Meeting past 11 p.m. Tuesday night, the Lompoc City Council met consider the Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation (LHCDC) debacle. Considered by many a “failure of oversight” with the inconstancies in the low-income housing corporation’s reporting to the federal government, the county, and city regarding loans and grants. The city loaned $4,868,596, but has only been repaid $1,736,074. An outstanding debt of $3,132,522 owed by the now essentially defunct corporation.
The agenda item was to review a report by the consultants of Urban Futures Inc. They analyzed loans made and the monitoring of LHCDC. From 1999 to 2011 it was repeatedly found that the various low-income sites were administratively “out of compliance” and that “no documentation (was found) found” in most cases. Most buildings were found to be substandard through negligent maintenance.
The council took little action, and simply urged the staff to prepare a policy to avoid such oversight failures in the future — an echo of the consultant’s recommendations.
Councilwoman Cecilia Martner recommended a letter be sent to the county assuring Lompoc’s corporation with the investigation saying, “I would like to walk away from here trying to reestablish at least a little tiny bit of pubic trust.” A motion was made, and a letter will be sent by the city.
City Attorney Joe Pannone explained the definition of a forensic audit as a tool to find criminal liability. He recommended, “We need to weigh the purposes that you want to serve by the forensic audit, figure out is there is a likelihood that purpose will be served.” He advised that the County District Attorney, who served 12 search warrants in recent months, was the appropriate avenue to find “criminal liability.”
“The reason this is before you was that the county’s audit is just for county money. And the question was do we need to do our own to take care of city money,” Jedidjah de Vries said during public comment. “I think we missed what this agenda item was all about.”
LHCDC, incorporated in 1990 under a different name, was the primary agency providing affordable housing in the city with Lompoc Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funds. The housing corporation also ran two homeless shelters, one in the city and another outside city limits.