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Committee Member Bryan MacDonald does not agree with using only cameras for security (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, March 14, 2019

By Chris Frost 

chris@tricountysentry.com 

Oxnard-- The Public Works and Transportation Committee for the City of Oxnard recommended approving the contract with Professional Security Consultants, (PSC), for the transit center at 201 E. Fourth Street, March 12.

The contract will not exceed $691,502.

Community Development Director Jeff Lambert said the city went through a process to seek a new bidder for the Oxnard Transit Center in Oct. 2018, and they received one bidder, PSC, that already provides service in the downtown area.

“What’s before you is a three-year contract that expires in April 2022,” he said. “The hourly rate at the beginning of the contract will stay the same as it is today.”

The hourly rate for the security guards will be $24.62 per hour.

Lambert said there are built-in escalators throughout the contract and the fund balance for the rest of the fiscal year $57,626, will come from fund 213, and the city has other funding sources for the rest of the contract, including the Transportation Development Act.

“PSC already provides security services downtown, and they are partners for our security,” he said. “Some examples are the Oxnard Public Library and Service Center, the Del Norte Regional Recycling and Transfer Center and other facilities we have in the City of Oxnard.”

In committee comments, Mayor Tim Flynn said he understands the general fund does not fund the agreement, but the group should always be concerned about the money.

“I’ve always had these issues about security contracts,” he said. “In the advent of cameras, high definition security cameras that can be anywhere.” 

Beyond Oxnard, he pointed to Great Britain and totalitarian regimes that “unfortunately” use cameras to spy on people.

“Having cameras in these places; could it possibly negate the need for security,” he asked. “I think, perhaps, in some areas, maybe yes.”

He cited the water yard as an example.

“We have somebody there at the gate who oversees people coming in-and-out,” Flynn said. “Maybe at the transportation center, there is so much traffic and so much history of so many problems, that we have to have security. When we look at the dollar amounts, committee members, I am trying to be fiscally responsible and do we have to have security guards in this instance, one during certain hours and during peak times, two security guards at an enormous cost on an annual basis, $691,000 over a three-year period.”

Flynn asked Committee Member and former police officer Bryan MacDonald for his opinion on the matter, and MacDonald disagreed with the mayor.

“I was in Santa Barbara for another committee I sit on, and the homeless issue there is as bad, if not worse than it is here,” he said. “They are having particular problems at their Amtrak station in Santa Barbara. I am not trying to vilify or criminalize them, but there are rules in society that everyone needs to abide by, including homeless folks and non-homeless folks.”

MacDonald received pictures of people sleeping on the sidewalk, which he understands, but when they leave, they leave all their stuff there, like garbage that should be thrown in the trash can.

“Cameras are effective, but cameras don’t deter activity like that,” he said. “Secondly, that leaves it to the police department if issues like that occur, who are much more expensive than $25 an hour. I think this is money well-spent.”

Flynn said he understands, but he looks at the price tag, $691,000 over three years and a good part of it dials back to the issues that MacDonald spoke about.

“It gets to that point where it is more expensive to not do something about the homeless situation,” he said. “I am hoping that when we have a more robust homeless intervention program, then maybe it will be possible to have a discussion about whether or not contracts like these are necessary.”

Committee member Bert Perello asked if the security guards are unarmed and have background checks and Lambert said he was correct.

Perello said the guard rate for holidays is $36.93 per hour for six city holidays.

“We identify in the report that we don’t pay overtime,” he said. “How do we not go for paying overtime, but we are now able to pay for the holidays?”

Lambert could not answer the question but promised an answer when it reaches the full council.