Oxnard Ordered to Repay $34 Million

UPDATE:  The $34 million figure in this article was originally calculated through the information that was available when opening briefs were filed with the court.  But the city continued collecting this fee until the judge's decision was issued, and the amount collected during that time also must be returned, so the final amount will instead be $36.5 million.

Victory in court today!

The City of Oxnard had been skimming as much as $7 million per year from the City’s three utility enterprises (water, wastewater and solid waste) ... and diverting the money to the general fund for what they call an Infrastructure Use Fee (IUF).

Our contention has been that the IUF is an unlawful transfer scheme – really, a backdoor tax! – that violates the California Constitution, particularly Proposition 218.

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Three out of Four Ain't Bad

Great election news concerning three of our four citizen-sponsored measures on the November 3, 2020 ballot!

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Less Than Appealing

As you probably remember, the City of Oxnard sued to overturn Measure M, our 2016 initiative which repealed the City Council’s abusive 87% sewer rate increase. Voters adopted Measure M with 73% of the vote.

We successfully defended ourselves in court and won in Ventura County Superior Court in 2018. The City appealed to the Court of Appeal, which announced two weeks ago that they have overturned the trial court’s decision.

While nearly every court ruling leaves one side unhappy, the Court of Appeal in this case made significant errors in its decision, including some material misstatements of the evidence.  So last night we filed a Petition for Rehearing.

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Secret Salaries at Oxnard City Hall

Oxnard City Manager Alexander Nguyen claims to have greatly increased transparency at City Hall.


California’s 482 cities are required to report employee wages and benefits to the California State Controller each year.

Can you guess which four cities did not disclose that information for 2019?

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Court Orders Changes to Oxnard's Prejudicial Ballot Materials

Last week, the court decided on two lawsuits between us and Oxnard City Hall.

In the first case – the one that was more substantive – we petitioned the court over the false and misleading language the City Council adopted for the ballot titles and questions destined to appear on November’s ballot.  We had warned the council that this was a problem before they adopted the language on July 17.  They didn't listen.

Many voters do not read more than the ballot title and question when making a decision on how to vote ... so it is especially critical that the language be concise, accurate and impartial. Otherwise, the City is abusing its power by placing its thumb on the scale of democracy.

In this lawsuit, WE were the prevailing party. Here are just a few snippets of what Judge Borrell wrote in deciding this case:

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Four Down, One to Go

You may remember that last year we collected enough signatures to qualify five Oxnard initiatives for the ballot.

In response, the Oxnard City Council only followed the law on one of those five initiatives, placing our Permit Simplicity measure on the November ballot.

For three others, the Oxnard City Council refused to comply with the law and instead filed a lawsuit against us to keep those measures off the ballot.

They lost!

On Wednesday, July 15, the Ventura County Superior Court ordered the Oxnard City Council to follow the law and put three of our initiatives onto the November election ballot to let voters decide.

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Failing Municipal Law 101

Ventura County Superior Courts are finally re-opening following the COVID-19 closures, and we're finally able to act to reverse the city council's illegal move with our term limits initiative.  We previously told you part of that story, but we have more to share now!

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So Much for Public Health and Safety!

Watch what politicians DO … not what they SAY.

Do you remember how we were told by Oxnard officials that high wastewater rate increases were absolutely urgently needed for repairs at the wastewater plant?

Well … on tonight’s city council meeting (Agenda Item L-1) ... City Hall plans to borrow up to $30 million dollars in cash from the three city-owned utilities – including $10 million from the wastewater utility! – to bail out the general fund.

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Games Councilmembers Play - Illegal Move to Kill Strict Term Limits

The Oxnard City Council thinks they’re playing a clever game with voters but they actually broke the law yet again!

Way back in 1973 the Oxnard electorate voted to separately elect the mayor with a two-year term –– after residents gathered signatures to place the matter on the ballot.

Stay with me. You’ll see why this is important in a moment.

On October 15, 2019, when the council voted to place Measure B on the March 2020 ballot, the city manager and city attorney advised the council that MOST of Measure B’s provisions could be enacted into law with a simple vote of the council

… But because Measure B also extends the mayor’s term from two to four years –– and the voters had already decided on two years in 1973 –– it would take a public vote to modify that.

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Measure B's Transparency Veto

Fun Fact:  Oxnard Measure B’s “transparency” provisions include veto clauses.  

Yes, you read that correctly.  Copied straight from the text of Measure B:

“All agreements requiring City Council approval must be posted on the City’s website and made available to the public prior to City Council action unless determined otherwise by the city attorney."

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