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By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- In his report to the city council, February 16, City Manager Alex Nguyen said the State of California is getting more Covid-19 vaccines, which means that Ventura County is getting more vaccines.
"Ventura County Public Health continues to do a great job of figuring the system to get people registered and get as many doses into people as possible each day," he said. They are slowly expanding facilities, and there is one expansion this week in Oxnard, which is a starting point at the Babies r Us store; it used to be a Babies r Us store, and it still requires everyone to register. Right now, we are in the phase that includes people who are 65 years or older. Mr. Mayor, you also have an update from the county on additional sites. They are working on expanding more smaller sites through Oxnard. We are all working on getting additional vaccination sites into South Oxnard."
The City of Oxnard is seeking to join the state's rental assistance program.
"Similar to the county, we are in the process of declaring our intent to the State of California to join them and have them manage statewide the Covid-19 rental assistance program," he said. "At a future council meeting, I will be bringing a resolution for the council to ratify. This is something that we have to do as a city during local emergencies."
Although the numbers are improving and the vaccine continues to make its way through the community, Nguyen still strongly encourages people to wear a mask, practice six feet of social distancing, and avoid large gatherings.
"Continue to wash your hands frequently throughout the day, and please don't gather with people outside of your immediate household," he said.
Nguyen pivoted to the corn vendor incident the city learned about in December and said it started with a video clip of an August 2020 incident with a city code compliance inspector and a street vendor.
"After the video was brought to our attention, I had the police department conduct an administrative investigation of that particular incident, and they completed their investigation at the end of January," he said. "The investigation interviewed the actual vendor, the code compliance inspector, and the police officer who responded. The posted video showed a portion of what happened between the vendor and the inspector. The vendor was known to the inspector, and they've had prior exchanges. The vendor was known for operating without the required permits. On that day, when the vendor saw the inspector, he refused to stop, walked away, and started running away. The inspector started following the vendor for many blocks and called the police for backup to detain the vendor."
At one point in the video, a black BMW attempted to block the code inspector's truck so the vendor could get away.
"The vendor stated that the inspector drove into his cart, and the inspector stated that the vendor drove his cart in the inspector's truck," he said. "The vendor continued to attempt to evade the inspector, and he was eventually stopped by the responding police officer. On that occasion and in the past, the cart was seized, and he was issued civil citations for operating without a health permit and not obtaining a business tax certificate."
The city is updating its procedures effective the week of February 15.
"From now on, our code enforcement inspectors will only respond to complaints received rather than conducting any proactive enforcement," he said. "Our city's efforts will focus on those vending types we know that have a path forward to get to compliance, such as car washes and flower sales. When we do have to respond to a complaint, we will issue one warning prior to issuing a citation. If we have to issue a citation, the citation will be issued for the current laws and regulations on the books, not having a County of Ventura health permit. It is required in the city code and the California Health and Safety Code."
The vendor also needs a City of Oxnard business certificate.
"If you're doing this particular form of vending, specifically corn vending, it's not possible because you don't have a county health permit," he said. Without that, you can't get a city business license and also not having a permit if you happen to be operating in a residential area. You're not going to get that without the health permit."
When the city does have contact with a corm vendor, the city will focus its efforts toward getting information about the person who owns the vending equipment.
"Not everyone doing this work is the sole proprietor, and in many cases, they work for someone else or some organization," Nguyen said. "Any information about the organized corn vendors will be forwarded to the county environmental health, and they can choose to investigate further. Information regarding food preparation will also be forwarded to county environmental health. If we are responding to a complaint and the vendor chooses not to have a conversation with the inspector, our inspector will no longer follow the vendors."
If the vendor abandons their equipment or food, the city will pick it up.
"The food and equipment will only be confiscated in that event," he said. "As we replace our code enforcement vehicles, we will change our emblem, logo, and look, so they are not mistaken for police vehicles. That's something that often scares people. The entire code enforcement division will get training each year about de-escalation tactics."