Monday, February 19 , 2018, 12:27 pm | Fair 56º


Ron Fink: Lompoc City Council Bucket List for 2018

The Lompoc City Council has a lot of unfinished business it should try to take care of in 2018. Instead of playing Trivial Pursuit with the city staff, the council should try cooperating to make Lompoc a better place to live.

The first thing council members need to consider is how to raise revenue to retain essential services all of us rely upon in our daily lives.

During the last budget session, one council member got sidetracked with attacks on the staff, specifically the management services director and the outgoing city manager.

Early in the process, the staff proposed putting a tax measure before voters. The council majority soundly rejected this idea thinking they could “save their way” out of the pending crisis.

Well, the council member making the loudest complaints wound up finding a whopping $1 a day per city employee in savings. I doubt this will stave off the wolf at the door.

As unpopular as a tax increase is, the voters should have the opportunity to fully understand the service losses that may occur if additional revenue can’t be found.

Many wonder why the city parks are in such bad shape; this can be directly attributed to a lack of funding to fix them.

Another issue is the need to improve the public-safety infrastructure. Relocating Fire Station 2 and expanding the police station are 30 years overdue. Both were too small the day they were built in the mid-1980s.

The city is growing, and the need for these two critical functions to serve new developments is clearly justified.

A bond issue would solve the problem, but once again, the current council majority adamantly refuses to take any meaningful measures for improvement.

Traffic along the H Street corridor, specifically at the intersection of H Street and Central Avenue has become increasingly congested as new businesses have been developed.

The city has collected traffic mitigation fees for all the projects that impact this route, but nothing has been done to improve traffic flow.
Each new project has included a traffic study; each one has identified increased congestion; and each has contained a mitigation measure aimed at fixing the problem.

It’s past the time to start implementing some of these measures instead of just placing words in an environmental impact report to sell a project to city planners.

The last thing is the quality of life along the avenues and in our neighborhoods.

In every corner of the city, shopping carts and derelict vehicles of all types are abandoned. The carts stolen from businesses are used to ferry goods home, and more often are used to collect recycle materials from trash cans and move them to collection sites.

Even though these things are picked up regularly, they reappear within a couple of days filled with trash.

One council member leases space to one of these recycle collection points, and often there are more than 15 abandoned carts on his property and on the adjacent sidewalk, and in the street several times a week.

Apparently, he doesn’t care about the appearance of his property.

Fireworks can be heard year-around in every sector of the city. A previous council majority, led by a mayor who was tossed out of office by voters, approved the use of safe-and-sane fireworks for a very limited period on July 4.

This led many in the community to think they could use any kind of fireworks all year long. The council needs to rescind the use of any fireworks in the city because many people simply can’t be trusted to follow the rules.

Both quality-of-life issues have been discussed by the council and the appropriate policies developed to deal with them. But, the current council majority has no desire to enforce the rules they created.

Code-enforcement activity hasn’t been properly funded; the owners of the shopping carts haven’t been required to comply with rules requiring them to maintain control over their carts; and fireworks users simply blend into the night when police show up.

The last issue is the “homeless problem.” Vagrants can be seen in all commercial areas of town day and night; they have encampments in the river bed, behind commercial buildings and in the hedges of public buildings.

It seems the more homeless people who arrive in town, the more services that become available to them.

At first it was due to poor economic conditions, but now it has become a lifestyle for people who are not motivated to provide for themselves. Many are mentally unstable, drug abusers or have simply lost their way in life.

This issue is more complex and needs the attention of the City Council. Allowing homeless people to congregate and create encampments in the public space is both a nuisance and unsanitary.

These issues should be on the councils’ bucket list, but I’ll bet the current council doesn’t have the will or means to deal with any of them.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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