Wardrobe Malfunction - LMD Refunds Expose Indecent Accounting

Like the infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, Oxnard City Hall inadvertently exposed itself –- or at least its indecent accounting! –- when the court ordered it to issue refunds to its Landscape Maintenance Districts (LMDs).

As we previously mentioned, a court recently ruled that the City of Oxnard’s charges to LMDs for public outreach “violated both the statutory text and purpose [of the Landscape and Lighting Act].”

As a result, the City was ordered to stop charging LMDs for those expenditures, and to restore the amounts back to the LMDs…which means those districts will have more money to actually use for the proper purpose of tending to your landscaping!

The details of these refunds also reveal some behind-the-scenes naughty accounting. It turns out that some LMDs were made to pay for the expenses of other LMDs. That’s also not legal.

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Term Limits Victory

We never want to jump the gun when it comes to predicting an election outcome, but with almost 90% of the votes counted so far, we can confidently proclaim that Oxnard Measure C (“the Oxnard Term Limits Act”) is passing … and with a decisive 56% of the vote!

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Drunken Sailors with Credit Cards

Guess what won't be on your ballot as you vote on Tuesday ... any option for you to approve or reject the Oxnard City Council's plans to put us over HALF A BILLION dollars in bond debt.

Yes, you read that right. The City Council wants to spend your money like drunken sailors with a credit card –– and without seeking your approval.

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Oxnard City Hall Loses Turf War

We are celebrating a new court victory!

A Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled in a tentative decision that the City of Oxnard was spending money from its Landscape Maintenance Districts (LMDs) for illegal purposes ... declaring that the City’s expenditures charged to LMDs “violated both the statutory text and purpose [of the Landscape and Lighting Act].”

LMDs are funded by an extra assessment on the property tax bills of homeowners who live there, but those assessments can only be used for specific purposes under state law.

The court’s decision requires the City to stop charging LMDs for those unlawful expenditures and restore the wrongfully spent money.

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Appeals Court Updates Favorable Term Limits Ruling

As we previously wrote back in October, the Court of Appeal issued an opinion in our favor, ruling that Oxnard City Council’s actions relating to our term limits initiative, “served to deny voters their rights guaranteed by the Election Code.”

The ruling notes that:

  • The Oxnard City Council, “rendered [our term limits measure] a nullity, depriving the voters of the opportunity to decide the issue of term limits.”

  • “The City deprived Starr and the citizens who signed his initiative of the remedy they sought and to which they were entitled.”

  • “The City overlooks that the plain language” of the relevant statute makes their action illegal.

The court of appeals had originally crafted a well-intentioned proposed remedy that would have put stricter term limits on the ballot, but in a way that both we and the City recognized could have some unintended side effects. 

Both sides asked the court for a rehearing, not on the merits of the case, but only on what the city should be ordered to do as a remedy.

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Court: Oxnard Council Denied the Voters' Rights

We had a major victory in court this week!

On Monday, October 25 the appellate court issued a ruling that the Oxnard City Council “enacted an ordinance that served to deny voters their rights guaranteed by the Election Code.”

You may recall back in 2019 that we spent the better part of that year gathering signatures to qualify a measure for the November 2020 ballot that would change the mayor’s term from two years to four years, and establish a two-term term limit.

The Oxnard City Council did not like that, so they hatched a VERY naughty scheme to deny you your right to vote on citizen-proposed council term limits and the courts have now agreed with us.

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The Ugly Truth About LMDs

We all know that Oxnard City Hall does a poor job of maintaining public landscapes. Just look at the overgrown weeds and unpruned trees.

Even the people who live in a Landscape Maintenance District (LMD) – and pay an extra assessment on their property tax bill – do not receive the services promised.

Adding insult to injury, Oxnard City Hall misspends the money and lies about it.

How do we know?

Well, we have the proof on video … and we want you to view it for yourself.

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What Oxnard Says Versus What It Does

Oxnard City Hall’s words are often at odds with its actions.

During our recent lawsuit –– where we prevailed against the City’s illegal Infrastructure Use Fee (IUF) –– the City of Oxnard claimed to the Ventura County Superior Court that any period shorter than eight years to return to the City's utility enterprise funds (i.e. water, wastewater and solid waste) the $36.5 million it had illegally charged would be an unreasonable hardship, as it had competing priorities for these monies.

The City Council even submitted to the Court a formal resolution making this claim.

The Court wouldn’t give the City eight years, instead granting the City three years to repay the judgment at the rate of $12 million per year –– a lot more than the roughly $4.5 million per year that the City sought to avoid a “financial hardship.”

Several weeks after that decision, though...

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Court Update on Utility Refunds

About four weeks ago we mentioned that we filed a motion for the Ventura County Superior Court to hold a hearing on September 17 to:

  • Declare that the City of Oxnard failed to comply with the court order,
  • Order compliance with the Writ and direct Oxnard to refund to ratepayers the amounts that it has unlawfully collected since June 16, 2021, and lastly,
  • Set an Order to Show Cause, a court hearing where the City will be compelled to argue why the judge shouldn’t hold them in contempt of court.

Our filing of the motion spurred the City to respond the next day, taking actions to ensure there would be at least partial progress before the judge heard our motion.

Here’s what happened in court.

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VCStar Editorial Board: Oxnard's "Mistake"

mistake bag of money

Contrary to the soft-pedaled view expressed in The Star’s recent editorial (“Oxnard moves on from a mistake”), the City of Oxnard’s Infrastructure Use Fee charged to utility ratepayers was much more than a mistake – it was quite deliberate.

Not only did the Ventura County Superior Court describe the City’s too-clever formula for siphoning the money as “arbitrary, capricious, unsupported by facts, and entirely speculative,” it also labeled the City’s scheme “illegal and unreasonable.”

The editorial board applauding the City for admitting its mistake now – after losing a four-year court battle with us – is comparable to praising an embezzler for admitting his crime after the jury found him guilty and the judge sentenced him to prison.

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