Ventura City Council Meeting
March 5, 2012
Ventura City Hall - 501 Poli Street
Principal Michael Tapia of Montalvo Elementary School chose 5th grade student Kevin Jimenez as this month's winner inVentura Unified School District's ongoing Character Development Program for his essay on the topic of kindness. Mr. and Mrs. Luis Jimenez with teacher Debbie Gaz along with Mr. Tapia were on hand to lend their support to the young essayist. With two taps of the gavel Michael began by saying that people show their kindness when they take care of you, and that kindness also makes the world better for each other.
To View a listing of the agenda items for this council meeting, go to www.cityofventura.net/meeting/city-council-meeting-103.
Mayor Tracy brought the meeting to order with a call of the roll -- all present. It was then asked of Council Member Andrews to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Special Presentations and Announcements -- Mayor for a Moment. Principal Michael Tapia of Montalvo Elementary School chose 5th grade student Kevin Jimenez as this month's winner inVentura Unified School District's ongoing Character Development Program for his essay on the topic of kindness. Mr. and Mrs. Luis Jimenez with teacher Debbie Gaz along with Mr. Tapia were on hand to lend their support to the young essayist. With two taps of the gavel Michael began by saying that people show their kindness when they take care of you, and that kindness also makes the world better for each other. Kindness is the key to happiness and everyone deserves to be happy, wrote Luis, making people feel special in their own way. Being special helps everyone and kindness helps everyone get along better.
With a presentation that included an inscripted Mayor for a Moment desk placard, a lacquered lapel pin and the key to the city, the young student shook hands with each Council member while receiving a nice round of applause.
Members of our Cost of Service Committee that recommended new water rates just last week were asked to step forward to receive a presentation of appreciation for their recent efforts. Chairman John Monday was not present, but Vice Chair Irene Henry along with Committee Members Clint Crowell, Don Mills, Diane DeMailey, Sarah LeClaire, Robert McCord, Marty Melvin and Alejandro Robles were asked to step forward. The Mayor publicly thanked the Water Rate Advisory Committee, presenting each of them with a certificate of appreciation. Ms. Henry spoke of the committee's appreciation for the support provided by City Staff members as well.
Council Communications -- Council Member Morehouse noted that even as controversy over the future of library services in Ventura continues, the reminder was still sent out that the annual book sale by the Friends of the Library will be held at the Pacific View Shopping Mall on March 31. It was also announced that the Ventura Film Society will be screening its first film of the season, "The Mission, tomorrow, March 6th." The Ventura Film Society proudly showcases new independent films by local filmmakers and producers.
Council Member Monahan again plugged the St. Patrick's Day parade by suggesting a visit to St. Patrick's Day.com and fill in the search info fields. March 9 is the final date for submitting request to participate in the parade. Father Tom will kick off the parade at the San Buenaventura Mission, with the event also being televised. At 7:00 a.m. beginning at Mission Park the race called the Green Mile will precede the parade, with the rest of the afternoon being centered at the Mini Park on Main (the 200-block) with a concert lasting the rest of the afternoon.
Deputy Mayor Heitmann announced congratulations to the Girl Scouts on their 100th anniversary. The Seaward Cleanup day scheduled for this Saturday, March 10th beginning at 9:00 a.m., was also plugged.
Council Mayor Brennan said that Sunday, March 11 beginning at noon, is the fundraiser to be held at Zoe's Restaurant for M. B. Hanrahan, a well known local artist who is recovering from a leg fracture. There will be a poetry reading and a silent auction.
Regional Boards, Commissions and Committees -- Council Member Andrews announced his return to Washington DC on a Regional Defense Partnership junket for discussions on the future of our Naval Base Ventura County. The National Policy Committee on Community and Economic Development, which the councilman chairs, will be discussing important issues at both meetings, and particularly through the Economic Development committee meeting. It was said an that an invitation to speak by the senior White House staff has been extended to the councilman.
Council Member Morehouse said that in representing the Regional Council of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) that there was a joint meeting with the group and the three policy committee groups (economic development, energy and transportation) to examine the Community Transit plan and the Sustainable Communities strategy along with the comments that have been received to date. The April General Assembly meeting will conduct a full-on public outreach -- noting that insufficient transit and pedestrian plans will be a focal point. The two transportation authorization bills going forward, one of which is SB 1813 calling the for Moving Ahead in Progress for the 21st century (MAP-21), while HR 7, which is not going through in the House as rapidly, deals mainly with highways. The problem with the House bill is not just "bleeding hearts" lining up against the bill, but that opposition comes from 75 national organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, the AARP and others, some of which make up what has become known as "The Big Roads Crowd," according to the Councilman. It is going to be harder to do transportation for bicycles and pedestrian traffic.
It was said that the East County has voiced some displeasure for plans that would develop into a county-wide transportation system. Caltrans is going to begin the improvement of Highway 101 between Mobile Pier Rd. and Casitas Pass Rd. with a 3-year time horizon being projected. Direct exit to La Conchita will be replaced by an underpass. A meeting in the Oxnard Library tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. with Gold Coast will discuss Route #40 which has been run experimentally to link the Tech Center, but has not proved as successful as had been hoped. This and other routing is expected to be addressed, with R-40 being one removed.
Public Communications -- John Jones announced that it was time to encourage participation in the St. Baldrick's event to help childhood cancer patients. 160,000 children are diagnosed each year with cancer, with St. Baldrick's focusing on children. Go to www.stbaldricks.org and click on "Sacred Heart" for more information, then on "Elixer-Tango" and pledge your generous donation.
Larry Pearson said that in a small packet distributed to Council members in hopes of resolving a neighborhood issue at the Keys of Ventura. It seems that there is a resident who has decided to turn his home into a warehouse, or so it was said, but to make matters worse the man owns a boat named Waldo. Of course the first thing one wants to know is ... where's Waldo? Well, Waldo sits at home in plain view and that, apparently, is the problem. The boat has sat in the water for 12 years without a motor or any type of control system which would otherwise make the craft operable. Apparently two more boats have been added and while having been cited by Code Enforcement the Keys residents are seeking to have the entire property condemned in order that the area can be relieved of this blight.
Don Greenberg said that on behalf of of the Ventura Downtown Lions Club, they are teaming up with Ventura High School in putting on a pancake breakfast on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The event will be at the high school and everyone is cordially invited to come out, chow down early and stake out their favorite spot along the parade route. Proceeds will benefit the Ventura H. S. Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) along with other awards programs participated in by the school. Breakfast will be $5. Children under 5 eat free! For more info visit venturaptsa.org/news_and_announcements and then click on "breakfast."
Bill Hartin brought in a demo unit showing existing land use from the 101 freeway and the pier using a large and cumbersome prop consisting mostly of aerial snapshots. His plan to cap the 101 freeway would be to re-route all the freeway ramps, cross the rail tracks, then finish with a single on-ramp at the south end of the plan.
Arlene Martinez said that the Kellogg property went up for sale today with the city council being reminded of the Pool Fund, which is regularly targeted as a source of funds, could be a way for the city to acquire the property and develop a community park on the site. Westside community residents are waiting to see what the city will do. The handball courts were torn down at Westpark which has basically outraged the community. It was said that promises for a beautiful park to be brought in as a replacement for Westpark remains just that -- promises. No movement has been seen by the residents. Council Member Monahan asked if it was the Kellogg Street property the speaker had referred to.
Jill Martinez said that as a Ventura resident and President of the Golden State Homeowners League at the Buenaventura Mobile Home Estates, hoping that Council could be convinced to bring in some type of grocery retailer into the Saticoy-Wells area. It was said that Fresh & Easy has gone through various charettes and residents of the far east side still need to travel the distance all the way to Victoria Avenue just for basic services such as laundry facilities.
Helen Yunker said that the proposed new Council protocols bring to mind prior experiences with public speaking in Council Chambers. Some ten years ago a landslide occurred on the speaker's city lot number seven. The city rejected documentation, taking the citizen to court where a jury voted to acquit. With action then being stalled, then Mayor Sandy Smith organized a walkout on the resident after the city attorney claimed the city the winner in a public hearing. Public speaking turned out to be the final game changer where the resident was allowed only two minutes before Council to prove her case.
Teresa Glover said that the Kellogg property is up for sale at $1.1 million. Re-zoning will take place on the Avenue and rumors are out that developers are planning to build residential units on that property. Promises have been made to the Westside residents for a pool and community park facilities for what has turned into decades at this point. The speaker said there are not amenities and shopping sufficient for the population that exists, let alone new residential development. Moreover, the Avenue area of Ventura represents the true heritage of the city, with the speaker expressing unequivocal displeasure with the city's robust plans to "turn the Westside into something that it's not."
Brian Rencher began by saying the city's goals are to provide public safety and core services. A consultant said that the police staffing was "just right" for Ventura, and yet Ventura has the highest crime rate in the county, with the speaker saying that this also is apparently "just right." It was said that with Ventura Fire not responding in time ... with people having heart attacks and with escalating crime going on ... the city council is at best unaware of how to set proper priorities.
Doug Johannes said that on the agenda should be a resolution that rejects corporate personhood. The item could be discussed and decided upon once agendized. No one has said yes to this debate which is the same as saying no, according to the speaker. The resolution could be placed on the November ballot even though a move-to-amend working group would be required to obtain a sufficient number of co-signatures, and yet the Council could pass a resolution helping the cause. November 2012 may not be realistic for a ballot initiative, but the November 2013 ballot may well be sufficient time to mount a campaign wherein the Mayor of Ventura and City Council would be fairly and squarely taken to account for their apathy and indifference toward this issue.
Camille Harris said that she typically does not identify herself by name because her plans include speaking in general and for the general citizenry at least as much as for herself. Her plan always is to speak for the "voiceless." Citizens generally do not appear before Council and on TV because of the fear of retaliation. Many are willing to come down to Council meetings and are willing to cede their time but that when last week individuals were discouraged from ceding time, this Council verified the fear of retaliation by your single action. The speaker reminded Council that Council Member Monahan indicated by his vote on the proposed public speaking protocols resolution that things should be left as they are, which would certainly represent the voice of the majority of those who bother to come down here and speak, whether on a regular basis or not.
Audra Lucas presented handouts explaining that six documents included the Los Angeles City Council Corporate Personhood Resolution along with a similar New York City Council resolution, along with a press release of the Oakland California City Council'sresolution opposing Citizens United along with a City of Ventura text resolution proposed by the speaker. The City of Los Angeles resolves to support legislation which excludes corporations from being described as persons. You on this Council could be in front or you could be way behind, said the speaker. New York City has resolved to help other cities follow the NYC lead in rejecting corporate personhood.
René Zavala said that a resolution to reject corporate personhood as the new 28th amendment should be drafted as the city of Ventura may see fit and follow suit as suggested by the preceding speaker.
Brandt Gerckens, a chiropractor in Ventura, said that as a long-time Montalvo resident, the speaker is concerned with the high density planning that is going forward as planning for land-use. The climate of Montalvo is being changed, and that what it will be like in 20 years is undoubtedly unacceptable considering current planning. The Victoria corridor is currently zoned T4.9 under city planning and R-1/R-2 per the county, but the annexation clause calls for no increase in density. Planners have said that it is now R-1/R-2, with T4.9 authorizing up to 6 floors in height and 40 units per acre all the way from the freeway up to Montalvo Square. John Ashcar's most recent project behind the speaker's property was supported several years ago, but the density in the most recent planning development gives us 38 homes or families per acre where historically there have been only 4. The speaker sees nothing but high density and limited parking which will not benefit residents.
Watch this space for more to come.