2005 State of the City Address

January 26, 2005
Santa Paula City Council
By Mayor Mary Ann Krause January 22, 2005Note: Mayor Mary Ann Krause delivered the 2005 State of the City Address at the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce annual dinner last Saturday evening.It is a great pleasure to be with you this evening to report on the state of our great city, Santa Paula, as we start 2005.As a diverse crowd of Santa Paulans rang-in the New Year together in that magical tent at the new Limoneira Mercantile, little did we know of the challenges the weather would provide over the next 10 days. At first we were merely weary of rain as “cabin fever” set in, but eventually we grew wary of rain as the storms relentlessly pounded Santa Paula. Water levels in rivers and reservoirs grew by the hour, threatening to overrun their banks and their spillways. By Sunday, January 9, the City declared a local disaster, bringing in off-duty staff to manage the impacts of the storm. By Monday, January 10, nearly every City resource was deployed in protecting the community. Thankfully the third leg of that vicious storm bypassed Santa Paula, and we held our own as river flows dropped below flood stage.The County of Ventura, fighting water and mud on many different fronts, requested our assistance to help the unincorporated areas near Santa Paula. We were proud to assist, but that nagging voice in the back of our heads reminded us that emergency deployment decisions for police and fire would have been made elsewhere, had we decided to contract for Sheriff’s services or join the County Fire District. As it was, our emergency staff was our own, and they did an excellent job of protecting life and property. Please join me in giving a big hand to city staff for their teamwork, with our very special thanks to those who sloshed through water and mud in the field.One of the City’s biggest projects in 2004 was the campaign to increase critical resources for our police and fire departments through Measures J and K. On behalf of the City Council, I want to thank the Chamber of Commerce and many of you here for your active support of the measures. While the election campaign was unsuccessful, these needs have not gone away. In December the City Council made over $300,000 in budget reductions and revenue enhancements to allow the City to open Fire Station 2, right next door. Beginning next month, the station will be staffed around the clock with a combination of full-time and reserve staff.The cuts the Council made to open Station 2 included staff reductions that will it make it more difficult to do business with City Hall and will decrease the programs provided by our Community Services Department. While these cuts will not be widely felt, they do chip away at the City’s ability to provide quality services that other communities in Ventura County enjoy.The plan to open Station 2 is not the best option available, but it does increase fire protection in our community. The City Council remains committed to finding the resources to staff Station 2 with all full-time firefighters, hire five additional police officers, provide better equipment and facilities for these departments and make salaries of our police officers and firefighters more competitive with those in other Ventura County cities. The City Council will consider further options next month for making these improvements.Perhaps the greatest success of the past year has been finding a solution to reopen Santa Paula Memorial Hospital. After months of discussions and negotiations, the County of Ventura and the Committee of Unsecured Creditors of the Hospital, developed a reorganization plan that will allow the County of Ventura to purchase and reopen the hospital. The plan also calls for a private developer, Comstock Homes, to purchase the remaining property around the hospital and build homes. The plan works only because the City Council agreed to consider rezoning a portion of the property for housing. The purchase price from both parties should be enough to bring the Hospital out of bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Court will consider the reorganization plan next month, and the County plans to reopen the hospital later this year. Let me take this opportunity to thank Supervisor Kathy Long for her leadership in helping to lay the foundation for the reopening of Santa Paula Memorial Hospital.2004 also saw the conclusion of several community projects. A seventeen-member citizen committee developed the Citywide Vision Plan, which lays out over 100 action steps. Of these many recommendations, I believe it is important to move forward with the construction of a teen center where teens can hang out with their friends in a supervised environment. The citizen committee has asked the City Council to add this recommendation to the implementation plan, and hopefully a separate group will soon be formed to begin planning this center.The downtown improvement plan was updated to reflect changing conditions and community expectations. Expected downtown improvements in 2005 include the opening of the new Mupu Grill, the completion of the “old plumbing building” paseo and the Green Street paseo.In August, the City completed a first-rate skate park adjacent to Veteran’s Memorial Park. The skate park was an instant success, a testament to dedication of three individuals who worked tirelessly during the long months of design and fundraising. I want to recognize Marisue Eastlake and Laura Phillips of the Santa Paula Association of Skaters and Councilman Ray Luna for their hard work.A year from now when we look back on the events of the coming year, I believe 2005 will be considered a benchmark year for our community. As many of you invite the City Council into your homes on Monday nights via Channel 10, you have commented on the complexity of issues facing the City Council. These complex issues remind me of a story about the great magician Harry Houdini.
Houdini began his career by traveling throughout Europe, visiting small towns and challenging the local jailer to bind him up in a straitjacket and lock him in a cell.  He had no trouble at all until he reached a small Irish village. And in front of a huge crowd of townspeople and reporters, Houdini easily broke free of the straightjacket, but he failed to unlock the cell. It was an historic moment. No matter what he did, Houdini just could not unlock the cell door. The crowd just couldn’t believe what was happening... because this had never happened anywhere before.  The reporters ran to grab the telephones to ring in the latest headline story about the capture of the great Houdini. And all the time, Houdini was doing his best to escape and save his reputation and his career. At last, he gave up, admitted defeat and asked the jailer to release him. When everyone had gone home he asked the jailer ‘what kind of a new lock do you have on the door of your cell?’ ‘Oh, said the jailer, ‘it’s a very ordinary lock. In fact it’s the same lock that’s on the jail in the last town you visited ...  you managed to pick that lock in less than 30 seconds!’ ‘So, to tell you the truth,’ the jailer said, ‘I figured that you’d have no difficulty at all opening our lock ... so I never bothered locking it’.Every time Houdini thought he had successfully picked the lock... he had, in fact, locked himself in.  There was never any obstacle there in the first place! And, of course, the moral of this true story is that sometimes we see obstacles where, in reality, no such obstacles exist.I would like to spend the next few minutes talking about a few of the issues that I believe will be decisive in determining our future success as a community, ones where we will likely need help from the great Houdini in the coming year.In addition to the work in the downtown, the City is working cooperatively with the Limoneira Company to create a master plan for the East Area 1, territory east of Santa Paula Creek and north of Highway 126. This plan is being developed through a community process, and the draft should be completed later this year. The plan will likely contain a new location for the Ventura College East Campus, as well as housing, retail and recreational uses. This investment of time and resources by the Limoneira Company compliments their new Limoneira Mercantile project set to open in a few weeks. I want to join the Chamber of Commerce in saluting the Limoneira Company’s commitment to Santa Paula and their willingness to be a catalyst for positive change in our community.The second critical issue facing Santa Paula in 2005 is housing. Beginning next month, the City Council will hold informational workshops on the proposed Fagan Canyon development. This development would bring over 2,100 homes to Santa Paula. The City will conduct public meetings throughout 2005 for members of the community to provide input on the project. The project’s draft environmental impact report will be out for public review in March, and any comments made during the public review period will be addressed in the final environmental impact report. The project will be before the City Council for consideration this fall. There will be many opportunities for Santa Paulans to learn about the project and provide comments. I urge everyone to learn about the Fagan Canyon project and to participate in the public dialogue about it throughout the year.In addition to Fagan Canyon, the City will continue to work to create affordable housing in Santa Paula. During 2004, the City approved projects that will create 110 units of new housing, and 58 of those units will be affordable units. Several positive steps taken toward creating affordable housing this past year include adoption of an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requiring an affordable component to all new housing developments, the creation of a first time homebuyer program and major revisions the City and Redevelopment Agency’s housing preservation program. The City has also received a $500,000 grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development for housing rehabilitation loans. The City must be an active participant in the creation of new housing in Santa Paula; it is the availability of housing that will allow our economy to flourish.A new City Council objective for 2004-2005 is a job creation strategy, focused on attracting higher paying jobs to Santa Paula. Higher paying jobs in town will increase family incomes, reduce commuting times and costs, provide opportunities for our children to stay in Santa Paula, and help stabilize the local economy. Job training is critical to the strategy, and the construction of the new Ventura College East Campus facility is a pivotal part of helping local residents obtain needed skills to be competitive in the workforce. The City expects to join forces with the Workforce Investment Board of Ventura County, the County of Ventura and local non-profits to tailor job training to the needs of our residents and those of existing and potential employers.The final area I want to discuss this evening is the importance of community participation in all areas of city government. This City Council is committed to continuing the new avenues we have created during the last two years and creating new ones. Televised City Council meetings with simultaneous Spanish language translation have opened a whole new window to the operations of the City for many residents. However, a consequence of this is that the Chambers are often empty for many of our meetings. The City Council has directed staff to arrange for two Town Hall meetings of the Council during 2005 to actively solicit resident input on issues of importance. I am also personally committed to seeking out the opinions of all Santa Paulans. I am holding a discussion group at the Whistle Stop Café at 10th and Main Streets on the 2nd Saturday of each month at 10 AM. Please join me and fellow residents for a cup of coffee to discuss issues important to Santa Paula.We have in one place today all that is great about living in California: a diverse and dynamic community of people, beautiful natural surroundings, and a desire among all of us to see Santa Paula thrive. Our future is limited only by our imagination and our commitment. As the noted anthropologist Margaret Mead once observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has…”I ask each of you here this evening to put aside your skepticism and join with the City Council as we use our own collective magic to transform Santa Paula. Thank you and good evening.

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