Ventura City Council Meeting
June 6, 2011
Ventura City Hall - 501 Poli Street
The first City Council Public Hearing on the new Urban Water Management Plan was unveiled as Water Department Director Shana Epstein opened the presentation. The mayor noted that the water from Foster Park Wells is expected to decline including water along Ventura River. Susan Rungren, Principal Engineer Ventura Water, said that there has been a decline in Ventura River water due to environmental issues as well as drought conditions and this means working with others.
Public speaker Dan Cormode said that the Urban Water Management Plan is a start but many issues remain. Number one – we don't know how stable our water supply is. The aquifer and the water service accounts do not address the change in residential development with 73% of development being multifamily. The population projected increases are inconsistent with the 2005 General Plan. Projected per capita usage is inconsistent with the 2005 General Plan, and the Saticoy Yard capacity is inconsistent with the General Plan
To View a listing of the agenda items for this council meeting, go to www.cityofventura.net/meeting/city-council-meeting-56.
Mayor Fulton brought the meeting to order with a call of the roll – all present. The mayor asked that all rise to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Special Presentations and Announcements – Dan Mueller, General Manager of Buena Lanes, was feted for his role in promoting the California Womens Bowling Association Championships which have been headquartered in Ventura for the last eight weeks. The mayor thanked Mr. Mueller for the participation that was enjoyed by everyone in Ventura County. With over 2400 guest participants, more 300 games were rolled than at any time in league history. The Corporate Games were also held in town on a weekend while the ladies enjoyed a well-deserved respite.
The mayor’s Volunteer Ventura program award was presented this month under the Community Collaborator group heading, with the recipient being the Anchors Way Marine Center with Andy Killian representing the group. As a former merchant mariner, he and his team have provided the Leo Robbins Sailing Center with a variety of services. Andy has saved the city approximately $3600 over the past 6 years. A sea level rise level of 8 feet occurred during the recent tsunami, and while some docks and boats were damaged, his group came to the rescue of many.
Andy spoke thanking all members of the L. R. Sailing Center. Alonzo Lopez stood to help accept a certificate of recognition.
The mayor spoke of the Corporate Games, saying that the program is a great example of how we work together as a city. There are dozens of teams in the program which costs several hundred thousand dollars to run. 10,000 participants from large and small businesses were represented. Community Sponsor Stephen Sawyer from Time Warner was present. Vitesse Semiconductor, a new sponsor, was recognized. AE Com, formerly Boyle Engineering, was represented. Mission Avocados was also invited to come forward. Lee Manera sponsored the bocce ball contest. The Ventura County Credit Union was available to step forward. Piano Graphics, the Ventura County Star, Four Points Sheraton, Amgen, the Dairy Farmers of America, and Spanish Hills Country Club were all mentioned.
The winners of the Corporate Games this year and recipients of the J.D. Probosco Team Unity Awards as overall point winners included A Division, Ventura County edging out Amgen; B Division, JD Powers Associates; C Division, District Attorney's Office and the D division's Zindogy Games were honored.
The Probosco Team Unity Awards – renamed in honor of J.D. Probosco, a young staff member who passed away three years ago from a rare blood disease – Spirit Award recipients; from the A Division, Amgen; B Division, Child Development Resources, C Division, Sight Corps; D Division, Heicler and Heicler Law. The Community Parks and Recreation's division was thanked.
Wednesday is World Oceans Day with the mayor asking Shana Bingham, Coordinator with the Channel Islands National Marine Conservancy to accept Council’s certificate proclaiming June 8 as World Oceans Day in the city of San Buenaventura. The speaker thanked the mayor and the council for recognizing the Marine Sanctuary. The speaker said that it is a community effort to maintain the Channel Islands National Park which has carried the National Park designation for 30 years. Citizens can support the Park by enjoying the facilities.
The mayor said that the public hearing on adopting the 2011-2012 Budget Resolution that will be postponed by 1 week. City Manager Cole clarified saying that Council had asked for side-by-side comparison in the formatting of the data with the hope that posting to the web would be available by this evening. The posting will be late due to a problem that had been discovered in the 2009 budget data. Some of the data from ‘09 require some hand regulation due to the incompatibility that was discovered with an older computer system. The information should be posted by this coming Wednesday, according to Mr. Cole.
Closed Session Report – Three speakers on the closed session report were available. City Attorney Ariel Calonne when called on said that Council did a lot of discussing, but came to no reportable action. The Wilson Sand case was discussed with Council recommending instructing the city attorney to return to Council with pros and cons of the appeal, while also pursuing settlement negotiation with the plaintiffs. That settlement agreement did not go through because of the intervention by the coastal commission.
Rosemary Icardo spoke, saying she is a beachfront homeowner and Chair of Citizens for a Safer Beach. Beachfront homeowners are property taxpayers said the speaker. Each annual property tax bill has been paid and yet home values have declined because of the nuisance on Shore Drive. All those in residence should be able to do their recreation activities on local properties. Judge Lane ruled that sand blown on the streets is a nuisance. Biology is protected over public safety according to the speaker. A child should not be endangered by sand nuisances. 4 feet of sand may end up resting on the resident’s beachfront wall. The yellow barrier tape is often ignored by children and public visitors from the city who attempt to use the sand dune distress as a recreational source.
Murray Robinson wished to thank Council Member Weir with the speaker saying that from 1997 to 2006 nothing has been done about the sand that is causing homeowner problems and impacting safety. Mr. Caulkins helped with a tour of the problem, saying we will take our chances. Photos have been taken to show the hazard as it has progressed over time. The city was advised of the possibility of a class-action lawsuit. The issue was mainly the stairways, with the sand being maintained on the beach rather than on public or private property. Montauk was shown with a storm drain that is buried by the sand as a picture was shown by the speaker, with the speaker saying that a three-year-old child on Sharon Lane has already fallen on the beach.
Dan Scully spoke saying that as the Vice Chair of the PCC spoke in saying that he would like to address the real issue. But the appeal should be considered. Reams of documentation has been forwarded as to who owns the strip on Shore Drive – the properties contiguous to Shore Drive saying that the judge and jury were very clear on the point with the city requiring removal of the sand. The judge ruled the situation with the sand as “a nuisance.” The coastal commission should not need to interfere, but should that happen the city should be able to defend itself along with the citizens. “Why would there be an appeal?” asked the speaker, saying finally that it's about the money. The speaker said that you don't appeal it because you don't have the money, but rather on the facts. A tenant occupancy tax (TOT) is collected by the city from folks who rent homes on the beachfront. With $100,000 currently being generated by the tax, the council has been consulted on how to spend that money which will remain in the Pierpont area. It was his wish that the city not appeal this ruling.
City Council Communications – Council Member Monahan said that on Main St., Thompson Ave. and N. Ventura Ave. several American flags have been posted, with the councilman asking that the torn and faded flags be replaced through public donation assistance. On Saturday a graduation ceremony was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for 12 apprentices obtaining their journeymen’s card into the IBEW Local 952. The apprenticeship program comprises 1000 hours of classroom study and another 8000 hours of OJ T. over a five-year period. Ventura has training facilities for training electricians and the councilman wished to recognize their efforts. Chain Warner and Jeff Bodie are helpful in other areas of city activity as well.
Council Member Morehouse noted that today is D-Day, but along with that congratulated Council Member Andrews as the Vice Chair on the National League of Cities for his part in arranging the meeting that took place in Ventura. The National League of cities puts out a newsletter that goes out to all the cities in the United States with national recognition being shown to Ventura. The newspaper carried a story saying that the Turning Point Foundation has selected this councilman to judge the annual Salsa Contest. Turning Point Foundation's recognition as champion of the Mental Illness Award was given out. Kris Kristofferson and Jeff Bridges were mentioned.
Council Member Andrews spoke, thanking the Policy Steering Committee of the National League of Cities, having said that three things were accomplished; a new strategy for cities to help support community development block grant programs from the federal government, which has been helpful to us. Those who have been beneficiaries of community development block grants are grateful. Much was learned about the issues facing local banks as a result of overbearing federal regulation, according to the speaker. Community development is funded by local banks according to the councilman, and helps finance mortgages. How to remove obstacles to local banks investing in our community was a priority for the councilman. The league should provide an insurance program for local investment, and according to the councilman these goals have been achieved.
[Comment] We’re just darn lucky that this councilman doesn’t represent us in Washington, where every worldly attempt is being made to see that banking regulations which were removed in the early ‘90s and which led to the greatest financial debacle this country has seen since the Great Depression are in the process of being remedied by saner minds. For the councilman to say in the same narrative that on the one hand CDBG programs from the federal government “have been helpful to us,” but to turn around and state that local banks are the victims of “overbearing federal regulation” is just nuts. Somehow this logic keeps blaring like the most God-awful tune being played over and over by a lousy band that just won’t leave the stage. Which particular “local banks” is the councilman talking about … Wells Fargo and B of A? These aren’t local banks – they’re greedy branch banks acting in the interest of two of the worst actors on Wall Street. We’re in the cleanup process, and yet people like this councilman want none of it. There is another cleanup process, however, coming this November. All Venturans need to get their brooms out and make a clean sweep of it. [Ed.]
A few individuals and organizations in the community including Alston Bird, Fashion Forums, the lingerie maker, John Hofer from the auto center, Edison, and Harrison Rubbish plus Cabrillo Economic Development were recognized, along with Mayor Fulton who added support plus Chuck Cohen from Alston and Bird. Truffle Hounds, Terry Farms and Cold Creek Winery were thanked. At adjournment it was asked that Council adjourn in honor of the heroes who fell on D-Day.
The mayor said that on Saturday morning a Westside cleanup activity was well turned out and very successful. Harrison and company was thanked along with the Westside Community Council for their participation. Dave Koss the saxophonist taped his music video at Figaro Plaza. Herb Alpert had a cameo leaning against the Piranos building. The mayor noted that the bug on his lapel was in honor of Nick Haverland with the memorial service having been held a Arroyo Verde Park. Susan Haverland made the bug lapel pins.
Regional Boards Commissions and Committees – the mayor said that two meetings were attended by him at the Gold Coast Transit Board with Gold Coast Transit having adopted the 2011-12 budget which reestablishes the Route 6 schedule. On Friday the mayor attended the Ventura County Transportation Commission meeting with the agreements reached on the Vista 121 and 126 buses. The 126 bus route transports 130,000 residents each year from Fillmore, Santa Paula and Piru here to Ventura.
Council Member Monahan attended a meeting of the Regional Sanitation District. An action taken would lay off six employees reducing the staff that normally would have been necessary anyway to help balance our budget. The Malibu Bay Club was discussed with Brian Brennan also having worked on problems with sewer facilities there.
Council Member Andrews said that as Alternate Director for Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency, he sat in on proceedings establishing the annual budget and work plan.
Public Communications and First Monday – Camille Harris and Tom Stanley delivered a tandem presentation, beginning by saying that 26 questions would be put up on the screen. Thinking deeply rather than asking soft questions makes it clear that an ordinance becomes someone's life, said the speaker, and that by questioning up front we could avoid the unintended consequences of legal fees.
The 1987 Restrictions, showing: (1) If the 1987 restriction reduces the number of properties who can qualify for the program, will that reduce the number of properties who get a safety inspection, which is required to enter the legalization program? – (1.1) Will this limit assurance of state housing? Would the restriction place the same limits on the other goals of the year-long study by the VSHC as given to them by the council? Will it (1.1.1) Reduce economic benefit – (1.1.2) Continue fear – (1.1.3) Discourage permit pulling? – (2) How many properties have changed ownership in the period from 1987 to February 2011? – (3) How many of these owners did not have any contact a realtor? (4) What is the average turnover of an 80-year-old home (how many owners in a year period)? – (5) How many granny flats converted from garages were legalized between 1987 and 2004? Average fees? – (6) How many granny flats converted from garages were legalized after 2004? Average fees? – (7) What is the mathematical formula used to estimate the number of undocumented second units? – (8) What is the estimated number of those who could prove service before 1987? Mathematical formula? – (9) What area(s) of the city do you estimate as the largest number of undocumented units? – (10) Have you checked the census data to estimate the number of disabled, elderly or of the minority origins living in those areas?
The 1987 Restrictions (cont’d) showing: (11) Would any of these tenants or owners be at risk of losing shelter due to inability to prove service of the unit prior to 1987? Would this violate any laws? – (12) What is the average age all of these homes in the area where most garage conversions exist? – (13) – What is the average turnover of ownership in properties of that age? – (14) Is it possible that a property being turned over for the third or fourth time, the current owner would have difficulty contacting prior owners to prove service prior to 1987? – (15) Do you have an estimate of what percentage of the city’s records have been lost? – (16) Do you have a way of determining which records were lost? – (17) Do you have any idea of when they became more accurate, in your opinion? – (18) Is the city responsible for keeping permit records? – (19) Is it legal to prosecute owners for lost records if the city has lost records? – (20) If a 1930 property with an undocumented granny flat cannot prove it was converted before 1987 it will become subject to compliance with a 2004 second unit ordinance. Is it legal to enforce an ordinance going backwards? Is there a Latches Law regarding this practice? – (21) Of the cities’ legalization programs you have studied, which one produced the greatest number of legalizations? – (22) If that is not the one you would use as your model, then why not? – (23) For “time payments” service, have you considered contracting that service out to a property management company in exchange for a modest interest on the unpaid balance? – (24) Does the 1987 restriction conflict with the General Plan, which says to preserve existing housing and remove government constraints? – (25) Does the 1987 restriction conflict with any state laws governing second units?
26th question, showing: Would Ventura be a safer place if we offered grandfathering to all Ventura properties, similar to Oroville’s, in exchange for a safety inspection? [The second unit code enforcement question will be taken up on June 20th]
Ed Weehan said that a highly successful Summerfest was held at the Ventura Unified School District offices on Saturday May 21st. In expressing thanks to the city’s support for the yearly event, all were reminded that last year’s Summerfest with the help of the city, VUSD, its education partners and the Ventura Education Business Partnership netted a $10,000 Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness Award for use in VUSD schools to facilitate physical education. Under Denise Wegher’s direction any and all expectations were exceeded. 7000 participants showed up on Stanley Avenue with 70 booths laid out on the field. Ventura County Health provided inoculation services. Children were engaged in activities of the day, enjoying healthy food and sporting events. The Ventura Fire Station No. 1 was represented along with Chief Rennie, VPD and VC-Cool in the bike rodeo with bikes given to underprivileged kids – a special feature deserving of special thanks and recognition. Dr. Arriaga was present along with Council Member Weir. The most important part of the event, according to the speaker, was the Summerfest 5K Challenge Race. KVTA talk show host Tom Spence and Mayor Fulton finished in an even tie. Summerfest was characterized as a children’s role model event participated in by adults.
Michael Pensweter said that as a backer of the previous presentation that the 1987 cutoff makes the second-unit amnesty resolution difficult and unworkable. Mr. Monahan has said that this will increase homelessness in our city with the speaker in agreement. The speaker said that he bought his house from the owner in 1997. One unit on the property was a rental and the speaker followed suit by advertising the unit as a rental in 1998, only to be stopped short by the city. The previous owner said there was never a problem. The speaker then paid $187 to go before the board of appeals in what he then characterized as a kangaroo court. There are no phone records from the earlier date as confirmed by AT-T as well. For two years the speaker said he has been renting to a low income couple.
Helen Yunker spoke on the undermining of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees protection of property rights under the law. The 1987 ordinance cutoff could leave 23 years a granny flats out of the grandfathering ordinance recently passed now that the community Safe Housing Collaborative’s recommendations have been ignored, according to the speaker. The objections of an indignant public speaking before the council in opposition to the 1987 cut off date were also ignored. Mr. Monahan cast the sole opposing vote. The speaker characterized as backroom politics the intrigue and deceit exhibited by the city council in its handling of the VSHC exercise.
Brooke Ashworth said addressing Mayor Fulton and City Council while reading an open letter – the Haverland family had asked the speaker to thank the council, the mayor and the citizens for facilitating the memorial service for Nick Haverland. Assistant Chief Fenwick has shown sensitivity by working on his day off and keeping citizens informed on the status of the case. Thanks were given to the mayor for his blog write-up. Nancy O’Connor and Diane Raimer of the Parks division were thanked along with division worker Alvero Garcia and others who handled the entry booth. Boy Scout Troop 119 handed out programs. Carol Ann Blossom, Brooke Ashworth, Marilynne Evans, Jessica Trainer and their families, to name only a few, were also thanked. Appreciation was expressed toward Mario Baccoli and the Cabrillo Middle School Quartet, along Rev. Craig Chapman, plus a representative of the Wishtoyo Foundation and many others who turned out on a rainy Sunday. The communication was signed with appreciation from Jim, Susan and Griffin Haverland.
C. Dean Williams stated that under the Brown Act these transmissions were not to be interrupted and that CAPS-TV was directed to train on the screen while the presentation was shown. In the center of the photo was Councilman Neal Andrews with (it was said) Community Services Manager Peter Brown sitting next. Another photo showed Kevin Klerig, Ventura County Star reporter. Mr. Brown was finally isolated in sequence whispering to the reporter where it was mentioned that (without audio) Mr. Brown had verbally attacked the speaker while video taping was in progress. The “endless home program” (sic) was called out with Peter Brown as the [epithet] behind it. Shown next was Mr. Brown talking to the star reporter with the speaker repeatedly using the epithet while redressing Brown for his handling of the 10-Year Program to End Homelessness. According to the speaker, the program that should have reached the 33% completion level is instead only at 7%.
Rosalind Strohbush asked that the council strike the 1987 restriction in the safe housing resolution that has been passed. The city has lost the records according to the speaker but that the speaker was also sure that permits were followed and permitted but that the city's loss of records should not be a liability for the owner. The family was notified of the possibility of their property being overtaken by the city. A thoughtful and compassionate auxiliary speaker said that the home was a family home that has existed since the 1960s. A 92-year-old neighbor remembers this home as a nursing home. The family needs an answer and the lack of settlement is seriously injuring the health of a family member.
Beatriz Garcia, a community organizer with CAUSE said that working with the city on the Westside has been a pleasure. Westside cleanup was welcomed. Raising Healthy Communities Action Forum to be held Saturday night at Ventura College will consist of a workshop on three issues, – county comprehensive transportation funding, access to open space, and healthy food at our local schools. The afternoon consists of the meeting where Council is invited to answer Westside citizen questions. Everyone is invited. CAUSE will be involved in voter engagement work on the Avenue asking new and occasional voters to consider the implications behind state and local budget problems, and the ways in which this is likely to affect our schools. This will be commencing at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday in the parking lot of Bell Arts Factory. The California Public Utilities Commission hearing is happening on June 15 (next Wednesday). A proposed rate hike likely to affect working families and seniors will be the focus of the hearing with a comment period opening from 2 PM to 7 PM at the Oxnard City Hall Chambers.
The city attorney responded to Ms. Strohbush, saying that the council directed inclusion in the ordinance the acceptance of a signed declaration coupled with other reliable evidence as a method of showing the reliable in-service date. A signed declaration is acceptable and will answer the concerns of lost records by the city. The council is faced with two things: (1) Thousands of people who expect the city to enforce the rules on second units, and (2) on the other hand those have second units and cannot prove they are legal. The city says, according to Ariel, that it is trying to protect those people. Others however, who are trying to use amnesty to circumvent the law are not being supported by the city. The issue is coming back to the council on June 20.
CONSENT ITEMS – (10) with one being a public hearing (12) and another being a City Council protocol item (11). Council Member Monahan commented on the EP Foster School Minutes, which stated that Council Member Monahan was absent. Correct wording as offered would state that Council Member Monahan abstained. The corrections were to be made according to the mayor and the city attorney.
Public Communications, Consent Item No. 3 – Development Agreement for the Parklands Specific Plan with Westwood Communities Corporation.
Eileen McCarthy, Staff Attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance spoke on behalf of a low income client in need of housing. On May 9 similar comments were made on the Parklands Specific Plan between Westwood and the City of San Buenaventura. The proposed ordinance development agreement states that it is consistent with the Parklands Specific Plan and also, according to the attorney, the development agreement purports to be consistent with Ventura’s General Plan provisions. One of the elements in the general plan is the housing element, and again in the attorney’s view, the city's housing element is out of compliance with state law. It was stated that it is not possible to find consistency between the ordinance and the development agreement which includes the housing element. This will be in front of the planning commission on the following night with California’s Department of Housing and Community Development noting on its website that the City of Ventura's Housing Element is out of compliance with state law.
Public Communications, Consent Item No. 5 – Request for Authorization to Extend Outside Counsel Services for Affordable Housing Litigation. With three speakers on the item, each speaker will have two minutes.
Helen Yunker stated that it might be coincidental for a request of $216,000 in legal fees to defend the city’s actions, to come up just now following the adoption of a grandfathering ordinance that will leave citizens out of compliance due to the 1987 cut off law. Many may have had non-disclosure involved in the transfer of title. The speaker suggested that lawsuits will be generated with the city being required to defend its position, and it was her desire to know where the money will be coming from. One concern was that the money will come from Ventura’s General Fund. The speaker said that in the past $500,000 was used from the general fund to prosecute her as an activist homeowner, and that such usages are illegal.
C. Dean Williams addressed the staff report by saying that this is a long-standing lawsuit. The speaker wished to know how long was long, and in what year did this action originate? If the city loses what will the city’s liability be – the city will add $216,000, with the speaker wanting to know whether that is money already spent or a dedicated fund total. The speaker conjectured that the lawsuit may have stemmed from a former city council's actions on affordable housing and that the current council has found itself continuing the same wasteful spending as before. The speaker was adamant in questioning the city council’s dedication to transparency.
Tom Stanley, as a resident and taxpayer, addressed the council by saying that the city wants to use $216,000 of taxpayer money to defend itself against a lawsuit regarding affordable housing litigation. Using funds for affordable housing deed restrictions within a plan area as stated in this item is not the same, according to the speaker, as using any part of the sum to defend the city against possible lawsuits against the unfair amnesty and legalization plan which could also be viewed as affordable housing litigation. The ordinance which financially harms citizens in the effort to create safe second units, then use those same taxpayer’s money to fund litigation against them displaces any sense of fair play. The speaker does not support this and wished to know whether or not any part of these additional funds will be used to defend the city against potential lawsuits arising from the amnesty plan proposal now going forward, and that a simple yes or no would be spot on.
On the Parklands agreement mentioned by Eileen McCarthy, a little background on the housing litigation was addressed by City Attorney Ariel Calonne, who said that Ms. McCarthy is correct in pointing out that the housing element update is overdue by a couple of years. Thousand Oaks is the only city in Ventura County that has a timely updated housing element. We disagree on the impact of the housing element being delayed in Ventura, especially in light of existing case law (San Mateo County Coastal Land Owners Association vs. County of San Mateo) which held that a delay of the housing element update does not render the housing element invalid. The housing element having been completed is in the city's interest in should be done by this summer. With respect to the affordable housing litigation question posed by Mr. Stanley, the funding has nothing to do with the proposed second unit ordinance, according to the city attorney. In answer to the “long standing” lawsuit question, this arises from cases in 2005 where the city required affordable housing in a redevelopment project with buyers claiming nondisclosure over the affordable housing status of the units, and that they were hoodwinked by the developer. Those who bought the units claimed no prior knowledge of the restriction on resale of the property, finding out later that current units carry a resale restriction in order to keep them affordable. Dozens of lawsuits have been pared down giving Grant and Barnett one group of cases. Council is being asked to complete the funding of a majority of those cases with one remaining called Shields where the person who bought the unit did not intend to reside in the unit and claimed to have been tricked again by the developer. A policy decision that makes sense was that the millions of dollars invested in affordable housing needed to be protected, which would include any litigation that may arise in defense of those units. It was also noted that the city did not originate most of them.
The housing authority standard insurance agreement requires indemnification of the city for errors made over the course of the program. Someone made a mistake and the insurance was not acquired. The city was forced to go it alone in the hundreds of thousands of dollars spread over these several plaintiffs. These funds were budgeted for last year, coming out of recoveries from the insurance companies that were litigated against.
Most of the litigation costs have been recovered from the insurance companies according to the Mayor.
Council Communications, Consent Item No. 12 – 2011-2012 Annual Assessment Rate for Street Lighting Assessment District No. 36.
On the street lighting assessment district item there were no public speakers, thus closing the public hearing. With no further Council communications, the Consent Calendar was closed with entertainment on the movement for approval. Council Member Morehouse so moved while saying that with no public participation in the hearing on item 12, the public did not pick up on the point that the city does not control street lighting assessments, with southern California Edison being in control. The rate increase charges with the supplier has already been brought before the public through a ballot initiative in the 2003 time frame, with the voters turning down the rate increase. The city these years later has needed to continue adjusting for the shortfall by raiding the general fund, which this year will amount to something on the order of $800,000.
The motion, including a wording change to the minutes, was put to a vote with the city clerk calling the roll – Brennan, yes; Weir, no on three yes on the others; Morehouse, yes; Andrews, yes; Monahan, abstain; Tracy, yes; Mayor Fulton, yes.
Agenda Item No. 13 – Appointment of Tree Advisory Committee Member and Membership Expansion of the Library Advisory Commission. Council Member Monahan noted that the Council Advisory Committee interviewed several individuals for new positions, recommending that Marty Armstrong be appointed to the Tree Advisory Committee with a term to expire in 2012.
The appointment was moved to fill a vacancy on the Tree Advisory Committee to a term expiring January 4, 2012 with a vote being taken – all members voted yes. The action on “B” was postponed until a meeting can be arranged with the Library Advisory Committee.
Agenda Item No. 14 – Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Operating, Capital Improvement, and Redevelopment Agency Budgets. The item will be postponed until next week where it is scheduled to approve the 2012 budget.
Introduction, showing: (1) What is this plan – (2) What is new – (3) How does it impact Ventura?
Plan Goals, showing: (1) Supply reliability – (1.1) Yesterday – (1.2) Today – (1.3) Tomorrow
Plan Goals (cont’d), showing: (1) Contingency plans – (2) Supply gaps [Demand side management is used]
New Goals 2010, showing: (1) 20% reduction by 2020 [SBX7-7] – (2) 15% reduction for Ventura
Plan Highlights, showing: (1) Water supply – (2) Baseline/current equals 168 gallons – (3) 2020 target equals 142 gallons – (4) 15% reduction
Water Sectors Today, showing: A pie chart was shown showing needed miscellaneous, other, unaccounted, recycles, landscape and others
Water Efficiency Focus, showing: (1) Foundational activities – (2) Partnerships – (3) Establish a robust program
Recommended Action, showing: (1) Conduct a public hearing on the draft 2010 Urban Water Management Plan to receive public comment – (2) Return to Council on June 20, 2011 and adopt by resolution an amended final Urban Water Management Plan for the city of San Buenaventura – (3) Direct Staff to return to Council in September with recommendations for the city's water efficiency program
Council communications – The mayor noted that bullet number one would indicate that the water from Foster Park Wells is expected to decline including water along Ventura River. Why are we expecting a decline from that source was the question.
Susan Rungren, Principal Engineer Ventura Water, said that there has been a decline in Ventura River water due to environmental issues as well as drought conditions and this means working with others. A decline from that source is expected, but is stable from others, was the explanation.
Public Communications – Dan Cormode spoke asking if the council had received a report. The Urban Water Management Plan is a start but many issues remain according to the speaker. Number one – we don't know how stable our water supply is. The aquifer and the water service accounts do not address the change in residential development with 73% of development being multifamily. There is a deficiency in the projected demand for this. The population projected increases are inconsistent with the 2005 General Plan. Projected per capita usage is inconsistent with the 2005 General Plan. The Saticoy Yard capacity is inconsistent with the General Plan. The way to meet these requirements, according to the speaker, is by reducing the per capita residential consumption, and yet onsumption has been consistent at around 0.110 acre ft. per year for 35 years and probably cannot be reduced. The speaker recommended reviewing the EIRs issued by the council and the general plan along with any others that address water and adapt these plans to meet changing water conditions. The Ventura River water supply deficiency along with the Lake Casitas water supply perhaps reaching depletion levels must be re-evaluated in addition to groundwater conditions subject not only to depletion but also degradation from sources of pollution. Brackish water exists in the Mound Basin water supply, according to the speaker, and the Saticoy Yard well can be expected to develop serious quality issues in the near future. The reliability due to drought is increasing. These issues should be looked at in total before coming up with a plan to reduce water usage by the public.
[Comment] This speaker’s background and experience as a former city staff employee who worked with this issue should raise not only our collective consciousness, but also the hair at the base of our collective skull. There is only one thing that is driving this stampede toward the edge of the cliff – the 2005 General Plan. Exhibit Number One of the plan is the mistaken idea that there is a one-on-one relationship between rising economic prosperity and the so-called “new urbanism,” also known in some circles (ours) as “growth for prosperity.” It is for this very reason that the Westside Project Area Base Plan calls for higher density residential build-out along with new urban centers, transects and “nodes.” The missing ingredient in all of this is environmental and ecological sustainability – exactly what Mr. Cormode was talking about. The city council, the city manager, the community development director, the planning commission membership and city staff are all aware of the facts, with 2005 having been a very late entry date into the mythical world of “smart growth.” How can you, on the one hand, reduce water usage by the public while simultaneously and consciously planning for higher population densities? This isn’t a riddle and there are no “smart” answers – only dumb ones. And yet this is exactly what the City of Ventura is attempting to do. [Ed.]
Action recommended is to conduct this hearing then return to the council on June 20 followed by Staff’s return in September with recommendations for a water efficiency program. The public hearing was closed and with the council offering no further discussion, Council Member Brennan moved the recommended action. With a second having been obtained, the city clerk took the roll – all members voted yes.
The mayor asked that any 10 minute break be observed with the final two items to be addressed at the conclusion of the recess.
Council Member Morehouse wished to clarify with Ariel explaining that the reason for including an actuary from CalPERS (Mr. Kerry Worgan) on the phone during the public hearing was to meet the spirit of the law under alteration of PERS contract issues.
Public Communications – David Grau of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association said that the city council was not tough enough in contract negotiations with police. The police won a significant victory when agreement to 4-1/2% toward pension costs on the condition that their pensions would not later be adjusted downward. “Because of crazy pension rules, when an employer pays part or all of an employee’s share, that employee’s pension actually goes up,” said the speaker, then adding, “Just the opposite happens when the employee agrees to pay more.” The city manager negotiated himself into a box by agreeing to this concession. The speaker claimed that with a wink toward transparency the city discovered that the the police union had struck a deal which allowed the union to “have its cake and eat it too.” Future police pension contributions to this [cost-sharing] arrangement will ostensibly go toward and presumably pay for new payment benefits. Police who retire after the agreement will realize approximately equal benefit with SEIU pensioners seeing a reduction in their benefits. “Problem solved,” said the speaker. Transparency and real pension reform were the real losers, according to the speaker.
[Comment] There is only one thing wrong with these people. They think they have a tiger by the tail and they just can’t let go. And yet there is another way to look at this. It’s called, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” You’ll be dead and gone by the time most of these young police officers retire, Mr. Ventura County Taxpayer. They may be able to retire with all that they’ve planned for, and then again they may retire with nothing. It’s a crap-shoot anyway, but more than that it’s their crap-shoot, not yours. They work for the city and in the country we live in, payment in exchange for personal services is called blue-collar work – not theft as in white-collar crime. CalPERS, by the way, is a retirement EQUITY fund, and one that is considered the leading fund of its type, in case you didn’t know. So how is your crap-shoot going? Not that we care, but isn’t the taxpayers association’s motivation for its unrelenting mode of attack on the public pension system really borne of nothing more than extreme jealousy? [Ed.]
Bill Knotts stated that Mr. Grau had it right. According to the speaker, the city is giving police and police management a 4-1/2% pension benefit today and then “backloading” it – giving it back to them at retirement.
[Comment] Here is someone who looks as though he has about 55 years to go before reaching retirement. Moreover, his public comments would seem to support that as well. “Backloading?” Giving them “back” their own money? The speaker also characterized this as “kicking the can down the road.” Actually, it would appear to us (with all due respect) that the “road” with which the speaker may be most intimately familiar would in fact not be the road of life as he seems to purport, but rather the Yellow Brick Road. [Ed.]
Bob Avilanni as he spoke complemented the council on making inroads into the PERS agreement. Employees agreed to contribute to their own retirement which was a step in the right direction, the speaker said, adding that the program fell short of the real long term improvement Council was charged with extracting, including the sustainability of the financial well-being of the city. On May 16 Council gave approval to the contract extension on the police and police management. General terms were provided in January 2011. One provision was not mentioned until the staff report of May 12, which was how the 4-1/2% would be paid. No questions were forwarded by Council members as to the impact, according to the speaker. The speaker stated that he did not comment on the 16th but did not feel prepared to comment even with the actuary on the phone. Unlike the contract terms of the SEIU the police officers and management will be paying their 4-1/2% toward the employers contributed portion, with the speaker characterizing this as an “accounting maneuver” done to increase the total compensation payout for the employee higher over his lifetime. This is counted as income to the employee. If the city paid 109%, with 9% as the employer’s portion, 4 1/2% would reduce the employer’s portion making the city's portion 104-1/2%. This should have been brought out in January, according to the speaker.
Council Communications – Council Member Weir noted that the public record should show the numbers reflecting the difference in the long term costs for pension payouts on the employee versus employer portions.
City manager Cole responded saying that reasonable people have differences in their views on these issues. Cities worked themselves into the position of paying 100% a pension costs. This was a bad practice, according to Mr. Cole. It costs the taxpayers less in the short run at a time when long-term pension costs were not at the forefront in the public consciousness. We were giving nothing in the year 2000 toward pensions. Later, instead of raising salary that same percentage was put into the pension and so when salary raises are compounded by overtime pay, for example, this compounding does not work itself into the pension formula since it’s a flat monthly contribution. The Employee Compensation Task Force decided that the negotiation would allow 7% contributions for civilians and 9% for safety – the city council’s goal. Police and police management gave up other things as trade-offs which accounts for a different outcome. In the next round of negotiations it is hoped that the police and management will be brought into alignment with the other unions which means 100% employee contribution. Mr. Cole said that before the contracts we were paying 100% of the employee and employer’s share in concert with all our neighbors. The fact that we did not reduce police and police management does not increase their pensions, which was a critical point to make according to Mr. Cole. With that said, SEIU and unrepresented, while reduced, alters pension status only when highest compensation year exceeds the current benchmark due to either raise or promotion. So, according to Mr. Cole, the system is a virtual wash until the city sees fit to begin handing out raises or promotions. It was further claimed by Mr. Cole that while the deal the city struck did not achieve full expectations, the deal managed to save the city $1 million in the current budget.
Council Member Weir questioned the dollar amount, again asking about the employee and employer contribution percentages.
Mr. Cole said that coming to a hard and fast number is mostly like guesswork. We have paid 107% on the civilian and 109% on the safety, with the exception of fire management. It was pointed out that actual cash value numbers are dependent upon the earnings history of any particular employee over his or her tenure of service.
Council Member Morehouse wished to clarify the second reading, noting that all affected groups under discussion are in relation CalPERS, meaning that it involves the SDIU personnel and safety (or “sworn”). Mr. Cole replied that the issue raised is that in negotiations all unions have the choice of what was important to them and in SEIU’s case this was not be make or break issue and yet it was for police and police management. A contract that guarantees 4-1/2% being contributed on the employer’s side, not reducing potential city obligations but also not increasing that exposure is what the city extracted from SEIU.
Mr. Morehouse noted that while Ms. Weir has intentionally made known her opposition to this waiving of the second reading, Mr. Morehouse claimed that he would be in support.
Deputy Mayor Tracy said this does not represent an increase in pension costs for police or police management. The [belabored] comment about transparency triggered by an issue with the administrative report was again acknowledged. The taxpayers association was aware of the inadvertent failure in the inclusion of an item in the administration report without malice. The suggestion that this is a sham reform was shortsighted, according to Mr. Tracy. The Deputy Mayor said further that there will be a continuation in negotiations to ensure that employees will pay their fair share, noting that he would support the recommendation. Mr. Tracy moved acceptance with a second being obtained.
Council Member Andrews wished to quibble with the statement made over the fact that we were successful with the SEIU, followed by the statement that the goal was to get 7%. We did not get 7% according to Mr. Andrews. The statement was made that this is the best arrangement out of two counties, saying that this was unseemly and should be challenged. 4 1/2% is after three years and other arrangements with mature faster. This is more about a lost opportunity according to the councilman, by not receiving significant adjustment in the unsustainable compensation systems that we have. The councilman said It was a great failure of the council to have forgone additional opportunity through imposition.
The mayor asked for a call of the roll Brennan, yes; Weir, no; Morehouse, yes; Andrews, no; Monahan, absent; Tracy, yes; Mayor Fulton, yes.
The May 17 Design Review Committee met with the Planning Commission and the Parks Commission in public engagement on the Westside Community Plan, where council members in attendance provided direction for opportunities relating to additional Park facilities. The environmental review will address this along with the admin reports. Three individual sites and options at these sites will allow the environmental review to inform our decisions on the land use, according to Dave. The base land-use on those sites with T4-11 T4-6 and T5.5 is to be carried through the analysis after the environmental review process for consideration by various advisory boards, the planning commission recommendation and ultimately the council. The second part of the workshop was focused on code refinement, addressing overall building heights on the Avenue, and zone transition areas. Feedback on that evening indicated further study and the admin reports address where changes could be made along Stanley Ave., Shoshone, Dakota and the Avenue where further adjustments in the T-Zone could be made. Overall Heights and how we can go forward means giving additional direction to Staff this summer in a code refinement exercise with two meetings being planned. Late July and late August dates are being considered for technical input including the architect's reports. Parking analysis will also be brought forward at those meetings.
Public Communications – Beatriz Garcia thanked the staff and Dave Ward for a second time. The Ventura River Parkway and downtown plan should be included in the Westside plan, giving Westside residents access to the beach as well as the river.
Carol Lindberg spoke saying that Parks and Recreation meetings at EP Foster proved helpful. Westside residents have fewer parks than those in other areas of the city. Parks and the Westside workshops held at Bell Arts asked for pedestrian overpasses to the ocean with interest in pocket parks that would connect the community to the River as well. Small Park proposals should be included in the West side proposals, as the speaker was reading from a letter by Diane Underhill. The River Parkway program is intended to restore connectivity to the river which had been cut off by the construction of the freeway. The speaker said that propositions 50 and 84 has surplus funds that could be used for construction of these pocket parks. The Ojai Land Conservancy has received funds from these sources for their renovation projects. Viable plans and projects should be able to benefit from state River Parkway funding. The lower River Parkway plan will be released at the end of the summer or the beginning of fall. The Westside community planning on parks is happening now however. The city should benefit from the plan and funding. Adjustments that we could do now will mean that our city will be grant ready to secure funds.
Council Communications – Council Member Weir noted that the consensus documents needs coverage on the idea of the bonus height for including a plaza (the height incentive provision), asking, was this not in the report. It turned out that her focus group at the meeting was against this proposal. Dave Ward said that only one group had a lot of input on height incentive. Most had input on the neighborhoods and the adjacency of the T-Zones. The April draft plan carried with it the suggestion of a of height incentive on the interior neighborhoods but with the intention being only along the Avenue, according to Dave. In the neighborhoods there will be ways to address the height issues for lots that are back to back, except for two areas focusing on the El Medio neighborhood and whether that should be a T3.6 rather than T4-11. The EIR will require discussing different changes in density, thus forcing the issue of heights.
Residential and mixed-use rezoned from industrial is not in the admin report according to the councilwoman. Dave Ward said that along Olive Avenue back in the November draft a “slipped lane” idea came up which was to address the street frontage relative to neighborhoods east of Olive which is residential. Taken out in December, the idea was that trucks could slip in. The MXD overlay, already a component of the plan, could have the frontage of Olive with an office-mixed-use and commercial space with Ian Holt looking at this and bringing it up at code refinement this summer.
Maggie added that the general plan provides for some industrial areas in the work-live housing type existing along with industrial but not that extensive.
Deputy Mayor Tracy said that his consensus table discussed retail, the comment on the a large commercial center where there was a large department store type retail – with it not being in the report it was wondered whether that is off the table.
Maggie said the transect zones allow for that type of development and the idea was that the Stanley Ave. town center would provide the best opportunity. This could be accommodated already in the code, but the code refinement exercise will look closer at the town center concept and that with the consultant (Main Street) present, this will help finalize the idea.
Mr. Deputy Mayor asked again about the parks policy. Additional recommendations Section 12.6.y of the report addresses the issue of raising awareness for funding over the parks issues. Parks require resources including funding – a problem not completely solved even with the idea of school district collaboration – with the deputy mayor wishing to see this emphasized allowing immediate recognition by the public for the need for ongoing maintenance.
Council Member Morehouse noted that the comments from Ventura Unified in terms of the process for addressing the school district concerns. Jeff said that conversations with the school district were among the first, with the Stanley site and a trail cutting through. The school district agreed that a connection could be made but objected to a full roadway being included. The redesignation of the Avenue School site was a concern of the district and while not opposed to the T4-11, this would probably require adjustment for their area. The joint city-school district meeting will be held on a variety of issues.
Council Member Brennan thanked the staff for capturing the feeling of the evening. The Parkway plan was brought up and asked of Staff how to clarify the Parkway plan. The question was how are we including this plan without ignoring it. Involvement of the Nature Conservancy was acknowledged along with the Cal-Poly student initiative.
Staff said that the entire theme came through strongly back in January and February, with an update being added to the executive summary. Still in draft, however, we don't have the North (Upper) Avenue part of the plan. With the lower river plan being bifurcated by the freeway and in working with CAUSE as Beatriz referenced we now can talk about ideas like connection points, such as an overpass perhaps. It was Staffs position that to look again this fall will open up the land-use policy sections of the EIR where there may be things from an environmental review standpoint that could be considered later.
The councilman said that discussion has been ongoing about an overpass crossing the levy, but in earlier times with the river being more protected and with the equestrian trail coming down from Ojai raised issues of joint usage, but that these sentiments may have changed in recent years. It was Council Member Brennan's recollection that VCTC was instrumental at the time with several voting issues that did come up in the Parkway plan on the Westside allowing people to reach the beach safety being one issue. Parks were not that important when the Avenue was a boomtown in the oilfields with 25,000 residents, yet with priority concerns of getting oil out of the ground said the councilman. The Westpark Plan which we had in place was supposed to be posted on the web – a $23 million plan, which should be reviewed by the public with funding involving Proposition 84, deserves inviting people to have people refresh their minds and that even though pressed against the freeway Westpark should be supported.
Council Member Andrews spoke wished to add his two cents to the larger retail issue raised by Deputy Mayor Tracy. The issue is whether or not the need for retail on the Avenue is consistent with the income levels of the population, according to the Councilman. Speaking of the K-Marts and Targets is what was needed, he said. He saw nothing implicit in the town center idea that would address this issue. A “town center” by its nomenclature does not necessarily capture the need of the area, said Mr. Andrews. The needs of the demographic population should be considered. Several people in his group mentioned the need for upscale retail, with Mr. Andrews saying that Some folks fail to understand that such comments are inconsistent with income level in the area. Controversy over of the notion of mixed-use was brought up in his group. The councilman thought that this was not expressed in the other groups. CAUSE did a good job of bringing out members of its own group. The councilman thought that after the food had been consumed many members of their own community left for home, and hoped that their community would continue to be interested in what the councilman referred to as these slightly more “abstruse concepts” and try to get a real feel for what they need. It was his observation that there was the attempt to “shoehorn” an existing community into a form it is not accustomed to.
[Comment] Amazingly, the councilman once again failed to realize that what he says in one sentence contradicts what he says in a preceding sentence. He believed on one hand that local residents, in speaking of the needs of their own neighborhood, require “correction” in their thinking over the kind of retail they favor when he says [quote] “… some folks fail to understand that such comments are inconsistent with income level in the area” [unquote], but at the same time [quote] “… there was the attempt to “shoehorn” an existing community into a form it is not accustomed to” [unquote]. Well this can only be done when you aren’t listening to your constituency, and so, councilman, we can only say that if the “shoe” fits, wear it. [Ed.]
City manager Cole made points that we don't know the future face of retailing. We know the model that is evolving over 20 years and that's about all. On one hand retailers at the national level have made it difficult to see the kind of retail that Mr. Tracy and Mr. Andrews have advocated in the heart of the Westside. Increased and/or expanding circumferential driving ranges means that the Petco's and the big-box stores have failed to locate on the Avenue not because of zoning but because of perceptions on the demographic and disposable income levels. Mr. Cole thought that the new shopping experiences may come with Internet ordering and pickup points for the box store model. The city manager did not see the model for auto driven big-box retailing on the Westside. The city manager thought that the format could change but that a grocery-anchored center as we know it today might be replaced with a new form of retailing that is not yet envisioned. Cities may not be able to zone for what we've seen in the last 20 years, but that there may be more than mom and pop store fronts on the Westside shouldn’t be discounted as an opportunity, even though it may surface in a new form.
The mayor said that we should probably leave it up to CAUSE as to whether or not they would like to take up a Westside “abstruseness” initiative, not withstanding another thing that the mayor would like to echo, which would be the parks issue. The greatest opportunity to expand our parks is to work with the school district which contains more green space than any entity on the Westside. A joint use agreement with them should be pursued aggressively, according to the mayor. Each agency pursuing land use for its own use is an urban land use model that has come to its end.
[Comment] If the Westside Base Plan actually makes it past environmental review, then there’s something rotten in Denmark. The concept might work in places where they’re really serious about public transportation – like Europe or Japan – but in the most cramped area of an historic village like the original San Buenaventura, California, USA? With one bus line? Here’s something that might not have caught your attention; The Avenue area from Main to Shoshone between the hills and the river is smaller than the 843 acres (1.317sq mi) of Central Park, NYC. Now imagine a city within the confines of Central Park and being surrounded by a transportation system like that of New York City. Would your city be walkable? Check. Would it be bike-able? Check. Would there be enough open space? Check. Would there be access to the arts? Of course, because this is a locale where that which is being planned on the Westside would actually work. Is this an “over the top” example? Not when you think about it for a while. And now that we’ve brought it up, let’s talk about over the top.
Just a few paragraphs above, a councilman describes thusly the type of retail appropriate to the area: “… some folks fail to understand that such comments are inconsistent with income level in the area” when the comment in question related to “upscale” retail shops. And what would the councilman favor in the way of retail? … K-Mart or Target. A big box store on the Avenue? How big could it be? Better yet, how big could the parking lot be? The city manager, however, has a different take on the business model in question. He states that we don’t know the future of retailing. Maybe not … and then again, maybe we know more than we think. Anyone with any retailing experience will tell you … if it’s making money, it’s working. Try not to screw it up. With that in mind, what would screw up K-Mart on the Avenue? Size. Yes, in retailing, size matters. Conjure up a mini-K-Mart on the Avenue. There could be a few … somewhere. Where there’s money, most likely. Like Rodeo – because the prices of the merchandise in a mini-K-Mart with much, much slower traffic and much, much longer inventory turnover wouldn’t begin to match the prices in the store’s big brother just up the road a-piece. And what did the councilman say about the appropriateness of pricing to the income levels on the Avenue? He said “upscale” wouldn’t work in our neighborhood. Well we won’t see many “boutique” K-Marts anyway, but the effect of placing one on the Avenue … Well, if the councilman had thought before he’d spoken, he’d have realized how silly he sounds. Now THAT, folks, is really over the top.[Ed.]
The mayor asked whether a motion could be made. Council Member Morehouse thought that the recommendation bullet number one had been met and that transfers of $15,000 for photo simulations could be approved and so the motion was made. The second was received and the city clerk was asked to take the roll. All members voted yes. Council Member Monahan recused himself on the ownership of four parcels on the Avenue and did not vote.
Public communications there were none along with Council communications which had been exhausted. The mayor adjourned the meeting in memory of all those fallen in World War II this date in 1945.