Keeping California's Streets, Neighborhoods Safe and Clean
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
California State Governor

Continuing his commitment to public safety, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed legislation to hold offenders accountable for crimes of vandalism and to remove graffiti from California's streets and neighborhoods. AB 1767 by Assemblymember Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) mandates community service for a person who has committed a criminal act of graffiti vandalism, and AB 2609 by Assemblymember Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles) requires defendants convicted of graffiti vandalism to clean up or repair the defaced or damaged property.

“As Governor, I have made the safety of our communities my top priority,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “By cleaning up graffiti and holding offenders accountable for their actions, this legislation will make our streets and neighborhoods a safer and cleaner place to live.”

AB 1767 authorizes the courts in San Francisco to launch a pilot program where violators of graffiti vandalism are ordered to participate in a minimum of 24 hours of community service, when available, if they have reached a civil compromise with the victim. This law targets graffiti abatement service programs as the community service outlet for offenders and remains in effect until January 1, 2012.

Similarly, AB 2609 requires the court to order offenders paroled for a graffiti violation to clean up, repair or replace the damaged property. Defendants would also be required keep the damaged property or another specified property in the community free of graffiti for up to one year.


USGS Quake Map.
USGS Quake Map.
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Earthquake Details

Magnitude 5.4

Date-Time Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 18:42:15 UTC
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 11:42:15 AM at epicenter

Location 33.955°N, 117.765°W
Depth 13.6 km (8.5 miles)

4 km (3 miles) WSW (240°) from Chino Hills, CA
7 km (4 miles) SE (135°) from Diamond Bar, CA
8 km (5 miles) NNE (16°) from Yorba Linda, CA
12 km (7 miles) S (184°) from Pomona, CA
46 km (28 miles) ESE (104°) from Los Angeles Civic Center, CA

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 0.3 km (0.2 miles); depth +/- 0.6 km (0.4 miles)

Parameters Nph=095, Dmin=9 km, Rmss=0.34 sec, Gp= 25°,
M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=S

Source California Integrated Seismic Net:


Artists rendering of Fillmore Business Park Master Plan.
Artists rendering of Fillmore Business Park Master Plan.
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On July 16, 2007, the Ventura Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) approved the City of Fillmore's plan to annex 41 acres for the development of a business park, despite a LAFCO staff report recommending that Fillmore not be allowed to annex the land. Staff had cited FEMA's preliminary flood map as the main reason for the negative recommendation. Supervisor Linda Parks and Special District Member George Lange of Thousand Oaks were the only two Commissioners who voted against the annexation due to safety concerns. The annexation passed by a 5 to 2 vote. The proposed business park would be approximately 90 acres, and 41 of those acres are currently outside Fillmore city limits.
The annexation is now in its 30-day reconsideration period. If no one requests that LAFCO reconsider its decision, next step will be for LAFCO to complete protest proceedings. During protest proceedings, people who own property in the area to be annexed can file written protests against the annexation. According to Fillmore Special Projects Manager Roy Payne, “Not all property owners have consented to the annexation.” Payne explained that one property owner has not signed the consent form, but emphasized that this does not necessarily mean that the man is opposed to the annexation. Protest proceedings must culminate in a public hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. When these and other qualifications have been met, LAFCO can issue an order of annexation and a certificate of completion that will finalize the annexation.
Mayor Steve Conway was pleased by the news that LAFCO has approved the annexation. He said, “The Business Park is an important addition to our community which will provide job opportunities for our residents. I'd like to thank the council members, staff and consultants who spoke before the Commission and advocated for the annexation. Clearly their message was heard by the LAFCO Commission Board Members and I'm pleased a majority supported our efforts.”



Taylor Atkins, our reigning Miss California Teen will be leaving in a few weeks to compete for the title of Miss Teen USA 2008. Taylor’s competition begins in the Bahamas at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island on the morning of Tuesday, August 12th and continues through the final evening of Saturday, August 16th when the beautiful Hilary Cruz, Miss Teen USA 2007 will crown the new title holder.
Accompanying Taylor for family support during her competition on Paradise Island will be her mother, Tamie Chessani who resides in Piru and her father, Todd Atkins who resides in Ventura. Also leaving on this monumental journey will be her grandmother Donna Chessani of Piru, whom to this day has never taken flight on an airplane to go anywhere and is now planning to travel out of the country none the less! This is one event that Grandma Donna would not dream of passing up to see Taylor vie for the national title.
Taylor will work very hard and is determined to do her best from the minute she steps foot on the beautiful tropical island to the final night of her competition. Upon her return on the following Monday, she will begin her senior year at Fillmore Senior High and will continue to exceed in her studies to graduate with high Honors.
Please wish Taylor the best of luck in her wonderful adventure and keep in mind that whatever happens in the Bahamas whether she will still reign as our Miss California Teen or becomes our next Miss Teen USA, we can truly expect to see Taylor come back home as the same “girl next door” ready to pursue what lies ahead in her future.
The following are Q & A’s Taylor provided: How old are you? I am sixteen years old. What city do you live in? I currently live in Piru. What school will you attend in the fall, and what grade will you be in? (if you are going to college in the fall, what college will you attend and what major?)
I will be a senior at Fillmore High School.
Where and when does the Miss Teen USA pageant take place? The Miss Teen USA pageant will take place on August 15th and 16th in the Bahamas. I will be arriving on the 12th to begin rehearsals and promotional events.
How many girls will you be competing against at this event? (52?)
I will be competing against 52 other girls, one from each state, including Hawaii and District of Columbia.
How do you feel about getting this far in the pageant? (this is a huge accomplishment to get this far: what does this mean to you?)
I find it absolutely amazing that I've made it this far because I'd never had the desire to enter in pageant before. Being that I entered on a whim, I am extremely grateful for everything that has happened to me since then and it means so much to me that I have gotten this far. I never thought I would be where I am today, and because of this, I am very proud of what I have accomplished.
For folks unfamiliar with what it takes, exactly, to make it this far in the pageant, what did it take for you to get this far?
I would say that the largest influence has been that of my family and friends. Their encouragement and support has been such a necessity for me, personally. They have given me the ability to stay levelheaded and sustain a positive attitude.
Regarding the Miss Teen USA Pageant: what will this particular competition involve/entail?
This pageant will include an interview portion with a panel of judges (this takes place before the actual show itself), swimsuit competition, evening gown competition, and if chosen as a top five finalist, an on-stage question.
How will you stand apart from the competition? (what is your "edge"? what makes you unique?)
Being that I've only been in two pageants, I would say that I have a very fresh outlook. In addition, I am currently the ambassador for "Network For a Healthy California: Champions For Change". This position enables me to travel through the counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura educating elementary school children on nutrition and opting for healthier choices. Physical health is something that is extremely important to me and I love that I now have the opportunity to share that with others.
Please add anything else you'd like me to include in my story:
Regardless of what happens in this next pageant, I hope to continue to enrich the lives of others.


Out with Bad, in with Good
Shown left, Brine (salt) Discharging water softener (BAD); right, Ion Exchange water softener (GOOD). The City will buy your brine discharging water softener from you. Just call 805-524-1500 ext. 234 to get money for this system. If the approximately 400 citizens who have the brine softener turn them into the city, our sewer bills will not increase by $25 to $35 per month.
Out with Bad, in with Good Shown left, Brine (salt) Discharging water softener (BAD); right, Ion Exchange water softener (GOOD). The City will buy your brine discharging water softener from you. Just call 805-524-1500 ext. 234 to get money for this system. If the approximately 400 citizens who have the brine softener turn them into the city, our sewer bills will not increase by $25 to $35 per month.
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Mary Farkas led the City Chloride Control Committee in a productive, two hour meeting, Monday, at the Senior Center. Eleven volunteer Committee members worked diligently to find ways of ridding the city of brine discharging water softeners. Each of these devices puts one pound of salt into the city sewer system every day. It is estimated that about 450 city households are using these softeners, which means they deposit at least 450 pounds of salt into the system every day.

The State of California threatens severe fines against the city of Fillmore does not reduce the present chloride content to something under 100mg. At present the city is discharging water into the Santa Clara River with a chloride content of close to 140 mg. Eliminating the brine softeners will quickly bring the city into compliance with the new state regulations.

If the brine water softeners (those using salt) are not taken out, every Fillmore household
will have to pay an extra $21 a month. The fines are mandatory, and reach up to $50,000 per day against the city for non-compliance. The fix remains simple: Fillmore residents must stop
using brine softeners.

The city has a program to buyback these brine units, and the passage of Assembly Bill 2270
would make it unlawful to operate a brine discharging water softener. The Committee urges
everyone to vote yes on AB 2270 in November. A chloride level above 100 mg has been found to be detrimental to agriculture (particularly citrus and strawberries) and fish.

A strong effort is being undertaken by the Committee to inform the residents of Fillmore of the importance of halting the use of these brine softeners. Churches and social and business organizations will be contacted for assistance in getting out the word. The Committee urges all users of brine discharging water softeners to sell them back to the city, which will avoid making every household pay an additional $21 to $31 per month for water. Flyers, in English and Spanish, will be distributed around town in this effort.

United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency

The July 15, 2008 State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) meeting resulted in the approval of a Resolution which might allow Fillmore to borrow money for some water-related projects at a reduced annual rate.
The Fillmore Gazette received a publicity fax from Ventura County Supervisor John K. Flynn stating that the SWRCB had approved extended term financing for El Rio and Piru. His fax indicated that the EPA still had to approve the loans and that the loans were not available yet. He was probably referring to the following Resolution listed on the SWRCB Meeting Agenda as: "Consideration of a Resolution granting authority to the [SWRCB's] Executive Director to apply to the [U.S. EPA] to implement an Extended Term Financing program as part of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program." Judie Panneton at the SWRCB verified that the Resolution had been approved without any modifications. This Resolution might apply to the City of Fillmore.
An attachment to the SWRCB Meeting Agenda explains: "The SRF Program is a joint federal/state funded program designed to help California meet the goals of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The SRF Program provides below market rate financing for waste water and water recycling system improvements, correction of non-point source and storm water pollution problems, and implementation of estuary enhancement programs." This language seems to indicate that some of Fillmore’s storm drain and chloride problems might be addressed with SRF funds, but the SRF Fact Sheet specifies, “To be eligible for SRF loans, projects must be on the statewide SRF Priority List.” A preliminary version of this list, available online, includes the following projects in Fillmore: Fillmore Water Recycling Plant Replacement, Recycled Water Treatment Facility, Recycled Water Distribution System, and Desalting Plant Construction Project. The list also includes projects in Piru and El Rio.
According to the Agenda attachment, "Currently the SRF Program only finances projects for a maximum term of twenty years. CWA and the California Water Code (CWC), however, allow the Program to offer financing on longer terms if approved by U.S. EPA. Extended Term Financing (ETF) has been approved by U.S. EPA for several other states nationwide to reduce the debt service for disadvantaged communities." The Executive Director of the SWRCB is expected to submit the application for ETF to the U.S. EPA in late July, according to Panneton. The Agenda attachment notes, "Increasing the term of SRF financing from 20 to 30 years reduces the annual payment by approximately 25 percent."
There is a catch. As the Agenda attachment states, "ETF will only be offered to small, disadvantaged communities." The SWRCB defines small as "a community with a population of 20,000 persons or less." A report from the California Department of Finance indicates that as of January 1, 2008, Fillmore's population was almost 15,650 persons.
It is unclear whether Fillmore would qualify as disadvantaged under the SWRCB's definition, which will be used on its application to the U.S. EPA. There are two ways Fillmore could qualify as disadvantaged; both depend on the calculation of Fillmore's Median Household Income (MHI). According to the U.S. Census, Fillmore's MHI was $45,510 in 2000. The first way is if Fillmore has an MHI "equal to or less than 80 percent of the statewide MHI". estimates that in 2005 Fillmore's MHI was $51,000 and California's was $53,629. Those numbers are inconclusive, but suggest that Fillmore's MHI is closer to 95% of California's. The second way that Fillmore could qualify as disadvantaged would be if Fillmore paid "at least four percent of its MHI toward waste water rates". Without recent data and specific instructions for calculating waste water rates, it is difficult to determine whether Fillmore qualifies. In any case, the attachment stipulates, "Communities with an MHI greater than 80 percent of the statewide MHI applying for ETF solely on the basis that they pay more than four percent of their MHI on waste water rates must receive approval for ETF on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the State Water Board."
According to Fillmore Finance Director Barbara Smith, the City is currently paying back a loan from the SRF. It is a no-interest loan that the City received in 1993 and will finish paying off in 2014. Smith believes that the City might consider borrowing money from the SRF for NPDES and the Water Softening Plant, but stressed that there have not yet been any discussions about how to finance those items. She implied that such discussions would be premature at this point.
Public Works Director Bert Rapp was on vacation and not available for comment.

Veterans Memorial Building
Veterans Memorial Building
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The Ventura Local Agency Formation Commission announced Wednesday to hold off on the Ventura County Grand Jury’s recommendation that the Fillmore-Piru Memorial District be reorganized into a subsidiary district of the city of Fillmore. LAFCO members voted to approve a response to the Grand Jury that the district be allowed to repair several issues brought to attention by LAFCO and the Grand Jury had discovered. LAFCO recommended that the District hold elections in 2010 instead of appointing board members, and that members should receive ethics training required by law. The District will be re-examined by 2013. The city of Fillmore expressed that the District remain as it is.

Fillmore Branch of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust.
Fillmore Branch of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust.
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Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

At approximately 10:15 am on Saturday, July 12th, 2008 (suspect) Phillip Guevara entered the Fillmore Branch of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. Guevara approached a teller at the bank and said he wanted a large sum of money, then passed a demand note for a smaller amount a few moments later. Bank employees placed a 911 call and reported a robbery in progress. Sheriff’s deputies quickly responded to the scene and apprehended Guevara without a struggle. Guevara did not present a weapon during the robbery attempt.

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau and the FBI responded to coordinate the investigation. Guevara was later booked at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility for robbery and an outstanding, unrelated, felony warrant.

Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On Monday, July 7, 2008, Nathan Oseguera 27 of Fillmore, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for participating in a gang related home invasion robbery. The crime occurred last year in the city of Fillmore.

On 4-28-2007, Oseguera and several other armed Fillmore gang members went to a residence in the 300 block of Guiberson Road, in the city of Fillmore. The suspects knocked on the front door and forced their way into the home when the resident, Bret Godfrey, opened the door. The suspects tied Mr. Godfrey’s hands together with zip ties and took him into a back room of his residence and proceeded to ransack his house.

During the robbery, a friend of Mr. Godfrey’s inadvertently drove up to visit him. Oseguera met Mr. Godfrey’s friend in the driveway, pointed a gun at him, and forced him into the house. The friend was also tied up and placed in the same room as Mr. Godfrey.

The suspects took numerous items of value including several rifles and shotguns. Before leaving the residence, the suspects told the victims that they would come back and kill them if they reported the robbery to the police.

After a series of gang related shootings in the city of Fillmore, Mr. Godfrey eventually reported the home invasion robbery to Fillmore P.D. officials in July of 2007. The Sheriff’s Gang unit took over the investigation and identified several suspects, including Nathan Oseguera. On October 17, 2007, Sheriff’s gang investigators located Oseguera at a residence in the city of Santa Maria and took him into custody when he was seen leaving the residence in a truck.

Sheriff’s Gang investigators proceeded to serve several search warrants associated with this crime. Evidence from these search warrants revealed the identity of the other gang members involved and also arrested, Edward Alvarado 21, Armando Alvarado 27 Martin Gaspar 18, and a 16 year-old juvenile for participating in the robbery.

During the investigation, Sheriff’s Gang Unit members learned some of the weapons might have been sold to Daniel Medrano 30, a known Santa Paula gang member. On 11-21-2007, gang investigators served a search warrant at Medrano’s home in the 100 block of Moultrie Place, Santa Paula. Medrano, who had a prior conviction for robbery, was found in possession of a handgun and he was arrested for being a felon in possession of firearm. In February 2008, Medrano was sentenced to 16 months in State Prison.

On 11-16-2007, victim Bret Godfrey unexpectedly passed away in Santa Barbara County. Due to Mr. Godfrey’s sudden death, the District Attorney’s Office could only file charges against Oseguera due to needing his testimony for the prosecution of the others involved.

The Sheriff’s Gang Unit was created in February 2007, with the goal of addressing a rise in gang related crime in Ventura County. The six- person unit investigates violent crimes involving gang members, actively patrols gang areas, and is often called upon to assist in the prosecution of gang members in gang enhancement trials.

Home foreclosures have skyrocketed in Fillmore this year, as they have all over the nation.
Home foreclosures have skyrocketed in Fillmore this year, as they have all over the nation.
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The housing market has entered a downward spiral. The circumstances are under nation-wide scrutiny, but the consequences are affecting even those who do not own real estate. Fillmorians are no exception.

Trinka Reynolds, Karin Diaz, and Brian Sipes are real estate mortgage professionals who work here in Fillmore under Market Mortgage, a mortgage brokerage. They volunteered some information regarding the current crisis. Reynolds explained that mortgage brokerages have the ability to submit a standard loan application on behalf of their clients (home buyers) to various banks or lenders. The lenders then draw up the loan terms. This shopping process can result in better rates for home buyers. Karin Diaz mentioned that Market Mortgages prides itself on non-predatory tactics and finding appropriate loans for their clients, so that the loans are affordable long term.

According to Reynolds, bad decisions and introductory "teaser" rates were major contributing factors but not the only cause of the problem. In Fillmore, the situation was complicated by property taxes. Reynolds explained that the average property tax in Ventura County is 1.25%, but in two new developments—due to bonds for schools, levies and parks—the property tax is 1.95%. She demonstrated that on a $400,000 house, the typical property tax would be $5000 per year. Property taxes in Bridges and River Oaks would be $7800 per year. This difference of over $200 per month (and in some cases the difference is even greater) can stretch a family budget past the breaking point.

Reynolds explained that when a borrower fails to make a payment, the borrower’s credit is affected after 30 days, and continues to worsen with each passing month as more payments are missed,. Reynolds stated that after three missed payments, the bank can send a Notice of Default (NOD). This is the first step towards foreclosure. According to First American Title Company, 39 NODs were filed on housing units in Fillmore between December 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008. When asked if any first time homebuyer loans have gone into default of foreclosure, City Planning Assistant Manuel Minjares responded, “Not that I know of.” A report from the California Department of Finance indicates that as of January 1, 2008, Fillmore has approximately 4,400 housing units.

Reynolds, who has been in the real estate loan business since the mid-80s, believes that the current crisis differs significantly from the real estate crash of the late 80s early 90s. This time a majority of the foreclosures are on owner-occupied housing. She says that there is also a greater "saturation level" of foreclosures. These two factors have increased borrowers’ ability to arrange for modified notes. A foreclosed house is a non-performing asset. Lenders make money by being paid back. It is usually better for a bank to modify the note rather than foreclose. In Fillmore, Market Mortgage alone is averaging two inquiries per day from borrowers wanting to modify their notes. Reynolds explained that lenders can modify notes by lowering interest rates or allowing a temporary forbearance. A forbearance allows borrowers to skip some payments in case of a financial emergency, such as illness, but usually extends the loan so that the payments are caught up at the end of the loan. Reynolds believes that many people who had been living in the newer tracts and can no longer afford to keep their homes are moving into rentals. She says some are leaving Fillmore due to increased costs of living here.

Because banks are foreclosing on many properties, and sometimes losing money in the process, many banks are failing. Bank deposits are only insured by the FDIC for up to $100,000. If an account holder has more than $100,000 in any one bank, then any money beyond that amount may be forfeited if the bank goes under. To avoid losing money, account owners should either divide their money among multiple banks or set up multiple ownerships such as trusts so that no one owner is associated with more than $100,000 in deposits.

When asked whether vacancies due to foreclosures were increasing crime in Fillmore, Detective Macias of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department replied that the department does not track that information. According to Macias, there has been only one recent incident involving a house in the process of foreclosure. The house was vandalized, but search warrants were issued and arrests were made. Macias mentioned that because the foreclosure had not been completed, the home owners in this case were responsible for repairing the damage and were as much victims as the community.