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Preserving Our Quality of Life
Ventura County is at a point where the decisions we make today will have a profound effect on the lives of those who follow us. The pressure of a growing population is threatening to burst the land use controls that have, so far, made us an example of orderly development. It is time to examine the relationship between a young population in need of housing, and a $3 billion agricultural industry. It is time to recognize the value of new industrial development, while at the same time, never losing sight of the home town values we all hold dear. It is time to decide what our future will be.
There are many forces threatening to disrupt the delicate balance we have achieved in Ventura County. Foremost is the pressure put on cities by the very structure of the state tax system. Beacause most property tax money goes to Sacramento and never comes back, cities are forced to scramble after sales tax dollars. This means that it makes more fiscal sense for a city to attract a Wal-Mart than it does to encourage an industry with high-paying jobs. It makes more sense for a city to pave over some of the most valuable farm land in the country for an auto mall than it does to support the biggest producer of wealth in the county. Until this fundamental flaw in the state tax system is corrected, we will be facing a continuous assault on open space and livable neighborhoods.
There are options. A regional sales tax sharing system would allow sensible land use planning on a wide scale. Sales tax could be apportioned on the basis of population statewide. This would reduce the scramble for retail development and bring an end to so called "mall wars" and tax giveaways. Assemblymember Kuykendall has suggested that property tax should be kept local with sales tax distributed statewide. A transaction tax could replace the sales tax altogether.
We must consider these and other alternatives if we are to maintain our county and our state as one of the most liveable places on earth.
Today, more than ever, we must consider the long-term implications of our actions. Merely looking to the next quarter, or the the next year, or even the next several years is not sufficient. The Iroquois had a proverb, "Consider the impact of your actions on the next seven generations." The challenge of local government today is to plan for the long term sustainability of our communities, our environment, and our quality of life. Each one of us has a responsibility to help build the best possible world for our children and our grandchildren. This is the challenge we face, these are the problems we must solve.
PORT HUENEME (12/3/97) -- The Port Hueneme city council has chosen Mayor Pro Tem Jon Sharkey to be the mayor during the port city's 50th anniversary year. "It's hard to imagine how a boy from Cape Cod could wind up as mayor of a city in California. This is a very humbling experience for me," Sharkey said. Looking to the future he added, "We've got some really exciting prospects in store this year as well as some real problems to solve." Citing completion of the city's water treatment plant and improved library service as two of his top objectives he went on, "As a small city we've got to be more creative and energetic -- average effort just isn't good enough. I intend to stay focused on the day to day operations that make a city work while at the same time continuing our efforts on larger regional issues such as coastal erosion and equity in the tax distribution system."
Elected to the city council in 1994, this is Sharkey's first term as mayor under the rotational system that he helped to implement.
PASADENA (7/19/97) -- Port Hueneme Mayor Pro Tem Jon Sharkey was part of a group from the Southern California Association of Governments who met with a delegation from the Republic of South Africa to discuss issues in alternative dispute resolution. The meeting was organized by the Public Policy Alternative Dispute Resolution Consortium and was hosted by the Western Justice Center in Pasadena.
The African delegation consisted of members of the African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), as well as provincial officials and representatives of the South African Peace Corps. Sharkey, along with Mayor Eileen Givens of Glendale, and Councilmember Dennis Washburn of Calabasas represented the Alternative Disput Resolution Committee of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).
The South Africans were given a presentation covering the history and continuing efforts of SCAG in the areas of public policy mediation and negotiated regulation. Sharkey discussed the opportunities for mediation training available through SCAG, as well as Ventura County efforts in negotiated rulemaking in the areas of air quality and land use.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the term used to refer to various means of mediation and negotiation provided as an alternative to litigation or mandate.
"It's wonderful to be able to have this opportunity to discuss ADR with people who, although they may have a much different history, are facing many of the same sort of day to day problems that we have here. Frictions between state, federal, and local governments are always going to be with us, the trick is to solve these problems so that society as a whole can benefit. It's encouraging to know that there are folks half way around the world who are seeking creative ways to resolve these issues. A meeting like this certainly helps to broaden your perspective," Sharkey said.
SACRAMENTO (4/21/97) -- Port Hueneme Mayor Pro Tempore Jonathan Sharkey testified before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee in support of Assembly Bill 1228 authored by Denise Ducheney (D - San Diego), the Beach Enhancement Act. This bill would create a unified statewide system for dealing with issues of coastal erosion. Ducheney's bill would create a technical advisory committee to examine problem areas and recommend solutions. Funding would come from restoring offshore oil mitigation fees to their original purpose -- protecting the coast.
"Governor Wilson took these specialzed fees and moved them into the general fund as a budget balancing manouver," Sharkey said. "This bill puts the money back where it belongs. The issues of beach erosion are much bigger than any small coastal city can deal with alone. When you consider that Delaware which only has 60 miles of coastline spends $3 million a year on preserving its beaches, it's almost criminal that California which has 1100 miles of coast spends only $2 million."
Unlike the East Coast where most erosion is the result of storm damage, the California coast is subject to continual erosion resulting from natural forces and man-made disruptions. Further complicating the problem is the impact of inland development on natural river flows. "In the Santa Barbara/Ventura area we depend on the rivers to bring sand down to the shore. Every time someone builds a dam or a housing project, less sand gets to the beach. At the recent California and World Oceans Conference in San Diego there was some talk of 'sand rights' similar to water rights. If you disrupt the flow of sand, then you have a liability. I think there's some merit to that, 'though it would be a tough one to pass," Sharkey said.
Once the sand does get to the beach, its' perilous journey is not over. Jetties, harbors, and breakwaters all disrupt the flow of sand downcoast. "Hueneme Beach loses 1.25 million cubic yards of sand each year as a direct result of the harbor breakwater. We live in a world of managed environments. It's time we step up and start managing our coast in a responsible manner. The Beach Enhancement Act is one way we can assume that responsibility," Sharkey concluded.
AB 1228 passed the Natural Resources Committee with a 9-1 vote. It now goes on the the Appropriations Committee for further hearings.
BULLETIN! AB 1228 has passed the Assembly and is now headed to the Senate.
LEAGUE OF CITIES SUPPORTS AB 1228
SACRAMENTO -- The California League of Cities has recommended a "support" position on AB 1228 the Beach Enhancement Act. Port Hueneme Mayor Pro Tem Jon Sharkey, who sits on the League's Environental Quality Policy Committee, has reported that the bill will be discussed at the meeting of that committee in Ontario on June 20. "The League staff has reccommended that we support AB 1228, and I have every reason to believe that the committee will do so. I am pleased that we were able to get League support for this measure," he reported.
The California League of Cities is an organization of local governments which provides a voice for municipalities in supporting or opposing legislation in the state capital. "A recommendation by the League carries a great deal of weight with our lawmakers," Sharkey said.
BULLETIN! The League of Cities Environmental Quality Policy Committee has voted to recommend support for AB 1228. Only Eureka and Ferndale voted in the negative. Port Hueneme Mayor Pro Tem Jon Sharkey made a forceful presentation in favor or the measure, responding to all concerns which were raised, then making a motion for approval -- a motion which received several enthusiastic seconds. "This is one small step in the process, but it is significant that we were able to garner the strong support we did," Sharkey said after the meeting which was held in Ontario.
Jonathan Sharkey, Mayor Pro Tempore
City of Port Hueneme