Ventura City Council Meeting
July 18, 2011
Ventura City Hall - 501 Poli Street
The focus of the meeting was on the first reading of the Second Unit Amnesty Ordinance, and the second reading of the Building Records Disclosure Ordinance, which was to be the final reading of that ordinance, and with Council being given the opportunity to vote on the associated user fees.
To View a listing of the agenda items for this council meeting, go to www.cityofventura.net/meeting/city-council-meeting-64.
The mayor brought the meeting to order with a call of the roll – all present. It was then asked of City Manager Cole to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Special Presentations and Announcements – the mayor announced a special presentation on the fair poster. Heidi McQuiddy, Staff Member from the fairgrounds, was invited forward. With her were several Junior Fair Board members. The winner, Amanda Zavala from Thousand Oaks was announced for her creation of the poster for this year's fair, themed, “Bounty of the County.
Council Communications – Council Member Morehouse noted the improved bike path as of last Saturday, while also congratulating Rick Raives plus Council Member Brennan for their work in supporting the program which has made all of the improvements possible. Also on Saturday night the council member attended a dinner called Field to Fork at the Faulkner farm. Many farmworkers were in attendance with Tim from the Sidecar Restaurant as the Head Chef.
Council Member Andrews reminded the public of a job fair put on by the Employment and Job Placement Assistance program taking place at the Christian Center on the Avenue led by Rev. McCurtis on August 20th from 9:00 AM to 3 PM.
Council Member Brennan thanked the Bicycle Coalition and others for the work done at Surfer’s Point. Mentioning the design in the area, the councilman singled our the skate board aspect of the design, asking skateboarders to respect the rights of others also using the new facilities.
Council Member Monahan mentioned that Music Under the Stars at the Olivas Adobe has been beautiful, inspiring and worthy of the public’s support. Held at each Saturday night, the music is inspired by a varied and interesting mix of cultures.
Deputy Mayor Tracy said that he and City Manager Cole celebrated a barbecue as a fundraiser for the wife of Teddy Simons. Teddy has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Sgt. Jack Richards was on hand along with the public’s support of over $18,000.
The mayor attended the ribbon-cutting on Saturday morning at Surfers Point, and was asked by one reporter whether or not this was exciting as a legacy event.
Regional Boards, Commissions and Committees – Mr. Morehouse noted that in his capacity with the So-Cal Association of Governments along with the mayor’s position on the County Transportation Commission, a merger is being considered. An update on the Regional Housing Needs Assessment tied to Sen. Bill 375 was mentioned. Workshops on the Regional Transportation Plan and the Sustainable Community Strategies are part of Agenda 21 with the U.N., intended to reduce the dependence on automobiles and sprawl – on July 18th at the Thousand Oaks library plus Cal-Lutheran University in Oxnard with a repeat of the workshops the following evening. The League of California cities filed suit with the California Redevelopment Association to go to the California Supreme Court, asking also for a stay of Assembly Bills 1X-26 and AB 1X-27, which violates Prop. 22, according to the councilman. Prop. 22 is the initiative passed by the voters as a measure to prevent the state from raiding city coffers.
CONSENT ITEMS – Resolution of Findings Denying WinCo Appeal; Parking Meter Removal Initiative Resolution; Council Quarterly Travel Report; General Plan Amendment Process Improvements. It was asked if any items were to be pulled with Council Member Andrews pulling item No. 3. There were to be speakers on Agenda Item Nos. 1 and 1a.Public Communications – LaDonna Martinez spoke briefly, launching into Tea Party related issues.
Carla Bonney also spoke on Tea-Party related issues. Ms. Bonney then went on to complain about the 72-page report prepared by City Attorney Calonne, which, according to the speaker was withheld from her as the initiator of the signature drive and much of the paperwork involved in preparing the ballot imitative to remove the pay parking stations downtown – a measure that was passed by the voters. It was the speaker’s feeling that the city has attempted to sabotage the effort to remove the parking meters. The speaker also claimed that the city has created a monopoly over the contracting that had taken place, mentioning also the DVO which has also attempted to sabotage the effort, according to her.
Council Member Andrews asked whether the language before Council presently would be satisfactory to the speaker. “Shall an initiative ordinance be adopted to remove parking meters from downtown Ventura – repeal Municipal Code Chapter 16.2 25 establishing parking pay stations in parking meter zones and replace Chapter 16.225 to provide that the City of Ventura shall not charge for parking on any street or city owned property without a ballot election with a two-thirds majority approval; provided that any city parking fees enforced before January 1st 2006 shall remain in effect.”
The speaker said that the title to the chapter should remain and that when wording is changed, municipal code requires that the change be noted above, below or within the changed text.
The mayor said that the 92-12 Report was prepared not by just the city attorney but by other staff members including the city manager. The title cannot be more than 75 words which triggered a slight revision, inasmuch as the County Elections Commission counts “two-thirds” as two words rather than one. The language of the initiative is written by the proponents and remains unchanged, which a judge would rule on. The city attorney must prepare the ballot statement summary by state law.
With the items 1, 1a and 2 speakers having been heard, City Manager Cole spoke up, saying that personal pride was taken in the city clerk’s office for helping with public issues. In the case of an individual who approaches the city with a petition, the city never takes sides according to Mr. Cole.
The mayor wished to have a motion forwarded on the Consent Calendar. Council Member Monahan asked the city attorney for the exact wording. The language is different from last week according to Mr. Calonne. E-mails were exchanged with Ms. Bonney as the attorney tried to incorporate the originator’s concepts into the ballot wording. Elections code, however, restricts the attorney to a certain degree. Should the issue arrive in court, said court will review the entire process beginning in February when the action first took place – not just the most recent iteration. Reducing to 75 words the full length of the measure is a requirement, with the attorney trying to capture each operative section of the measure. The ballot summary is that which will be seen by the public before voting, and not the wording which would become law should the initiative pass.
Council Member Monahan asked whether or not both parties have reached agreement at this point in time. The city attorney said that the differences revolve around the proponents’ disfavor with the word statement, To ‘provide’ that the City of Ventura shall not charge for parking, favoring instead the phrase, “To ‘state’ that the City of Ventura, etc. The word “state” implies in the ballot question a direct quote from the initiative which it is not, according to the city attorney.Council Member Brennan moved the Consent Calendar less Consent Agenda Item No. 3 – a roll call vote was taken. All council members voted yes, with Deputy Mayor Tracy abstaining on “1” while voting yes on “1a” and “2.”
Consent Agenda Item No. 3 – Council Member Andrews spoke on his concern in two areas along with proposal statements concerning Potential Expansion Areas (PEAs). The proposal puts forward the PEA as an annual review item. It was recommended that the provision be made for exceptional review as conditions may warrant, not excluding annual review. Secondly, plan amendment recommendations are to open up to review by reducing the criteria that must be met, fairly enough, but with material added that is very broad based on external economic, social or environmental regulatory issues, believing that the overbroad nature of this language be limited to external regulatory economic issues for the city not necessarily the project.
Council Member Morehouse with regard to Mr. Andrews’ comments on bullet point no.2, i.e., thinking of dropping social and environmental conditions where this might have severe impacts for perhaps the homeless or housing, was still more concerned with the third item proposed for the handling of general plan amendments. The councilman thought that moving ahead with the plan area before completing the community plan process was problematic, citing the example of Parklands moving ahead in Saticoy Wells No. 3. Then as far as sequencing, State law allows amending a general plan only four times per year. The councilman suggested that even in the case of PEAs, you could bundle requests. A prescreening cycle has been used by the county which helps in this regard by giving people something like a 6-month window so that later during General Plan amendment discussions and negotiations an opportunity would be created to consolidate possible conflicting measures.
Council Member Weir said that p. 10 of the staff report lists four items which would actually serve as a chronological outline for the preliminary screening process. Number 3: *Conceptual review by Development Advisory Committee and Planning Commission* – Number 4: *Preliminary screening by City Council* and finally to Council to see if the GP should be amended. Not mentioned, and probably should be, was the design review process within the overall scheme, according to the councilwoman.
Staff said that the PEA process was discussed in relation to the GP back in February, the purpose of which was to update the PEA prescreening process from 1994 – striking committees that have been dissolved and other issues. What makes sense of the PEA update process when it comes to updating the general plan, it was noted, is the fact that upcoming will be some large projects. Linking that to the next status report (2015) would be to bring forward the PEA process, which is not actually part of the process affecting the current resolution, according to Staff.
As for a six-month window process for prescreening, this would involve additional Staff resources whether funded by the developer or added to our own workload plan, and would serve only as a prescreen, not intended to overload the process with extra design review committee hearings, public outreach and all associated therewith, saying that the bundling suggestion could occur, but on the back end. Staff continued in answer to Ms. Weir by saying that it was not the intention to overload with yet another DRC process when the prescreen alone can involve going through all of the findings. Staff said that it would still be within Council’s purview to question the finding outcomes.
Public Communications – Lisa Woodburn spoke representing three property owners in the unincorporated area of Saticoy. It was by a 5-to-2 vote of the county supervisors to rezone from residential to industrial with the requirement of this city to do a GP amendment because it is within the city’s sphere of influence. This project will be discussed later, as Staff had requested to delay the bringing of the issue before Council to update the prescreening process. Consider removing also on page 10 of the report where, in Section 5 as per Ms. Weir, Item nr. 3 in the prescreening process talks about a conceptual review by the development advisory committee and the planning commission which needs to make a recommendation to the city council prior to Council’s own review. Council can, as one option, recommend summary denial of the project. This is not a GP amendment or a project, but is a request for policy decisions to be made. By having to go to development advisory and planning where a screening request only is being considered would simply be a waste of time, effort and budgetary resources, according to the speaker. It was recommended that Council approve Staff’s recommended changes to the amendment process, along with the removal of Section 5, Item 3.
Mike Rolls expressed appreciation for the activities at the Olivas Adobe. As an owner of one of the three pieces of property affected by Section 5, Item 3. The speaker reiterated a few of the points expressed by the preceding speaker, and indicated support for the recommendation to strike the aforementioned clause.
Chuck Rogers also a property owner around Saticoy Wells, lent further support to the previous speakers on the subject.
Staff replied that the Development Advisory Committee (DAC) doesn’t give us a public hearing and has no timing requirement. The most recent prescreening done for Saticoy Village will be moving quickly through the process. Staff had some reservation about not involving the planning commission, illuminating the fact that a technical entity on some important issues could turn out to be helpful, and that the GP amendment process would benefit from that input.
Jeff said that the council needs some basic information and that a DAC prescreening would help flesh out issues such as water availability. The prescreening should include some of this information with the importance being not in detailed development but to be aware of any red flag issues, according to Mr. Lambert.
Council Member Brennan said that other cities have moved forward on prescreening, and asked whether the additional step including Planning Commission is typically being used.
Staff said that other jurisdictions have not been contacted. General security plans go forward in places like Santa Barbara County, without the additional planning commission step where it was desired to prevent a project from stalling while trying to adhere to a strict protocol.
Council Member Andrews thought that the thrust of the public comment with the exception of section 5 item 3 was not as much as planning commission review as perhaps the concept of summary denial. In this case an opportunity would be provided for the applicant to appeal to the council, and there may be an additional fee involved. The councilman asked whether there would be a meaningful difference between a thumbs up or thumbs down decision before the planning commission were to occur. The council member thought that to draw attention to the broad nature of the language tends to cause a politicization of the issue. The councilman moved that the resolution be adopted with the change to Section 5. Item 3, wherein requests from the planning commission to the council include the specifics of the case under scrutiny without politicizing the issue. A second was obtained.
Council Member Weir noted that the review by the planning commission and the development advisory board are general concept reviews. It was asked whether Staff would forego a process of conceptual reviews. It appeared to the councilwoman that the process appeared to be aimed at streamlining while still preserving the integrity of projects that tend to be lengthy and drawn out.
Council Member Monahan asked to clarify the time frame for carrying out the newest of these features as being proposed to the council. Mr. Lambert said thought that the process would be moving forward quickly – perhaps with the next two months. The newest of redevelopment items will come before the council as early as September 26.
The mayor asked for a roll call vote – all members voted yes.
Advance Agenda Item No. 4 – The item was carried forward until September 26th.
The first reading of the Second Unit Amnesty Ordinance, and the second reading of the Building Records Disclosure Ordinance, which was to be the final reading of that ordinance, and with Council being given the opportunity to vote on the associated user fees. The context given by Council on February 28 was reviewed.
Second Unit Amnesty Ordinance, showing: (1) Introduction and 1st reading – (2) Key data changed from 1987 to 2004 – (3) Clarification added: Amnesty process and resale inspection process clarification – (4) Set second reading and adoption for July 25th, 2011
The city attorney mentioned Mr. Tom Stanley’s comment one week earlier involving a potential conflict with state law, specifically that the inspection process being carried out by one entity not recommend that the corrective work be performed by the same entity. This statement applies to properties in resale, not in new construction or an inspection separate from the sale. The ordinance has been modified to say that for inspections pertaining to structural changes to a building, it must not be recommended that the inspection facility be separate from the licensed contracting agency.
Staff said that should Council approve the first reading of this ordinance tonight, the second reading would be performed in the week following.
Second Dwelling Unit Amnesty Ordinance Modifications via Public Process, showing: (1) Scope – (1.1) Pre-and-post  (City 2nd Unit Ordinance Regulations) – (2) Appeals – (2.1) Director decisions of zoning modifications [Appeals process added] – (3) “In-service” documentation – (3.1) [Owner signed affidavit plus one other supporting item] – (4) Process – (4.1) [Prevents conflicts of interest during resale]
Proposed Amnesty Program Fees, showing: Assumptions – 480 sq ft converted garage in Ventura Avenue area, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 1 kitchen, existing ¾ inch water service plus four hours of Staff investigation, plan check, processing and inspection time. A schedule of fees was shown to illustrate the in-service date vs. current, proposed, and savings created by the ordinance.
Loan, Grant and Payment Options, showing: (1) Funding – (1.1) City's housing preservation program – (1.2) Personal credit – (2) Payment plans – (2.1) City Finance can provide payment plans for 10 or fewer customers, without additional allocations – (2.2) City has no system in place to recover 100 percent of funds from nonpayers. [Commercial collection agency organizations would be used.]Checklist, showing: (Drafted from the State Health and Safety Code, Section 17920 “Substandard Buildings”). Staff said that there were questions in the community concerning the use of HUD checklists. Mr. Stuffler also said that We opted out of of the HUD checklists in favor of the document shown.
California Real Estate Inspector Association (CREIA), showing: A letter from a Mr. George Harper, Chairman of the California Real Estate Inspection Association. Staff said that their standards of practice exempts themselves from determining compliance with building codes, accessibility standards, energy standards covenants and other restrictions. According to Staff it would mean that the association would need to modify their standards.
Building Records Disclosure Ordinance, showing: (1) 2nd reading and adoption – (2) Process – (2.1) Apply for building records disclosure – (2.2) Receive records disclosure from city – (2.3) Seller and buyer sign records disclosure document – (2.4) Return signed document to city for retention – (3) Implementation September 1st, 2011 [The Building Records Disclosure Ordinance is here for its second reading and final adoption.]
User Fees, showing: A chart was shown containing the user fees that are proposed, being the same as those shown at the preceding Council meeting. Construction permits and code enforcement being excepted, the city is not proposing 100 percent cost recovery.
Recommended Actions, showing: (1) Conduct a public hearing, introduce and waive the first reading of an ordinance, “2011 Second Unit Amnesty and Legalization” (Attachment A), and set the second reading and adoption for July 25th, 2011 – (2) Wave the second reading and approved the ordinance, “Building Records Disclosure” (Attachment D) – (3) Conduct a public hearing and approve a resolution establishing Amnesty Program User Fees (Attachment C) – [Authorize the Finance and Technology Department to make the necessary adjustments to the fiscal year 2012 budget to reflect these changes]
Mr. Lambert reminded Council that with the amendments recommended by the city attorney, the ordinance is exactly the same as presented last time around.
Public Communications – Laura Swenson took to the podium and said that as the owner of a Westside rental property, a review of the ordinance brought up some concerns. There is no mention of an educational outreach program, and furthermore the passage of the ordinance will not make residents aware of the consequences of noncompliance. Public education and community buy-in will be necessary to allow low income owners the time and arranging for financing in order to meet the deadline of December 31st, 2012. Public education should be addressed immediately. Optional payment plans for property owners in financial straits but wishing to participate is not mentioned directly. Documentation for the in-service date could be a problem for many, according to the speaker, who used her own family situation as an example. The speaker’s take away points included citizen education, low income financing and the possible inclusion of a second notarized statement to validate the in-service date.
Tom Stanley with time ceded to him said that certain amendments to the ordinance would be discussed. The ordinance requires completion of a life safety inspection checklist to be filled out by the applicant, and it was the speaker’s feeling that the HUD checklist shown earlier by Mr. Stuffler should have been selected by Staff as the applicable document. It was mentioned that Code Enforcement has accepted the HUD document routinely in the past, showing the city’s acceptance of the document in recognition of its widespread use nationally. The speaker reiterated his position from the preceding week on the use of private inspectors and their firms which may be involved in conflicts of interest while recommending that corrective work be performed by individuals from within the same organization. It was also stated that the same Mr. George Harper referenced by Staff only moments earlier had related to the speaker (Mr. Stanley) his sentiments over the new language suggested by the city attorney (only resale units apply) as ”splitting hairs.” The speaker said that the ethical question would not be erased by this language even if legal, noting that even the appearance of something unethical runs counter to accepted practice. The way forward, according to the speaker, allow option of private safety inspection for the purpose of safety, to obtain a modicum of training along the lines of accepted ethical business practice. “The public is really watching this issue, and they care,” said the speaker.
Council and Staff were reminded of the city attorney’s words when he stated that this ordinance does not make anyone’s second unit illegal, but instead represents a path toward legalization of second units. The speaker refuted the statement, saying that The ordinance will result in criminalizing individual owners if you follow Section 11, Paragraph D. “Second dwelling units that do not receive final inspection approval by June 30th, 2013 shall be subject to all current development fees as well as any applicable civil and criminal penalties.” It was recommended by the speaker that Council eliminate the wording that would make owners of unapproved second units criminally liable. Amendment 4 on the speaker’s list cited Section 2, Step 2, Paragraph (a): “The owner has the burden of proof of the in-service state to the chief building official by a preponderance of the evidence.” The speaker wished to know the definition of “the preponderance of the evidence.” It was the speakers claim that this is subjective and open to interpretation, and that this wording should be deleted from the proposed ordinance. Amendment 5 – Section 2, Step 2, Paragraphs B (1) and (2): “The in-service date may be established with at least one of the following forms of documentation;” Instead use the following: “The in-service date will be established with one or more of the forms of documentation.” This adds clarity to the process, according to the speaker.
Amendment 6 on the speaker’s list outlined Section 3, Step 3 (b) referring to the zoning and development checklist (a plot map of the property showing all structures, the zoning and development standard checklist will be used to create a record of the structures and improvements on the property. The zoning and the checklist should be restricted to the second unit only, according to the speaker. Improvements to other structures on the property would not be made legal by this ordinance, and therefore the proposed ordinance should be amended to limit the zoning and development checklist to a scope that includes only second dwelling units.Council Member Monahan asked the speaker to relay what was said at an appeals board meeting attended by the speaker. Mr. Stanley began by saying that there were three appellants, all with similar cases. The rulings, it was said, were dissimilar, however. It appeared to the speaker that preferential treatment was being handed out.
Linda Freeny stated that there was not enough clarity in the ordinance. It was thought that there was potential for abuse by the city either through power politics or by the creation of revenue. The speaker was unclear over the imposition of impact fees, asking for delineation between an impact fee and a permit fee, and that if an impact fee applies to new construction then This fee should not apply to grandfathered second units. It was also stated that the city might well use the same building inspectors that are widely used in the real estate industry. The point was made further that these inspectors do not perform corrective work. A citizen’s appeal committee was also recommended, with no ties, loyalties or obligations to anyone connected with the city. Something should be done to stop the abuse, according to the speaker, so that families will not be evicted from their homes.
Camille Harris with time allotted from others began a presentation. Failure should not be an option, according to the speaker, referring to the contributed time and effort by members of the former Safe Housing Collaborative. It was said that there are only a few hurdles left, and that common sense solutions are available.Problem: Unduly Burdensome, showing: “Unduly burdensome” violates the intent of California State Code No. 65852.150 – “… any second unit ordinances adopted by local agencies have the effect of providing for the creation of second units and that provisions in these ordinances relating to matters including unit size, parking, fees and other requirements, are not so arbitrary, excessive or burdensome so as to restrict the ability of homeowners to create second units”.
Problem: Lack of Financial Feasibility Prevents Participation, showing: “Creates unintended consequences of” – (1) Unsafe housing – (2) Desperation sales – (3) Homelessness [This brings down the overall net worth and well-being of our community]
Problem: Costs Unduly Burdensome, showing: (1) Poor and elderly cannot afford huge impact fees designed for new family housing – (2) No impact fee category for studio-sized existing structures upgraded to adaptive re-use – (3) No time payment plans for low income families or seniors on Social Security – (4) No allowance for home safety inspectors or protections from conflicts of interest
Solutions to Lack of Affordability, showing: (1) Create new impact fee category that fairly reflects reduced impacts of studio-sized existing structures upgraded for an adaptive reuse – (2) Allow home safety inspections by home safety professionals with errors and omissions insurance, who are not allowed perform repairs on unit – (3) Set up time payment plans based upon citizens ability to pay
Problem: Requirement for Self-Incrimination, showing: (1) Ordinance requires setbacks and improvements on all structures on property to be disclosed – (2) There is no guarantee this information will not be used in the future for the purposes of citations – (3) There is no offer to grandfather the other structures on the property, though they are required to be disclosed
Solution, showing: (1) Grandfather the entire property, or – (2) Require disclosure only on structure to be legalized
Problem: Evidence of Inequitable Treatment, showing: (1) Preferential treatment for insiders [Does the city look the other way for its elite?] -- (2) Subjective Enforcement [Too much discretion?] -- (3) Retaliation and preferential treatment; Appeals Board, three appellants, similar issues; Two complained to Council, appeals denied; One kept quiet, appeal granted and appellant only required to conform to State Civil Code 1941 as recommended by Andrew Stuffler [This confirms acceptance of State Civil Code 1941]Solution: Remove Potential for Inequities, showing: (1) Require appeals processes for all denials to be consistent so processes prior to 2004 and after are equally mirrored with same pathway for appeal to Planning Commission and Council – (2) Define “preponderance of evidence” and create an objective appeal path for that decision – (3) Allow family units, which had no public documentation and have never been rented, to qualify with sworn statement, verified by two other family members
Six Simple Solutions for Success, showing: (1) Create impact category for converted studios – (2) Allow home safety inspections by home safety professionals with errors and omissions insurance – (3) Set up time payment plans based upon citizens ability to pay – (4) Require disclosure only on structure to be legalized – (5) Require decisions for denials to receive same path to appeal with specific guidelines for denials and appeals – (6) Allow unrented, undocumented family units, to qualify with sworn statements, verified by two other family members
Helen Yunker took to the podium, saying that at the July 11th Council meeting the Pierpont Beach area was excluded from the 2004 time extension. On December 3rd 1968 a successful election was held for annexation of the two-thirds county area into the city, but only after two failed attempts at the polls by residents who feared onerous city code enforcement measures. Assurances were given by the city that units would be grandfathered, according to the speaker, with reconstruction having been completed by the early 1970s. Several “stabs” were made by code enforcement, creating distrust and leading to the passage of City Ordinance 77-13: “Dealing with nonconforming uses, also known as grandfathering.” It was the speaker’s claim that Pierpont Bay area residents, by the 2004 cutoff clause just passed, now find themselves disconnected and dissociated from participating in the Second Unit Amnesty program on all units constructed between the passage of City Ordinance 77-13 and the adopted cutoff 2004. The speaker said that ”As the iceberg grows larger and larger, the city’s ship of state comes closer and closer to sinking.”
Council Member Monahan wished to have the speaker elaborate on the 27-year gap issue opened up by the speaker. The mayor responded saying that the question would be directed toward Staff at the end of the public speaking session.
John Stewart stated his concerns surrounding the provisions of AB 1866, Second-Unit Legislation, Code Section 65852.2, suggesting that the city’s approach to the issue of local second unit amnesty lies outside state guidelines in several respects. It was also noted that the statute limits discretionary review of pertinent items to the initial discussion phase – at later times, i.e., at the end of the process, Mr. Lambert and Mr. Stuffler are to be awarded ministerial control. The speaker said, “It shouldn’t be that way.” Using the city of Pacific Grove as an example, the speaker said that the post-2003 provisions of AB 1866 inspired a low-income version of the ordinance aimed at citizens on the very low rent scale who could normally not qualify for the program. The speaker noted also that the spirit of AB 1866 is to enhance the community’s affordable housing needs in a way that encompasses all housing, with the City of Ventura possibly not honoring that spirit.
[Comment] The following is a short excerpt from AB 1866 for those who are interested. The above link will shed additional light on the point being made by Mr. Stewart, and if Mr. Lambert, Mr. Stuffler and Mr. Calonne are unaware of the "spirit" of the law here, shame on them.
"The Legislature finds and declares that second units are a valuable form of housing in California. Second units provide housing for family members, students, the elderly, in-home health care providers, the disabled, and others, at below market prices within existing neighborhoods. Homeowners who create second units benefit from added income, and an increased sense of security.
"It is the intent of the Legislature that any second-unit ordinances adopted by local agencies have the effect of providing for the creation of second units and that provisions in these ordinances relating to matters including unit size, parking, fees and other requirements, are not so arbitrary, excessive, or burdensome so as to unreasonably restrict the ability of homeowners to create second units in zones in which they are authorized by local ordinance." [Ed.]
The mayor announced the intent to have questions answered by several of the speakers. Andrew said that City Council has already approved funding for public education, outreach and awareness, addressing Ms. Swenson’s question, for a technician position, which is to be created to fill that function. The question pertaining to the HUD safety checklist was also addressed by Mr. Stuffler, saying that The HUD safety checklist is 'more onerous than ours' when under normal circumstances an inspector/contractor is well aware of code requirements. As to the impact fee vs. building fee question, Mr. Stuffler said that planning put together tables on the year that the fees went into effect vs. the fees currently noting capital impact fees, water fees and others. Those fees would be assessed as determined by the in-service date.
Helen’s comment on excluding the Pierpont area from the 2004 cutoff date was described as a “policy judgment,” when interjected by the city attorney. It was explained that with the grandfathering that occurred in 1977, it would mean grandfathering the Pierpont tract yet again in this ordinance meaning that with the possibility of more garage conversions having occurred in the interim, these units would not be beneficiaries of this ordinance proposal. The city attorney went on to say that if there is disagreement with this situation, but that there is a relatively easy change to be made. Another factor weighing in the critics’ favor on this particular point would be that Very little public outreach was done prior in that neighborhood, and that this might be an issue of significant concern to those residents.The mayor moved on to Mr. Stewart’s issues on the relationship between the proposed ordinance and AB 1866, “a law designed to make it easier to build and have appproved new second units,” or so it was said. The city attorney stated that the ordinance before Council is more lenient than the provisions outlined in AB 1866. The only time this would not be true is in the case of units constructed after 2004, according to Mr. Calonne, also noting that the date change from 1987 to 2004 now causes units constructed after the city’s current second unit ordinance will need to comply with those terms.
Council Communications – Council Member Morehouse mentioned optional payment plans as brought up by Ms. Swenson, asking Staff to further clarify as to what we have. Andrew said he checked with Rudy Livingston (in F&T Dep’t) and reported that there is an accounts receivable process wherein an agreement can be signed. It was said that the terms of the agreement are negotiable. The city has not used the provision extensively, and perhaps not since the WAV project. It was noted that the Housing Loan Program coming up as a separate item may or may not be applicable here. Mr. Lambert stated that Council has requested further discussion on that issue, but that certain eligibility requirements apply as a homeowner.
The councilman addressed Ms. Harris’ concern over the word “may” vs. “will,” saying that “may” appears permissive, which would appear to be the more lenient of the two. The city attorney responded to “the preponderance of the evidence,” offering the following: “It sounds lawyerly but it just means there is more evidence than not,” with “may” not giving discretion. If there is a preponderance of the evidence, “may” becomes “shall,” according to the attorney. A dispute currently comes down to Section 2 (b)(2) where Staff, including Mr. Calonne, is calling for two forms of documentation establishing in-service dates when an affidavit is used. The proposed ordinance disallows an affidavit accompanied by anything else for establishing the in-service date. It means that the city is not trusting enough of a single person’s word, thereby requiring further evidence. This could be changed by the council should the members be so inclined to do so.
Mr. Stuffler said that the intent of the section just referenced (2-e) was to enable two affidavits from people to serve as the basis of the in-service date. It was questioned whether or not this was the same intent as understood by Mr. Calonne. The city attorney responded in the negative, saying that a change would be in order if this were the actual intent of Staff. Where two forms of identification are specified, Andrew was of the belief that the forms could be of the same type and not exclusively of a different type. The city attorney granted that clarification would be needed in that a misinterpretation has just surfaced.
Council Member Morehouse said that if a building inspector is satisfied with two persons having knowledge of the in-service date, this could be considered sufficient grounds for accepting the current wording has interpreted by the chief building inspector. Mr. Calonne suggested wording such as “any of two forms of documentation,” and that this change could be made this evening. Mr. Morehouse continued with regards to having a licensed contractor submit quotations on the repair efforts – the thinking being that this allows the homeowner to deal with a single contractor. Staff verified that this was to emulate long-standing procedure, noting that if the homeowner is dissatisfied with the quote being given during the inspection process, that homeowner is free to request competing bids. Andrew said that the process under consideration uses the checklist to perform in almost the same manner.
Council Member Monahan spoke regarding “no impact fee category for studio-sized existing structure upgrades and adaptive re-use,” desiring to know Staff’s response to the issue. Mr. Lambert said that each impact fee is calculated separately, some would be according to “pipe size,” and others with number of bedrooms, etc., noting that not all fees accommodate different sizes of units. It was said that some of the fees accommodate the comment by Camille and some do not. Mr. Monahan pressed forward by mentioning the City Council Appointments Committee, wherein efforts had been made to establish a local appeals board, noting that the State Housing Appeals Board (Construction Board) is typically is not involved in the same type of work as a local appeals board stating further his support for establishing a citizens appeals board. Suggestions for Councils movement in this direction with applicability to the proposed ordinance was requested by the councilman.
The mayor responded saying that he recalled forwarding that issue to the appointments committee, with Mr. Monahan indicating disagreement. Mr. Andrews also indicated no recollection of the issue being raised at the subcommittee level. City Manager Cole agreed with the mayor’s comment.
Mr. Cole said that an enormous amount of staff time has been devoted to this issue, recognizing that feedback is necessary to implement appropriately and effectively. It was said that Code Enforcement staff time has been devoted “to the neglect” of other enforcement issues due to the complexity of the ordinance at hand. Case studies will certainly show what is working in what is not, but the key is through the experience of “people coming in” and allowing Staff to identify the consequences, according to the city manager. Issues that people were “all worked up about” may turn out to have been premature or inconsequential, leading the city manager to suggest that Staff come back to the council in “3-months time,” and give Council and interim report on the impact that the ordinance is having on the community.
Council Member Andrews stated his concurrence with Mr. Cole’s view in that regard, stating further that a progress report would be an order. A concern raised on several points – including the point on studio-sized second units – suggests the broader issue of how you calibrate impact fees, according to the councilman. This, however, should “not get in the way” of what we are going now, or so it was said. The Pierpont issue can “always come back us” and similarly should not get in the way of current progress. The councilman claimed his consistent belief that the problem of issues raised on the other structures outside the second unit being observed and declared that Noncompliance should be resolved by declaring all structures on the property as part of the proposed ordinance. It was felt that on the issue safety inspections there were both pros and cons, but that using an inspector to perform corrective action while qualifying also as a licensed contractor should not be a problem. With the understanding that there are opportunities for revision later, the councilman was prepared asked for an expansion of this program so that it includes an entire property. The motion was made to accept Staff’s recommendation. A second was obtained.The mayor offered two friendly amendments – the issue of 2 (b)(2), the city attorney’s added wording, and to reaffirm direction to the appointments committee to deliberate and return a recommendation on the creation of a (citizens) appeals board. With the maker of the motion in agreement, Council Member Morehouse wished to respond, saying that expansion to the entirety of the property could mean that upon inspection of second units, the city would gain knowledge of remaining structures, and will be tempted to enter the property and “nail them later.” The councilman asked Staff directly if this was the intent. Staff replied that a "comprehensive site plan" – a property sketch of all units on the property – is being requested on all applications, and for structures not involved in the second unit ordinance it will mean that where the suggestion of life safety issues exists, the city must "address those."
In addressing the motion Mr. Morehouse stated that his “no” on the previous vote “had nothing to do” with the cutoff date but rather on constitutional issues and extra costs. With those concerns having been addressed by staff and others, the councilman felt comfortable with proceeding along the lines as presently proposed, with one caveat. Those folks who 'played by the rules' since the raising of the grandfathering issue may wish to file suit because of the way the current proposal has unfolded.The mayor asked for a roll call vote on the proposal – Brennan, yes; Weir, not present; Morehouse, yes; Andrews, yes; Monahan, yes; Deputy Mayor Tracy, not present; Mayor Fulton, yes. The motion passed 5-to-0.
City Manager Cole noted that while not part of the motion, Staff would bring to Council a progress report in mid-November.