Thank you to the many who encouraged my run for Thousand Oaks City Council. It is my pleasure to brining a diverse background and creative solutions to many of the city’s challenges. We have a long road ahead to November’s election to “Make A Great City Even Greater.”
Having worked in many capacities on the federal, state and local level, my desire is to bring a range of creative problem solving experience to the Thousand Oaks City Council. Areas needing attention and solutions by and for the people of the Conejo Valley include:
Development along Thousand Oaks Blvd. and Civic Arts Plaza
Development must preserve the look and feel that brought us here and what we cherish. I am pro-business and pro-development, however, I do not want Thousand Oaks to become Sherman Oaks. Big money developers have contributed heavily to the campaigns of those running for re-election. The developers want to push through major building projects which will change the city’s personality and appeal forever. This happened in Goleta, CA, just north of Santa Barbara. Big money came in and were able to get their people elected to city council and approved massive building projects. Goleta residents are unhappy with what happened and can never go back.
Those who contribute to my campaign do so knowing that I am grateful for their support but it will not curry special privileges, favors, or votes. Contribute because you like the vision of government’s role in your life.
Oppose Paying a Consultant $200,000 to Write a Request for a Proposal
Two city council members initially opposed sending the city’s waste hauler contract out for open bid. They wanted to automatically renew the current contracts Harris and Son and Waste Management.
I support sending similar contracts out for open bid to get the greatest service at the lowest price for Thousand Oaks.
I oppose the city council approval (5-0) to hire a consultant for $200,000 to write the Request for Proposal which will ultimately be paid by the consumer because the contract winner will figure this into the final bid price to provide the service.
Covid-19 and Our Economy
Walking the streets of Thousand Oaks, many of my favorite business are closed due to Covid-19. Many are businesses that will never open again. The lives of both employee and business owner have been changed directly and indirectly due to Covid-19.
Policy maker decisions regarding the pandemic are decided at the county and state public health levels. The city council does not have a role in the decision process of preventative practices versus the reopening of local businesses.
Thousand Oaks’ main source of revenue for the services we enjoy is through sales tax in our local economy. With the drop-off of business and flow of money in our local economy, a major fiscal crisis is looming on the horizon. We can weather the storm brewing but it will take leadership from someone with 30 years of business background running successful businesses, a Master’s Degree in business administration, and creative, out-of-the-box problem solving skills.
What the city can do to ease the blow to our economy and help business owners and their employees is expedite request for outdoor permits for activities like restaurants, hair stylists, gyms, martial arts studios, etc.
My hope and desire is for an effective, low cost treatment method and vaccine to be developed. Until then, the city is in this together to make our way through these trying times.
Earthquakes – Preventing Water Supply Shutdown to Ventura County
Law enforcement and fire personnel have been told by geological experts that the next earthquake will take down services like water, sanitation, electric, etc. for not days or weeks but most likely months before services are back online.
As an instructor at Ventura College, I teach students who want to enter the water treatment and wastewater treatment professions. During my run for city council in 2018, it became very clear that Thousand Oaks and Ventura County are extremely vulnerable to running out of drinkable water in such an earthquake scenario.
My call for a meeting with the Manager of Calleguas Municipal Water District and Thousand Oaks Project Manager about our city vulnerability in such a situation was agreed to.
We discussed the following and came to a solution.
- Ventura County and Thousand Oaks are almost 100% dependent on imported water from Los Angeles through the Metropolitan Water District.
- Water revenue for Ventura and Thousand Oaks water services leaves the city to benefit Los Angeles.
- Calleguas Metropolitan Water is our water treatment provider for the city and Ventura County. Its holding reservoir, Lake Bard, has only a 30-day supply of water.
- Were our supply lines from Los Angeles fail in an earthquake, it could be months before water service is returned to normal. This would exhaust Lake Bard’s holding supply.
The creative solution is to place water reserve tanks in the surrounding hills of Thousand Oaks which can be drawn upon if all water is cut off from Los Angeles. Also, a connection with Las Virgenes Water District could allow for the sharing of water in such a disaster.
No one but a few know of this meeting but I am delighted to be part of a solution for an impending disaster.
Water Sustainability for Thousand Oaks
A recent report from the Ventura County grand jury says that “without major, immediate changes, Ventura’s water shortages will be at a scary level within five years.” The report concluded that cities must address water needs. “Ventura County may have survived the worst of the state’s drought but . . . several cities rely too much on imported water and haven’t developed plans for an emergency water shortage.”
It’s clear that our cities need to address the issue because Sacramento legislature is not. Ventura County cities are on their own to solve this one.
Doing back-of-envelope calculations reveal a creative, economically viable solution including a continuous infrastructure revenue stream:
Calleguas Municipal Water District, which supplies the drinking water for Thousand Oaks and most of Ventura County, purchases annually 87,541 acrefeet of water, costing $82.5 million, from the Metropolitan Water District. After conventional water treatment, Calleguas distributes the drinking water to the city and county.
An innovative solution to consider, making the county less dependent on imported water, is to redirect the ultra-pure effluent back to Calleguas for reuse. It would save $11.4 million dollars for the Thousand Oaks resident which will lower the average homeowner $600 annually.
The end result is for Thousand Oaks to become less dependent on imported water in Los Angeles, for Central Valley farmers to have more water, and having a continual revenue stream to maintain water and wastewater systems without raising rates or floating construction bonds.
More efficient and responsive city government. Eliminate costly, job killing regulations. Eliminate duplicated city, county, state and federal regulations.
Government Employee Pension Reform
Pension reform is needed to stop shifting money from public services to CALPERS poor investment managers. Modify the city pension system to protect our city employees and keep funds available for city services. Stop the ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.
Tell Sacramento NO MORE Interference in Our City – Let Us Decide Our Future
Fight Sacramento social engineering policies and interference with how we run our city. It is our city not theirs.
Support the Arts, Music and Culture
The arts, music, and dance are part of cultural development and enjoyment in our city. The facilities for such events are best left to private enterprise to run. Outside of what it does best, government cannot provide a product or service as efficiently or economically as the private sector. What government can provide to cultural facilities development is to allow and encourage culture. One example: During COVID-19, government held buildings and parking lots can be utilized as “drive-in concerts or movies”.
Reduce housing costs by removing the duplicated inspections for city, county, state and federal government. Building a house, condo, town home, or apartment costs the builder $85,000 in carrying costs over 5 years from beginning to end. By removing the duplicated inspections, housing costs and the size of government can be reduced.
Use of smart phone FaceTime technology can allow building inspectors to stay at city hall while contractors show site inspection via FaceTime, which is being recorded by the inspector. This increases the number of inspections per day while reducing the travel time between building sites. It ensures the inspection was performed and it documents what was observed. Inspectors are freed to assist with plan check, permits, and other areas of the construction approval process to expedite contractor building requests. Fewer people are needed in the department but provide faster service. Every second of every hour of every day drives up housing costs. If we are serious about lowering housing costs, it is best to make the process less costly and more efficient.
Support Service for Our Seniors
Support our ageing population so they are encouraged to be engaged and vibrant members of our community. This includes transportation assistance, Meals-on-Wheels and Goebel Adult Community Center.
Align building development to encourage smooth traffic flow. The removal of one traffic lane to increase the sidewalk at the Lupe’s Restaurant is an example of what NOT to do. The city’s traffic congestion is a reflection of the city council approving building projects with inadequate parking and poorly thought out plans.
The city’s traffic congestion is a reflection of the city council approving building projects with inadequate parking and poorly thought out plans. Sacramento legislature has imposed its will on Thousand Oaks and all California cities by changing our building codes which impact traffic. It is about time we as a city say no more to interference by Sacramento politicians. Ban together and take on our state legislature that imposed building codes that do not align with our city. Stand up for Thousand Oaks. It is time.
Support of Public Safety and Law Enforcement
We are fortunate to have a very responsive police department with officers who are appreciated by the people of Thousand Oaks. The police know how much we value their service to us. That appreciation is reciprocated by the officers who keep our city safe.
As a retired LAPD reserve police officer, I am committed to law and order, NOT looting and rioting.
My recommendations to address the root of issues facing us today regarding law enforcement abuse of power are as follows:
- Officers are to be trained to de-escalate situations as the first option, not a show of force. This training begins in the police academy and continues through their careers.
- Remove the primary barrier to removing bad cops – Police Unions, which protect bad officers that should be removed. The fellow officers know who the bad cops are but their hands are tied by the union who keeps the bad cop on the job. Pierce the police union’s protective shield and much will change for the better.
No to Sales Tax Increase
No new sales tax increases in Thousand Oaks. Government needs to provide services within its means. Money in your pocket is spent the wisest.
Open Spaces and Natural Preserves
A very attractive feature of Thousand Oaks is the Ring of Green that provides the beautiful vistas we all enjoy, places for families to walk, hike, ride bikes and horses in our wonderful open spaces. As a water science instructor at Ventura College, I appreciate the need to preserve nature and work in harmony with it. To change or damage our open spaces is to change the face and feel of Thousand Oaks. Rest assured I will continue to support the tranquil atmosphere of our city and its surroundings.
Some 25 years ago, a US Forest Ranger told me that their fire prevention services included clearing dead brush, thinning forests, and clearing the brush below power lines so that when lines fall, there is minimal to no brush to ignite. All these and more techniques prevented wildfires, encouraged healthy forest growth, and if a wildfire does happen, it can be quickly extinguished.
The US Forest Ranger then predicted an impending wave of wildfires in California. I asked why he thought this will happen. He said that Sacramento legislature is changing wildfire prevention methods of the Forest Service. The policy of wildfire prevention is now “let nature do what it will do.” Well, history has proven the Forest Ranger’s prediction to be correct. Mother Nature will do what she will do when the forest is overgrown – burn the dead brush that was previously cleared by Rangers. The dead trees that prevented new growth and shut out other plants became explosive tinder for a wildfire. High winds blow down power lines which ignite the brush under them to become another wildfire.
Mother Nature has a mechanism to return carbon back to the soil as fertilizer, sparking new seed pods to grow, thinning its unhealthy forest, and encourages new growth. This is done through wildfires but we are the fall out of this cycle of growth and burn.
We can minimize the damage to lost lives, homes, and property by returning to the time-tested, proven methods used by our US Forest Service.
Slow Down City Government Managers’ Pay Increases
Stop the continual pay increases for our well-loved and talented city managers. The workers of Ventura County have not seen any significant wage increase since 2000, yet the City Council continues to vote unanimously to increase our city managers’ pay almost annually. Our city attorney and city manager are among the highest paid in the state at over $250,000 annually plus bonuses, car allowances, and benefits. They do a great job, but at what price? Council should be searching for the best talent at the lowest price. It is easy to spend another person’s money. If it came out of each council member’s pocket, they would be voting differently.
Reduce City Homelessness
Volunteer clinical work at the city’s free clinic has given me insight into the homeless situation and its many challenges. What has been most effective to address the homeless’ immediate needs is the intervention by our city’s faith-based and service organizations which are more efficient than government to provide these services.
Creative answers need to be the solution. Anything we do should promote self-reliance, not pauperism and dependency. Inexpensive temporary homeless housing can be accomplished using architect and designer Michael Bedner’s model of transforming shipping containers into modular homes. The homes would allow the homeless to be out of the elements and have a place to engage in vocational rehabilitation, drug addiction treatment, and mental health services. However, any homeless person wishing to live in such housing must participate in programs to get them independent and find purpose in life.
It has become clear that government policies for mental health services are stifling any effort for the homeless to escape their situation and hope to engage in life once again.
Part of the problem is a MediCal Catch-22 that mental health experts can’t get out of. MediCal provides free counseling and medication for the homeless. Once the person is stable, they enter the work force and transitional housing, eventually moving into their own housing. But to qualify for MediCal services, a person can have no more than a dollar maximum in the bank. So, if a mentally ill person is benefiting from these services and gets housing and a job, as soon as they accrue above the maximum in savings, they lose their free counseling and medication. The patient cannot afford the medication and counseling services and becomes unstable, loses their job and housing, and are back on the street. Now they’re eligible for the counseling and medication that will get them stable.
The cycle continues. The current maximum savings cap rule to qualify for MediCal needs to be adjusted upward to accommodate today’s cost of living.
Making a Selection When You Vote
I wish for those casting a vote to select the candidate based on the candidate’s skill set, education, experience, leadership, and past accomplishments and not based on their political party affiliation or the backing of big developer money.
I believe government closest to the people responds best to the needs of the community it serves. It honors states’ rights versus an ominous central government that grows too powerful and imposes its will on the states and people. This precept is the foundation of the Constitution which is the document providing a relationship agreement between the states and the federal government – Federalism. Without this understanding, our country would have deteriorated at its onset. Because of the Constitution, we have enjoyed the greatest country in the history of the world – the United States of America.
I believe efficient government allows the taxpayers to keep their money in their pockets and not those of the central planners, who tell us how to live our lives and think they know what is best for us. Taxes and fees should be kept low to run government services because outside of what it does best, the government cannot provide a product or service as efficiently or economically as the private sector. Keep the government small and efficient while providing services the government is meant to provide, while letting the people make their choices concerning the rest. In 1964 the government was 6% of the economy. Today, the government makes up 20%.
I believe regulations like laws are put in place by the government to control our lives, providing rules by which we live in society. Regulations are a tax on the people through increased cost to manufacture a product or provide a service which is a cost passed through to the people, all under the guise of protecting the very people paying this tax. There are regulations in place today that are inefficient, outdated, and redundant with other city, county, state and federal governments. Necessary and smartly written regulations are needed to protect the consumer from unscrupulous business owners, however, needless regulations simply make for a bloated government and a defacto employer in our economy, by providing jobs that are unnecessarily paid for by the tax payer.