Thursday, March 30, 2006
Santa Paula Safari
Yesterday I went on a daylong safari to the Pilanesberg National Park about two hours north of Johannesburg. Lots of stories and photos taken. Perhaps most interesting was my ability to "Shop Santa Paula." My guide was an associate of Santa Paulan's George and Sharon Nesbitt. The Nesbitt's help market a safari tour company from Santa Paula. I had seen George's truck in the City Hall parking lot promoting his business and he helped arrange my tour. In addition, George and Sharon were here in SA and came along on the trek through Pilanesberg.
We saw lots of animals including two of the "Big Five" game one looks for in SA reserves and national parks: my friend in the picture and a very large rino. I also had the surreal experience of discussing the finer points of Santa Paula land use development and sewer rate increases in the African bush. My thanks to our excellent guide Nills, George and Sharon for a great day
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Newsy Items on Monday's Santa Paula City Council Agenda
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Farewell Dinner in Joburg
Traveling in the Bubble
Tuesday we visited Soweto, one of the more celebrated townships in Johannesburg. This is where the uprising against apartheid really gained worldwide attention with the shooting of a young student Hector Pieterson on June 16, 1976. There is a memorial and museum in Soweto to mark the event. We also visited an informal settlement where people live in shacks. The photo is from the daycare center at the settlement. "Touring" of these settlements is part of the cultural tourism industry here. Our bus stopped at the settlement and we were met by two men who make their living giving short tours. We were there about 20 minutes. We even were taken into one families home. It is a little strange going to these very poor areas as tourists. However, the locals say it is important that people from around the world see all of this. They are right on that account.
We also visited the house that Nelson Mandela lived before he was imprisoned and where his wife Winnie lived until he was released. A mini museum of artifacts from his life.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Our group today toured the Alexandra Renewal Project in Johannesburg. "Alex" is a one mile square area north of downtown which has over 350,000 residents. Yes, you read that right. This was an area during apartheid that had no electricity, little water or sewer and one road in and out. Much has been done over the last several years in redevelopment (note the electrical poles in photo) but still much more needs to be done. There are an average of seventeen families living in the yards of the existing houses in Alex. It all is a little mindboggling, but even more so to consider what it mush have been like ten years ago and more. The area is about a ten minute drive from the Sandton area where I am staying, which is the nicest part of Joburg. Alex has a steady stream of new housing going in and plans to develop sites for cultural tourism as has another area nearby, Soweto, where we visit tomorrow. Our other stop today was to tour the Constitution Hill redevelopment area where they have taken an old fort and prison and have developed a new mixed use project which contains the country's Constitutional Court. That building was an amazing piece of architecture.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
City Tile to Joburg City Manager
Johannesburg City Manager Pascal Moloi receives a City of Santa Paula tile, likely the first ever presented in Africa.
Nelson Mandela Square
Our meetings today were adjacent to this square with statue on Nelson Mandela. Notice how large it is compared to people walking by.
City Managers Don't Always Play Nice
An ironic part of a committee made up of city managers to discuss furthering good governance is how poorly they work together. The first three hours of our meeting consisted of people talking over one another and everyone making long speeches to get across the simplest concepts. And this is the good government we are advocating around the world........... Fortunately people loosened up after lunch.
Dinner with South Africa's City Managers
The discussions were interesting, but because all this started about 7:00 PM in such a large setting, many in the group drifted. This was compounded by having to break for appetizers in another room, come back for more speeches and then go out again for dinner buffet and return back to the dining room. Big group to keep going back and forth. We left at just after 10 PM when the dancing began.
This country was really transformed after apartheid and the details of government are no exception. Too much to get into now, but will write more later in the trip.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Robots and Driving on Wrong Side of Road
We had a great time together and I began to learn a little about the different English that is spoken here. Traffic signals are known as "robots" and the pound sign on a telephone is known as a "hash." Then there is the whole matter of driving on the other side of the road. I have been to England and Australia and have experienced the strange feeling of being in the passenger seat on the left before, but it is still an unsettling experience.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The Long Road to SA
About 30 hours later I arrived and was met at the airport by two nice men from the City of Joburg (a common abbreviation here). It too about an hour to make the trip to the hotel in morning rush hour traffic much like LA. My driver decided to take a short cut through a residential section of town and I saw block after block of houses with either barbed wire or electrified wire on walls surrounding all the houses. The hotel is very nice, but only 26K dial-up Interent connection in the room. So the Internet connection of choice is in the lobby with highspeed WiFi. It is early evening now (10 hours later than Santa Paula) so the bar is busy with apparently tourists and locals. This afternoon I went with a few of the American managers who are here and their wives shopping. The European and Australian managers arrive tonight and tomorrow for our meetings that start late tomorrow afternoon.
Blog Takes a Road Trip
Arrests in Middle School Robbery
A Santa Paula Elementary School District employee was in jail Wednesday because police say she tried to buy computers with district money and, along with an accomplice, stole electronics from a school.
Wendy Gonzalez of Santa Paula, who's on temporary leave from the district, has been charged with burglary, possession of stolen property, conspiracy and embezzlement, said the Santa Paula Police Department. Gonzalez, 31, also faces burglary, identity theft and attempted grand theft charges in Burbank, Santa Paula police said.
James Romo of Moorpark, the suspected partner in the school theft, is accused of burglary, possession of stolen property and conspiracy charges. He is jail with bail set at $20,000.
Gonzalez's bail is $20,000 for the Santa Paula charges and $60,000 on the Burbank case.
During the weekend of March 11, $7,000 worth of computer equipment and a plasma television were stolen from Isbell Middle School, police said.
Police did not disclose how they tracked down Gonzalez and Romo, but on Tuesday they executed a search warrant at a home in the 300 block of North Mill Street in Santa Paula and in the 800 block of Valley Road in Moorpark. Officers said they found stolen computers at the Santa Paula residence and a stolen computer and the plasma television at the Moorpark location.
Burbank police also suspect Gonzalez attempted to purchase $11,000 worth of computer equipment from an Office Depot store in the city. She pretended to be another school district employee at that time.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
"Go Home to Santa Paula"
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Latino Agriculture Heritage Day
St. Patrick's Day Parade
The City Council was out today at the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Ventura. They were riding on the Fire Department's antique Mack truck. While not in regular service, the engine is pressed into duty in addition to regular parade appearances from time to time. The floods of February, 2005 brought the Mack out for several days of sevrice.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Santa Paula Freeway Closures
Portions of Highway 126 from Ventura to Santa Paula will be closed from Monday through Friday for repaving work.
From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, the on-ramps and off-ramps between Victoria Avenue in Ventura and Hallock Road in Santa Paula will be closed intermittently. One eastbound or westbound lane might also be closed between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.
From 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., each night, all eastbound lanes from Kimball Road to Briggs Road will be closed. The westbound lanes will be closed in Ventura, from Highway 101 to Victoria Avenue.
The on-ramps and off-ramps from Victoria Avenue in the west to Hallock Road in the east will also be closed every night.
Drivers can use Telegraph Road to avoid the freeway. The closures are part of a $10 million CalTrans project that is scheduled to last the rest of the year
Thursday, March 16, 2006
When Is The Hospital Reopening?
Here is the latest from Dr. Sam Edwards: The hospital is nearing
completion on its physical plant upgrades and is now hiring the staff to
begin work. It is the County's plan to have the necessary staff in
place to allow the hospital to be in operation by the third week of
April. However, before the hospital can actual accept patients it must
receive final approvals from the appropriate state agencies that license
hospitals. These final approvals can only happen once the hospital is
really in operation, but still not accepting patients. So, it is the
County's hope that their final approvals happen quickly once it is
operational and that it can start accepting patients sometime in the
third or fourth week of April. Likely a ribbon cutting and grand
opening the first or second week of May.
Newsy Items on Monday's Santa Paula City Council Agenda
1. Annual hearing for allocation of Community Development Block
2. Appeal of Planning Commission decision denying use of an
abandoned freestanding pole sign at Harvard and Palm. This is a former
Texaco sign that the gas station owner would like to once again use.
City staff has denied, upheld by Planning Commission, because of the
blight caused by sign as City tries to clean up Harvard Blvd. Discussion
at Planning Commission was spirited.
3. Discussion of possible public safety utility user tax initiative
for November, 2006 ballot. City tried such an initiative in 2004 and it
failed. Staff is recommending a different approach this time with more
modest costs and benefits. Council will be asked if planning should
move forward on such an initiative. If so, Council has until beginning
of July to craft initiative and place on the ballot.
4. Status report on our efforts to maintain and create affordable
housing in the community.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Council Meeting Playback on Channel 10
Highway 126 on/off ramp repair
Friday, March 10, 2006
Highway 150 Construction Update
Currently, there are 7 locations on the upper half of Hwy 150 that are not yet under construction. Various environmental issues with state and federal agencies have not yet been mitigated. Specifically, there is concern over rubble and debris from the construction falling into the riverbed. It is estimated that the projects will take 2.5 months once the work commences.
There are another 7 locations along the lower half of Hwy 150 that have cleared all permit requirements and construction is under way. It is estimated that work will be completed by mid-May.
Fagan Initiative Measure Number Assigned
The County has assigned this initiative as Measure E-6 on the June 6,
Fagan Canyon Initiative and Argument Updates
The City Council adopted last night the needed documents to place an
initiative on the June 6, 2006 ballot for the approval of the Fagan
Canyon development. This initiative would approve the General Plan
amendment, Specific Plan and Development Agreement previously approved
by the City Council in December. I will clean up the documents as they
were approved by the Council on our website over the weekend.
City Clerk Josie Herrera spoke this morning with the County Elections
Division regarding Arguments/Rebuttals for the Fagan Canyon Project
Approval Initiative. She said that they are required to publish a legal
notice with the deadlines; however, since she set the date for the
deadlines as the City's Election Official, they would have to accept
whatever the City Council adopted as deadlines. So, the arguments will
be accepted by the City Clerk until 5:00 p.m. today, and the rebuttals
until 5:00 p.m. Monday. Also, the County will accept the 10-day
examination period to March 23.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Business Assistance Seminar
The City's Economic Development Department is sponsoring a Small
Business Assistance Seminar on Wednesday, March 15 at 6 PM at the Santa
Paula Community Center, 530 W. Main Street. A panel of business
assistance providers will discuss available technical and financial
assistance for new and expanding businesses in Santa Paula. Included
will be Cal State Channel Islands Small Business Institute, Economic
Development Collaborative - Ventura County, Small Business Development
Center, Sunbelt Business Brokers and California Coastal Rural
Development Corporation. For more info, call 933-4299.
City/RDA FY 2004/05 Financial Statements
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Santa Paula City Council Special Meeting Thursday Night
The Santa Paula City Council will meet Thursday night at 7:30 PM to
consider an initiative petition to place approval of the Fagan Canyon
project on the June 6, 2006 ballot. The documents for the meeting can
be found on our website.
Reserve FF/EMT Aushley Baker's award
Santa Paula Fire Department Reserve Firefighter/EMT Aushley Baker Wilhite will be one of the recipients of the American Red Cross (Ventura County Chapter) Clara Barton award on Saturday, March 18 at the Ronald Reagan Library.
Here is a quote from the American Red Cross Ventura County website http://www.arcventura.org/:
"Female Emergency Responder of the Year – Professional emergency responder from law enforcement, search and rescue, medicine, and professional or volunteer fire fighter who has performed life saving tasks under extraordinary circumstances during the past three years.
Aushley Baker Wilhite, the only female volunteer firefighter in the Santa Paula Volunteer Fire Department."
She was nominated through the efforts of Supervisor Kathy Long and her Administrative Assistant Martin Hernandez.
Tickets for the event are $150 and further details are on the above website.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Public Works Project Update
Roof Repair Project: This project is to repair/replace roofs on 5 City buildings. The bid opening took February 1, 2006. Staff is currently reviewing the bids and is 50% complete.
Harvard Street Tree Project: The project is currently under construction. The project is anticipated to be complete by end of March.
Green Street Alley Improvements: The project bid opening took place February 9, 2006. Only one bid was received and is currently under review.
Bike Trail Project: This project is currently under design. The design team is in the preliminary design stage. A public workshop is going to be scheduled for late April.
Fire Station 81 & 82 Veh Exhaust: The contract has been awarded and the manufacturer of the specialized equipment has met with Fire Department staff to decide on the exact location of the equipment. It is anticipated this work will be complete by end of March.
Teague Park: The Teague Park Project conceptual plan is nearly complete. The plan will be brought forward for design review and to City Council in April.
Public Works Construction Standard Drawings: Building and Safety staff reviewed the proposed package and their comments were incorporated. At this time, Public Works staff is finalizing the package for approval. It is scheduled to go to Council for approval in March.
Well 12 Rehab: This project is being advertised for construction bids. The bid date is March 13, 2006. The well is a critical facility for the City and routine well rehabilitation is required.
Well 12 Filter Media Replacement Project: This project is currently advertised for construction bids. The bid date is March 9, 2006. The filter media was installed with the original installation and is due to be replaced.
Well 11 Piping Modifications: This project will improve the piping configuration between Well 11 and Well 13, improving efficiency of both wells. The project bid opening took place February 22, 2006. Three bids were received and are currently under review by staff. It is anticipated that the contract will be awarded by the end of March.
Well 6 & 7 Abandonment: This project is nearing completion. Final work is still required.
Water Pipeline Replacement Projects: There are two projects currently in the design phase. It is anticipated that the first project will be advertised for construction bids in late March. The second project is anticipated to be ready for bidding in April.
Citywide Stormdrain Masterplan: Proposals to complete the Stormdrain Masterplans were received from three consulting firms and are currently under review.
Water Recycling Facility (WRF): The design for the City’s new WRF is underway. A 30% Preliminary design is due to be complete by late March.
TV Meeting Schedule
The following will be the schedule on Channel 10 for meeting playback:
March 2, 2006 East Area One Workshop
Thursday, March 9 - 6 PM
Sunday, March 12 - 1 PM
March 6, 2006 City Council Meeting
Sunday, March 12 - 2 PM
Thursday, March 14 - 4 PM
March 9, 2006 Special City Council Meeting
Tuesday, March 9 - 7:30 PM - LIVE
Monday, March 13 - 6:30 PM
Thursday, March 16 - 6:30 PM
Article 34 Election Moves Forward
The City Council directed staff to draft a resolution urging the Santa
Paula Housing Authority to call for an Article 34 election which would
give the Authority the ability to construct housing projects on their
own. Housing Authorities in eight of Ventura County's ten cities
already have this approval. Resolution will likely come back to the
City Council in April requesting that the Housing Authority place this
issue on the November, 2006 ballot.
City Council Repeals Fagan Canyon Approvals
The City Council last night repealed its approval of the Fagan Canyon
project. This was done in response to the qualified referendum which
would have repealed the approval of the General Plan amendment for the
project. The Council could have either placed that issue on the ballot
or repealed their action. With the repeal, the City Council directed
staff to prepare an initiative that would include the previously
approved specific plan, development agreement and general plan amendment
for the project to put before the voters. This draft initiative will be
presented at a special City Council meeting Thursday night at 7:30 PM.
Meeting will be televised.
Monday, March 06, 2006
East Area One Presentation
Think We Got Problems......
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times today has a great article on the trouble facing two City Councils in Orange County: the appropriateness of entertainment prior to the meeting. To have these kind of problems.......
Friday, March 03, 2006
Fagan Referendum Decision Finalized
Newsy Items on Monday's Santa Paula City Council Agenda
1. Fagan Canyon. The City Council expects to consider either
placing a citizen referendum on the June 6, 2006 ballot to rescind the
City Council's approval of the project or move forward and rescind the
approval on their own. As of 5 PM Friday, the City still has not
received a final ruling from a Ventura County Superior Court Judge who
issued a preliminary ruling rejecting a writ to block the referendum
from the ballot. The Council's consideration of this issue could change
based on word from the Court.
2. Discussion of requesting the Santa Paula Housing Authority to
sponsor an initiative on the November, 2006 ballot to give them
authority to develop affordable housing projects on their own. The
Housing Authority is prohibited from doing this without voter approval
pursuant to Article 34 of the California Constitution. Every City in
the County except Santa Paula has attempted this and we believe every
city in the County except Fillmore currently has this voter approved
SEIU Approves New Two-Year Contract with City
SEIU membership approved the tentative agreement for a two-year contract
yesterday by a vote of 21 to 13. Item will be on City Council March 20
agenda for final approval.