Vol. V, No. 15 September 2019
Art Walk at Oceanview
Port Hueneme's most elegant citizens on parade.
The Oceanview Pavilion recently hosted an Art Walk and Craft Fair. The plan is to make this a regular event. The next Art Walk is scheduled for October 19.
Over eighty vendors participated in the event.
From the serious to the whimsical, there was something for everybody.
"A Sense of Urgency"
Mayor Will Berg delivered the State of the City address at the Orvene Carpenter Center.
"One thing I’ve noticed about this City Council is they feel a sense of urgency." Mayor Will Berg recently delivered the annual State of the City address at the Orvene Carpenter Center. "We don’t always agree, but we always walk out friends. It’s amazing what a little money can do," he said.
The Measure U sales tax increase has provided $1.5 million per year. The cannabis industry provides over $1.5 million. The revenue sharing agreement with the Oxnard Harbor District provides $1.9 million. "The Port is still number one, but they’re losing that spot to the our cannabis people," said Mayor Berg.
Beginning with the Great Recession followed by the State’s elimination of Redevelopment, Port Hueneme faced seven out of ten years in a structural deficit. Now Mayor Berg points to the second consecutive two year budget showing a surplus.
The City’s policy calls for a six month reserve balance. Once reduced to three months, reserves now stand at a robust eight month level.
The State of California established a separate category of pension benefits for employees hired after 2013 that reduces employers' cost. Mayor Berg cited the City’s level of funding of retirement cost as a point of pride. Pension funding ranges between 70-91% for the various groups, a significantly better level than the average California city. Healthcare is 100% funded. "As people begin to retire we’re going to continue to improve," Mayor Berg said.
Long planned improvements to the water system are now in the works. Proposed new rates would put greater weight on actual use. "If you cut back on your water usage you will save money," the Mayor explained.
Building a water main through the Navy base to the west end of Channel Islands Boulevard has seemed like a pipe dream at times, but, according to Mayor Berg, that project is now a real possibility. The $33 million cost would be paid by the ratepayers subject to ballot approval.
In response to questions about popular topics, the Mayor said he’d like to revive the Toni Young Beach Festival "as soon as we can". As to the recent beachfront hotel project, he stated, "It’s all in his [the applicant’s] ballpark."
City Eyes Conversion of Market St. Landing
In response to a question about converting Market Street Landing to industrial use, Mayor Berg said, "We’re moving in that direction but very deliberately." Despite numerous development proposals over the years, the most recent Request for Proposals drew interest only from the Oxnard Harbor District.
As a former Redevelopment property, the old downtown area is the responsibility of the Successor Agency, a board of the various affected taxing agencies. "If we sell the property, we have to get the approval of all the taxing agencies," the Mayor explained. Each agency would receive a share of the sale price. "We’d get 18%, the County would get 45%. The City would have to buy it."
Mayor Berg explained that a new owner would be subject to a development agreement that would give the City a great deal of control over any use of the property.
Mayor Berg is a former executive with the Oxnard Harbor District.
Market St. Landing
Surfside Motel Receivership Possible
Mayor Will Berg announced that the City has filed suit against Dario Pini, the owner of the troubled Surfside Motel. Despite several agreements with the City, Mr. Pini has failed to bring the property up to code and has allowed it to fall into a state of neglect.
"If they don’t fix it, the court will put it into receivership," the Mayor explained. A court designated receiver would be responsible for disposing of the property and settling any liens that may exist.
City Attorney Charles Green left no doubt as to the finality of the action, "He [Pini] has to completely fix it up or lose the property."
At City Hall
Council Hears Pitch for New Hotel
David Moss and Dan Zaharoni presented the latest proposal for a beachfront hotel to the Port Hueneme City Council. The "Delaterre Wellness Resort" would be located east of the pier, approximately on Parking Lot B and the area in front of Surfside II.
In addition to owning a cannabis dispensary in Port Hueneme, Mr. Zaharoni is part of a company that operates 18 hotels, including the Queen Mary. He emphasized that this would not be a "cannabis hotel". Rather, he said he was "Looking to enhance activities at the beach. "We’ve got a beautiful beach but not much to do."
As envisioned, the full service hotel would be three stories tall with 130 rooms. Mr. Zaharoni described it as a "coastal entertainment venue." "We could bring some entertainment value," he said.
Will this be the site of a new hotel?
Mr. Zaharoni emphasized that this proposal was still in the early stages. "We’ve not done any engineering studies," he said. "This is an idea. When we get feedback we will determine what we should do," he concluded.
Several speakers rose to provide that feedback, citing limited road access, traffic impacts, damage to nearby wetland habitat, and an objection to converting public property to a private use.
Tom King of Save the Port Hueneme Coast stated, "Our organization has zero tolerance of this presentation. A lot of us worked very hard on the passage of Measure U. There should be other avenues [for revenue], but not this.
Councilmember Steven Gama stated, "The City is in constant look for additional revenues. Please help us find additional revenues."
Past City Councils have rejected every proposal for visitor serving projects at the Beach Park. The last hotel constructed in the City was the Holiday Inn more than 30 years ago.
Mayor Will Berg concluded, "Mr. Zaharoni, I think you’ve got your work cut out."
Hotel parking would be in front of Surfside II.
City Adjusts Pot Fees
With at least three new applicants for cannabis "manufacturing" in the process of approval, City consultant Steve Kinney recommended that the Council adjust the gross revenue surcharge for such businesses.
While [the rate] has remained constant," he said, "the world around us has not."
The City of Oxnard recently approved a rate of 2% for manufacturing, although Oxnard does not have any facilities approved as of yet. Mr. Kinney described the market as "a very competitive micro-climate."
With the State tax of 25%, Mr. Kinney described "a limited window before pushing customers back to the illicit market." Consequently, he recommended a rate adjustment.
The new rate will be 2% for cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution. Retail will remain at 5%.
A topic for later discussion is the possibility of a voter-approved cannabis tax. Such a tax "could replace the fees in development agreements," according to Mr. Kinney.
Facial Recognition Comes to PH
With the help of cannabis money, the Port Hueneme Police Department is acquiring a solar powered message board and two license plate readers with facial recognition. Chief Andrew Salinas said that the readers would be useful in "tracking warrants".
Steven Auclair rose to express concern about using the Community Benefit Fund for policing. "[Facial recognition] has been a hot issue in our state," he said. "It opens communities to significant legal exposure. It’s important to address how private information will be protected."
City Manager Resigns
City Manager Rod Butler has announced his intention to leave his position, effective December 31.
Mr. Butler was hired during a difficult period in the City’s history. He is credited with rebuilding city staff and helping to bring order and stability to the organization.
He intends to move back to the Inland Empire to be closer to his family.
Like Selling Hamburgers
Chief Andrew Salinas reports on the State of Cannabis at the Hueneme Historical Museum.
"I didn’t know cannabis was going to be on my plate when I arrived in Port Hueneme," Police Chief Andrew Salinas recalled during a presentation to the Hueneme Historical Society. "I worked in narcotics. It’s quite a change from arresting people for dime bags." "I’m not pro-cannabis, I’m pro-enforcement," he emphasized.
Chief Salinas ran down the impressive numbers generated by the cannabis industry in Port Hueneme: a 218% increase in sales tax, $4.6 million in revenue to the city over a three year period, over $900,000 in community benefits, over $100,000 collected in application fees, 210 new jobs with 31 filled by Port Hueneme residents.
When the City Council passed Ordinance 727 on July 5, 2017, Port Hueneme became the first city in Ventura County to allow both medical and recreational sales. Since then, thirteen dispensaries and delivery businesses have come online, with applications for three manufacturing locations pending.
Port Hueneme’s ordinance was over a year in the making. "We wanted to do it right," the Chief explained. There is a careful screening process for applicants as part of a conditional use process.
Unlike some cities, Port Hueneme doesn’t have a dedicated cannabis tax. "We do something different," the Chief said. "We enter into development agreements" that require 5% of gross revenues to be paid to the city with an additional 1% dedicated to "community benefits" such as REACH, Lifeguards, Police Explorers, the Senior Luncheon, Movies in the Park, Cops for Tots, and 4th of July Fireworks at Channel Islands Harbor. Chief Salinas called this, "A model that is being copied around the state."
The dispensaries operate under strict regulations. Employees must pass a background check and wear uniforms with ID badges. Each dispensary provides its own private security and is on a constant video link with the Police Department. "I can bring [the video] up in ten seconds on my ‘phone and see exactly what’s going on," the Chief said. "There is no other business around where the Chief has direct access."
Presently there are five dispensaries along the City’s "Green Mile" on Channel Islands Boulevard. Gross sales are expected to exceed $36 million for 2019. "They’re spending that money here in Port Hueneme," the Chief said. 40% of the customers are over 40 years old, 14% are over 60. "Soccer moms, professionals, they’re there to purchase a product," he said.
In response to concerns about increasing competition, Chief Salinas explained, "Dispensaries have a brand to sell. McDonald’s and Burger King each sell hamburgers but they have their own brand. This is why we can have so many in such a small area."
Port Hueneme has been alone in the cannabis business, but Chief Salinas does not foresee much drop off as other cities establish their own industry. "We got started first. There is such a market that we will be able to build upon that for four or five years. We will have a steady business."
In answer to the question of whether dispensaries cause crime, Chief Salinas cites the statistics: During the past six months there have been no major crimes along the Green Mile. "No one can say our dispensaries have increased our crime," he said.
Electric cars of many types on display.
A traveling show of electric vehicles has been making its way down the coast. At the Ventura County Government Center, employees on break, jurors, and just plain interested folks got to check out a variety of cars and electric bikes. Big smiles were seen after each test ride.
The show will come to Channel Islands Harbor on Sunday, September 22 from 9:30 - 3:00.
You might get sticker shock when you check the price of an electric bicycle.
History by the Minute
Beverly Merrill Kelley
Let’s face it, we’re all busy people. We’d love to learn more about our hometown but who has the time? This column will feature highlights that can be read in a minute or two. And rest assured, the information comes from the considerable resources of the Port Hueneme Historical Society. If your interest is piqued to learn more, visit the museum on Market Street or send your questions via email to Kelley@callutheran.edu. We will be exploring the Fabulous Fifties in Port Hueneme during this segment of History by the Minute.
Port Hueneme had long needed its own hospital. After ten years of planning and fundraising that involved a number of citizens’ committees, Dr. Albert H. Crites realized his dream when Bellinda Hospital held its groundbreaking ceremonies in July 1955 and its dedication in 1958.
The 30-bed facility, which was located on a 5.5-acre site on Clara near 4th St. (Ventura Road) boasted three operating rooms, an X-ray department, a laboratory and administrative offices.
Additional construction in 1964 increased the occupancy of the general acute hospital to 48 beds. A two-story medical building was added in 1974, and the hospital became affiliated with Adventist Health Services, Inc. on Jan. 1, 1975.
The former Bellinda Hospital facility, which operated variously as the Port Hueneme Adventist Hospital and the Anacapa Adventist Hospital, would wind up as Anacapa by the Sea, one of only two private psychiatric hospitals in Ventura County. On March 6, 2002, however, Anacapa by the Sea would close—squeezed out of business by rising costs and falling insurance reimbursements. The owners would be forced to sell, the buildings would be torn down, and the land would be developed as residential housing.
Penultimate Sunday at Cafe NELA
So for I don’t know how many hours all these very creative types—some musicians, a writer, a couple artists, maybe some others—had settled in around a beat up table in an assortment of abandoned chairs at the very bottom of the Cafe NELA patio.
Either gravity or our careers had left us there because you couldn’t get any lower than that table.
We sat there drinking and smoking and laughing way too loud, the jokes were terrible and the insults mean and the stories were always old and sometimes true.
Far nicer people than us gave us a wide circle, like plump fishes warily eyeing a circle of sharks. Sometimes one would foolishly come too close and be devoured, chomp, in a swirl of cackles and humiliation. It was all rather merciless and totally enjoyable and we sat there for hours laughing and basking in our obnoxious exceptionalism.
We knew we were it. We knew it did not get any lower than us.
More dumb jokes, each more offensive than the last (some bass players having no pride at all). Eventually three grown men were doing Jackie Mason impressions at the same time, though not quite in harmony. I’d never heard three bad Jackie Mason impressions at the same time. Probably never will again. Pipes went round. Holy vodka in a water bottle, Batman. Even friends were abandoning us by now.
The Jackie Mason was getting weird, the sculptress was getting dangerously out there. We were starting to peak on our own delicious high.
"This is what I’m gonna miss," my painter buddy said, "This. You can see music anywhere," he said, "but this…." He gestured it in water colors, I saw it in words. "This," he said, "this is the life."
Steve Provizer Revues
Book Review: "Underland: A Deep Time Journey" — Between Despair and Hope
Robert Macfarlane’s ability to limn the pull between beauty and cataclysm provides a dynamism that elevates this book well above the level of simple "nature" writing.
Something strange is happening to Greenland's Ice Sheet
The ice is getting thicker and that's bad.
Why downtown retail is coming back
Demographic shifts have created a growth market for downtown retail and mixed-use.
Largest radio installation sets record in Vilnius
2000 old radios all played together on the 30th anniversary of the "Baltic Chain", the 400 mile human chain that marked the beginning of the struggle to regain independence from Russian occupation.
Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) was named to the House-Senate conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2020. Conferees are responsible for resolving differences between the House and Senate-passed versions of the defense authorization legislation before it is brought back to the chambers for a final vote. Brownley was appointed by Speaker Pelosi because of her steady and consistent leadership on national defense and veterans’ issues.
At the Museum
Frank Barajas "Chicana/o Movement in Ventura County"
Sat 11:00 AM PDT
Gerry Olsen Ventura County’s Western Grades
Sat 11:00 AM PDT
GOURD Painting WITH Waddells
Sun 12:00 PM PDT
Dr. Joan Peters "#Me Too Then & Now
Oct 12 - Oct 13
Port Hueneme Historical Society Museum
220 N Market Street Port Hueneme, CA 93041
4th Annual Electric Car Show
September 22 @ 9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Harbor View Park, 3600 Harbor Blvd
Oxnard, CA 93035 United States
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Port Hueneme, California 93041
J. Sharkey, Editor and Publisher
The Hueneme Pilot, 516 Island View Circle, Port Hueneme, Ca 93041, United States