CDBG funding approved by split vote

March 17, 2000
Santa Paula City Council
Community Development Block Grant funding was parceled out by the City Council with a split vote after a councilwoman was rebuffed in her effort to form a citizens committee to help in decision making for recipients. The public hearing on distribution of the CDBG funding was March 6 and Building & Safety Director Stephen Stuart noted it is the 15th year the city has taken part in the entitlement program funded by the federal government through the Department of Housing & Urban Development. This year, Santa Paula is receiving $336,816, reduced by $80,000 for repayment of a loan from the county for the railroad depot project.Public service received $62,522, project funding was $250,004 and administration costs deducted by the city are $24,290.Public service funding went to the Police Department DARE officer ($51,000), a portion of the city Senior Center Coordinator’s salary ($5,096), the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Paula’s Las Piedras Park programs ($4,426) and Community Assistance of Santa Paula aka CASP ($2000).Project funding was awarded to the city’s Code Enforcement/Building & Safety Department ($160,820), the city’s Housing Rehabilitation Program ($87,184, which includes a $3,500 grant for ARC) and the Food Share Emergency Generator ($2,000).A city management team made the recommendations for CDBG grant requests topped $2.6 million through 25 applications.During public comment, housing activist Dora Crouch said the grant for the city’s Housing Rehabilitation Program and city code enforcement, including salary and benefits for two inspectors, could be better used for new housing, a “more effective and direct way” of solving such problems. “If I had the choice I would choose better housing,” she noted.After several applicants spoke, including those who didn’t garner CDBG funding, Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa asked that a decision on the grant funding be delayed to form a citizens advisory committee to make recommendations. “That is something the council hasn’t done, prioritize needs in the community, those impacted by services or some way related to the delivery of these services.”She recommended that the council appoint a small committee including council member to consider such issues and schedule the final decision in April. “I think it would be enlightening to have the community participate,” she added.
Vice Mayor Don Johnson said the suggestion would go beyond the legal CDBG deadline for grants but could be utilized next year.“We’ve had four or five speakers come up here,” to discuss needs, said Mayor Rick Cook. “. . .the seniors, Food Share and the Boys & Girls Club should get all of it, that’s how I feel,” but funds are limited as is distribution mandates.Espinosa said council members “sit up here to serve the community but we can’t act on their behalf if we don’t hear from them. . .[deadline] extensions have been granted in past.”In the past there have been “packed houses for these meetings; to me this has had a chilling effect,” as does the declining number of applicants, said Espinosa. “People are discouraged, the funding level is quite low and the city takes the first cut,” of funding.“I disagree with some of those comments but I won’t address them,” said Johnson. Deciding who will receive CDBG funding becomes more difficult each year, he added, but his own independent study of the applicants led to his motion to approve the funding package.Cook and Espinosa voted no and the council majority approved the motion.

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