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Ventura City Council- Housing Regulatory Power Grab!


 Attend Tonight!

 

Dear Mayor Fulton, Deputy Mayor Tracy, Councilmembers Monahan, Andrews,Dear

 

Protect Your Privacy and Property Rights
Attend tonight: 6 PM Item 7,  501 Poli, City Hall Council Chambers.

 

Dear Mayor Fulton, Deputy Mayor Tracy, Councilmembers Monahan, Andrews, Morehouse, Weir and Brennan, <?xml:namespace prefix = o />

The goals given by you to the Ventura Safe Housing Collaborative included economic benefits, promote permit pulling and ensuring safety. The number one category of input from the public was fear of code enforcement, and reducing fear was one of the goals you assigned to the committee. Many have a concern the Staff’s recommendations will increase fear, prevent permit pulling and prevent economic benefits from accruing to our city and community. Here’s why:
  1. Code Enforcement's staff report, did not acknowledge the Ventura Safe Housing Collaborative's six recommendations designed to reach the goals you assigned.
  2. Instead, the staff focused on other goals not requested by the community:
    1. a resale inspection program to discover any un-permitted improvements
    2. a rental registration program that could require you to register your own home if you had to rent it out for an emergency leave of absence
There is no path to wholeness for citizens in the Code Enforcement staff’s recommendations. It is a continuation of an outdated punitive process.
4. Lack of due process is a serious issue and it was sidestepped in the Staff's report, but clearly addressed in the VSHC report, through the establishment of the Citizens’ Review Board.
5. When a property is turned over to the county for a collection process that can end in foreclosure, no objective party reviews the citations (some were cited for the sin of weeds..was it an elderly person who needed their lawn mowed?)
6. Continued Unjust Prosecution:  Since the City staff admits that their records of permits are incomplete, some of these folks may have been prosecuted unjustly for not having permits that actually were pulled in the past and lost by the City.
 7. The citizens’ input has been distorted by the Code Enforcement Staff. The staff edited 56 recommendations by the public to indicate the policies the public desired were already in place. Upon closer scrutiny, that is simply not so.
8. Code Enforcement claims it would cost the city too much money to improve a process, but there is no corresponding revenue projections.
8.  Staff refuses to inform citizens of all rights and remedies at first contact to reduce fear. They say that would cost the city $200,000. It’s a one-time form letter that would reduce fear. Fear Continues
  1. Staff refuses to drop the harsh practice of clouding titles for non-safety violations so a person cannot access their equity or a buyer cannot get a mortgage. This is a serious financial taking without due process. Increases Fear.
  2. Staff refuses to stop the harsh method of turning property owners over to the county for a collection process that can end in foreclosure.  Our City’s actions initiate a potential foreclosure process. Every other city in VC uses small claims court or a collection agency. Another financial taking without due process. Increases Fear
  3. Staff did not acknowledge the committee's recommendation for a reasonable Compliance program, so only two remedies remain, be wealthy enough to  hire an architect and start from scratch, or tear it down. Increases Fear and Violates General Plan.
  4. Staff refuses to allow due process or oversight through a Citizens Review Board so the road to financial ruin still has no Due Process. Without this, there is no legitimate community participation for buy-in. Increases Fear
  5. Staff ignored the committee's specific recommendation for an aggressive marketing plan , so whatever is done would not be known by the general public. Defeats Goal for Economic Benefit and Community Buy-In
  6. Staff refuses to disallow searches without a warrant  for code violations through the use of satellite cameras in the sky. This violates our 4th amendment right to privacy. Insisting this is ok because it has not been heard yet in the Supreme Court should not be the basis for inclusion in our City’s policies. Increases Fear A better measure would be: Is this the right thing to do and will it reduce fear?
15. Staff insists that those with second units must live on their properties. What if they have to go into assisted living? Some are there already. Must they move back home?
16. Staff does not address compliance with State Civil Code 1941 (essentially HUD standard,) which Staff has given “selectively” as the standard of compliance.  Increases Fear and Reduces Economic Benefit
Some key recommendations of the committee, were dismissed or not addressed:
All of these Ensure Safe Housing:
  1. Due process and citizen oversight through a Citizens Review Board. Staff claims the Construction Appeals Board does this. According to the Chair of that board, the CAB regards do-it your-selfers as competitors. Their members are Building professionals and there is an obvious conflict of interest.  An objective forum for grievances and due process is needed (a jury of one’s peers.) This would Reduce Fear, and Create Equity
  2. The Resolution to allow legalization of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Ventura's safe non-conforming properties, both commercial and residential. Creates Economic Benefit, Promotes Permit Pulling, Reduces Fear, Creates Equity, Ensures Safe Housing and Creates Community Buy-in.
  3. A realistic Compliance program. Reduces Fear and Creates Economic Benefit
  4. An aggressive marketing program to inform the public.  Creates Economic Benefit, Reduces Fear
  5. Substitution of private home safety inspectors for city inspectors Creates  Community Buy-in, Reduces Fear and Creates Economic Benefit
Within the VSHC six recommendations are the details that make them work, such as mitigating adverse neighborhood impacts and city liability.  By ignoring the six recommendations of the committee and instead, rephrasing the 56 prior recommendations that were used to implement and detail out the six recommendations, the process is corrupted and confused. An ordinary person who did not work for code enforcement could not understand it. Adopting just Code Enforcement’s recommendations will prevent community buy-in, increase fear, not ensure safety, discourage permit pulling and no measurable economic benefit would accrue to the city or community. Ignoring the Collaborative’s recommendations and instead adopting the staff reommendations defeats our community’s need for a  re-building of trust and partnership.

The Ventura Safe Housing Committee spent up to two years to build a safer, more efficient  ship, rather than adding more deck chairs to the Titanic. Some members of the VSHC are willing to continue and organize the Citizens Review Board to help the staff implement the improvements desired by the community. This is the highly skilled volunteer help our Mayor requested in his State of the City address! This is your first opportunity to “walk that talk.”

 

Let the people help you move Ventura forward, as you requested,

 

Camille Harris

 

 

Attend the February 28th City Council Meeting, 6 pm, 501 Poli, City Hall, 2nd Floor for the Council's Approval or Not of The Recommendations from the Public to the Ventura Safe Housing Collaborative for:
Legalizing Ventura Properties, Amnesty of Penalties, Reducing Fear of Code Enforcement, Promoting Permit Pulling and Ensuring Safe Housing.

 

Self Government Will Cease to Exist if Treated as a Spectator Sport. The VSHC has done everything they can do to get your voices heard. Now it is up to you!  Show up, fill a seat, speak for 3 minutes or fill out a comment card. Click the Star article link to bone up! It's about your home!

 

 

If you are not interested in property or the improvement of code enforcement policies in Ventura, we apologize for this message and request that you please scroll down and remove your name from this newsletter. Thank you

 

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Comment by Ventura Patriot on March 2, 2011 at 3:58pm

follow up from Lana ....

 

Dear Friends,
 
The Council hears your concerns! They are taking action!  Let’s show our support and appreciation! There are just five more recommendations to go!
 
Michael Mehas of the Ventura Safe Housing Collaborative Report Committee presented the Six Recommendations of the VSHC with great eloquence to the Council and a packed house Monday night, February 28th. Michael challenged one and all to create a new paradigm of positive energy in government and the community. There were 20 speakers and a large stack of comment cards. Citizens erupted in applause for the presentation of Mr. Mehas.
 
The Council is addressing directly the VSHC six over-arching recommendations, section by section. The Final Report is very comprehensive, giving explicit steps for implementation of each recommendation, and can only be done one step at a time. The first step was a big one: legalizing undocumented second units. The staff was directed to come back with that ordinance by May.
 
The five remaining recommendations for the Council are:
 
1      A legalization plan for all Ventura properties, including commercial
Status: Michael Mehas stated he and other Ventura attorneys would work with the City Attorney to ensure legality.
2      A practical compliance plan that provides alternatives to demolition or hiring an architect to start from scratch.
Status: to be addressed
3      Improving program guidance (includes revision of definition of substandard to mean unsafe as opposed to just lacking a permit or missing a screen)
                  Status: Staff is working on an action plan to be addressed
4      Citizens Review Board for tenant landlord disputes, due process, citation review prior to city’s creating conditions for potential financial takings, etc.
Status: Councilmember Andrews requested that the VSHC return with a more specific mission statement and charter for the proposed Citizens’ Review Board.)
5      An aggressive marketing plan…so everyone can sign up!     
Status: needs revenue projections to create benchmarking, and could probably use some volunteer help.  Any marketing mavens out there?
 
Council addressed your concerns with the following actions:
 
1.     Directed staff to write an ordinance for existing second units, carving out recommendations from the VSHC Resolution. The Resolution was written to legalize all safe Ventura properties over the age of 30 years, including commercial buildings. (Mayor Bill Fulton directed extended registration time to December 2012, Christy Weir made final motion))
2.     Denied staff’s recommendation for mandatory rental registrations, which could have required citizens to publicly register their own homes if they had to rent them out in an emergency. (Christy Weir brought up the privacy issue)
3.     Denied the staff’s recommendation for mandatory resale inspections, and directed them to meet with the Coastal Board of Realtors and ask for the board’s recommendation. (Realtors Fred Evans and Joe Virnig spoke)
 
Missing permits are a major problem facing Venturans. People, who fear discovery of past improvements lacking permits, are afraid to have code enforcement on the property, and citizens are learning they have the right to say “no.” to requests for entry. So, they have to stay under the radar for repairs.  Many contractors, if they want the business, have learned to go along or not even mention permits.
 
A property, lacking permits, can be deemed substandard, and a number of financial trials can accrue to the owners, including loss of insurance, loss of access to equity and worst case, loss of the home through a collection process that can in foreclosure.  That’s a key reason the VSHC drafted a Resolution to legalize all nonconforming properties over the age of 30 years, both residential and commercial. People will lose their fear of pulling permits and stay legal. That’s why some are referring to the Resolution as the Freedom from Fear Resolution.
 
By carving out the second unit issue from the Resolution, the Council did set the stage to help everyone get off the merry-go-round of decades of un-permitted improvements and living under the radar.
 
Currently, the compliance alternatives are tear it down or be rich enough to hire an architect to start from scratch. The VSHC came up with a ‘fresh start” Compliance program creating a third remedy, more attuned to our citizens’ reduced financial circumstances.
 
 Two community buy-in objections remain on signing up for the second unit legalization program:
Establishing date of service to establish amount of fees to be paid.
 
a. Many of the undocumented second units have no documents showing the date of service as they have never been rented, but only used to house family members.
b. The VSHC recommended owners sign a sworn statement under penalty of perjury on when the unit was built or converted.
 
A substantial number of owners of second units are afraid to have code enforcement on their property to inspect a second unit. They suspect their primary home has other undocumented improvements lacking permits, and don’t want their properties deemed substandard, as the result of that visit.
 
The VSHC recommendation was to substitute a private inspection by a licensed contractor or certified home safety inspector for a city inspector. They essentially become ombudsmen. Code enforcement wants to come in after the private inspection to inspect the inspection. Omitting the redundant inspection from the city will unleash the pent up desire for legalization and create community buy-in.
The other answer would be to offer the legalization of the entire property at the same time.
 
All Venturans owe a huge debt to the Ventura Safe Housing Collaborative, and especially to Vice Chair Ken Luper, a nationally recognized DOD systems specialist. Mr. Luper helped to distill many of the problems and solutions for the committee, created the presentations and presented them at the public workshops. Collectively, the committee put in over 1,000 hours to gather public input, study the codes and issues, and put out a final report that addressed nearly 2,000 public comments.
 
It is YOU, the public, who create positive change. You showed up at the workshops, you speak, write emails, make calls; you attended the Council meeting this past Monday, February 28th and supported the work of the VSHC.  It is your voices, after all, wanting to be heard. Just a little more effort and patience and Ventura will have a fresh start for everyone!
 
Remember that self-government will not survive as a spectator sport and that, according to Thomas Jefferson:  “The citizens are the ultimate guardians of their liberty.” Government does not have to adversarial when you are positively engaged and your elected representatives hear you.
 
Standing Together, You Can Create a Fresh Start for the Greatest Good!
Next Meeting is May 8th, 6 PM, City Hall 501 Poli
 
Study the VSHC Final Report at www.grandfatherventura.com and send your comments to your representatives. They want to hear from you!
(copy ad paste their addresses into your email address box:

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  “We’re at that awkward stage where it’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.”

- Claire Wolf

 

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its "basic source".
-       The Telegraph (good job Barack!) 

 

Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable     - Robert F. Kennedy

 

 "The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." -- Albert Einstein

  

The four boxes of LIBERTY:
1. soap
2. ballot
3. jury
4. ammo
.....in that order!

 

"The actual need for a service, its relevance and value is always subordinate to the bureaucracy. This is the difference from the private sector: you go into a shop, and the sales assistant asks, 'Can I be of assistance to you, sir?' You go into a government agency: 'Get to the back of the queue and wait until you are called!”'

-       Alistair Mcleod

 

 

 "Only Malcolm X’s autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me. The blunt poetry of his words. His unadorned insistence on respect. He promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline."  

– Barack Hussein Obama 

 

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

-Oscar Wilde

 

“Anyone with an Obama 2012 Bumper Sticker is a Threat to the Gene Pool”

Congressman Allen West

 

“The Only People Who Don’t Want to Disclose the Truth are Those with Something to Hide."

- Barack Hussein Obama Soetoro

 

"If it takes a village to raise your kid, you’re in the wrong country."

-  Seen by Tim Clack II

  

"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

-Barack Hussein Obama Soetoro Soebarkah Bounel

  

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum. " 

- Noam Chomsky

  

"Judge me by the people with whom I surround myself." -

- Barack Hussein Obama Soetoro (we are, Barry)

 

"…whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force…"

Thomas Jefferson, Federal v. Consolidated Government

 

“Better to be paralyzed from the neck down than the neck up”

Charles Krauthammer.

 

"Sublata causa, tollitur effectus" (Remove the  cause and the effect will cease)

 "Civilization and anarchy are only seven meals apart"                          

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