Simi Council Quietly Passes Special Tax; Sorts Through Oil Pipeline Confusion and Discusses Public Transit Monday Night

By Kevin B. Harris

Like a magician’s “disappearing coin” trick, the Simi Valley City Council quietly authorized a Community Facilities special tax for the Town Center Project when they included the vote as part of a 10-item, “Consent Calendar” single vote on Monday night. They also sorted through the necessary steps to establish a public hearing on a local oil pipeline renewal, and and discussed details  and options for Simi’s local public transit.

Tax Passed. Wait, What?

Item number four during the meeting was the “Consent Calendar,” which this time consisted of 12 separate, numbered items. These items ranged from approving the minutes of previous meetings to local management contract extensions to authorizing construction bids for the Cochran Street Bridge widening. But it also including item 9 – authorizing a special tax for 2017-18 for the Simi Town Center Project. And without any fanfare or discussion, without any Council debate or public comment, the Council bundled Consent Calendar items 1-10 into a single, quick vote, which passed unanimously. And that was that.

Renew the Pipeline?

Item 11 of the Consent Calendar, however, was not included in the bulk vote. It was a very wordy “resolution of intent” to consider renewing an oil pipeline application from Crimson California Pipeline. L.P. and the establishment of its related public hearing. The topic was presented to the Council by Linda Swan, Assistant to the City Manager.

Mayor Bob Huber initially asked, “We’re renewing a pipeline that was approved 25 years ago. Are there any changes to it in the past 25 years?”

Swan’s response, while clearly intended to offer assurance to the Mayor and the rest of the Council, only seemed to introduce some confusion. “Mayor, I do not believe so. The pipeline was actually here long before 25 years ago (originally established in 1969). They do have the ability to shut down the pipeline from Long Beach. They are accessible and available. And we’ll be having a public hearing on the 12th (of June) to go over all the formalities,” Swan said.

Mayor Huber then responded by asking why they were approving the pipeline right now, if the public hearing is not until June 12. Swan explained that they have to have an order of intent before they can have a public hearing, at which point another council member chimed in and said, “That’s exactly right. It’s public utilities code 6201.”

The Mayor then confirmed, “So this is just intent. We’re not approving it.”

The Resolution of Intent passed the vote, with Council Member Glen Becerra abstaining. 

What’s Next for Simi Public Transit?

During the meeting’s “Continued Business” section, Item 7B was an in depth report by city staff on the Short Range Transit Plan and the Transit Fleet Assessment. In simple terms, staff discussed various options and scenarios related to local public transit changes, but suggested to Council that they defer any purchasing decisions (for bus fleets, among other items), until their transit plan is completed. 

Issues discussed ranged from whether large busses were still needed, where it was pointed out that even with low ridership, the city receives Federal grants to help pay for the large busses. Mayor Huber took offense at that line of reasoning, however, and pointed out that large busses riding around town mostly empty looked bad to city residents, and that it was still taxpayer dollars that was paying for the busses. 

The question also came up about the cost difference between contracting out for city busses and staff verses owning them, and whether Simi can allow advertising on city busses. When it was mentioned that the City Council approved advertising on city busses several years ago, Council Member Keith Mashburn said, “There’s something wrong with that,” referring to the fact that the city has still not implemented such an agreement with advertisers. On nearly all of the issues and questions that came up, staff said their plan either had already addressed them, or would be addressing them, before it would be presented to the Council. 

The issue was closed without any actions required by the Council at this time. 

Near the opening of the meeting, City Council declared May 15, 2017 as “Peace Officers Memorial Day.” The presentation was given by Mayor Huber and Police Chief Levinstein, and Commander John Parks represented the Simi Valley Police Department during the brief memorial ceremony. Chief Levinstein told the Council that Commander Parks was a member of the SWAT Team on August 4, 1995, where Simi Valley Officer Clark was slain.

“This city loves our police officers,” Mayor Huber said.

Commander John Parks shakes hands with Mayor Huber

The next City Council meeting will be on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 6:30 pm. The agenda for this meeting can be found online at the following url: http://simivalley.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=1924

The video of the meeting can be found at: http://www.ci.simi-valley.ca.us/index.aspx?page=278

 


Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists having worked for the LA Times and Newhall Signal. He is now also a Realtor and videographer, and lives with his two children in Thousand Oaks. 

Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

6 Responses to Simi Council Quietly Passes Special Tax; Sorts Through Oil Pipeline Confusion and Discusses Public Transit Monday Night

  1. Bruce Boyer May 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    As a regular attender of theSimi Council meetings ( I was there Monday night) the Council violates the Brown Act at every meeting in that they do not allow Public Comment an any item, thet only allow a 180 second catch-all at the beginning of the session. I will send in a letter to the City Attorney ( as I regularly do) objecting to the votes taken by the Council as illegal and void due to the Brown Act violations.
    Huber is just talk, NONE of them, even Judge and Mashburn, the two alleged ‘Conservatives” will step out of lock step.

    They pass the laws to abuse us and tax us and the sheep just bleat in agreement. I can count the TWO other persons who have spoken out against the Council in the last year plus ( one of whom merely rants at them about Spanish language books in the library…)
    I suggest others do the same and attend the meetings to castigate the Fascists for the violations of our rights.

    Evil is triumphant because you ‘good men’ do nothing!

    Reply
  2. Jeff McVicker May 19, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Camarillo keeps buying busses that are almost always empty

    Reply
  3. Kevin Harris May 19, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Bill:

    About the federal funds… Yes, that is exactly what Mayor Huber’s point was. But it is not fully established yet whether city busses in Simi DO ride around empty or not, or how often. That data will become available once the Short Range Transit Plan is completed.

    Reply
    • Citizen Reporter May 19, 2017 at 10:25 am

      This was also an issue when they were trying to pas the huge County Measure AA trans. tax.

      Reply
  4. William Hicks May 19, 2017 at 9:15 am

    SO, receiving federal funds is the reason to continue a transportation service that few people use? Doesn’t anyone ask where those funds come from in the first place?

    Reply
  5. William Hicks May 18, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    Looks like a familiar direction that some Ventura Cities are taking.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 + 7 =