A divided Simi Valley City Council has removed a member of a neighborhood council for disclosing the location of a police DUI checkpoint last month.
The vote Monday night was 3-2 with Mayor Keith Mashburn and council members Mike Judge and Dee Dee Cavanaugh supporting a motion to oust Rebecca Albarran from Neighborhood Council No. 3 after serving only two months on the advisory panel.
"What I firmly believe is that she made bad judgment, especially as a recently appointed member of a neighborhood council," Mashburn said during the sometimes-heated hearing.
Addressing the City Council on Zoom, Albarran was unapologetic for disclosing the checkpoint's location and attributed her removal to a personal "vendetta" by Mashburn for criticizing his leadership.
"I feel I should not be removed from Neighborhood Council District 3," she said.
"I have broken no laws," she said. "I have not violated the (city's) code of ethics. I remain committed to this community. I offer no apologies, nor do I detract my actions for posting the location."
State law does not require police departments to disclose the locations of checkpoint sites but it is not illegal for a member of the public to divulge them.
Council members Ruth Luevanos and Elaine Litster opposed Albarran's removal. Luevanos sharply questioned Simi Valley Police Chief Dave Livingstone at length about the department's DUI checkpoint policies.
"What would be the harm in posting (the locations) in advance?" Luevanos asked.
Livingstone replied that it would undermine the deterrent effect.
"You know it's going to be there, but you don't know exactly where it's going to be," he said.
Luevanos noted that the Los Angeles Police Department has disclosed exact locations of DUI checkpoints in advance on its website, lapdonline.org.
The City Council appointed Albarran to the executive board of Neighborhood Council No. 3 on Nov. 8. It is one of four councils that advise the City Council and Planning Commission on resident concerns, proposed developments and more.
On Dec. 6, the Simi Valley Police Department announced a DUI checkpoint would be conducted at an undisclosed location on Dec. 17.
Prior to the checkpoint operation, Albarran posted on social media the location -- the intersection of Wood Ranch Parkway and Madera Road, according to a staff report for Monday's City Council meeting.
The post read, "DUI LOCATION: Woodranch Parkway and Madera coming into Simi Valley. If you are coming from Thousand Oaks or off the 23 turn right on Country Club Drive."
Mashburn asked city staff to determine whether Albarran had violated the city's code of ethics for elected and appointed officials, the staff report said. The report made no findings.
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Albarran asked the council what section of the code she had violated. The code covers such matters as acting in the public interest, complying with the law and conduct of members.
She didn't get an answer.
Earlier in the meeting though, Mashburn said city officials must act in the "best interests" of residents, one of the code's conditions.
Albarran said Tuesday she posted the location "to give information to people and people can make a decision about whether they want to go through a checkpoint or not."
She said "other people" informed her of the location and she was able to confirm it. She declined to say who the other people were.
Prior to the council's vote, about 30 public speakers weighed in, the vast majority in support of Albarran.
"I think this entire ordeal is incredibly ridiculous, hypocritical and unprofessional," said Aliyah Ewing. "She's an outstanding individual who has time and time again proved her commitment to the city."
A few public speakers were critical of Albarran.
"I take DUI checkpoints seriously," said Lori Mills. "I think that someone who is going to be on the (neighborhood) council should think about other people's lives."
Mike Harris covers the East County cities of Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, as well as transportation countywide. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-437-0323.
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This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Member of Simi neighborhood advisory panel removed by City Council