Fillmore Gears up for 100 Year Centennial
(l-r) Fillmore Fire Chief Rigo Landeros presented the Centennial Fire Badge to City Councilmember Steve Conaway, Mayor Manuel Minjares, Mayor Pro-tem Douglas Tucker, Councilmembers Diane McCall and Rick Neal.
(l-r) Fillmore Fire Chief Rigo Landeros presented the Centennial Fire Badge to City Councilmember Steve Conaway, Mayor Manuel Minjares, Mayor Pro-tem Douglas Tucker, Councilmembers Diane McCall and Rick Neal.

There were a number of agenda items on the first Fillmore City Council meeting of 2014. It began with a presentation by Fire Chief Rigo Landeros regarding the Centennial Celebration. Other items included Facility Use Policy, an ordinance for landlords to evict criminals from rental properties, and an introduction of some new additions to City Staff and Police.

Fire Chief Rigo Landeros representing the Fire Foundation, presenting all Council Members, the City Manager and the Fillmore Firemen, with an embossed Fire Badge honoring Fillmore's Centennial Celebration. The badges will be worn by Fillmore's Fire Department throughout the year and then retired in a Lucite sleeve to be displayed at their homes or offices.

Patrick Maynard, was also recognized for, among many other things, helping establish the Fire Foundation and obtaining grants adding up to $225,000 that went towards equipment such as breathing apparatus and radios. Maynard, who was not in attendance, also designed the Fillmore Centennial Logo. He will also be given a bottle of wine with the City Logo.

Landeros also thanked all the organizations and individuals for the success of the Toy Giveaway in December, with thanks to the Sheriffs Department and a special thank-you to Maynard who did much of the organizing. This year’s giveaway saw the largest crowd of families since the program began 16 years ago. There were 362 toys given to boys, 373 to girls and 373 to adults in the community.

Fillmore seems to be getting back on track as three new hires were presented at the meeting. City Manager David Rowlands introduced Gaylynn Brien as Financial Director. Brien is originally from Whittier, California, but previous to coming to Fillmore lived and worked eight years in Ridgefield, Washington.

The second hire, presented by Police Chief Monica McGrath, was Mario E. Aguilar from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. Aguilar’s new position is Assistant Chief of Police and will work as Patrol Coordinator.

The third hire was not necessarily a new one, but someone who is returning to Fillmore after being laid-off two years ago, Michael McGivney. His duties as Building Official will be Plans Examiner, Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer. McGivney originally began working in Fillmore in 2005.

Police Chief McGrath introduced an ordinance she would like to see added to the Fillmore Municipal Code that would require a landlord, agent, or those leasing or subleasing property to evict tenants who use or occupy property for illegal drug activity, violent crime, gang-related crime or drug related crime. This is an ordinance the City of Los Angeles has had on its books for many years and where it has been successful. The proposed ordinance cites that keeping or maintaining tenants who repeatedly violate the law and require extensive law enforcement services affects the physical, economic and social well-being of the entire community along with the enjoyment, use, aesthetic and property values of surrounding properties. The ordinance would address the problem activities commonly associated with illegal drug dealing, such as noise, steady traffic day and night, barricaded units, possession of weapons, or drug loitering, violent crime and gang related crime.

McGrath assured the Council that there would still be due process and notices would be given to those concerned before legal action is taken. City Attorney Tiffany Israel explained the process as; the City first asks the landlord or whoever is responsible why they have not evicted the person (once it is established that the illegal activity is taking place). The City and Council would then decide if the landlord/responsible person is or is not in compliance before further action is taken. There is no criminal penalty, but those responsible/landlord may incur court costs.

Council Member Diane McCall responded, "It's giving Fillmore a tool" but added she was slightly uncomfortable with how it was written, saying she would like "more verbiage with exactly how the process is done.....I don't want to open up a process of a family who doesn't want to get rid of their kid." To which McGrath responded, "This is not a quick process, courts can take six month to years addressing this" adding that this is for repeat offenders.

Council Member Rick Neal added, "It makes a strong statement...if you're convicted of selling drugs in Fillmore your landlord has the right to evict you." Council Member Steve Conaway stated, "It's another tool to keep our city safe" and that "this helps landlords to evict without the fear of reprisal because they (landlords) are required to evict. We're talking about the egregious offenders." Conaway also asked for more guidelines from staff on the ordinances application, ending with, "It sends a strong message to the community that we take their safety seriously.”

Mayor Manuel Minjares responded that "...tenant laws are constantly evolving, to do this is a bold move" and asked that the staff contact the City of Los Angeles to ask what pitfalls to avoid in writing the ordinance.

McGrath also addressed amending Fillmore's Municipal Code relating to daytime and nighttime curfews on minors and loitering on public rights of way and in and around public places. There have been many complaints to the Council regarding loiters who intimidate shoppers in the Downtown Business District by making rude comments and drinking alcohol in public. McGrath informed the Council that unless someone is interfering or blocking passage on the sidewalk there is nothing to stop them from loitering and if someone is creating a problem, they are first warned before they can be ticketed. Minors who should be in school are required to have a written pass explaining why they are not attending school at that time.

Neal asked about students who are home schooled and what the procedure was if an officer encountered them. McGrath responded the officer tries to contact the parents and asks if they will comply with the curfew. An evening curfew was established and it is to be between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. which is the same as most Ventura County cities.

The Council also addressed the challenging issue of the Rules and Regulations for City Parks and considered a revised Facility Use Policy. The biggest problems arise when alcohol is served or sold. The City has been providing bar service for various events at City-owned or operated buildings. This concerns some staff due to age (21) requirements, the amount of tracking required, such as the amount of drinks served, the cash exchange accuracy and not having the required Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) License. The key changes being asked for are requiring better security at such events and beer/wine or liquor sold by applicants that hold the correct ABC license. Another related issue is the need for insurance. The Council ended with wanting more time to come up with solutions that will address the need for added paid security and still be financially within reasonable amounts for the community.

There was good news regarding the Portable Toilet Waste Program now being tested at Fillmore's Water Recycling Plant. The trial program with one participant, Farmer John's Johns, who has one truck with a 1,000 gallon capacity, has been very successful with no detectable impact on the quality of the effluent produced by the plant. After initial operating costs the City has netted $2,880. Adding a second company to the trial would increase the revenue and require much less in operating costs per customer. But there is a point where some future structural changes may be needed, such as adding a pump.