IN THIS ISSUE
In California we have the possibility of a plethora of natural and manmade disasters. Fire, earthquakes, flooding, and mudslides are all very real threats to our County and it is our job to be prepared in advance to deal with emergencies, to respond quickly, safely and efficiently and to have protocols in place to assist in the recovery process.
Thank you to all of our teams for participating in this year’s State of the Agency. Presentations focused on the understanding and effectiveness of our roles as first responders – which includes a commitment to staying until our communities are safe and protected.
In addition to being First Responders, we are Anti-Graffiti Experts, Tech Innovators, Road Warriors and Navigators along the path. Click into the stories below to hear stories from fellow public works teams.
Jeff Pratt, Public Works Agency Director
As First Responders it is our duty to:
- Stay informed about potential disasters
- Stay in communication with managers and supervisors and perform our job duties
- Have emergency plans in place for work and home
- Ensure emergency kits and emergency protection equipment are ready to go, and field tools and vehicles are ready to respond quickly in case a disaster strikes
As Public Works Professionals, our job is to:
- Protect public health and safety by safely securing our County’s infrastructure
- Work with the Emergency Operation Center to gather information, communicate and stabilize situations
- Provide more detailed information to keep the public informed
- Gather information and data to assess damage, help with ongoing logistics, debris removal as well as ensure roadways are safe and clear
VCPWA provides ongoing support for recovery efforts:
- Engineering Services leads surveying to organize the repair of infrastructure and restoration projects and provides critical contracting support to recovery efforts.
- Watershed Protection conducts debris removal, channel clearing and other flood cleanup operations and prioritizing flood protections and facility repair work.
- Transportation Department conducts road repairs and reconstruction, debris, landslide, and rockfall clean-up operations.
- Water and Sanitation Integrated Waste Management Division coordinates implementation of Disaster Debris Management Plan.
- Central Services provides critical support services including health and safety, public outreach and financial tracking and state/federal funds reimbursement support.
As children and parents enjoyed the last days of summer vacation, VCPWA’s Transportation Department was busy at work completing critical sidewalk safety improvements and road repairs impacting students and pedestrians in Ventura County.
Under a new Senate Bill (SB-1), spearheaded by VCPWA’s Transportation Department, both Camarillo Heights and Kenney Street Pedestrian Projects will help improve the overall safety for the public.
Combined, both projects included the installation of 1,300 feet of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, curb drains, curb ramps and driveway reconstructions around the perimeters of Camarillo Heights Elementary School along Catalina and Mission Drive, and Rio Real Elementary School on the north side of Kenney Street.
“The construction of the schools’ sidewalks around Camarillo Heights Elementary and Rio Real Elementary will assist in improving the overall safety of the school and the neighboring area,” said David Fleisch, Director of the VCPWA Transportation Department. “Now students, parents and residents can feel safer walking to school and in their neighborhood.”
Everyone involved in the improvement projects was excited to celebrate the momentous development achievements, during two dedicated ribbon-cutting events. Supervisor John Zaragoza was in attendance and helped do the honors of cutting the ribbon at the Kenney Street Project ribbon-cutting ceremony. And Supervisor Kelly Long applauded the new safety improvements as she attended the Camarillo Heights ribbon cutting ceremony.
On Saturday, August 25, about 40-70 student volunteers from California State University, Channel Islands Student Service Summit program, tackled Beardsley channel where graffiti is prevalent. Central Services’ Safety Officer Phil Raba provided safety training to all participants. Additionally, Gold Coast Transit District provided three buses and drivers to shuttle volunteers and event staffers to and from the community service sites.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see all these student volunteers join forces with our VCPWA Watershed Protection District, as well as Gold Coast Transit and our very dedicated local citizen Marvin Boos, to mobilize a massive graffiti abatement event to beautify Beardsley channel,” Said Jeff Pratt, Public Works Agency Director.
The event was coordinated by County of Ventura Supervisor John C. Zaragoza and CSUCI’s Police Department, which sought a community service project for incoming first year and transfer students.
Thank you to everyone who participated! Graffiti abatement in Ventura County watersheds is accomplished primarily through community volunteer efforts like this one!
The VCPWA Central Services Department works behind the scenes in very important roles including clerical, fiscal, health and safety, personnel and payroll, and information technology services; they help keep the wheels of our 400-person agency running.
A division of the Central Services Department, Real Estate Services (RES), provides real estate related services to VCPWA departments as well as other County agencies and departments outside of VCPWA.
Central Service Department’s RES team of five dedicated real estate professionals also provides leasing services, as was the case with Dulce Yebra, who needed help navigating the process to re-open B&J Drive-In, located on a publicly-owned property managed by RES.
“When the County Planning Department notified us of the requirements to reopen the restaurant, we knew Dulce and her husband Alfredo Mendez would need our assistance,” said Valeria Lopez, a bi-lingual Real Property Agent who assisted Yebra. “At that point, I promised a very concerned Dulce that I was going to help her through every step of the permitting process.
“Seeing Dulce and Alfredo’s hard work and determination result in a successful opening, as well as the dedication and passion to help people demonstrated by all the County employees involved, was a very memorable experience,” said Tom Yoshioka, a new employee with RES.
In addition to the leasing services provided to this project, RES provides real property acquisition service for the Ventura County Public Works Agency and other County agencies and departments, and appraisal services for a variety of County agencies and the CEO’s Office for feasibility studies, grant proposals, acquisitions and planning purposes.
RES is also involved with the Saticoy Depot property, which was just listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Registration on the National Register of Historic Places provides incentives for preservation of historic properties, including tax incentives and credits, and special building codes to facilitate restoration of historic structures. RES will be working with the County Executive Office, the County Resource Management Agency – Planning Department, County Supervisor Steve Bennett’s office, and other interested parties to seek a public-private partnership for the restoration and future use of the Saticoy Depot property.
The VCPWA’s Engineering Services Department unmanned aircraft system (UAS) program consists of a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone along with Pix4D Mapper software for processing the imagery. The Engineering Services Department acquired the unit in April of this year and has been testing its capability and accuracy.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro has a 20MP camera with a mechanical shutter mounted on a gimbal and close-range sensors for obstacle avoidance. Pix4D Mapper takes the images collected by the drone to create outputs of point clouds, orthoimagery, virtual fly-throughs, and digital surface and terrain models, as well as contour maps based on those models. The unit not only decreases the amount of time spent in the field but greatly increases the amount of data collected. We look forward to seeing what this new tech can deliver!
“I’m actually a returning Public Works employee. I used to work here as a student worker and came back 10 years into my career. I like serving my community that I was born and raised in.”
– Tobie Mitchell, Water and Sanitation
“I’ve worked at the county for 25+ years. I love my job, I love my team and I have a great boss – that’s why I’m still working.”
– Ariel Braza, Transportation
Ventura County’s Public Works Agency (VCPWA) considers education and team building for their employees a key factor for their success. Jeff Pratt, Agency Director and President of CEAC, feels that preparation, theme development, and collaboration between divisions and various other agencies is important to forming a fast moving, responsive, first responder agency in the time of any disaster.
State of the Agency (SOA) 2018 focused on the VCPWA Communication theme for 2018 – Prepare. Respond. Recover when developing this year’s presentation. VCPWA, which is usually the first group to arrive on a disaster scene in addition to other key first responders, ensures that our roadways, water systems, bridges, watershed capacities, and other key work keeps Ventura County moving and is safe and prepared in the event of an ongoing disaster.
SOA 2018 had over 400 staff, dignitaries, and other agency officials attend the event and view the presentation at the annual staff meeting that was held over three days. The presentation kicked off with an exciting intro by Pratt who also set up the employees for the team building exercise. This year’s presentation content was made entirely by VCPWA team members from various departments of the Public Works Agency. The content touched on personal and family preparation, Agency preparation, response to disasters, information on how that is done, as well as recovery which is always ongoing. Informative pieces contained go bag information and ensuring VCPWA’s employees are always prepared for any emergency situation – as state (Fed) appointed disaster workers.
In addition, this year’s presentation featured a video that was created by Dave Jackson, Senior Real Property Agent for the Central Services Department, Valeria Lopez, Real Property Agent for the Central Services Department and Gabriel Ramirez, Engineering Tech of the Watershed Protection District that was fun and informative. The video received wide acclaim and was even requested to be played for all of the Board of Supervisors! A great compliment to all the hard work by staff and management to ensure VCPWA employees are effectively informed on the importance and need for all their hard work to keep Ventura County safe. Organizers thanked everyone who participated, and all enjoyed another great year and energy that ensued.
Kristine Stratas – Engineering Services
Valeria Lopez – Central Services
Matt Maechler – Transportation Department
Rigo Loera – Transportation Department
Gerard Kapuscik – Watershed Protection District
Tobie Mitchell – Water and Sanitation
Dave Jackson – Central Services
Matt Maechler – Transportation Department
Gerard Kapuscik – Watershed Protection District
Sean Hanley – Water and Sanitation Department
Kenji Miyata – Engineering Services
Advisors and Mentors:
Tabin Cosio – Director of Central Services
Kristina Colton – Central Services
Frances Tamayo – Central Services
Organizers and Design Team – Consortium Media