and regional banks and other lenders
Business Assistance Program and Business Enhancement Program Marketing, showing: (1) Business license list – (2) Ventura Magazine – (3) Community councils – (4) DVOP Newsletter – (5) Chamber newsletters – (6) Ask the director – (7) Word of mouth – (8) Face to face
Business Enhancement Forums, showing: Two posters were shown.
Small Business Forum, showing: Tools for success and growth held on June 29, 2011 will discuss tools for success and growth at City Hall. There will be speakers and workshops at the three small business forums.
Bruce will speak about the organization. Bruce Stenzlie, CEO of the collaborative, said the organization is a public/private partnership. They deliver programs from seed money.
EDC-VC overview, showing: (1) Private public partnership, elected officials, business leadership, economic roundtable. [The speaker said that the collaborative wants to increase quality of life through entrepreneurship.] Funded By, showing: (1) Investor dues from private sector, cities and county – (2) Cities and county contributions ot program services – (3) Workforce Investment Board of Ventura County – (4) U.S. Department of Commerce – (5) U.S. Small Business Administration – (6) Other grants and contracts
Sample Successes, showing: (1) EDC – Manufacturing businesses were shown such as Redbrick Gallery, Ventura Surf Brewery, A-1 Trucking, Ventura Hydraulics, JetAir Technologies, Solarsilicon Recycling, and the Incubator Consulting
Current EDC – VC Activity and Performance, showing: (1) Business clients served – (1.1) 198 businesses served, January-April 2011 – (2)Small business outcomes, countywide, first quarter, January-March, 148 businesses served, 91 new jobs created, $2,379,400 new capital infusion
Business Loan Program Economic Performance, showing: (1) City of Ventura business lending – (1.1) 48 businesses assisted – (1.2) 81 loans issued, $2.6 million – (1.3) 233 jobs created – (2) Countywide EDC-VC lending – (2.1) 95 Businesses assisted in direct lending – (2.2) 135 loans issued, $9.3 million – (2.3) 639 jobs created, $14,554 per job created [Heidi Hayes from The Agency was announced as having been present.]
Background, showing: (1) Funding through Workforce Investment Board, one-time ARRA. The brochure was sent out to 2000 sites countywide featuring an ad that ran in the Pacific Coast Business Times. A website is also available.
The organization works the territory outside Ventura County to try to determine the interest level through its “impressions”.
Moving Forward, showing: (1) Continuing concentration on business retention and growth – (2) Seeking resources for continuing investment in Ventura County grows business for both business retention and attraction
The mayor asked: for a new business being contemplated how may they be assisted either through direct contact at the conclusion of this affair at the end of June.
For Additional Information, showing: (1) Sid White, Manager, (805) 654-7819 – CD Department – (2) Bruce Stenzlie, EDC-VC, (805)384-1800, ext. 24
Council Member Brennan asked about marketing in Ventura County. The question was what was their consensus regarding the quality of life issue in Ventura County. The reply was that Heidi worked with focus groups and while not disclosing who they were, they asked questions as was reported in an earlier presentation to the council. (see City Council Meeting 3-14-2011) Open space and green space between cities was mentioned. Navigable traffic was considered as an issue. Another issue that received but scant attention was whether or not there was sufficient public trust in the accountability of government. Councilman Morehouse responded with reference to an NPR interview detailing the issue of jobs in the manufacturing sector – more particularly, “close tolerance” manufacturing. It was the question whether we in Ventura County can see a return to this type of manufacturing.
The speaker said that Ventura County pays roughly 40% more for comparable employment in the surrounding county areas. There are 33,000 jobs in Ventura County, and Ventura County continues to offer of a greater density of high quality manufacturing jobs, according to the speaker.
CONSENT ITEMS – Revoking Alcohol Permit of Circle K – Purchase of LED Streetlights through a Federal Grant – Community Development Block Grant Program and Home Investment Partnership Programs; opening public comment on Consent Agenda Item No. 3.
Public Communications – Llewelyn Sommers, Program Developer for Women's Economic Development Ventures, spoke on the economic justification for continued CDBG funding for low and moderate income women. In 11 years they are a known resource in Ventura County with an office in downtown Ventura with self-employment training courses. 661 residents have been served growing out of all programs including self-employment training courses. 193 businesses have been startups in Ventura itself. Loans have been made to the resident business persons through ongoing efforts to work for and toward training graduates. CDBG funding allows Ventura to serve a minimum of 25 residents in subsidy programs. The SBA, Small Business Administration, is one of the participants. The city has granted $50,000 of funding for the organization.
There were no questions to be asked of the speaker. A motion on the consent calendar was forwarded by Mr. Morehouse, with a second on Calendar Item Nos. 1 through 3. With the roll being called, all members voted yes with the measure passing.
Amended Annexation Actions, showing: (1) Detachment from county service area 32 of property – (2) Annexation to the Ventura Port District. The purpose of the presentation was to amend the development agreement presented to Council in August of 2009. All terms of the Staff-Council resolution had not been agreed to at that time. Through correspondence with LAFCo Staff, two additional action items had been brought up. The annexation site was shown.
Development Agreement Components, showing: (1) Affordable housing – (1.1) 173 Market rate apartments for 25 years – (1.2) Condo map affordable requirement – (1.2.1) 132 moderate income and 12 very low income – (2) Developer contribution – (2.1) $3 million
Development Agreement Components, showing: (1) Park maintenance – (2) General capital improvement tax and Quimby Act park fees credit – (3) Credit for CIDs on and off-site storm water production improvement fees – (4) Possible allowance for fee deferrals prior to issuance of occupancy permits – (5) grading and construction hours – (6) $200,000 fee for Police Department/Fire Department radio connectivity
Recommended Action, showing: (1) Introduce and waive the first reading of an ordinance approving a development agreement with Westwood Communities Corporation, DA-38, Attachment A – (2) Set the proposed ordinance for a second reading and adoption at Council's meeting for June 6, 2011 – (3) Adopt a resolution of the city council initiating proceedings for reorganization of territory and superseding Resolution No. 2009-055 Case No. A-327 – (4) Authorize Finance and Technology to adjust revenue and expense appropriations to reflect any amounts reflected by this action
Council Member Morehouse asked about a specific point under the agreement packet – there was a boldfaced type entry item pursuant to the statue at regarding general releases. Another point in the packet showed litigation mitigation monitoring program with responsibilities held by community development services, engineering, prior to building permits and prior to occupancy built-in checkpoints. The park maintenance costs will be split according to the councilman.
Last week, as mentioned by Jeff, 15 homebuyers were not aware of what they were buying – referencing residents of of Citrus Walk.
Speaking for the applicant, John Ashcar, Chuck Colin responded to Mr. Morehouse, saying that escrow instructions and a report from the California Real Estate Commission will assure that purchasers are well-informed. A detailed meeting with the planning commission was held recently, and that while this may resemble what had been seen in 2009, but that there will be updates and improvements.
Lowell Cook, again speaking for Mr. Ashcar, claimed to have worked with the developer for over seven years, claiming further that the developer was one of the best ever seen in his neighborhood.
Eileen McCarthy spoke as Staff Attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance, speaking on behalf of a low income client out of its office who wished to respond to Item No. 4 on Council’s agenda. The development agreement Section 3.b concerns consistency of the development agreement along with Ventura's General Plan. Consistency with Article J on provisions notes that the city housing element is not compliant with state law. The housing element revision is nearly 3 years delinquent even as, according to the city’s website, a draft update is to be delivered to the planning commission in June, 2011. The state has not been notified in time nor has a draft been forwarded to the State Department of Housing and Community Development and therefore is not deemed to be in compliance with state law. With the inconsistency that exists between an essential element and Ventura’s 2005 General Plan, part of the plan is not compliant with state law which is noted for the record.
Council Communications – Council Member Brennan spoke saying that he was comfortable with the recommendations involving a complex issue but still making the motion. With the motion seconded and with Council Member Monahan asking when the project first began. The mayor said it was quite a number of years prior. The applicant may have said seven years.
The city attorney wished to respond to Ms. McCarthy, noting that the housing element is tardy but not inconsistent with the general plan. The case law says, in his view, that the required update to the housing element is directory but not mandatory. If challenged and successful in litigation the agreement probably would go through as though consistent.
Council Member Weir claimed that she would be voting no. In the general plan with its tutelage relating to the “transect” concept, it was the councilwoman's contention that the densities (499 units massing) being planned would be located too close to the rural edge. It also did not include enough green space in terms of parks and open spaces. It was her contention that the specific plan had been approved prior to finalizing the development agreement.
Roll was called on Item No. 4 – Brennan, yes; Weir, no; Morehouse, yes; Andrews, yes; Monahan, yes; Tracy, yes, Fulton yes. The measure passed 6 votes to 1.
On page 22 of the packet and page 5 of the management district plan under RN-IV TBID Boundary after the first paragraph add the Ventura Oxnard Camarillo Tourism Improvement District does not include vacation rentals.
Hotel operators were in the audience with Staff requesting approval of the VOCTID. There were no public speakers. Council discussion was asked to proceed. Council Member Andrews moved the recommendations – with a second having been obtained the city was clerk was asked to take the roll. All members voted yes 7 to 0
Deputy Mayor Tracy noted that he was recusing himself due to the fact of a rental property ownership situation related to the issue.
Jeff Lambert noted a report on the 28th of February along with the Ventura Safe Housing Collaborative (VSHC) report working for the past year. Council issued points of direction at that time. One would result in an ordinance to establish the amnesty program and another ordinance establishing the actual real estate transfer program. This would be how the city is implementing your (Council's) recommendations from February 28. In addition to comments on the draft ordinance there will be changes from the council that would be addressed. The formal adoption on the first reading would be in June. The real estate transfer would most likely be returned concurrently.
Andrew Stuffler presented the reportable items beginning with the February 28, 2011 direction.
February 28, 2011 Direction, showing: (1) Prepare second unit ordinance – (2) Increase funding for improved public education/outreach awareness – (3) Review and adjust code enforcement persona – (4) Establish a self-inspection program – (5) Establish a realtor-supported resale report – (6) Fund and implement a volunteer program – (7) Improve administrative transparency – (8) Appointments committee to review local appeals board composition – (9) Director to inform and seek input from community
Prepare Second Unit Ordinance, showing: (1) Draft prepared – (2) Cookbook style – (3) Key issues – (3.1) Pre/post-1987 – (3.2) Appeals – (3.3) “In-service” docs – (4) Target 1st reading on June 13, 2011
Increase Funding for Improved Public Education/Outreach/Awareness, showing: (1) Online resources – (2) Community councils and civic engagement – (3) Service resources – (4) Policies and procedure explanations
Code Enforcement Volunteer Program, showing: (1) Restore volunteer coordinator position – (2) Education, information, documentation and staff support – (3) Links city volunteers, volunteers in police and code enforcement
Local Resale Report Ordinance, showing: (1) Objectives – (1.1) Inform before sale – (1.2) Establish record of buyer knowledge – (1.3) Minimize escrow complications – (1.4) Reduce redundancy – (2) Consensus with realtors – (3) Target 1st reading on June 13, 2011
Status of Other Directives, showing: (1) Review and adjust code enforcement persona – (2) Establish a self inspection program – (3) Improve administration transparency – (4) Appointments committee to review local appeals board composition – (5) Director to inform and seek input from community. [There is an open position on the local appeals board composition according to the speaker.]
Second Dwelling Units Amnesty Ordinance Discussion, showing: (1) Scope – (1.1) Only second dwelling units – (1.2) Pre-and post-1987, state real estate disclosure law – (1.3) Only parcels with zoning allowing dwellings – (1.4) Not retroactive, unit or fees – (2) Appeals – (2.1) Decisions of violation, local appeals board – (2.2) Director decisions of zoning modifications, no appeal in draft – (3) “In service” documentation – (3.1) Owner-signed affidavit plus one other supporting item
On the appeals issue, the speaker said that the draft amnesty ordinance has no appeals process included. Separate avenues could be followed along with variances, which can be expensive. Posed was the question of whether or not to build in a separate appeals process. When discussing in-service documentation, the collaborative suggested that an owner-signed affidavit should be the sole basis for that documentation. With documentation that would include building permit and owner signed affidavit, this would not be total of the supporting documentation that would be required under Section 2. Subsection B, with the last item requiring photo documentation to help establish the owner in service date.
Recommended Action, showing: (1) Discuss and provide direction in response to “Public Review Draft 2011 Second Dwelling Unit Amnesty and Legalization Ordinance” – (2) Increase community development based budget by $10,000, public outreach, and $90,000, 1 new Preservation Services Technician – (3) Set June 13, 2011 for Second Dwelling Unit Amnesty and Legalization Ordinance and Local Resale Ordinance public hearing
The staff might be moved to a June 20 public hearing because of a heavy schedule on the appointed date, according to Jeff. Ariel then spoke about the planning commission review possibly not being able to commit to June 13 either.
Council Member Morehouse noted that on page 16 of the report there were steps for submitting checklists and documentation. The question was what happens to someone who does not manage a timely submission. Would this kill timing or require extensions for compliance.
Staff said that this would be dealt with in the same way that construction permits are handled – an active permit where under serious circumstances (windstorms etc.) would mean that a reasonably agreeable completion date can be worked out with the city. But if neglected and with the deadline coming upon them, they will have missed the amnesty boat, according to the speaker.
City Attorney Ariel Calonne said that the sunset date of June 30, 2013 for the amnesty program was not to be inflexible but that a firm closing date needs to be six months after Council's directed date of December 31, 2012, with this six month period being the normal life of a permit. Mr. Morehouse went on to ask about the wording, “legalization means that once a property has been issued for final inspection under this ordinance, a second dwelling unit will be considered legal for all purposes by the city,” the councilman wanted to question the possibility that ongoing changes to the amnesty property might be might come up as an issue.
Staff said that this would apply to the condition at the time the property was legalized and not further out. Ariel then directed attention to the packet and on page 19 section 6 Sub F, requires the creation of a record of the situation and conditions as existed at the point of legalization.
Mr. Morehouse continued by saying that the program should be continued in a Spanish version.
Council Member Monahan spoke of Staff’s reference to a public appeals board (local appeals board). Staff identified this as the former Construction Appeals Board but the state of California changed it to “Local Appeals Board.” Mr. Monahan insisted that as in the past, this would mean settling issues with contractors and cities with this not being the responsibility of such a council-created board. The councilman said that he would object to the oversight function of such a local board. Jeff tried to clarify saying that if under a building official’s decision there were to be a need for adjudication, the issue would be “appealable” to the local appeals board. What is being proposed here, however, is intended to cover zoning modifications built into the ordinance, but that no appeals process has yet been included – the appeals process “ends” at the administrative hearing for the zoning modification only. Mr. Monahan felt that this essentially cuts the citizen out of the appeals board process.
The city attorney wished to explain further. The 2nd bullet under appeals to the director for zoning modifications, the council already asked at an earlier time for a variance for people to go through an easier appeals process for smaller issues – lot coverage and setbacks, etc. – where because of Council’s direction for properties 1987 and later, a process was found to give older properties a somewhat softer approach by using a lower threshold for compliance. On safety violations such as faulty electrical wiring – these should go the more detailed route for handling complaints, according to the city attorney. Mr. Monahan said this was not what the construction appeals board was established for, but rather to settle disputes between contractors and the city. It seemed that Staff’s wording of “No appeal in draft” remained a sticking point for the councilman.
Staff replied to Mr. Monahan saying that the Local Appeals Board has been in place for probably 20 years, covering the Uniform Housing Code and the City’s Building Code. It was Staff’s position that the name change has not altered the board’s function in any way. Mr. Monahan said that in over 20 years there has never been a recommendation that he has seen come down from such a board.
Council Member Weir asked about the questions section (Q & A) speaking of the new volunteer coordinator – would it be the coordinator’s job to helping people work through the six steps? This would indeed be the work of the coordinator according to staff. On step four, speaking of submitting documentation for the building permit, if remedial construction work is necessary, plans would be needed to be submitted before construction could proceed. The councilwoman wanted to know when this documentation would need to be submitted by the owner. Staff said that the contractors should do the checklist work along with a bid for any remedial work so that this then works with the city inspector. A one sheet residential improvement plan would be submitted along with a permit application over the counter to the city. One day turnaround might not be feasible but should be the goal. The councilwoman said that part of step 4 should state, but currenly doesn’t, that part of the permitting process is submitting plans.
The mayor wished to ask Andrew the difference between the way units put into service after January 1987 will be treated, vis-à-vis the way they will be treated before the cutoff date, based on the staff’s recommendations. Staff said that wherein a real estate law was passed 1/1/1987 mandating full disclosure, many checklists and other detailed paperwork needed to be filled out, meaning that the owner knew or should have known that the property was non-compliant. Post-1987 the only path is for the new owner to contact the previous owner or do whatever else is necessary to comply. If close but not quite in compliance the owner can go to the director and plead his case. If prior to 1987 there would be a greater level of amnesty. There would be no second units that would be necessary to comply. There would be no setback or lot coverage issues. This was the basis for the 1987 date according to Staff.
The city attorney said that an additional reason, as mentioned by Jeff also, would be that second units built after 1987 would be likely to have been built in newer neighborhoods, creating compatibility problems with the neighboring dwellings as something more serious. To modify those zoning requirements would involve compatibility issues and greater impact on the neighbors.
City Manager Cole wanted to know, rhetorically speaking, whether in discussing the issue there was not some confusion between the rationale for doing something versus the reason for doing it. In Mr. Cole’s estimation, “reason” is factual and “rationale” relates to policy as comparing the issues. Many in the community have said that the problem is twofold – we are short on affordable housing in this community and that some housing is better than none considering the homelessness issue. If that's the “factual” condition underlying the problem, then the 1987 cutoff date would be purely arbitrary. The second point to consider would be that there are property owner rights. Some problems were caused by owners operating out of fear of government or Council reprisal. The city has taken a laissez-faire attitude in the minds of some; some people played by the rules and took their time including paying the fees, and that real estate professionals would certainly have known the difference in the law. A “policy rationale” is in play, according to the city manager – taken to and applied by Staff – which in fairness to those who followed state law, covered parking as an example, we should recognize the inequity created by an across-the-board expectation of amnesty. The mayor said that at any time after 1987 it should have been disclosed as to other unpermitted structures on the property. Page 5 of the public review draft according to the mayor, discusses two ways the owner can use the in-service date – why in the first instance is one out of four possible items sufficient and while in the other, two items of proof would be required.
All items, according to Staff, are definitive public record type documents that the city can rely upon, with the mayor then filling in the blanks – assessors documents, transfers of ownership – noting also that none of this has anything to do with possible rentals. The mayor asked for confirmation that the second group denotes multiple ways to include documented proof including utility bills and rent receipts assigned separately and that there would be two pieces of identification required, not one.
Some of the secondary pieces are not necessarily official but are in other ways sanctioned and authorized type pieces of information. The mayor wished to have it confirmed that a sworn statement document could be used as something that would fall into group number one and a rent receipt would fall into group number two.
The mayor said the appeals construction board is the body Council is required to create (based on its own decisions) again holding out for confirmation, with Staff saying this was indeed the case but only as impacted by state building codes. The director decisions do not address the building code questions but rather there could be a setback requirement including director decisions. Further Staff clarification indicated that Council could direct Staff to create a variance appeals step where something may go to the planning commission instead of the appeals board.
The staff volunteer coordinator was an unclear point to the mayor. Staff called it a technicians position, which suggests a volunteer somewhere between code enforcement and the PD. An inspector may make note of an inoperable vehicle on a front lawn. As a follow-up procedure, a photo could be taken if abatement does not occur in a timely fashion. Staff said that it's not confrontational, and that the city volunteers cannot operate a city vehicle. The mayor said the self inspection component should be clarified.
Staff said that the building code allows the building official to utilize inspectors other than city staff inspectors. This is similar in nature to the nonstandard inspection mode, where high-strength bolting and welding is often the issue. For minor inspection permits like water heaters it should be allowed that the contractor could have its own inspector with a signoff spec list that could be checked and mailed in. Like-for-like furnace replacements and roof replacements would fall into this category.
The mayor did not think that it was the council’s direction (February, 2011) to establish an entirely new appeals board but that the local construction appeals board would continue to fulfill its function. Staff agreed while noting that Council had agreed to refer the issue its Appointments Subcommittee to render a decision.
Council Member Brennan wanted to know about the $90,000 vehicle. Staff said that there are vehicles in the fleet that need to be retired which are now Toyota Prius'. The council member had heard it suggested that there was a vehicle in process oriented toward “stealth” vehicle status. When the contractor comes out with a checklist, said Mr. Brennan, the contractor fills out checkboxes but the issue went on to ask whether plans should be submitted.
Staff said that if the unit is in compliance, a one-page checklist on legal size paper, notes for the record that these are the items that need to be included in the permit. The site plan can be drawn on 11 x 17 by hand so that a general idea can be had as to what is on the property.
Council Member Morehouse noted the allocation of one additional technician and a support vehicle which would mean a $90,000 package, with the council member questioning a $90,000 vehicle. It turned out that the amount was to cover the entire package including the inspector and time.
Mr. Morehouse said an open house day on a yearly schedule might mean the open houses could be scheduled at any interval as necessary. Staff said that it's every three years actually, with coded options that could be worked out.
Public Communications – Helen Yunker spoke as a 53 resident of Ventura. It was her claim that the city postponed adopting fair city practices with the adoption of second dwelling units. It took the city nine years to grandfather second-unit property owners going back to December 1968. This was an ordinance that established needed residents; a precedent which should be providing the groundwork for today's legalization problems. It was the speakers claim that restrictions imposed by the city discriminate against inherited properties and the 23 years of construction since 1987.
Laura Swenson said that in a public workshop for the second draft of legalization programs, Mr. Stuffler responded to some of her comments but not others. It was her contention that the 1987 in-service date should not be considered if the second unit complies with the life safety checklist and should be considered the same as a pre-1987 installation. Safety should be the first consideration. Inspection and compliance contractors can provide a flat or set rate for both types of inspections. The ability to provide proof of in service through sworn statements could be acceptable but does not address family members who have been living for years without paying rents. Two people with personal knowledge of the property rather than just one would help. The public has often said the inspections should specifically be limited to the modification in question and that outside or remaining items should not be considered part of the same inspection process. The basic zoning cost was $5320 and appeals process that would reduce the costs was required according to the speaker. The mayor said that only a drawing of the second unit and not other structures that this would trigger an inspection of the other structures. The mayor wished to know why this was a problem. The speaker said this generates from previous history of government action.
Edward Hathaway who declared himself a native Venturan, said that he appreciated the work done by the city, but that the county has placed a hardship on the citizens who lack employment. Housing opportunities are down for both buyer and seller, meaning more people are sharing dwellings. We live in a time were safe housing and related fees should addressed on the safety issues and the needs of the citizen who is struggling. It was the speaker's thought that the fundamental laws of supply and demand should apply.
Rosalyn Strobush said that her property was inherited through family members. The granny flat on the property has meant the possibility of losing the home through noncompliance and with family members who are ill with cancer it makes the situation untenable. The speaker was emotional in speaking of the family problems and was really not able to continue – helped along by a second speaker who stepped in to say that they will be charged $400 per day if the houses cannot be brought into compliance. The ill family member is no longer able to speak or work on his own behalf. The speaker asked if code enforcement would be unmoved by citizens being forced to die in the streets as it was put to the council. The proposal denies acceptance of a sworn statement as proposed by the safe housing collaborative. There are no rent receipts and no separate utility bills. Aerial photos will not show the interior and county records do not adequately describe the property. It was her contention that the stress being endured by the family is threatening life. The need to accept sworn statements was in the collaborative's recommendations – on behalf of Luis Campos, Eric Strobush and Evelyn Strobush.
Frank Peterson spoke saying that as a contractor he has been involved in demolition of buildings around Ventura including some very old buildings. It was his claim that he had great relations with planning department and inspectors but that much of this has not reached into the present. Proactive enforcement, according to the speaker, has turned many residents into neurotics, thinking that additional inspections will cause the types of problems that we are seeing. Rumors include the idea that collaboration with police will cause financial ramifications and that with undercover operations many citizens do not feel safe.
Council Member Weir had a question, addressing the fear component wishing to know what the fear is based on. The speaker said that the wording of some proposals including “greater enforcement” being an oft-repeated fear. The speaker was of the opinion that the city is finding ways to reap additional funds in times of budgetary shortfall.
Ken Luper wished to thank Rick Cole for one-on-one meetings to make it easier to communicate. A letter signed by 10 of 13 committee members put together recently has been compiled as a response from the public. There are eight recommendations to be shown on screen.
Recommendations – Allow sworn statements to establish date of service, showing: (1) Allow sworn statements to establish a date of service/habitability – (2) Delete all references to 1987 restriction and extend second unit requirements to February 28, 2011 – (3) Inspect for life safety issues only using state civil code 1941 – (4) Require sketch only of units requested to be legalized
Recommendations (cont’d), showing: (5) Allow certified home safety inspectors as option to contractors – (6) Offer time payment plan – (7) If homeowner cannot pay place lien on property to be paid when property changes ownership – (8) All decisions of the community development director can be appealed to the housing authority or City Council
One, showing: Allow sworn statements to establish date of service habitability
The speaker declined to show the entire length of the presentation but stated that much of what was being said would have been a restatement of earlier work.
Council Member Monahan asked as to consensus with the collaborative noting that as an ex-member there was more to be said. The councilman wanted to know whether the collaborative felt that their recommendations were included in the draft being presented to Council. Another member said that not nearly enough of the recommendations from February 28 were being reflected in the draft. Where do you delete all references to 1987 restrictions – this was not included. An issue along with don't tell anyone anything you don't want them to know. The speaker said that an ombudsman would be a neutral person and should be included in the recommendations but does not appear. The appeals board would not be the equivalent of an ombudsman and this was reflected in dialogue with the staff members, including Andrew Stuffler. More was spoken of the fear issue. Council Member Morehouse wondered if a new committee has been formed with the speaker saying that it's the same committee.
Council Member Monahan asked again about the local appeals committee. The speaker said that the appeals committee was part of the collaborative's recommendation. The construction appeals board was mentioned, according to the speaker, but not one that the city could create based on collaborative membership.
Council Member Morehouse thanked Ken and Sherry for their participation, with the councilman wanting to clarify as he was looking at an elevation drawing, but that isolated sections associated with any noncompliance should not be extended to other units and other problems in noncompliance. The councilman wanted to clarify and apparently obtained the answer he was looking for by saying that one unit that should it be remain the focus and that that problem would be dealt with exclusively. Sherry. If an owner cannot pay upon change of ownership the collaborative has suggested the idea of a joint payment association between the new and the former owners. Members of the committee had the idea to work with Council on a more in depth basis for additional fine-tuning of issues.
The mayor had questions. On question number four, the mayor asked why the collaborative thought that the property owner should only be allowed to provide a sketch of only the second unit and not other buildings with the answer being that owners would be fearful of the inspectors trampling over the rest of the property. Sherry said that she had to spend $20,000 with an architect after feeling that a simple sketch was all that would be required.
Question number five mentioned the self inspection program – how private inspectors would be used is unclear – that of home inspectors instead of building inspectors and how that would work from the collaborative's point of view. A certified home inspector should be added to the staff’s recommendation on the issue.
Mr. Monahan said that there are many beyond those present who were fearful as well.
Council Member Andrews asked on recommendation three – why it was important that only State Civil Code 1941 be used. It was asked whether the speaker would be fearful of having other constraints being adopted. “Safety is our primary goal – 1941 assures safety,” according to the speaker, and that if inspections comply with state code, why would be inspections need to be drawn any tighter.
Kathy McWhorter with time ceded by Karen McWhorter wished to discuss the possible cost of having second units taken away or removed. An elderly family member made the trade-off of whether removing the second unit and going to a nursing home. The family story involved a “problem child” and after this person was discovered living in a garage, the individual was forced to move into the riverbed. It was the speaker’s contention that illnesses are contracted by living in homeless shelters and other conditions which become burdensome to the general public. There are situations where microwave ovens are illegal based on code enforcement. Instead of penalizing residence in second units, it would be better to give them an incentive including perhaps a separate addresses and separate utilities which would allow for separate insurance coverage. A new assessment would most likely be the outcome, generating jobs, taxes and cooperation between neighbors.
Sonja Croth supported a second units ordinance creation that does not impact safety. Through VSHC stakeholder input there was eroding trust that was discussed repeatedly. The asking of a simple question could lead to unpredictable outcomes, thereby fueling distrust among the public. The volunteer inspection program still feels like an extension of proactive enforcement, according to the speaker. More work is needed to understand the recommendations put forward by the VSHC before Council will be able to arrive at a decision. Consider the recommendations put forward in a letter and make use of the collaborative’s expertise in reenforcing trust.
Tom Stanley stated that he was a resident and a taxpayer. The proposal is insufficient in the public input department. Two recommendations – (1) Delete references to the 1987 disclosure law. If disclosure isn't made disclosure can't be given, the speaker said. The 1987 disclosure law was instituted in order for the city to establish 17 different types of violations, such as attached second units only on lots 5500 ft.² minimum and detached units only on lots of 6000 ft.² minimum. Most Midtown lots are only 5000 ft.². It was then asked whether all of those units would be closed down even though they’d been occupied safely for at least 20 years – (2) The proposal allows for zoning modifications for second units, but those zoning modifications would be decided by the city’s director of community development. Second unit director appeals, however, would not be allowed, thereby exposing property owners to large financial risks which may be irrecoverable. The Council would be giving power to an unelected official. The speaker was unequivocal in suggesting amendments which would allow a fair appeal process, going further to suggest that city staff personnel write ordinances such as this to incrementally gain power for themselves and erode the power of the electorate by “chipping away” at citizens’ private property rights and “chipping away” at city council’s authority.
[Comment] Speaking truth to power, but is power listening? Read the “pull quote” again. Doesn’t everyone know instinctively what it’s like to be left holding the bag? … to be left in the lurch? … doesn’t everyone? Everyone except “Power,” maybe? How can you be expected to disclose to others that which others refuse to disclose to you, Mr. or Ms. Ventura? This is either UTOPIA or DYSTOPIA – you make the call. [Ed]
Jerry McWhorter, in saying that as a relative newcomer to city ordinances, still thought that this was a complete shakedown from top to bottom with the problem being one of filling city coffers. It was his feeling that the citizen is getting nothing in return while the city has all the gain. It was the speaker’s feeling that there was not the case of safety being the driving force. The speaker saw the issue as one of fundraising. With the public being asked to serve as “whistleblowers” there were other still other issues leading the speaker to think that the whole program should be “kicked to the curb.”
Council Member Brennan asked whether the speaker thought we should “just do away with this.” The speaker said that what's being done has always worked in the past.
Sharon Troll said that there were two house fires recently due to electrical problems and no smoke detectors. The speaker thought that to say that we have no house fires would be a misstatement. The speaker would propose that on page 5 proof of liability insurance for work completed without municipal inspection, that this be increased to a 3- or 4-year proof of insurance, which would effectively disarm fly-by-night contractors. A randomly selected 20% of self-certified permits would automatically go through the city's office to check for compliance. The homeowner would need to be notified that they could or could not be one of the 20%. It was her belief that this is about public safety. Living on the Westside, the speaker said that she is proud of her community and that there are second third or fourth units that exist without inspections. Most on the Westside do not have X-Boxes, and yet microwaves do run on extension cords. It’s just general knowledge that there are units that do not have proper electrical service, according to the speaker.
Ginelle Maclaine stated that as a real estate professional many of the public speakers and members of the public in general are less than fully informed on the process of inspections. A question surrounded the concept of the VSHC in the first place. “Whose vision of Ventura are we pursuing,” asked the speaker. The speaker said she was loathe to think that it was all about the money or that the city was lining its pockets. The speaker said that there are not owners of multimillion dollar homes here before Council this evening. Fees for new construction have been known to start as high as $40,000.
Camille Harris offered several illuminating phrases found in official Construction Appeals Board texts – where it says that the “financial hardship is not a consideration in their deliberations” – also noting that the “composition does not necessarily reflect the composition of the broader community, including income, ethnicity and neighborhoods.” The legal authority for the housing appeals board, on the other hand, says that the housing appeals board “may grant hardship deferments for orders of abatement and variances for local zone use requirements.” The citizens review board was called out and named by the safe housing collaborative, which was actually the housing appeals board. The speaker said that we need a board as it relates to housing issues rather than construction issues. The subject of fear was broached once more with Ms. Harris saying that “of course, our city has never taken any homes,” mocking the indignation of a council member who had earlier uttered the phrase. This means there is no place to go once code enforcement cites you. The speaker said that council members would do well to imagine themselves without a pension, a job or any income. If the kitchen goes you have no home, the speaker said, who supported Alternative No. 2.
Mark Rochen said that multiple units of 1 to 4 units have the same problem as single-family units so include 1 to four unit structures in Council's deliberations.
After declaring a short recess, the mayor wished to ask of Staff a couple of clarifying issues. Andrew was asked to describe the nature of the sketch that would be required by Staff – would it be something like an architect's rendering. The building official could approve without a plan, but status of the property could be handled on a contextual basis only. State civil code 1941 would not mean that limits by 1941 on safety basis with the sense of the law being limited to tenant-ability as the minimum that can be inspected to. By limiting inspections to that which would be private only with private inspectors meaning that “home” inspectors do not need to be certified.
Council communications – Council Member Morehouse mentioned Ms. Strobush and her condition right now. Mr. Stuffler was familiar with the case and said the family has a lot of problems. The building inspector attempted to advise the family on the realities and that an inspection warrant can be obtained if necessary. If violations are in evidence and not corrected there could be citations. The physicians report stated that the family member was under life-threatening stress. Andrew said that the city has agreed to postpone the aggressive handling for the time being.
Mr. Morehouse went down the path of wishing that we left everything alone, the assumption being that something disastrous could happen to a property, and that there was a fire at Pepper Tree, but that if life or limb is in danger people seek retribution. The city attorney was brought into it when Mr. Morehouse asked that the council might issue waivers and that the city could then be made liable. Ariel said that we were not talking about a liability issue for the city. This may not be just about life but a policy question in that the policy goes beyond minimum legal responsibility and extends into more subtle points surrounding human factors.
Mr. Morehouse tried to talk to the situation wondering if there isn't an issue when people living in single-family homes suddenly find themselves living in multifamily neighborhoods. On the appeal process, the councilman said that that he has concerns over setting up a board made up of lay people; there will be too much Tammany Hall and too many buddy-buddy, lets-look-the-other-way situations developing. The councilman thought that an appeal body could be considered but that to turn the decision-making process over to a nonprofessional board would cause problems.
[Comment] Now – suddenly … the council person has sympathies for the white-picket-fence crowd suffering overexposure from the high-density, multifamily lifestyle taking over the neighborhood. This is the same person who has said in recent weeks that “the Ozzie and Harriett lifestyle is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.” How someone reads this depends entirely on today’s context. If it’s “smart growth” we’re talking about, then let’s pack ‘em in. High-density living isn’t just good, it’s great! Single-family homes are a thing of the past anyway. But if it’s mansions we’re talking about, well … that’s an entirely different story. We certainly need mansions. After all, only the super-rich can save us. We’ll say this much – the councilman has a lot of guts talking about Tammany Hall. [Ed.]
Council Member Monahan said that other cities have attempted to implement similar plans. Staff Member Andrew said that it had been years since Staff had looked at those situations. The City of Corona had an ordinance with issues similar to ours where the citizens board of appeals was enacted and that inspectors have said that it works well and has solved problems for the city. On the Strobush situation, it turned out that the family’s problems stemmed from a complaint generated by a neighbor.
Council Member Andrews said that by limiting this ordinance to second dwelling units, it was not his intent to limit the amnesty program to only second dwelling units but that we would start with an ordinance covering second units only. It was his feeling that such drafting would be extended eventually to primary dwelling units, and commercial units. It was his feeling that the amount of concern expressed by citizens was troubling. It was the councilman's position that Council was trying to be helpful and not hurtful to a community that is suffering. In review processes there may be avenues to be sought. The appeal considerations are being driven by hardship and financial concerns. The councilman thought that it was their job to find ways to mitigate the financial concerns. Time payments and loan programs could be considered according to the councilman, using means testing in the process.
Going on about sworn statements, Councilman Andrews noted that we are allowing sworn statements as part of the documentation. The councilman thought that Staff should be open to a broad range of documentation possibly to include family letters which would show residency over a period of time. The councilman said on code 1941, “we simply can't do it.” Then the councilman said “why not” open the amnesty to everybody. The mechanism should be instituted that would allow realtors to help promote the kind of trust in encouraging the information that the inspections department may need. It was his desire to strike the 1987 provision here.
[Comment] Which means, then, that it’s “say one thing, and do another” in the mind of this locally elected official, which should open people’s eyes to a wide range of questions. No doubt there are answers, but are they believable? Are we to assume that the councilman heard arguments within the ensuing 20 minutes persuasive enough to cause him to vote against the measure after saying “why not open the amnesty to everybody?” Was it his desire all along to “strike the 1987 provision,” which he’d clearly just stated? Or was there something else blowing in the wind? With the 1987 cutoff being so central to this issue, what changed when it came time to vote? Did “1987” suddenly become “as dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly?” … ready to be swept up and dropped onto the compost heap? We wonder. In political parlance we often hear this kind of behavior labeled as “talking out of both sides of ones mouth.” [Ed.]
Then in speaking of sketches, the councilman thought there was value in establishing a historical paper trail for issues that may arise in the future. Ms. Troll had a point, he said, in declaring that the applicants should sign off on the 20% issue. It was the councilman stating that this could be added to the application but that he did not see the 20% issue on the ordinance. Andrew Stuffler, however, said that that was taken care of.
Addressing the city attorney, Mr. Andrews said it was “unreasonable fear” in the face of inspections that was taking owners into deep and dangerous territory. On residents not taking advantage of the amnesty, it may be that under these conditions something attributable to a death under nonconforming conditions might subject the owner to a substantial fine. Ariel agreed with the assessment, noting that a general misunderstanding over the amnesty issue, but that the ordinance may not have been written in a totally understandable way. The city attorney said that owners of undocumented second dwelling units will be given the opportunity to bring their properties into compliance with city ordinances without fear of being criminally responsible. Amnesty means that you are seeking a safe place while working towards compliance.
Mr. Andrews felt that it was necessary to take steps that would substantially penalize owners who will resist zoning laws when or if that action would lead to death or injury.
The mayor wanted to speak to the issue by saying that there will be those listening who will not be happy with his position. This storyline went that if sellers don't tell the truth or that if their agents do not go down the road of total disclosure, that this is the cutoff point. In 1987 every realtor assumed the mantle of total responsibility. The appeals process would be spoken to later. It was not clear to the mayor that the owner speaking to disclosure would be in possession of the adequate details involved in the process leading up to legal credibility. On volunteerism it was the mayor's feeling that most would be working in offices and helping with paperwork. Also basic trust would combine not enforcing codes are having the building department do its job did not make much sense to the mayor.
The mayor wished to entertain the idea of defining what is meant by a sketch. The local appeals board includes actions by the building official and actions taken by the community development director. “We don't overcome a lack of trust by not allowing our people to do their jobs,” according to the mayor. On the idea of financing the fees – the mayor thought this was also doable. A variance to the zoning issues and finding a way to finance the fees would be added to the recommendations.
City Manager Cole was sensitive to the idea of investing a great deal of power in unelected officials as was mentioned by several speakers. Mr. Cole said that we have sought to come up with a simple process, then asking the council to think back on all land-use issues that have come up in the past. It's known that both sides in the issue have the right to appeal. It was the city manager's desire to ask whether or not a neighbor would be allowed to appeal if someone is found living in a garage or in a toolshed. Appeals have shown to be contentious and time-consuming as well. It should be the goal of the process before Council to streamline the process and make the process less burdensome as being discussed in retrospect. Financing of fees will take time to set up along with defaults that can occur on loans. Mr. Cole said that his recommendation list would remain a short one.
City Atty. Calonne wished to speak on the appeals process as it had been spoken to with reference to who should be making the decision. “It's not who is making the decision but rather what is the criteria for the decision,” Ariel said. It was his feeling that we should all stand before our judge and know what the rules are. This would not be the case if you were “stacking the jury,” noting that if you are someone with a name difficult to pronounce you may be standing before people who are your judges at some point. Modifications may be allowed while not being inconsistent with neighborhood character, was Mr. Calonne’s central point. Under the proposed ordinance the modification can be accommodated along the lines of neighborhood consistency. A judge would find it arbitrary and capricious to discover that they were stacking the jury with favorable decision makers rather than those who are making rules as they should be applied.
Council Member Weir asked about the ombudsman idea. In terms of this $90,000 budgeted person along with their training, it seemed to her that part of the purpose would be to turn this individual toward something like ombudsman. Andrew said that their idea was significantly different, however. The citizens’ idea that someone at large in the community whose job it is to reduce fear in dealing with City Hall is not included in this. Jeff Lambert quickly countered, however, saying that an additional person playing some sort of bridge role would add to effectiveness.
The councilwoman referenced an e-mail that questioned the overreaching, along with RVs parked on concrete pads on front yards. Staff doesn't deal with this issue because of no live safety issues. The councilwoman wanted to turn back to livability issues with RVs. Staff said that RVs parked out front yards isn't as simple as we might like but they can be dealt with. Beyond second unit issues we could get into livability issues is where the councilwoman was trying to go.
[Comment] What the councilwoman and others don’t know (and quite possibly can’t figure out) is that when Southern California is forced to sustain “The Big One,” which we’re positively, absolutely promised, those folks with RV’s parked on their own property will be among the survivors. The same might not be said of those in the neighborhood who are obsessed with declining “livability” factors, as they find themselves begging for a few cups of potable water and a few crumbs of food from their “blighted” RV neighbors. You see, most RV’ers use their RVs for much more than a little fun in the sun. What they’re in possession of can just as realistically be called a unique form of flood/earthquake/life insurance. Very few get this. . .do you? Unfortunately, by the time they do it will be too late. [Ed.]
Priority three violations get a lot of complaints according to Staff but that if you're calling about basketball hoops or trash cans the city doesn't have time. A coordinator in the past was used for documentation and correction. Staff continued to indicate that the use of a volunteer was desirable. The councilwoman continued by saying that her conversations with constituents lean toward greater code enforcement – not less. The councilwoman again mentioned RVs in front yards. With Mr. Monahan as the chairperson of the appointments committee, there could be appointments to this position, meaning that the council would still be involved with the issue.
There are the legal residents who have followed the rules and then there are the slumlords who are renting substandard units with poor conditions in order to maximize profits. The councilwoman claimed to have read all of the public input comments and in looking at these comments vis-à-vis the staff recommendations, the councilwoman thought that there were more similarities than differences. The councilwoman thought that Staff had done a great job in coordinating with the public. She thought that the user-friendliness of this document was amazing. The issue of 1987 revealed her agreement with the mayor on this issue. The appeals board could be dealt with by the appointments committee in the next month or two. The signed affidavit plus one other support item would work in her estimation. It was the councilwoman’s desire to support the $90,000 toward the new individual.
Council Member Monahan felt good about the idea that basketball hoops and trash cans would be enforced and yet without having enforcement on these in the past it was his desire to know how we would enforce this new round of regulations. Requiring sketches only of units to be legalized should be in detail on the unit that is being considered. The councilman thought that granny flats should be characterized not as rental units but more like family extension units. The councilman also thought it not unreasonable to think of second units as fully functional living quarters. Inspection services in the councilman's experience come through professional firms where they have assurances of expertise in the inspections process. The councilman was averse to placing liens on the property. As to the decision of the community development director making decisions as an elected official, the councilman thought that a dialogue should still be conducted at that level before heading to the appeals process.
Council Member Brennan thanked the coalition and the staff, wishing also to ask Andrew Stuffler how all of this got started. Andrew said that in 2008 the budget preparation process gave rise to the question of safety and the process of addressing citizen concerns. The councilman wished to know about the idea of the “recorder.” Andrew said that in some confrontational meetings it is sometimes necessary to establish a trail of conversations. A voice recorder has been instituted and used in much the same way banks have begun creating audio records. Mr. Brennan asked Staff to once again discuss the issue of cameras. Andrew said that volunteers and police do follow-ups based on reported violations. The volunteer and police staffers would typically photograph the property at a later date to see if compliance has been instituted. Volunteers and police want to do a good job, according to Andrew, and that in going down the street they sometimes see additional problems that may be in fact greater than the issue they had set out to deal with.
Council Member Brennan was concerned about some public speaking where the public claims to be losing and obtaining no benefit. The councilman countered that argument by saying that people are getting legal second units. It was his feeling that this is the first step of the second units legalization process.
In speaking with Jenny Buckingham, Andrew said that for folks with more than one property, many cannot get loans for the second unit due to owner occupancy mandates, bringing forward a few of the more subtle sticking-point arguments.
Council Member Brennan moved to accept Staff recommendations along with the financing option and the appeals process. The motion was seconded by Council Member Weir. The mayor said there are two types of appeals – the local appeals board and director decisions of zoning modifications. It was suggested that the director decisions of zoning modifications be included in the motion on the floor.
Council Member Morehouse discussed the financing issue at greater length. Staff said that they're not looking for resolution on the refund of any fees by complying citizens. City Attorney Calonne noted the cutoff date of February 28, 2011, as direction that should be followed for all questions regarding retroactivity. The final agreements were rolled into the motion.
The mayor suggested that sections B to E not be limited to photographs and affidavits.
Council Member Monahan said that Council seemed to be talking about Alternative No. 2. Mr. Monahan then went even further, saying that members were elected to represent the people of Ventura, but he did not see that Council was doing that.
Council Member Andrews asked for consideration on financing of both issues – loans and fines which is what Staff is tasked to do – and that to seek fees on the time payment program means free money for the city. The councilman said that this is the first stage of amnesty, and then a later extension would be applied to all private residences.
Extension to private residences and commercial properties in the future, along with financing, was offered by the councilman as a friendly amendment.
The mayor and Mr. Monahan had a back-and-forth over whether or not questions by the audience participants had been addressed. The mayor then called for a vote based on the fact that there was “no further productive discussion,” as stated. The measure passed 5 to 1 – Brennan, yes; Weir, yes; Morehouse, yes; Andrews, yes; Monahan, no; Mayor Fulton, yes.
Public communications – Maxine Pauling spoke as one of approximately 3000 Section 8 residents living in Ventura, noting that the board of commissioners has directed the council and the mayor to produce policy over public housing. 24 CFR 964 states the residents of public housing have an equal partnership with the commissioners. Replies that have been sent to the commissioners have been handled by lawyers and not the principals themselves.
Sharon troll spoke saying that when properties are located that have renters who may be losing a roof over their head through no fault of their own due to owners negligence, the city should be cognizant and offering support. It was her contention that this is a city that should be trying to look out for the rights of all.
Camille Harris said that retaining the 1987 cutoff date was political, and that attempts to derail grandfathering was instituted by one influential VSHC member who has resisted the collaborative’s efforts from the beginning. The speaker said that this is a betrayal and a discrimination against people who were not disclosed to and who bought from owners. It was her contention that the council has not lived up to its promises concerning community buy-in.
Helen Yunker spoke, asking what the city will do with all the people who will be turned out of their residences as a result of failure to remove the 1987 provision. The mayor said that it is to make this easier for second units be legalized.
Council Member Andrews stated that most problems can be helped with the construction of very low income housing in the city.
The mayor adjourned the meeting in the memory of Karen Ebell and Hugh Oliver.