Ventura City Council Discusses City Improvements

By Lori Denman-Underhill

The Ventura City Council meeting on May 21 opened up with a positive video, which was provided by Ventura Unified School District’s “Character Development Program,” called “Mayor for a Moment.” The program asked a fifth grader, Holland Campbell, from Lincoln Elementary School to write an essay based on the May theme, “Self Control.” Mayor Neal Andrews then granted Holland the key to the city and stated that if she needed assistance, she could call upon City Council.

Following the Mayor for a Moment presentation, a video with highlights of the Amgen Tour of Californiawas shown. The Mayor said that thousands recognize Ventura when this event is in town. He thanked everyone involved, including contributing companies, sponsors and 170 volunteers of the event. Certificates of Appreciation were given to many individuals. City Council received a gift from the Amgen Tour organizers, a surfboard signed by riders.

The mayor read a proclamation honoring National Public Works Week, which was approved congress and proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. This week is dedicated to those professionals involved in National Public Works. They maintain our city’s streets, infrastructure, public facilities and more and also design and manage projects that preserve our historic sites, water and more. Many individuals were honored.

Councilmember Jim Monahan, then described the purchase and installation of American flags for the Flag Program. Flags were posted across the city. Monahan offered acknowledgment and appreciation to those contributing individuals. The mayor thanked Monahan for this program.

Councilmember Mike Tracy noted the passing of retired Ventura Fire Engineer Gary Max Shuman. Max had a 29-year career with the city. Tracy said Max was a very positive, enthusiastic and special person and would custom design all the boxes on the sides of the fire trucks after picking them up for the stations. “We should all strive to be like him,” when involved in public service. Ventura artist Joe Cardella’s passing was also noted, by councilmember Cheryl Heitmann.

The mayor also closed this portion of the meeting in memory of the passing of 10 victims of the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting. “We should respect and honor them,” he said.

The meeting continued on with consent items. These included:

  • Downtown and wellness district sidewalk improvements, Ventura Ave. to Seaward Ave., authorization to advertise. (further sidewalk improvements will be discussed at other City Council meetings)
  • Downtown parking district pay stations replacement
  • Debris basin emergency protective measures

No one moved to discuss consent items. The Consent Public Hearing Item was discussed next. This was “Street Lighting District Number 26 – Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Annual Assessment Rate,” was discussed.

The staff recommendation for this item, as told by the mayor, continue the assessments at the current rate for the fiscal year 2018 to 2019. This is a continuation of a program. No public speakers. Council moved and seconded.

Council then moved onto the formal item portion of the evening. This was the “Public Works Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) – Quarterly Update.” Acting City Manager Dan Paranick. Current engineering designs include near finished projects, being Olivas Park Extension at 90 percent completion and Telegraph Road widening at 90 percent completion. Other upgrades were discussed. Downtown sidewalk repairs this Summer would include downtown corridors. An outreach program will be notifying downtown businesses of this news, dates and information. Paranick discussed SB1, in order to fund infrastructure. He said this is funding they need as a city and county. He said that there is an initiative on the ballot to repeal SB1, so note this as a point of interest.

A public speaker took to the mic following the discussions of road improvements. He said that the problem of vagrancy still exists and requested to use surplus money to provide more police presence in the city, and not spend the money on updating the parking meters, “which work fine,” he said. “Just the other day, last week, on my way to work at 4:30 in the morning, a lady comes by while I am pumping gas… screaming at me at 4:30 in the morning. It worked out really nice, it was cleaned up nice for the Amgen Tour. But the problem still hasn’t gone away yet. It’s still a reality. I just learned in this meeting that you have a little bit of a surplus. Well, Chief (Corney) is requesting more funds. We need officers to be there and to make a presence. These people will eventually… you don’t have to arrest anyone there, you just have to have a presence there all the time. We need to fund some of that. We need to address other issues at this time. This problem is still a problem of vagrancy.”

There were no comments on this public speaker’s comments. Next meeting will be June 4.

City Council Video, May 21:

City Council Agenda, May 21:

City Council Agenda Items:

Lori Denman-Underhill has been a professional journalist since 1996. She has worked as associate editor for the Los Angeles Daily News TODAY Magazines and has freelanced for LA Weekly, and more. She is now the Ventura reporter for Citizens Journal.

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