Council votes to go underground
By Jesse Phelps
Prepare for still more construction
on South Montgomery Street in the near future. In a four-to-one
vote, the Ojai City Council approved a plan on Tuesday night
that calls for all power lines from the corner of Ojai Avenue
down past the Los Arboles development to be moved below ground.
It seems the city's plan to do something similar on East Ojai
Avenue will have to wait, as funds are not readily available
for what would be a bigger, more expensive project. In the case
of South Montgomery, city officials said, Los Arboles developers
Lance Smigel and Lois Rice have agreed to fund $55,000 of the
estimated $484,000 project.
Public Works Director Doug Breeze said that Rule 20-A funds available
to the city for just such a project will cover the remaining
cost. The city has a current balance of $285,000 ready to go
and will need to borrow approximately three years' advance funding
to complete the project.
Councilwoman Carol Smith was the lone dissenter on the issue,
citing disappointment in the delay in the Ojai Avenue project,
her reluctance to borrow from future funds and her opinion that
the Los Arboles developers were contributing less than their
fair share. "It's only a little over 10 percent of the total,"
Ojai Mayor Pro-Tem Sue Horgan agreed that borrowing from the
future funding was less than a perfect solution but voted yes
based on her take that the new underground utilities "will
make a vast improvement to Montgomery, especially the corner
of Ojai Avenue and Montgomery."
In earlier action, the council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution
supporting a state budget initiative that would protect city
revenues, particularly those garnered from sales and property
taxes, from the state.
During its current fiscal dilemma, said League of California
Cities regional representative David Mullinax, the state has
continually "come to the cities to help balance their budget
... We're not trying to turn back the clock," said Mullinax.
"We're just trying to keep hold of the funding we've always
City Manager Dan Singer said that, should the initiative pass,
taxes would not be raised. Should it receive sufficient backing,
the initiative will appear on the California ballot this November.
"We're to the point where local governments have no choice,"
said Mullinax. "We've tried the legislative approach and
this is really the last option."
While funding is an issue city governments are having a hard
time with, the news wasn't all negative for the council Tuesday
night. Organizer Joan Kemper presented plans for the new performing
arts center to be built on the campus of Nordhoff and Ojai Valley
Unified assistant superintendent Jim Berube detailed plans for
new curriculum that will take advantage of the state of the art
The school board has donated $300,000 to get the planning for
the theater, which will include a full scene shop and orchestra
pit, off the ground. Berube said dance will be added to Nordhoff's
current arts curriculum the school board envisions "courses
such as stage design, stagecraft, theater managing and scene
design" will be included in the school's curriculum in coming
The Ojai Valley News
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