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Vandenberg housing issues discussed at town hall meeting

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A town hall convened to discuss privatization in West Housing, Vandenberg and Air Force Space Command's policy on aggressive dogs in housing and Megan's Law at 7 p.m. on June 14 at the Pacific Coast Club.

"We have some pressing issues that we want to talk to you about in order to make sure that all of your questions and concerns are answered," said Col. Michael Fortney, 30th Space Wing vice commander.

The first topic was West Housing privatization with new developments concerning the time line for the contract affecting 867 homes needed on base. This was the second town hall meeting that discussed housing privatization within two weeks, Colonel Fortney said.

"The deal closure for West Housing privatization was expected for Dec. 5, but has been bumped up to Oct. 31," said Gretchen Swinehart, Vandenberg housing flight chief. "The decision on who will receive the bid will probably be announced around the end of this July."

The subject of utilities has been one of interest to those in housing. One person asked if all utilities would be electric under the new contract.

"Whatever utilities we have now is what we will have after the contract is established," Ms. Swinehart replied.

Also, all homeowners residing in the new housing will be required to sign a one- or two-year lease with that contractor, with the utilities being metered over time, and taken out of the appropriated Basic Allowance for Housing, she said.

The second topic discussed the policy concerning dog breeds on base that Air Force Space Command issued in September 2006, stating no new animals deemed as aggressive breeds would be allowed on base. Owners of animals before the policy passed are grandfathered and may keep their pets under certain conditions.

Two breeds that fall under the policy are pit bulls and rottweilers, and owners must follow aggressive breed policy-specific regulations, which includes use of a leash and muzzle at all times when outside an owner's yard. Also, the owner must be able to provide proof of $100,000 liability insurance for that pet and proof of insurance must be available upon request.

"The owner will be held accountable for the dog's actions if it injures another animal, person or property, or escapes from its yard," said Lt. Col. Patrick Donley, 30th Space Wing Security Forces commander.

The policy dictates the breed reflects the manner of how situations are handled. When an animal not deemed an aggressive breed by the policy is found wandering on base, the owner receives up to three "failure to control pet" warnings. However, an aggressive breed can be considered for removal for the first violation.

Even when an aggressive instance has occurred, the owner does have an immediate right to due process at the owner's request.

"Even though there are separate rules for aggressive breeds, any breed with 3 or more aggressive incidents in 3 years will warrant pet removal if decided by the 30th Mission Support Group commander," Colonel Donley said.

For the third topic, the town hall meeting discussed Megan's Law, which provides the public with information on the whereabouts of sex offenders so that members of our local communities may protect themselves and their children.

"Yes, the rumors are true. Yes, there is a registered sex offender living in base housing, but rest assured, we have known of this situation for some time and are monitoring it," Colonel Fortney said. "There isn't much that goes on this base that we don't know about because it's our responsibility to know and to provide the families living on Vandenberg with a safe and secure environment."

According to Megan's Law website, the individual is a dependent and is one of 53 registered sex-offenders in Lompoc Valley.

"The individual has followed all the requirements set forth in Megan's Law. There is nothing in the law that prohibits a member from living on base," he said.

Leadership is providing Airmen and their families with a safe, secure environment by insuring all laws are adhered to but also implores Vandenberg members to do their part.

After reviewing what local communities do to inform their residents when a registered sex offender moves into town, Col Fortney discussed how the base will respond to future similar issues. "Let me start by assuring you we'll take the appropriate action necessary for each case." Colonel Fortney continued, "The Megan's Law Website is intended to be the 'town crier'--it is your first line of notification. You should check it the same as you would if you are living in town."

"Be good residents and parents by reporting suspicious activities on base," he added. "Also, trust that if your leadership thought there was any danger to base personnel we would take care of it; that's our job."

-For more information on Megan's Law go to the website
- For more information on Vandenberg's prohibited pet policy see the 30th Space Wing Policy Letter, Animal Prohibition in Military Family Housing.
- For more information on West Housing privatization call the housing office at 606-3434.