Nearly $1 million grant for Oxnard parks; action urged on fraud, waste, abuse; City makes business loans???

By George Miller

Except  for the “free” cake and punch celebrating the installation of re-elected Oxnard officials (covered in a previous report), it was a fairly boring Council meeting on December 2.  However, a few things were worth noting.  There was also a closed meeting on labor negotiations the following day.

Name Date Duration Agenda Minutes Video
Special City Council Meeting December 3, 2014 00h 01m Agenda Video
City Council Meeting December 2, 2014 04h 18m Agenda Minutes Video

 

City to receive nearly $1 million grant for park upgrades.

Campus Park

The only catch is that it must be done according to govt. rules and may only be used in “deficient and disadvantaged” areas. The $956,700 grant from California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) would  be used to improve Colonia, Beck, Wilson, Campus Parks. There was a fairly lengthy discussion about which parks should be the beneficiaries, what should be done to them and whether stakeholders had been adequately consulted. Staff Report (pdf 216 KB).

 Anticipated scope of work:CAHCD

1. Campus Park: New backstop, irrigation and field restoration;
2. Beck Park: Demolish old storage building, re-irrigation, and replace playground equipment;
3. Colonia Park: Security Lighting, and remove asphalt and replace with sidewalk; and
4. Wilson Park: Demolish and install new restrooms, replace security lights, rehabilitate
shuffleboard areas and a barbeque area into a community garden, remove the mound area and
convert it into single family barbeque areas, and rehabilitate existing family barbeque areas.

Motion to approve resolution carried unanimously, with the understanding that money could later be reallocated, within state approval guidelines.

About a fifth of Oxnard general fund revenue comes  from grants.

Original April city staff report on grant opportunity: http://oxnard.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=46&clip_id=2725&meta_id=139716

 

Redevelopment Agency Successor Updates

 A few years ago, CA legislature eliminated redevelopment agencies and forced municipalities to redisposition assets according to arcane, complex rules. to say that this placed a heavy burden on said municipalities might be an understatement.  Oxnard is still struggling to comply with all this while maintaining some semblance of a redevelopment effort. attempts to communicate the status and problems to the public have not been totally successful, judging from reactions of public speakers at meetings.

Here’s the latest summary and you can watch the meeting video, too:

http://oxnard.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=46&clip_id=2943&meta_id=145050

 

Woman asks for City of Oxnard business loan forgiveness

In 1997, Ms. Tracy Randolph was granted a $12,000 business loan by the city Economic Development Loan Committee. For reasons which aren’t of paramount importance to this discussion, she defaulted. Oxnard took her to court and got a judgment to enforce it, which was dishonored.  Council seemed to be willing to settle for remaining loan principal of $10 thousand only, due to the circumstances, but is worried about setting bad precedents and not defending the city’s interest. So the case was referred to Counsel for further research/recommendations

The big question is why was Oxnard doing business loans, are they still doing them, how many more are out there and how good is that paper? Staff could not answer those questions posed to them, but they may have to.

 

WhistelblowerPerello calls for whistleblower protection

Councilman Bert Perello called on City Manager Greg Nyhoff to provide formal protection for whistleblowers (informants) who alert city officials/public about  fraud. waste and abuse. In the past, city employees have sometimes been penalized for doing so. Also, the city has sometimes not acted after such notice. Perello also called for more whistleblowers to step forward, and vowed to act upon tips and protect sources.

 

Steve Huber calls for action on fraud, waster, abuseFraudWasteAbuse

2014 Oxnard City Council candidate Steve Huber called for an Internal Control office and a waste/fraud/abuse hotline, as well as controls on city employee credit card purchases and use of government furnished computers. Council reception seemed favorable. City Manager Nyhoff also agreed with Huber, but says he’s initially relying on input from outside consultant studies.

 

CuttingRedTape“One Stop” permit center update

This wasn’t covred at the last meeting. It was on the agenda for the week before, but was never discussed. When asked why, Mayor Flynn told us that it wasn’t far enough along to warrant discussion yet. It has supposedly been a priority to streamline the permitting process as it is perceived as a major roadblock to business start-up, development, expansion  and improvement in the city. However, it has been removed from agendi multiple times. People have compared Oxnard’s process unfavorably with other cities and California is hard enough to do business in, per survey after survey.  

Report indicated that: project is still in planning stages, held several stakeholder meetings. They appear to have agreement on several points: Force consistency of process among planners, let applicants know where they stand- timeline, steps, fees required and status (checklist to start business), stop double taxation of realtors; small business streamlined program to include all businesses, use benchmarking, online info and for  some applications.

No financial impact is envisioned.

We have LINKED a copy of the report for your reference.

 

Other

Councilman MacDonald pointed out that the first -time home buyer program is now expanded to also include “fixer-uppers. He said call for more info: 805-485-7400.

 

George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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