Santa Paula Times

Letters to the Editor

October 07, 2005
A question of objectivity To the Editor:In response to Mary Doll’s letter in the September 30 edition of the Santa Paula Times, I would like to know who she considers to be objective on the subject of Centex and Fagan Canyon.I am an employee of the Santa Paula Times. I do not consider myself “paid by Centex.”When I came to work at this paper, it did not matter that I did not vote the same political ticket as my employer, or that I held other more “liberal” ideas. What mattered was that I could type more than 60 words per minute and use the computer to build advertisements and do the basic job I was hired to do.If Centex was the biggest advertising account we held, I might consider her reservations to have merit. However, this newspaper is actually more supported by our regular advertisers, with us for many years, like Crane Printing and Fred Oliver Plumbing and Dr. Stewart and FLAIR. When you look at our advertising pages, only a very small percentage of ad space is taken up with any Centex ad.Granted, I do not have expertise in the areas she suggested for her ad hoc committee to deal with Centex. I would probably not be selected for these reasons. I just resent being excluded because I happen to be employed by someone who runs ads for Centex (and ran ads for We CARE).Regardless of what I personally believe about the Centex/Fagan Canyon issue, I do believe we should be fair on both sides. When you did find Santa Paulans willing to serve on an ad hoc committee for this purpose, they would be serving because they cared, one way or another, about the situation. You would be hard pressed to find a quorum based on total objectivity.Suzi SkutleySanta PaulaSouthern ExposureTo the Editor:The elephant sitting in Santa Paula’s living room - the one most of us are reluctant to acknowledge - is the slow tilting of our demographic scale toward poverty. We are acquiring this imbalance to the detriment of our community, yet we strive to accommodate it. Santa Paula is certainly not the golden door Emma Lazarus wrote of; it is a back door purposely left unlatched by a federal government kowtowing to our addiction to exploitable labor. Unfortunately, there is no relief in sight.A significant portion of our population is in this country illegally. They are mainly economic refugees from Mexico whose government has historically been too corrupt to shape itself into a self-supporting nation despite the abundance of its natural resources. We have become the beneficiaries of that country’s failure. We are its enablers, but for how long can we continue to carry the growing burden that we too often cloak as benevolence? As long as our own government chooses to ignore the socioeconomic damage happening to our communities while favoring the perceived advantages of maintaining a subclass of cheap available labor, there is no reason for Mexico to struggle toward any semblance of national responsibility.Once again, we hear the political braying from our nation’s leaders offering a variety of “solutions” to our immigration problems. This is nothing more than periodic noise expediently addressing a current hot-button issue. None of the strategies have a prayer of succeeding in anything more than providing a public forum for the appearance of political concern. This seasonal farce has been going on for more than thirty years while the control of our borders steadily deteriorated into chaos. A successful solution has not been a goal because it would not play to the aims of either political party.Notice that not one of the immigration reform plans fluttering about on the breeze from our politicians addresses any serious attempt to enforce the current law that makes it a punishable offense for employers to knowingly hire illegal aliens. Yet, that is the essential fundamental key to controlling illegal immigration. Without enforced employer sanctions, all other solutions are doomed to failure.Our politicians cannot risk any plan that might succeed in controlling illegal immigration for the simple reason that it would endanger the advantages of having an abundant, renewable supply of cheap, exploitable labor and that is a sacrifice we are not ready to make. We have joined hands with Mexico in perpetuating peonage.Bill GlennSanta PaulaSpecial deliveryTo the Editor:It’s Wednesday 9/28 at 8 p.m. I have just received my mail. Why does the Postmaster allow carriers to work in dark and not allow them to come in early? I would think the Postmaster would be concerned about safety of employees.Something needs to be done. Our mail is important with prices coming up on stamps. Why not give the public their money’s worth?June WelshSanta PaulaSuccessful Teen SceneTo the Editor:On behalf of Blanchard Community Library, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the following businesses and individuals who contributed to the tremendous success of our Teen Scene 2005 Summer Reading Program, “Laugh It Up @ Your Library.” Ellen Brokaw, Buena Lanes, Joyce and Ernest Carlson, Familia Diaz, Santa Paula Kiwanis Club, Santa Paula Rotary Club, Soroptimists of Santa Paula, Carmen Guerrero and Xavier Montes, Mary Alice Orcutt Henderson, William Orcutt, Elaine Hunt, Ellen Ruby, Melinda Hobson, Samina Cabral, Olivia, Nancy and Patsy Escoto, Laurie Saldino, Bill Mensing, Carolyn and Valerie Purdy, Sue and Dave Leonard, Katie Goodwin, Vince’s Coffee Shop, Weyerhaeuser, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, Friends of the Library, Island Packers, Golf N Stuff, McDonald’s, ABC Audio Books, Skating Plus, Santa Paula Super Store, John Franklin, Ventura Bowling Center, Great Central Steak and Hoagie Company, Edwards Camarillo Theatre, Santa Barbara Zoo, Hollywood Wax Museum, and Round Table Pizza of Santa Paula all donated generously to our program.This year we had 138 young adult participants who read 333,700 pages over the summer, the most pages devoured in the seven years since we have sponsored a Teen Scene Summer Reading Program! This was an increase of 57,400 pages from last year, and we are certain that many of our teen readers were inspired to read an additional amount due to the wonderful array of prizes provided by these donors. We hope that our teenagers will continue to read all year long and enjoy the pleasures of reading for the rest of their lives. Thank you again to these great sponsors for their wonderful support in encouraging young adults to read. They have truly made a difference in our community!Ilene GavenmanBlanchardCommunity LibraryChildren’s and YoungAdult LibrarianBack to Plan A?To the Editor:With the unveiling of Centex’s new plan for Fagan Canyon, one might ask the question why was it necessary for the council to ask Centex to downsize the original plan? The EIR demonstrated that the impacts of the new neighborhoods, including traffic, were mitigable, despite the clamor of a few people who put their private interests ahead of the interests of our community as a whole.The most interesting fact to me is that the revenue benefit to our city will be approximately $500,000 less under the revised plan than it would have been under the original. Fagan still pays its own way and contributes an additional $1.8 million per year to city coffers, but given the severe fiscal constraints and budget shortfalls our city is currently experiencing why would our council have given up nearly a half a million dollars in annual revenue just to placate the vocal opposition of a few people who will never support any new growth in our city? Put $500,000 in context, how many new firefighters would that have provided?While I support the revised plan for Fagan, the original plan is a better plan, and I hope that the council draws the line here and give some consideration to approving the original plan, Santa Paula stands to lose if Fagan is downsized. The Council must understand that land is a limited resource and its value for housing needs to be maximized.Steve TurchikSanta PaulaFagan a solutionTo the Editor:The revised plan for Fagan Canyon is a product of our City Council’s desire to come up with a plan that has the broadest appeal to Santa Paulans, and to meet the concerns of those who might support the project if the impacts were lessened. With a reduction of 25% in the number of homes proposed, that goal should be achieved, however the Council must understand that developable land is a limited resource and it should be used wisely. Let us hope though that this was not a misguided effort to appease the hard-line no-growthers in our town, because they will never support any new development in Santa Paula, even a plan that reflects the input of our community as Fagan does.When voters approved Measure I, Fagan Canyon was identified as the best option for meeting our current and former housing needs. Despite what some opponents of Fagan assert, Measure I in no way designated a specific number of homes for Fagan. Given the City Urban Restriction Boundary that was implemented as a result of Measure I, Fagan is the only option we have for building new homes to meet the needs of our growing population, and we must ensure that the number built there will help to make up for the lack of new housing that has been built in our community over the past decade. Our population growth is far outstripping our housing supply, and Fagan is a solution for that problem.Bob RussellSanta PaulaAnswer to Georgia JettTo the Editor:The apartments you complained about on Harvard Blvd. (the former Royal Oaks Motel) are not for families with children as you assume. They are for mentally retarded adults and adults with behavioral problems. If you read the Santa Paula Times regularly, you would know this.There will be more about these accommodations after they open later this fall. Do plan to come to the opening and see for yourself that they are a great addition to the housing stock of Santa Paula, complete with a garden for all the residents.Dora CrouchSanta PaulaReferendumTo the Editor:In her letter to the editor of September 30th, Ms. Janet Grant urges each of us to support our elected officials, specifically our city council members. She also recommends that if we are dissatisfied with the direction that they’re taking to wait until next year’s election and vote for someone else. I assume that she is speaking of the direction that they are currently taking in regards to Centex’s plan for Fagan Canyon.If we do that, folks, it will be way too late. Talk about closing the barn doors long after the horses are gone! By this time next year, Santa Paula could be well on its way to becoming just another Centex mega-burb!
If I am reading all the indicators correctly, it appears that the city council is getting ready to approve Centex’s plan in early December. If they approve the revised Specific Plan that is currently on the table, that means at least 1,900 homes in Fagan Canyon, maybe as many as 2,250. It means traffic like you’re not even ready for and downgraded benefits to the community. It means that by December, the fate of Santa Paula could be sealed.Waiting to vote out the council members who approve the wrong plan for Fagan Canyon this year will do nothing to save Santa Paula next year. That is why citizens must become involved now.Thanks to the continuing financial support of concerned citizens and through the tireless efforts of its supporters, We CARE - Santa Paula is prepared, to circulate a REFERENDUM to the voters of Santa Paula. The referendum will STOP the approval of a Fagan Canyon plan that fails to meet voters’ desires. Voters will be given the power to essentially VETO a city council decision that is not in their best interests.You can choose not to sign the referendum and wait until next year to show your displeasure at the city council by voting out the members up for re-election. Or you can be proactive and participate in your legal right to say NO by signing the referendum this year.Your choice could decide the future of Santa Paula.Larry SagelyCo-chairmanWe CARE - Santa PaulaCity Council’s jobTo the Editor:I noticed in the letters to the Editor last Friday that one of the writers wants We CARE and Centex to get together and come up with some compromises in regard to Fagan Canyon. If I’m not mistaken, there is another group called ONE Santa Paula that should be included in the discussion. After all, both groups are trying to do what is best for the town. So shouldn’t they all sit down and talk things over?? Once again I would hope that the ones doing the talking would have the cooler heads and not necessarily the leaders of the two groups. I don’t think there would be any compromising done with the leaders of the two groups doing the negotiations with Centex.I personally think it should be left up to the City Council. I was under the impression, when I voted, that I was voting for the people I thought would do the best job, and I still feel that way. I’m sure all the people that voted felt the same way I did. What happened all of a sudden, that any group thinks they’re more knowledgeable about City business than our elected officials.Of all the people writing letters, I have seen only one name that ever ran for City Council, and he didn’t make it.Wayne AlleeSanta PaulaNo dumping groundTo the Editor:I recently expressed hope that the revised plan for Fagan Canyon could guide us toward responsible compromise. But after reading the careful analysis prepared by Mary Doll, it became evident that Centex is offering us little more than a bait-and-switch.Her letter made me aware that, while Centex eliminated Phase II from their project, there is nothing to prevent the landowner and a future developer from building out this parcel. This would take us right back to 26,616 ADDITIONAL vehicle trips per day originally attributable to Fagan.The latest proposal does lower the number of Very Low Income units contained in the outlandish original proposal. Santa Paula already has a larger percentage of low income housing than any other city in the county and the current Council has been regularly approving more. A large development such as Fagan offers us a unique and rare opportunity to move our housing mix closer into balance with other cities in the county. Council members should insist upon it. The Centex proposal does nothing to improve this inequitable situation; it would move us even further out of balance. What is wrong with seeking to bring our housing mix into reasonable balance with other cities in the county?Numerical estimates of future traffic in Fagan are enormous but imprecise. To assuage our concerns, Centex is now predicting that 25% of trips generated by their development will remain within the canyon. This is up from the 15% that they and our mayor were estimating a few weeks ago. At this rate, they will soon generate no traffic at all.Using some of the most dubious statistical calculations known to Man, without counting Phase II, and by just accepting the improbability that 25% of Fagan traffic would remain inside the canyon, their revised project would still push an additional 16,120 car/truck trips per day onto Ojai Rd., Glade, Bradley, 10th St., and Santa Paula St. No by-pass is planned. Centex proposes to just dump their additional traffic onto our existing streets that were never designed to handle it.If the Council seriously contemplates permitting an increase in our adopted General Plan, members need to insist that the developer of this Billion Dollar project build a by-pass that will remove a portion of the burden from existing residents. If council members lack the fortitude to require a by-pass, they should at least furnish a 30-day written notification to all property owners along these streets prior to public hearings. It is only right to provide such notice because these property owners will be heavily impacted by parking restrictions and ingress/egress to their driveways. A 30-day notice is only common courtesy and common sense. What is wrong with that?The council should place on its agenda Mrs. Doll’s suggestion that the city form an ad hoc committee of open-minded citizens who are free of financial self-interests to examine and make non-binding recommendations to the council. Money already spent on outside experts and consultants working on the Fagan project has been largely wasted, but our town has many citizens with expertise and common sense who could provide real service. This is our town. Why not utilize our own people?If council members fear a local committee, I hope they will at least talk with their neighbors. If council members will do this, they will discover what most of them already suspect: The people of Santa Paula do not want our existing General Plan trashed and replaced by a document drafted by an out of state developer and his community consultants. People do not want massive traffic clogging existing streets which were not designed to handle it. This writer and most people are willing to support reasonable development that pays its own way and moves us toward balance with other cities of the county. But we do not wish to be the dumping ground for excessive units, for more low income housing, or for the traffic, crime, high costs, and blight that accompany such development. What is wrong with that?Delton Lee JohnsonSanta PaulaAddressing a concernTo the Editor:This letter is in response to Georgia Jett’s letter of concern (Sept. 30) regarding the lack of children’s play area at the Harvard Place Apartments (former Royal Oaks Motel). The Apartments were approved for Special Needs Housing, which is a type of housing for mentally handicapped individuals that are capable of independent living. Similar to senior apartments, this development is not intended for families with children. The Association for Retarded Citizens will place individuals in the majority of the units (20-25), and the Santa Paula Housing Authority will place the balance of the units with adults on their Section 8 list. Both agencies will have offices on the site. Additionally, the property will have 4,300 sf. of landscaped open space (including a 2,800 sf. courtyard), 1,800 sf. of private open space, and a 400 sf. community room for residents of the complex.Heather DavisAssociate PlannerCity of Santa Paula Planning DepartmentHelp make Santa Paula BeautifulTo the Editor:Last year, members of the Santa Paula community came together to develop a vision for our city. This Santa Paula City Vision Plan has many recommendations on programs and initiatives that can help Santa Paula achieve its vision as a beautiful, safe and economically thriving community that maintains its small town atmosphere and retains agriculture as an important part of its community and economy.One of these programs is to support and enhance the City’s Santa Paula Beautiful initiative. Now in its third year, Santa Paula Beautiful strives to involve all Santa Paulans in maintaining the beauty of our jewel of Ventura County. The City sponsors two volunteer community clean-up and planting days in the fall and spring of each year.The next community workday is Saturday, October 22, 2005. In addition to opportunities for individuals and community groups to participate in general clean-up and planting activities, this year the City is also focusing on its volunteer community clean-up program. This program matches residents who are unable to regularly maintain their properties with community volunteers that will come to homes to perform yard work or minor home improvement projects. This aspect of the Santa Paula Beautiful program is perhaps the most exciting, in that it allows neighbors to help neighbors keep our city attractive for residents and visitors alike.We encourage everyone to participate in this important community event as we move forward to implement our vision for Santa Paula. If you or your local group would like to assist in any of these projects, please contact the City’s Public Works Department at 805-933-4212. Together, we can assure a future for Santa Paula that is truly beautiful.Santa Paula Vision Implementation CommitteeRobert BorregoAnna Marie ManzanoZahid ShahCarmita WoodLet voters decideTo the Editor:In regards to Centex’s revised specific plan, Mr. and Mrs. Grant wrote that the city is “throwing away $500k in potential revenue just to appease a vocal minority in our town that favors no growth at all...”. This single sentence has so many misstatements, that it is hard to know even where to begin.First of all, let’s not leave out the fact that massive traffic from Fagan Canyon that will forever change our rural atmosphere. How many neighborhoods will be degraded by new congestion? How will current housing values be affected by the traffic mitigation measures proposed by Centex? The cumulative negative effect of introducing heavy traffic on existing Santa Paula housing could add up to millions lost in potential home values.Second, in their presentation, Centex reduced the number of high density units and increased the number of high end units. Centex also reduced benefits to the community. It was good news bad news. The $500k loss the Grants referred to is a guesstimate at best because it is based on full build out many years from now. That $500k also depends on two variable assumptions: 1) that the State of California will continue to reimburse cities for vehicle registration fees; and 2) the new Fagan residents pay a LLD-Lighting Landscape District. (This will cost new residents about $1800 per year in addition to their mortgage, insurance, and property taxes.) If either of these two variable assumptions were to be reduced, that $500k would disappear fast on its own.Third, fiscal analysis tells us that Santa Paula will benefit from growth. Fiscal analysis also tells the community the taxes, costs, and negative aspects of growth. Smart growth looks at both sides. We CARE wants smart growth. To say that anyone opposed to Fagan is “no growth” is simply not true. Furthermore, if you think we are a minority opinion, go out on the street and ask 10 random voters, “Do you want to vote on Fagan Canyon?” See what kind of response you get.On a final note to the Grants: The answer is an open vote of the entire community. Let the true majority rule. It’s that simple. Don’t just “feel” as though the Centex plan for Fagan Canyon will help Santa Paula. Feelings can be deceptive. Get the facts. Study the numbers. Cast your vote. Let the voters decide. You obviously want the best for Santa Paula. So does We CARE.John WisdaWe CARESanta Paula