Ventura City Council Meeting
January 23, 2012
Ventura City Hall - 501 Poli Street
Councilman Neal Andrews serves on the State Policy Committee on Revenue and Taxation and also the Policy Committee on Employee Relations. At the January meeting The Employee Relations Committee focused on proposals for pension reform, where consensus was reached on the feeling that proposals in hand did not go far enough in moving toward defined contribution as the preferred method for funding public pensions, and also that the "restructuring" of retirement benefits for current public employees remains a top priority.
Council Member Jim Monahan noted that Saturday, March 17th is the date for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, with planning well in hand. A dozen applications have been received thus far. To join in the parade, which will start at the San Buenaventura Mission 10:00 a.m., contact the councilman at City Hall or at #430-1356. A two-mile run sponsored by Jeff Spiker will precede the parade.
To View a listing of the agenda items for this council meeting, go to www.cityofventura.net/meeting/city-council-meeting-93.
Mayor Tracy brought the meeting order with a call of the roll – Council Member Brennan was absent. It was then asked of Council Member Weir to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Closed Session Report – Council gave authority to bring lawsuits in four separate matters, the particulars of which will be disclosed to anyone who asks subsequent to actual filing.
Council Communications – Council Member Morehouse noted the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Also the Social Justice Fund for Ventura County is meeting this Friday, January 27th from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Camarillo United Methodist Church at 291Anacapa Drive. Being called “A Tale of Two Counties – The 100 Percent Summit,” the event will cost $25 at the door for those interested in attending. Topics will include 2010 census issues; investing in our children to close the achievement gap; problem solving for the working poor; empowering the homeless and others.
Council Member Andrews added his best wishes to the Chinese American Community with the beginning of the Lunar New Year. Also, tomorrow, January 24, marks the beginning of the annual homeless census count. Volunteers will be on the streets gaining an accurate count of the homeless population. Last year 85 percent were determined to be residents, now homeless. 30 percent of them were veterans. The councilman serves on the State Policy Committee on Revenue and Taxation and also the Policy Committee on Employee Relations. The governor’s budget and the proposal by a private group called California Forward were main items on the agenda. The proposal met with skepticism and resistance by the R&T Committee because of its having the potential for the imposition of mandates upon local governments. A strategic planning process would be established at the county level which would obligate the cities to meet performance goals which would then supersede the local planning process. The Employee Relations Committee focused on proposals for pension reform. A strong discussion was held which was described as productive. There was consensus on the idea that proposals did not go far enough in moving toward defined contribution as the preferred method for funding public pensions, and also that the restructuring of retirement benefits for current employees remains a top priority.
Deputy Mayor Heitmann attended the League of California Cities’ new Council Member Training program in Sacramento covering land use planning, financial responsibility, relations between city council and city manager, ethics, transportation, along with the legal complications and ramifications of many Council issues. It was noted that all five council members from the City of Bell were in attendance.
Council Member Weir said that the beach shows an object lesson while walking down the Promenade, noting that the old bike path section has not held back the wave activity over the walkway in contrast to the new section showing the corrected measure. Mayor Tracy and the councilwoman took a tour of the river bottom including some the private property. Owners obtained permits in order to cut back on invasive non-native flora. The goal is to return the river bed to native species. Congratulations were also extended for the reopening of fire station #4.
[Comment] The councilmember may not remember, but over $0.5 million in taxpayer dollars was spent trying to “revegitate” the river bottom near the Nature Trail leading from West Main to the ocean immediately ahead of the great ‘90s washout that removed 800 feet of riverbank along with practically 100% of those lovingly tended shoots of “native species.” So apparently, here we go again, but hopefully, not at taxpayer expense this time. Humans brought the non-native species, Ms. Weir, and they flourished. In other words, you can’t fool Mother Nature. Had she not wanted them, they wouldn’t be there, and furthermore, they will still be around even as all memory of well-intentioned mortals has been lost to the distant past. [Ed.]
Council Member Monahan noted that Mar 17 is the date for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, with planning well in hand. A dozen applications have been received thus far. To join in the parade, which will start at the San Buenaventura Mission 10:00 a.m. Saturday, contact the councilman at City Hall or at #430-1356. A two-mile run sponsored by Jeff Spiker will precede the array..
Regional Boards, Commissions and Committees – Council Member Morehouse reported from his position on the Policy Committee of the California League of Cities saying that many communities are discussing the issue of “group” homes which are proliferating. The league is trying to deal with the growing number of objections to the problem. Mobile food trucks are also proliferating, according to the councilman and to the league as well. It was said that the competition to local restaurants is causing consternation. An Assembly law authored by Skinner was voted down in committee on a split vote, as negatively impacting “infill” and “transit-oriented development” based on the bill’s focus and handling on the issue of local control over parking regulations. Senate Bill 244 by Wolk now mandates the forced annexation of under-served areas containing 12 or more households, an idea brought about as a consequence of cities moving to annex certain prime areas leaving behind those that may be less desirable from a taxation standpoint.
The councilman continued saying that as a prelude to the agenda item tonight dealing with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs, we are again looking at a program being eyed by the “feds” for potential elimination. These issues would involve us locally and it was agreed that the issue was to be pushed back upon Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is intimately familiar with the details. In terms of the housing element it was pointed out that problems with the State Housing and Community Development department includes the fact that there is no department head and there is no ongoing budget process. It was thought that consolidation with or into another department may be necessary. Perhaps HCD has been stepping out over the scope of the housing law, or so it was said.
Mayor Tracy was in Sacramento as a newly appointed member of the League of California Cities Public Safety Committee, where protecting federal and state grants to public safety, the prison realignment act, emergency communication inter-operability and emergency preparedness will be among the future reported subjects.
Community Development Director’s Report – Community Development Director Jeff Lambert took up Staff’s position at the table, joined by Ed Summers and Peter Brown. This segment recognizes businesses once per month, with this month being the business known as Red Brick Pizza. Two brothers are the owners, James and Michael, which under the green category they use LED lighting within the restaurant. The TV monitors are Energy Plus and the menus are made of recycled paper. The air quality remains high with air purifying equipment. All cleaning products are eco-friendly. Triple filtered water is offered to the customers.
The brothers are active members of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce. Portions of the product are donated to charities. The Boys and Girls Club and Special Olympics are among the recipients. The brothers were invited to the sidebar where the mayor introduced them to the council as well as the public. On behalf of the council, a certificate of appreciation was presented to both of the owners. Both thanked the council and the mayor for the award.
Peter Brown took the presentation position, saying that on Thanksgiving Day, 2011, One City, One Meal saw the coming together of the community to acknowledge the fact that on one day, one city can come together on one day to partake of one meal together irrespective of class, background, status, income level or political ideology. Preparations are being made for the 2012 event. A slide showed that 68 tables of 10 people had been set up, along with table hosts busily tending to their guests with more than 800 meals having been served. This signature potluck event was characterized as a huge success with Christmas Carols and children’s games having been included in the mix.
Participants were invited forward to receive both thanks and recognition for a job extraordinarily well done – Capt. Bill Finley of the Salvation Army along with his wife Tolani, Ventura Downtown Rotary representative Indy Batra, Ventura Rental Center representative Ted Cook, the Ventura Fairgrounds Staff, Fast Signs representative Saurabh Bajaj, Ventura Missionary Church Pastor Jesse Giglio, River Community Church Pastor Jim Duran, Donna Mason, Deborah Schrieber, Jim Rice and Wes Cook.
A group sponsor has stepped forward – The Ventura Rotary Club along with its spokesman – to say that it was their intention to continue sponsoring this event “now and forever.” Click HERE to view video coverage of One City, One Meal 2011.
Watch this space for more to come.