Ventura City Council Meeting
June 13, 2011
Ventura City Hall - 501 Poli Street
Formal Item – The Parking Meter Removal Petition. Elaine of Staff said that on May 18 the city clerk received 400 signatures collected from valid, qualified voters, declared to make the petition significant and sufficient for a November election. With Council's approval along with a certificate of sufficiency, Staff is to agendize the item and resubmit to Council on July 11, 2011.
Jeff Smith, Chair of the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee said that parking management downtown is working. People are willing to pay a small amount to go to a store or a restaurant. These are also better customers. A full-time dedicated police officer and free Wi-Fi downtown provides full support with an additional revenue stream being made available for better lighting and cleanliness. Council was urged to recommend a comprehensive impact report to be prepared by Staff.
To View a listing of the agenda items for this council meeting, go to www.cityofventura.net/meeting/city-council-meeting-55.
Mayor Fulton brought the meeting to order with a call of the roll – Deputy Mayor Tracy was absent due to vacation. The Mayor led all present in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Closed Session Report – City Attorney Ariel Calonne stated that the closed session was on two separate matters with no reportable action having been taken.
Council Communications – Council Member Morehouse spoke saying that the Johnny Cash Music Festival is this coming Saturday. Kris Kristofferson will be present at 6:00 PM. House Farmworkers Now is having a communal table on July 16th at the U.C. Hansen Agricultural Center in Santa Paula. Wine tasting will be at five, with dinner prepared by Tim from the Sidecar Restaurant. Phone 921-0430. Tickets are $125 per person partially benefiting House Farmworkers Now.
The councilman continued saying that Turning Point Foundation will benefit by going to oxnardsalsafestival.com where the councilman will be collecting votes on Dancing with the Local Community Stars.
Council Member Weir spoke also of the Johnny Cash Festival with the Downtown Ventura Organization is offering a five dollar off restaurant and shops coupon displaying Johnny's photograph to all festival attendees. Also the 25th anniversary of our Farmers Market, June 25, is featuring a special event with the theme of Going Veggie in Ventura. Hours are from 8:30 ‘till noon with live music by Steve Hill. And something for the kids – as last year, the toymaker Gene West will also be present at the market. Food samples will be provided by Watermark and the Sidecar.
The Ventura County Pride organization was congratulated for mounting the first ever Ventura County float in the Los Angeles Pride Parade down Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood. The mayor rode on the float and waved to his old neighbors in West Hollywood. August 27th is the date of the inaugural Ventura County Pride Parade, according to the mayor, with thanks to John Wilner for help in organizing local participation.
Regional Boards, Commissions and Committees – Council Member Morehouse spoke, saying that last Thursday was the Ventura Council of Governments General Assembly meeting. Two supervisors and three county elected officials were present, with it also being announced that the mayor was not present. This may be the last meeting since the group has voted to merge with the VC Transportation Commission.
Community Development Director’s Report – Jeff Lambert on the annual update on the Visitor’s Convention Bureau. Eric Wollner and Jim Lutejon accompanied Mr. Lambert in moving forward on the presentation.
Funding, showing: (1) Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) down $200,000 – (2) PKF, rate flat, occupancy up – (3) Audits – (4) VOCTID 1.5% levy on occupancy – (5) Reserves – ( Cautious optimism on the outlook for 2011-12
Economic Impact, showing: (1) ROI 18 to 1 – (2) YTD $23, 145,510 in visitor spending – (3) Group room nights from converted leads $708,000 – (4) Recent group business – (4.1) California League of Women Voters – (4.2) National League of Cities – (4.3) Increased room nights for Gordon Research Conferences
Marketing, showing: (1.1) Adventure – (1,2) Culinary – (1.3) Arts and culture – (1,4) Increased column inches – (1.5) Online – (1.5.1) Themed e-newsletters – (1.5.2) Last minute getaways – (2.0) Media Relations – (2.1) PAL $4.65 million – (2.2) Impressions 132,754,100
Marketing (cont’d), showing: (1.1) Social media – (1.2) Mobi – (1.3) Ventura Visitors Network (1.4) Cable TV – (1.5) Virgin America – (1.6) Tradeshows – (1.7) Brand leveraging – (1.8) Partnerships – (1.9) ICSC Prosperity Council
Film Ventura, showing: (1) Marketing – (1.1) Film promotions – (1.2) Mobi – [they're looking at taking part in countywide open film] – (1.3) AFCI Locations, tradeshows – (1.4) EDCVC – (1.4.1) Film VC411
The Future, showing: (1,1) Maintain basic print – (1.2) Leverage brand – (1.3) Targeted e-newsletters – (1.3.1) Real California Cuisine – (1.3.2) Real California Adventure – (1.3.3) Real California Culture – (1.3.4) Film industry – (1.3.5) Last minute getaways – ( 1.3.6) Meeting planners – (2.0) New Performance Measures – (2.1) Work with EDCVC to create Film211 – (2.2) Market Restaurant Week and Music Week – (2.3) Prosperity Council and ICSC – (2.4) Film Commission – (2.5) Sports Commission
Council Communications – Council Member Andrews asked about the rate for occupancy which was flat but the revenues were down. How does this work was the question. The answer came that the audit process is important since the tourism master-planned PKF is a representative sample of high medium and low priced rooms in the city and this would tend to bolster the occupancy rate. The actual revenues were not up and through enhanced reporting and the audit process it will be possible to update or correct the data. The councilman wished to know whether the online travel agencies were not remitting tax on the full rate but only on the reduced rate. The audit process may reveal this, according to the speaker.
The councilman wished to thank their staff on a marvelous job with the recent National League of Cities visitation. A webpage was put up for the exclusive use of the group which was then able to guide the visitors’ specific sets of interest. It was called a micro site.
CONSENT ITEMS – (4) Subordination Agreement for Refinancing Property Located at 856 East Thompson Boulevard; Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Levy and Collection of Assessments Within the Downtown Ventura Property Based Improvement District; Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau Contract Amendment and Performance Measure Review; for the redevelopment agency authorization between the city and the housing authority for professional services. There were no speakers and The mayor asked whether any members wished to pull an item. It was moved and seconded that the consent calendar be approved with the city clerk being asked to call the roll. – All members voted yes.
The mayor asked whether any ex-parté communications with the council had been performed – there were none by any council member nor the mayor.
Staff was to present on the appeal on approval by the design review committee (DRC) for reuse of the retail space. Jeff Lambert said that George Rosengrant was the planner on the program. The shopping center was created by subdivision in the 1970s – the Taft-Genco EIR is the parcel in question with the shopping center at the northern end of the subdivision. It was agricultural land converted to commercial and industrial. The EIR impacts were studied with mitigation through landscaping which had been planted along 101 and was used to reduce development impact. In 1982, Plan Development 198 created the shopping center. The original anchors were Mervyn’s and Best Department Store, now Burlington Coat Factory. Modifications included Chuck E. Cheese and Chick-Fil-A.
(@) July 7, 2010 – [WinCo] Project Submitted, showing: (@) August 11, 2010, Conceptual DRC – (@) October 13, 2010 – Formal DRC – [the environmental review deemed insufficient by the appellant. Staff asked the DRC to hold off for that night. An initial study and a negative declaration was handed down. Because focus was limited to aesthetics and design, a new EIR as requested by the appellant was deemed inappropriate, as was the negative declaration] – (@) March 9, 2011 formal DRC [project approved with conditions] – (@) March 17, 2011 Appeal Filed
Project began in August 2010 with the height of the tower element being one issue and a lack of a corner treatment plus the lack of a color or colors.
(@) October 13, 2010, Formal DRC, showing: [The formal DRC with the tower brought into the building instead of on top and with the corner issue along with the color having been addressed.] – (@) March 9, 2011, Final Approval
Appellants Issue Areas, showing: (1) Aesthetics – (2) Air quality and traffic – (3) Land use – (4) Noise (5) Environmental baseline – (6) CEQA exemptions – (7) Unusual circumstances – (8) Sign variance
Appellant Contention Aesthetics, Size of the building creates a visual impact, showing: (1) 10% landscaping, 14,247sq.ft. – (2) 19% proposed total landscaping, 27,674sq.ft. (3) Addition of canopy trees. [Visual impacts would be addressed in the landscaping now fully grown. The DRC in reviewing the project would mitigate visual impacts.]
Appellant Contention Aesthetics (cont’d), showing: [Size of the building creates a visual impact. The elevation along this context shows the center as the building not being raised but a small portion of the anchor only in the project.]
Appellant Contention Sign Variance, showing: (1) PD-198 – (2) Signage well designed and is of compatible scale and proportion – (3) Consistent with other recent approvals [The appellants contend that the findings do not support the sign variance.]
Appellant Contention Air Quality and Traffic, showing: – (1) DRC focus on aesthetics (2) Trip counts similar w/other commercial uses [The appellants contend that the vehicle trips affect air quality.]
Appellant Contention Land Use, showing: (1) Introduces native plant species – (2) Enhancing building appearance [The appellant contends that the building height conflicts with the city’s General Plan goals.]
Appellant Contention Noise, showing: (1) Adjacent to commercial and industrial properties – (2) Use consistent with shopping center [Appellant contends that no noise analysis has been provided.]
Appellate Contention Environmental Baseline, showing: Existing conditions haven’t materially changed [Appellant contends that there is an improper environmental baseline.]
Appellant Contention Class 1 and 3 CEQA Exemptions, showing: (1) No additional floor area – (2) Exterior modification of an existing structure – (3) Public Resource Code 21166 [Appellant contends that Class 1 and 3 CEQA exemptions are not appropriate for large 24-hour supermarkets]
Recommendation, showing: (1) Deny the appeal – (2) Sustain the decision of the DRC granting the design review permit and related approvals for the project.
The mayor said that there were to be Council questions and then the appellants who were to have 10 minutes. Public speakers were to have 3 minutes with the appellants having five minutes to rebut. The public portion was then to be closed with Council deliberations ensuing. If the public wished to speak they were to fill out a green speaker card. The international sign language signal for applause was to be observed.
City Attorney Calonne suggested that the applicant should be given 10 minutes, upon completion of the appellant’s testimony. No initial questions of Staff were offered by council members.
The appellant Johnson and Sedlac with Abigail Broadling representing the appellant were welcomed by the mayor. Ms.Broadling thought she would not need 10 minutes, then stating that a few of the appellants as local residents were in attendance. Several letters were submitted during the administrative process with the speaker saying that deference would be given to those letters. She said that a full EIR is justified. A sign variance should not be granted based on requirements of municipal code. The conditions from the original PRD should be allowed to stand according to the speaker. EIR is relevant because impacts have not been fully evaluated. Based on the municipal code it would be a mistake to vacate the signage and impact areas for the project. Significant environmental issues exist, especially air quality as per the number of traffic trips. The project will exceed ROC thresholds. Based on the general plan, air quality assessments and CEQA, EIR reports should be prepared, according to the speaker.
Evidence of trip rates having increased since 1977 brings up significant traffic impacts. These have not been evaluated under the original EIR. Reliance on a 33-year-old EIR is not consistent with CEQA. Much of the analysis in the original EIR is outdated and no longer relevant. The difference in use from the original EIR, previously a mid-level retail with the new being a 24-hour grocery store, is significant. The claimed exemptions from CEQA do not apply in that this is a not a minor alteration of an existing structure. Increasing the building height by 22 feet nor is it the conversion of a small structure. In regard to the requested signage the original planned development permit 198 contains stipulation that there be no more than one building sign, NTE 100sq.ft. and therefore the requested sign variance cannot be requested for this project.
The mayor said that the applicant was to be allowed 10 minutes to present. Sarah Ausiwicz began, also joined by WinCo representatives Ty Morrison and Vice President Morgan Randis, who were present as speakers. It was said that other issues were raised in a letter submitted earlier the same day by the appellant. Staff presentation showed, correctly, that the design review of the project has been extensive. The height was modified along with other structural changes. The speaker said these are the types of modifications to the building that were foreseen by the council in 1977 by offering a conclusion that 10% landscaping and with architectural reviews the city thought there would not be visual impacts from the freeway. Landscaping now screens the shopping center. The only application before the DRC was a sign variance and modifications to the façade. With a certified EIR for the project (Taft Genco in 1977) and with the Mervyns building being reused, no new environmental review should be required. The case law says that we should presume that the structure is still adequate. In fact, a recent case from San Diego negated the responsibility to conduct CEQA over an entity or entities which lack the authority to institute change. The courts have said that all you have before you is design review, according to the speaker. It is not the city's exercise to determine whether a new freeway off ramp is required.
This limit on the discretion on the city for design review leads us back to determining whether an additional EIR is required, the speaker said. It was believed by the applicant that it is not, and that they have demonstrated these factors. The design review code sections speak to the design review committee looking at design issues under aesthetics. Because you take this new evidence and because there is municipal code speaking to the appeals process from the DRC and the planning commission, you are then led to conclude that you can go ahead and speak about zoning ordinance changes as though the appeal speaks to the conditional use permit (CUP) process – which it does not – and that by filing an appeal to the DRC, approval would involve any change that might otherwise be covered by a conditional use permit. This is only an appeal of the design ordinance and does not involve any greater discretion through the CUP process.
The appellants raised a new claim saying that the projected trips for the project are greater than be EIR trip generation rate. This was a trip generation rate in 1977 for the entire commercial center. The speaker said this is an example of how the appellants want this to be done again and grabbing at any piece they can to get it there.
But comparing trips to Mervyns 400,000 sq.ft. shopping center to this 75,000 sq.ft. retail space isn't a realistic comparison, according to the speaker. We're just here to reuse a building and keep it from losing its anchor. The appellant was concerned about restriping the parking lot. Final construction plans will show compliance with 1 tree for every 4 parking spaces.
Martell Fraser spoke saying that she is opposed to design review approval on this project. It was her thought that the EIR was significant and that in 1977 the city was very different. We had many businesses that are greatly different from today’s. Both Vons and Rite Aid had moved out because of Genco and were basically forced to move. She said they also represented Genco in the union. This is a change of use, according to the speaker. A change from Genco or Mervyns to WinCo is significantly different with the number of trucks associated with a retail store versus a grocery store being very different. Trucks run refrigerated trailers. The significant difference between that and a retail store is the environment and added noise along with the diesel emissions. In Oxnard when groceries were added to Wal-Mart a similar situation arose. This also forced the closure of the Albertson's down the street which then gave up 125 jobs. This could mean that businesses going out of business at this time affects all of Ventura's bottom lines with jobs and quality of life along with taxable goods.
Robert Saavedra said that he was concerned about the traffic impact of the project. He claimed familiarity with the Victoria offramp at Telephone and coming from 126 or coming from the west on Main St. a severe backup in traffic exists on all daylight hours. With a 24-hour operating food store of that size it was the speaker’s contention that there will be gridlock in the area during the evening rush hour.
The mayor said that a rebuttal from the appellants would be in order with Abigail being entitled to an additional five minutes.
Abigail spoke saying that quickly in response to statements by the applicants attorney, there is no evidence or data to support the claim that the trip rates are the same and that there is not enough data in the record over the Mervyns trip data to use as a comparison, and yet the trip rates for the WinCo are 95 per 1000 ft². This is a higher trip rate than the 1977 EIR which was 58 per 1000 ft². There is evidence in the record to significant traffic increases that should be considered. There's also no basis over the code issue that would forbid the city council from judging anything beyond aesthetics, according to the speaker. The appellants submit that any issue that can be identified in the EIR should be considered for the project and the council should consider all these areas. The conditions for the Mervyns permit still exist and the prohibition of signage greater than 100 ft.² is one of those conditions.
Council Member Morehouse surmised that Staff’s consideration of a categorical exemption was deemed inappropriate by the appellant. The speaker said that it appears that staff made two CEQA determinations by recommending adoption of categorical exception in two code sections with no subsequent EIR being justified. The councilman said that had Staff used a negative declaration or a mitigated declaration that the appellant would not have been satisfied with those as environmental documents either, even if they had been part of a targeted EIR. The councilman continued by asking are you representing the UFCW, with the speaker saying that she was there on behalf of local residents and that's as much and she would say.
Council Member Monahan said talking about the 1977 EIR and that the councilman was there when the council approved it – wishing to have it not be referred to as old. The public hearing was closed with the council being opened up for deliberation.
Council Member Weir said that in the design review speaking of the façade renovation it seemed as though the Burlington Coat Factory had a little extra height with WinCo having a similar height. It was questioned whether the new resident part is not taller than the old Mervyns. Staff said that it “pops up” and is taller. As to the sign itself Ms. Weir said that a Target sign was recently approved, asking for clarification on the similarity. Staff replied that the Target on Main has 450 linear ft. of frontage, but the main sign is 182 ft.². The total size area is 295 ft.². A target at the mall has 329 linear feet with the main sign being 90 ft.² and the total signage is 272 ft.². The WinCo has 329 linear feet – the main sign is 206 ft.² and total combined is 360 ft.². The councilman said that this is within the range of what we have been approving. In speaking of air quality, one of the mitigations that has been used has been a great number of trees. One of the great urban forest opportunities is in parking lots. From what we heard for the applicant there would be the approval of one tree for four stalls, thus mitigating the pollution question.
The city attorney asked for an opportunity to look at the resolution again. It was asked to include in the motion that the city attorney would review the resolution of findings and bring it back at the next available opportunity on the agenda. This was agreed to by the council and added to the motion. Staff asked that revised Condition Three addressing the tree placement in the parking lot be included in this motion. The maker agreed along with a second having been obtained. It was asked for the roll to be taken – all members voted yes. The measure passed 5 to 0.
A summary was presented by CFO Jay Panzica and Budget Officer Sandra Reipiday. Jay spoke on the 2011 – 2012 budget adoption, noting also that Sandra was largely responsible for putting the numbers together.
Purpose of Tonight's Presentation, showing: (1) Continue the public hearing for the fiscal year 2011 – 12 budget – (1.1) Operating budget, $199 million – (1.2) Capital improvement budget $60 million – (1.3) Redevelopment agency budget $6.8 million
Budget Timeline, showing: (1) March 7, 2011 – (1.1) Council budget workshop – (2) April 4, 2011 – (2.1) Council revenue workshop – (3) April 28, 2011 – (3.1) Transmitted proposed budget to Council – (4) May 2, 2011 – (4.1) Open public hearing – (5) June 6, 2011 – (5.1) Postpone public hearing and provide final recommended budget – (6) June 13, 2011 – (6.1) Close public hearing and adopt budget
Overview Budget Development, showing: (1) Recovering from significant recession – (1.1) Slower pace compared to other recessions – (2) Local economy leveling off – (2.1) Some signs of revenue growth – (2.1.1) Sales tax slowly improving – (3) Working back toward sustainability
Budget Development, showing: (1) Hard decisions made in previous years – (2) Now operating at a new level of revenue – (3) Holding the line on services provided – (4) Past impacts still unable to restore – (4.1) Police staffing reductions – (4.2) Closure of fire station number four – (4.3) Work force reductions – (4.4) Capital investments fall short of needs. [The impact of what we took away from you last year we still have not been able to restore, according to Staff. We are not able to reopen fire station number four nor reinstate any other similar actions from the last two or more years.]
Living Within Our Means, showing: (1) Balanced approach to delivering key services within the resources available – (2) Safeguards our ability to deliver core services – (2.1) Keeping our streets safe – (2.2) Maintaining our quality of life – (2.3) Protecting our environment
Working Toward Sustainable Prosperity, showing: (1) Use volunteerism and more community partnerships – (2) Reorganized and downsized organization – (3) Economic development – (3.1) High-value, high-wage jobs
Working Toward Sustainable Prosperity (cont’d), showing: (1) New revenue generation efforts from April 4 revenue workshop – (2) Transient occupancy tax (TOT) audits – (3) Auto center retail focus – (4) Business license compliance – (5) Renegotiation of city leases – (6) Private donations – (7) Grant writing [These were specific ideas stemming from the revenue workshop]
Future Challenges, showing: (1) Capital projects and infrastructure needs – (2) Water utility and storm water budgets – (3) Library strategic redesign – (4) Elimination of RDA?
The Numbers, City and RDA Budgets – (1) Fiscal year 2010 -11, $231 million – (2) Fiscal year 2011 – 12, $259 million – (3) Approval will result in submission of a balanced budget for all citywide funds that will allow the city to live within its means
General Fund Operating Budget, showing: (1) Fiscal Year 2010 – 11, $80.4 million – (2) Fiscal Year 2011 – 12, $83.6 million
General Fund Operating Budget (cont’d), showing: – (1) Fiscal year 2011 – 12 Revenue – (1.1) Ongoing revenue, $81.2 million – (1.2) One-time revenues, $1.6 million – (1.2.1) Subtotal, $82.8 million – (1.3) Code enforcement transfer, $0.8 million – (1.4) Total, $83.6 million
General Fund Operating Budget (cont’d), showing: (1) Ongoing revenues (increase) $0.8 million – (2) Up – (2.1) Sales taxes (increase) $0.9 million – (2.2) Cardroom tax (increase) $0.4 million – (2.3) Internal admin charge (increase) $0.4 million – (3) Down – (3.1) Utility users tax (decrease) $0.5 million – (3.2) Vehicle License Fee, VLF (decrease) $0.4 million. [ISF's Internal Service Funds (shown here as Internal Admin Charge) are those which are charged specific departments for such things as fleet expenses.]
General Fund Operating Budget (cont’d), showing: (1) One-time revenues, $1.6 million – (1.1) Return of fleet fund reserves, $0.5 million – (1.2) Return of public liability deductible, $0.2 million – (1.3) Savings from current year, $0.9 million. [$900,000 will be returned to the general fund.]
General Fund Budget Excluding Capital Projects, showing: Chart was one that would reveal the operating capital to run the city. A total of from last year to this year, $80,444,259 last year, 83,625,167 for this year. [This is the money that is required to run the city, operating budget, no capital involved.]
General Fund Capital Budget, showing: (1) Capital projects, $5.2 million – (1.1) Energy savings aquatic center – (1.2) Olivas clubhouse – (1.3) Cemetery Memorial Park – (1.4) Surfers Point – (1.5) Marina Park boat docks and restrooms – (1.6) Energy efficiency improvements – (1.7) City Hall photovoltaic, HVAC and Refurbishment – (1.8) Emergency generator [Projects for which funding is available through General Fund.]
General Fund Total Budget, showing: (1) Fiscal year 2010 - 11, $80.4 million – (2) Fiscal year 2011 -12 – (2.1) Operating, $83.6 million – (2.2) Capital, $5.2 million – (2.3) Total, $88.8 million
Redevelopment Agengy (RDA) Budget, showing: (1) Total $6.8 million – (1.1) Capital projects, $3.4 million – (1.2) Low-mod projects, $1.4 million – (1.3) Administration, $0.8 million – (1.4) Debt service, $1.2 million
Water Fund Budget, showing: (1) Total, $44.3 million – (1.1) Operating, $23.6 million – (1.2) Capital, $20.7 million
Wastewater Fund Budget, showing: (1) Total, $30.9 million – (1.1) Operating, $19.8 million – (1.2) Capital, $11.1 million
Golf Fund Budget, showing: (1) Total, $6.6 million – (1.1) Operating $5.8 million – (1.2) Capital, $0.8 million
Council communications – Council Member Morehouse said there was a “tingling in the back of his neck” when speaking of the RDA, and with Mr. Panzica saying that the state claimed to not be in the mode of doing anything new to us and that we should be whole for this year.
Mr. Morehouse said that the extensive documentation is online but that the hard copy seemed like a homeowners association packet, with the average user being able to see what the council is actually doing and the city. Can you find a search engine that would be used on a line by line basis, was the question. The reply was that the question has already occurred to Finance, but it is still unknown how to implement.
Council Member Andrews had no questions but would wish to enter into the discussion. The speaker would he asked to come forward first.
Council Member Weir asked to review a slide showing the general fund capital budget – with these capital projects being $5.2 million many of these such as the golf club clubhouse normally originate in the golf fund. Mr. Panzica said that General Fund money is set aside for capital expenditure and has been held for the future. Jay said that through Certificate of Participation refinancing we included extra dollars which were being borrowed by the golf course and specifically for the golf course. This is money that will be run through the general fund budget will not be spent out of the general fund. Ms. Weir wished to be assured that the same would be true for Surfers Point, meaning that city taxes are not being paid out for the project but that sources could include some federal money and some Coastal Conservancy, with this not being city taxpayer money.
City Manager Cole said that Energy Efficiency as shown was sourced from federal grants. The councilwoman was correct that these are either new dollars or, as in the previous example, old dollars that we've been sitting on.
Public Communications – Camille Harris said that Mr. Morehouse had asked the appropriate question. When can we see a line item budget item online. It was to be clarified that the material is online currently but also mentioned that a search item program should be made available.
Council Communications – Council Member Andrews said that he did in fact have two small questions. In the budget adjustment sheet, attachment three, page 21, a transfer to payroll services of $36,000 appears. This comes out of contingencies to enhance payroll services. Jay said that is true. The comment then was that to withdraw funds from initial budget to contingency poses problems. This is an ongoing cost which means it will have to be recovered in the future. Ongoing cost drawn from contingencies asks whether the future can be reconciled, and how is it planned to proceed in that regard.
That line item is a one-time expenditure according to Staff, so that the general fund contingencies will be restored due to one-time action with revenue being expected to grow sufficiently to cover that. Councilman went on to the Revenue Enhancement Reserve, wishing to obtain a succinct description of the term.
Mr. Cole said that was a one-time repayment by the state for fees borrowed by the state for the recovery of vehicle license fees, and that this was meant as the basis. As the money was expended, this would be a way of drawing new revenues in, but as it generated new revenue would also be paid back to the fund. Mr. Andrews said that we have been spending it without assuring that the revolving mechanism is still in place. Mr. Cole agreed that would be the case. The mayor went ahead saying that as the auto dealer funds are paid off and as the auto dealer loans are paid off, fee recovery money should go back into that fund.
The $1.6 million expenditure in one time money, means that the Fleet Reserve comes in the question by not replacing vehicles, leaving more money than we might need. However we are now keeping vehicles in service over a longer time while also reducing the fund to fund other things.
Mr. Panzica said that the fleet number was not reduced lightly. This was not to just extend the useful life of the fleet but it was to be noted that there are fewer vehicles as well. It's not arbitrary but being that there are fewer vehicles, it would not be unseemly to draw down those costs. This is a permanent reduction and we are not borrowing the money according to Mr. Panzica. The councilman thought that Staff had done a marvelous job with the budget feeling that his comments were relatively minor compared to the size of the budget.
Council Member Monahan asked Jay to review once more the issues that involve the fire department and Station Number Four – budget development hard decisions made in previous years. The question – is there a priority for starting a process to reopen Fire Station Number Four, and when do we plan to begin initiating the process?
The Westside pool money was not shown as mentioned by Mr. Monahan with Jay saying that the money for the pool is still being held in reserve but not part of this presentation.
Council Member Morehouse asked about a line item which may have come up last Monday with reactivating the tax rate for Street Lighting District No. 36. Under Street Lighting District No. 36, page 19 of 25, with the discussion being that because of the vote taken in 1998 asking for a parcel tax increase, The street lighting district fund is being tapped out. Because of our relationship with Edison and we pay them, we've run out of the funds and we are making up through the general fund to keep the lights running, all because $1,293,000 plus given to the lighting district out of the fund because of parcel tax failed by two thirds to keep the lights on. Mr. Cole said this was the gross number but the net would be less. Mr. Panzica said the street lighting total shows $1.93 million, but one row up shows $400,000 being siphoned out of the general fund just to make up the shortfall. This number is growing every year. $400,000 going to the lighting district could be used for such things as reopening the fire station.
City Attorney Calonne said that the council resolution should probably include a change on page 11 of the packet; The second public hearing date should be changed from June 6 to June 13. In Section 2 June 6 should be changed to June 13. With the maker of the motion agreeing to the change, the mayor asked for a call of the roll – all members voted yes.
The mayor stated that this year's budget was made relatively easy with some of the savings.
The mayor clarified saying that in addition to receiving the certificate of sufficiency there are three choices: (1) Adopt tonight – (2) Adopt the initiative to place on the ballot in November and (3) to direct the staff to prepare an impact report. This would have wide latitude and on July 11 this must be adopted or go to November 11 ballot.
Public Communications – Brian LaShawn stated that proponents to remove the meters are in denial by saying that 83% of business owners approve. Much-needed revenues will be provided by folks who know that beach cities typically charge for parking. Free WiFi is one of the benefits that are coming from parking fees. Parking meters do not turn away tourists. A downtown that is under maintained will turn away more visitors than will the parking fees. A two thirds vote to implement any further paid parking plans will be detrimental. Staff recommendation number three calls for a physical impact report before putting the parking meter initiative on the November ballot, and was his supported position. This would allow the citizens to have a more informed position before voting.
Joan Lopez said that although her name is Lopez, she is not a minority member. It was her observation that during the petition signing many people were from out of the area and yet they wanted to sign. People from Santa Barbara said they had the same problem, according to the speaker. Oxnard residents said not to send the parking meters to them because they used to have them. The meters were described as difficult to use. Visitors were offered assistance by the speaker. The paint on the curbs is already flaking away. The speaker thought there were violations with Americans With Disabilities. Seniors going to the library are having trouble parking. We pay taxes and we don't want parking meters, according to some citizens. In the future the speaker said we would like to see your plan and that we would get to vote first. There is a democratic right to have the issue on the ballot.
Marie Laika, Vice Chair of the city's Cultural Affairs Commission and a Director on the Visitors & Convention Bureau Board, said that a fiscal analysis should be done on this program. The speaker said that she was one of the people who had been approached and said by the signature gatherer that this is an unfunded mandate and who will pay for the cost of removing the meters. We do not need to have a vote for every administrative decision, according to the speaker.
David Armstrong representing the Board of Directors of the Downtown Ventura Partners, a 501(c), is allowed to lobby under IRS rules. The speaker claimed to be duly elected under California State law. The speaker claimed the need to diverge from his prepared points. If the goal is to diverge public opinion, then you've done that, he said, but why attack people with bullying and threatening instead of handling the issues. The speaker claimed to have been a volunteer not receiving any money. Mr. Brennan said earlier that we need to find nonprofits to partner with. Ms. Bonney, however, decided to deal for for 25 E. Santa Clara which is the senior center, but with the speaker replying that with his own money he helped keep the senior center open. The building is leased to DVP, where none of this money comes from parking. The speaker said we should take a deep breath and focus on the issues. We should not be trying to destroy each other. The speaker said we care about this community and should not be bringing it down.
Council Member Andrews questioned this survey of 83%. The speaker said that she conducted the survey with a staff member going to every business that was open over the course of three days. The question was asked how many. The speaker thought that number was 42 businesses surveyed. The councilman asked how many were not open, with the speaker saying that one out of eight was not open. Council Member asked that the margin of error was unavailable and that she was being opted to say that she was not confident in her representative numbers.
K.K. Holland claimed to be resident of downtown. It was her desire to support the presence of parking meters downtown. There is free parking according to the speaker. Parking should be able to support itself. The budget crises and closings of Fire Station Number Four were mentioned. The funds from parking will pay for needed services according to the speaker. A fiscal analysis should be done.
Council Member Monahan asked whether the speaker was afraid that if the ballot contained the initiative that it would pass. Speaker said that are unpopular things that city council members are often required to vote upon.
David Atkins said that he lives above downtown where he happily pays for parking, while doing a lot of walking. There has been a concerted effort he named as the Tea Party Patriots who like to talk about freedom in a way that suggests that they have a monopoly on freedom in some way. The parking meters gives the speaker the freedom to have Wi-Fi downtown along with the freedom downtown as well police along with the freedom to not put up with unsavory activity. Freedoms were not always available when all the employees took up the street parking in front of stores. The speaker said the meters are increasing freedom in downtown. Enough signatures to put it on the ballot is democracy. Democracy only works when you have adequate information. The survey should be conducted so that the people of the city would have the information they need based on the facts.
Council Member Morehouse wished to speak saying along with Mr. Andrews on the statistical analysis that after long term of observation that those understand the causation of an outcome would you say that the meters caused the downturn a business or was there some other causal factor. The Councilman said there was no relationship. The the statistical validity in terms of margins of error it's impossible given the small sample size to show margin of proof. It is not possible to come up with a statistical valid sample.
Council Member Monahan thanked the speaker for identifying his line of work. But the number of people using people using spaces in front of the stores where they work was the question on the statement made by the speaker. The speaker then said that he's fairly active in city affairs.
Jeff Smith, Chair of the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee said as a property owner downtown and a concerned citizen that parking management downtown is working. By looking at the parking situation during the busiest times of the day and the week is that parking on Main Street is almost completely full. One or two spots on each block remain open, according to the speaker. Look at the free parking spaces – it was said that the 2500 free spaces are not as full as paid spaces. This says that the people are willing to pay a small amount of money to go to a store or a restaurant. These are better customers said the speaker. A full-time dedicated police officer and free Wi-Fi downtown has provided these features with an additional revenue stream being made available for better lighting and cleanliness. The speaker urged the council to create a comprehensive impact report to be prepared by staff. The election code 92128 has eight subjects that can be included in an impact report, including fiscal, the downtown specific plan elements, land use, and infrastructure.
Council Member Andrews questioned the Chair of the Parking Advisory, saying that the revenues from the meters are only 40% of what was projected in the plan. The speaker said the revenues are substantially less than originally forecast. There was not a lot of good data to make those estimates. The councilman said that the amortization of those meters will take many more years in order to come up to the revenue expectations. A full-time police officer is being paid, according to the speaker, who in reply stated that along with other features the system breaks even.
Council Member Monahan had a question while also thanking the speaker for his service to the city. The councilman asked about the cadets who are helping to monitor and review the processes along with handheld computers to determine usage. Mr. Monahan said he had lunched and that it took 45 minutes to get served and that his parking was about to expire. The two cadets were standing right over his vehicle waiting for the meter to expire. The councilman thought that two cadets walking together might have meant that one of the cadets was in training.
Dwight said that his comments were directed toward the mayor and Mr. Cole, saying that parking meters would be a part of their legacy. Parking meters does not seem to be one of the greater issues that the city would deal with year-over-year. It was his belief that coming to a ballot would be important. But for him to vote he would need answers to some questions: (1) What has changed in Ventura to let parking meters be successful when they have been removed in the past – (2) What are one-time costs and the corresponding actual costs after they've been installed – (3) What are the projected revenues and actuals for tickets – (4) What are the projected and actual for insurance fees and safety fees to line item projected and actual. What was the projected payback over a number of years and are we ahead or behind on that timeline? How many competitive bids were received by the parking meters and why did we use out of area vendors for equipment? We talked survey and freedom but we should be allowing people to vote.
Misty Bradley spoke saying that she has an iPhone and a Masters degree but that the parking meter was hard to use and difficult to see visually. Taking out the parking meters would be an expense, but what makes them work is that there is a large block box and that the the boxes could be covered and left standing. The speaker said she refuses to come down and pay to park.
The mayor said that with very many questions there may not be a chance to answer all of them.
The city attorney said that having spoken to Ms. Bonney on a one-on-one level he was not prepared to talk on the DVO issue. The mayor reiterated that the revenue was below projections with some of the green space is going back to free. The schedule to repay the costs of the meters is on schedule.
Council Communications – Council Member Weir asked for the impact of a future parking structure to be addressed. A topic downtown was that we need a new parking structure – anyone towards the west been set with a stream of revenue coming in from meters is possible to bond against it keeping a revenue stream going. What would be the impact of more parking structures being built without the revenue stream for example. The residential permit program was mentioned as there was the displeasure being expressed with residential parking permits. Permit parking around the hospital and similar areas were based on resident requests. Patients would not be parking in front of houses and students would not take up local parking, meaning that this is a benefit to the residents. The only payment is a $10 fee to put up signage. This was supposedly a perk for the residents according to the councilwoman. With the whole city having to vote on giving 10 people a parking permit was the type of issue in question. The councilwoman said that this has increased safety and a fiscal analysis would be helpful. The councilwoman would support the fiscal impact but that with signatures having been collected legally, this means that people will now speak to the ballot.
The mayor claimed to be in agreement with Council Member Weir to move forward with the analysis requiring 30 days and that on July 11 it would be the goal to adopted or place on the ballot.
Councilman Andrews said that we should approve the ordinance tonight. The councilman said that he has no reasonable expectation of an objective and balanced impact analysis. The staff made their position clear and they know what they want. If the analysis were being prepared independently we couldn't guarantee a balanced analysis. The advocates on both sides of the issue are competent to mobilize their positions, taking it to the voters, and informing them. The councilman said he would make the motion that we receive the certificate the sufficiency and that we instruct the city clerk to prepare the necessary documentation to submit the proposal at the next regular voting cycle. The motion is to place on the ballot now.
Council Member Brennan asked that it be put on the ballot without further study or statistical analysis that the advocates could do that on their own without the city spending further money.
Council Member Monahan said that he agrees with Neil of course, while speaking of the possibility of the fiscal study that if it had gone that way it should include what the manufacturers of the 65 paystations would pay for return of the meters. It was probably $.10 on the dollar. The councilman claimed to be in support of the motion.
To bypass the 9212 impact report and place on the ballot now the roll was taken: Brennan, no; Weir, no; Morehouse, no; Andrews, yes; Monahan, yes; Mayor Fulton, no. The motion failed.
Council Member Morehouse said that he appreciates someone speaking of the residential permit parking and that his few blocks are taken up most of the day near the college with his garage and the apron of his driveway being more or less safe. With respect to Mr. Andrews, the councilman has a different set of concerns. Whether there is causation or correlation and that while the recession was cited which hurt the economy school also began with activities around school meaning there is no causal relationship between the meters going in and reduction in businesses. In San Luis Obispo there are meters about like ours including Miami Beach with very good functioning. He perceives a flaw in the voting process – with the lighting district it failed and that voting people said they didn't want the tax, but Prop. 13 and the many other failed propositions we see it through a glass a different way. It is in the Constitution and people have the right to vote. The process has followed prescribed process steps and that it is not a waste of taxpayer dollars to do a 9212 report. The councilman wanted to know if there were additional costs associated with the ballot initiative process on 9212 if one impact would be the cost of the election. Fiscal costs would include reselling the meters back to the manufacturer. Although points outlined in the staff report are adequate in respect of any other legislative body, our request would be binding upon future council members and future citizens and the impact on those people. The councilman said it is more difficult to undo something than to do something. What would be the Law of Unintended Consequences? The minority dominated model is not to his liking. A motion was offered that we receive a certificate of sufficiency and that the signatures be provided to the Election Commission’s staff. A second was obtained.
Council Member Weir wished to add to the motion – the fiscal impact of returning the meters – the return policy on the meters – the impact of infrastructure costs of future parking structures – the traffic congestion in the downtown business district – the future of resident parking programs and restrictions – and public safety downtown.
Mayor Fulton said that there were a few issues addressing the first part – removal of the meters is actually a legislative act and possibly subject to the initiative process. Second would be the applicability of the 2/3 requirement and the ban without a vote – What pay parking situations in the city are/are not covered? Also are current and future residential/beach/park district parking permits covered. Also whether the lease on the South California St. parking garage is affected and whether Port District property is affected. Deputy Mayor Tracy wished to know (in absentia) what the fiscal impact is as to whether costs are recoverable if they could be sold, if there is a loss which city fund must absorb the loss. Deputy Mayor Tracy asked for an impact on public safety with Ms. Weir asking if any impact on downtown traffic congestion. What would be the impact on the downtown should the wireless mesh be rescinded. The future financing of downtown management would be impacted. Would any other cities in California have a vote requirement to institute a pay parking initiative.
City manager Cole said that his past position has been shown on the Internet noting that there are reasonable plus as and minuses. Council Member Andrews has been on the short end of several votes along these lines over the last several years. All 106,000 members of the community should be represented. A flash poll of today would be different with H.L Mencken having said we go to the polls we hold our nose and we do our duty. Mr. Cole said that he has voted on everything from the size of chicken coops to the legalization of marijuana. Snap judgments are sometimes different from that which gets voted upon once in the voting booth. The tone of this debate should be one and that at the end of the day the results have been good ones.
Council Member Andrews in speaking to the motion and the subsequent additions said that Mr. Cole made his point and in the councilman's analysis the issue has become quite loaded and one-sided. This is now designed to intimidate the voters by suggesting grave consequences. This crosses the line into advocacy using taxpayer funds, according to the councilman.
The mayor asked for a call of the roll: Brennan, yes; Weir, yes; Morehouse, yes; Andrews, no; Monahan, no; Mayor Fulton, yes.
The mayor said we will be taking this up again on July 11, with either adoption the item or place it on the November ballot.
Public Communications – Mike Solomon said that voting on the Urban Water Management Plan and statements made from a letter by United Water’s Fox Canyon GMA were intended to be in support of the water management plan in helping to have the council understand a few of the issues. A miscommunication in this letter has been clarified in personally speaking to the new Director Shauna Epstein, explaining that United was in full support of the city’s water management plan.
Mr. Robert Arronio, President of the United Water Conservation District and also the city’s representative on the Board of the United Water Conservation District. The city manager's blog of June 8 contained comments about United under the pretext of reducing government agencies and special districts. Mr. Cole called out of 2-1/2% salary adjustment that United is doing, but this negotiated agreement with the union was done in 2007 where the world was a different place. United negotiated a long-term contract which helped streamline the labor negotiations process. The MOU provides for a 2-1/2% increase but that it can never exceed 4%. Our labor agreement has brought workplace security along with a dedicated and productive workforce. The executive committee will review this agreement and see if changes are required. United’s GM has long been open and out front on this issue, but to say that a 46% rate increase is been driven by salary increases instead environmental mandates, which have in fact been the real cause of increases, is just wrong. It was the speaker’s feeling that derogatory comments in a public forum, along with comparisons to the City of Vernon was not fair.
[Comment] And so it begins. A 46% rate increase from just one source of Ventura’s water supply is, in fact, “only the beginning” (great song, by the way). To anyone who thinks gas prices are “unreal,” wait ‘till they start seeing the real cost of water. United approves of the water management plan, but let us not forget that United is in the business of selling water, and a lucrative business it is – for now. The City’s 2005 General Plan with its “Growth for Prosperity” motif is selling also. . .selling Venturans “down the river,” if you don’t mind. There will not be the precious clean and affordable water needed to support the kind of growth the Ventura City Council is seeking through its General Plan.
It’s not rocket science. The city seems proud of its reduced per capita consumption numbers as revealed in the water management plan, but would the city not see a dichotomy in pressing for “higher population densities” as outlined in the 2005 General Plan? Certainly United Water doesn’t see one. Venturans may conserve forever, but with the city trying to spur population growth behind the backs of its citizens, United gets to sell just as much of its product, only at 50% higher prices.
Sure, United has said that rate increases are a result of environmental mandates. (Have we mentioned that this is “only the beginning” of environmental mandates?) Of course you’ll have your water, Mr. & Ms. Ventura. But at what price? Are folks waiting for the glaciers to melt? The only way glacier water will reach us is through sea level rise, which has already begun to turn our aquifers brackish. Are you ready for desalinization? Take a guess at the cost of just one desalinization plant and see how far that cost can be spread over a highly populated area of Southwestern desert. Our only suggestion to you is that this is. . .”Only The Beginning.” [Ed]
Mr. Cole spoke in response to Mr. Arronio. The reference to Vernon, according to the city manager, was to highlight one instance out of the 6,000 agencies in the State of California as the most egregious in the context of government abuse.
Kathy Bridnicki spoke as Director of the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition. The 2011 homeless count and survey document was being brought for distribution to the council and on page 23 there was a summary of the last four years. 1,872 persons were enumerated as homeless county wide – a 3% increase. 56% of cities reported increases with Ventura having reported a decrease of 5%, possibly due to the Oxnard location of the winter warming shelter over this year’s survey period. An increase in the number of homeless families was disturbing and also the fact that Ventura had significant increases in homeless families and women. 109 households were assisted out of federal stimulus and rapid re-housing programs. The survey also shows that half of the homeless population suffers from permanent disabilities.
Camille Harris spoke saying that the real issue was not to create public attention in the press, but that the assignment was to engage the public and return with recommendations to create safe housing, create a grandfathering and amnesty program, reduce fear, promote permit-pulling and create economic benefit.
Issues/Input Provided, showing: (1) Spoken word – (2) Web sites – (3) Surveys – (4) White papers – (5) City staff – (6) People at large [Hundreds of people participated as was shown in a list with another slide.]
Outreach, showing: (1) Three outreach workshops – (1.1) Attendees, 250-plus – (1.2) Responses, 700-plus – (2) Surveys, 2 – (2.1) Responses, 470 – (2.2) Comments, approx. 2000
Should the City Grandfather, showing: “Should the city grandfather if they are safe and habitable?” 92.5% or 359 people answered the question.
Problem Summary, showing: (1) The city has an ineffective code enforcement, safe housing program due to – (1.1) Lack of trust in the motive behind code enforcement – (2) Lack of knowledge by key stakeholders (citizens) as to need or requirement – (3) A process that is neither fast, cheap nor easy – (4) A poorly implemented program management system – (5) Fear, anger, despair over the possible loss of ones most cherished asset.
No Public Comment Suggested a 1987 Restriction, showing: 10 former members of the VSHC objected to inserting the 1987 after the fact, without their knowledge or collaboration. Concerns include: more homelessness, fear, distrust and unaffordable lawsuits and initiatives. Betrayal of public trust begets more distrust.
Trust Means You Keep Your Word, showing: “You said the people would be heard. Here’s essentially what they said: ‘If it’s safe, grandfather it!’”
The VSHC Resolution Summarized it All, showing: “The greatest good for the greatest number.” Whereas the following conditions exist: (1) The city directed the VSHC to recommend a grandfathering/amnesty program that ensures safe housing, promotes permit pulling, reduces fear and creates economic benefit – (2) 75% of Ventura’s homes are over 30 years of age – (3) City records are incomplete – (4) Economic hardships have increased – (5) Current compliance program is unaffordable and conflicts with General Plan to preserve existing housing
The VSHC and the Public Did as they were Directed by Council, showing: “The Public Input Resolution Recommended by the VSHC: All properties 30 years or older offered grandfathering” – (1) Safety inspection required – (2) Payment of fees in effect at time of improvement – (3) Certified Home Safety inspectors allowed – (4) Date of improvement to be established by sworn statement if that is the only record readily available
Trust Means Keeping Your Word, showing: (1) You asked and the public replied – (2) The Ventura safe housing collaborative heard – (3) The message has been delivered
Helen Yunker said she was blown away by the mayor's attack on Ms. Harris, in complete disregard of the consensus vote of 10 out of 13 VSHC citizen members who opposed a law that would cut off years of grandfathering eligibility. The collaborative produced documentation and recommendation for a workable code enforcement program. The speaker said that it is impossible to understand why the city voted against these recommendations by not including removal of the 1987 cut off. Mayor Fulton used poor judgment in his June 12 issue of the Star by attacking Ms. Harris, said the speaker. All members of the collaborative need to be thanked for their efforts – the efforts of which are now in limbo. Stay alert and be on guard. The speaker commented on the parking meters by saying that they must have been brought in from Mars or Venus.
Mr. Monahan asked about an upcoming birthday. On September 3, Helen will be rounding out her first 90 years as a voice of reason in a world where reason is becoming a scarce commodity.
In observance of Flag Day 1 day early, the council was adjourned until Thursday in the Topping Room where there will be a joint meeting with the library commission.