Ask the Captain - Q&A (continued)
Question (May 2015): I have been a military spouse for many years and have always been able to attend the gym with no concern. Recently I had children and my situation changed. My health is important to me, and I am a firm believer in leading by example for my children. We used to be able to bring out children to classes at the gym; there was even a little play area in the class. Now, I’m told that we cannot. The gym should be a platform for everyone, not just those who can afford childcare.
Answer: At Naval Base Ventura County, we’re blessed with an abundance of fitness options, including five fitness centers and two swimming pools. In the interest of safety and patron comfort, however, there are restrictions in place regarding children in classes or certain gym areas.
This does NOT mean that fitness isn’t a family friendly activity at NBVC. Quite the opposite, as there are two family-friendly fitness facilities, one of which is open 24 hours a day.
The Bee-Fit fitness center, located at NBVC Port Hueneme near the pool, is open Monday – Thursday from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and has a family-friendly fitness room available. At Point Mugu, the Family Fitness Center, located on C Street near its intersection with 5th Street, is open to families 24 hours a day, though you’ll need to check out a key from the main Point Mugu gym facility to use the space.
Not all classes are open to being family friendly, either because of time, size, or the recognition that, while some parents want to bring their kids with them, others look forward to some child-free “me” time at the gym. At our two main gyms, some classes are designated as “Family Friendly” on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Check the schedule for specifics each week.
If you have older children, those aged 10-14 may work out with their parents, and children 15 and older may work out alone, in any fitness facility aboard NBVC.
Question (April 2015): I was shopping at the Navy Exchange and saw a woman shopping while breastfeeding her baby. There is a time and place for everything, and I don’t feel this was it. Isn’t there a place in the women’s restroom for that?
Answer: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address this hot topic. I’ve learned that a lot of people have strong opinions about breastfeeding, and as leaders we have to be very clear about the law: what’s required, what’s permitted, and what our responsibilities are to families everywhere.
California Civil Code Section 43.3 “a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private … where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.” In other words, if the mother is permitted access to a location – like the Navy Exchange – then she is permitted to breastfeed there. So, by law, the right time and place to breastfeed a baby is when and where that baby is hungry.
You asked about sending women to the restroom to breastfeed. Even in situations where a separate, private breastfeeding location must be provided, such as in the workplace, the restroom is expressly forbidden from being that alternate location. You wouldn’t want to eat your lunch in the bathroom, and the law doesn’t require babies to eat there either.
Question (January 2015): Would it be possible to have the movies showing at Port Hueneme be shown at the Point Mugu Theater? I'm sure a lot of the families at Point Mugu would appreciate it.
Answer: Thank you for your question. The movies showing at the two theaters are different for a very good reason: hardware.
At Needham Theater, the projector equipment uses the same digital cinema format as is used at theaters out in town. This means that the newest releases acquired by the Navy Motion Picture Service (NMPS) can be played at Needham.
At Station Theater, the equipment uses an encrypted DVD system rather than the digital cinema format. This means that we have to wait for movies to be released to us in the older format before we can show them at Point Mugu. The movies shown at Needham Theater are eventually shown at Station Theater; it just takes a little longer.
NMPS controls which theaters are upgraded to the digital cinema format; generally one theater per installation or command is selected due to the high cost of modifying the space and purchasing the equipment. At NBVC, Needham Theater was selected due to its higher volume of patrons.
The drive to Needham isn’t that bad when you consider that the movies are free and concessions are cheaper than the local theater. A recent comparison shows that a family of four saves $50-75 by attending movies on base! To borrow a phrase from the commissary, the Needham Theater is “worth the trip.”
Question (October 2014): Are there any planned upgrades to the athletic fields on Point Mugu? The fields are often marked with rodent holes, and with the drought they’re more dirt than grass. I had heard rumors last year that we may be getting a turf field similar to the one at Port Hueneme here at Point Mugu, but I haven't heard updates on that or if there was any merit behind those rumors in the first place.
Answer: The athletic fields at Point Mugu and many of the grounds on base, including the headquarters building, are frequently marked with signs of gophers. We even had an article about gophers in The Lighthouse not too long ago! It’s really part of the challenge in operating in such a natural environment.
The field located nearest the movie theater at Point Mugu is slated to be replaced with a synthetic field. The rumors are true. Work is currently scheduled to begin in January, with completion in April or May.
We’ve cut back on watering during the drought, and it is having an impact in our green spaces. The synthetic field needs less water – mostly for the occasional spray-down cleaning – so getting it installed will both improve the recreation and PT options at Point Mugu and reduce our water consumption.
Until then, our Morale, Welfare and Recreation team keeps an eye on the fields, maintaining them and working with safety to ensure they’re fit for use. We also call in a pest service when necessary.
Question (October 2014): Why is it always so hot at Needham Theater? I know they went through a renovation recently. Why didn’t they fix the air conditioning?
Answer: Needham Theater’s recent renovation did include an air conditioning refurbishment, and the system is operational. However, energy conservation standards set by Naval Facilities Command require that air conditioning be set no lower than 78 degrees in the summer.
This may seem warm, but it is in line with recommended conservation guidelines set forth by other power providers, such as Southern California Edison. The heat of summer brings huge strains on the power grid; we do our part by keeping the thermostat set, turning off lights when we leave the room – or installing automatic lights that turn themselves off – and shutting down our workstations at the end of the day.
Being good stewards of our nation’s resources requires diligence and constant re-evaluation. At Naval Base Ventura County, we have reduced our energy consumption by over 36 percent since 2003; our water consumption has been reduced by over 35 percent. Every little bit helps us do our part, and your understanding is appreciated.
Question (September 2014): I live on base in Port Hueneme; my spouse is active duty. Last weekend a Chief stopped me at the NEX and told me I needed to turn my t-shirt inside out, as it was offensive and in violation of policy. I am not a member of the military, and I have a first amendment right to say whatever I like, including on my t-shirt. I think your Chiefs need more training.
Answer: In this case, it sounds like the Chief is doing exactly what we ask Chiefs to do: enforce standards. COMNAVREGSW Instruction 1020.1E covers uniform policy and guidance for civilian attire aboard Navy installations in the region, and you may have been in violation.
Anyone wishing to come aboard Navy Region Southwest installations or facilities must abide by certain standards of dress, designed to ensure no discredit is reflected upon the Navy. The regulation says, in part, that “Profanity, pornography, or advocation of drug usage” is not allowed nor are “sexually provocative, suggestive or racial comments, vulgarities or displays of offensive language.” It goes on to say that “all personnel, whether active duty, dependents or retirees, are required to comply” with this requirement.
While you are correct that you have freedom to wear what you choose, you may not always wear what you choose wherever you like. For example, schools and restaurants have dress codes. So do Navy installations.
Question (August 2014): The mosquitos at Point Mugu this year are abnormally numerous and I received multiple bites each day even though I used mosquito repellant. With the outbreak of West Nile Virus in nearby Orange County, I am concerned about the lack of mosquito remediation at Point Mugu.
Answer: Every year, we who live and work at NBVC Point Mugu contend with mosquitoes; as you pointed out, we work next to a lagoon and 2,500 acres of protected wetlands. In April each year, the NBVC environmental team works with The Lighthouse to publish information regarding mosquito season, including how to help in remediation efforts and how to protect yourself. Sometimes though, repellent and long sleeves just aren’t enough.
Luckily for us, most of the mosquitoes at NBVC are saltwater species, which are nuisance rather than vector mosquitoes. This means that while bites are painful and itchy, they do not transmit diseases like West Nile.
Many of the efforts for controlling the mosquito population are relatively invisible to the public, as they target the larva to prevent adults from developing. Remediation efforts begin in April or May every year, and always include monitoring of larval activity and the use of treatments in spawning areas, like the lagoon or drainage ditches. Due to the sensitivity of the wetlands, the types of chemicals used are limited. This year, Public Works is testing a new, more environmentally friendly form of deterrent to spot-treat high-presence areas. This has been tested in a few places and seems effective at managing the adult populations. Hopefully this new effort, which is compliant with California standards but must be frequently re-applied, will help curb this year's large mosquito population.
Question (April 2014): Why aren't the single family homes at Catalina Heights housing reserved for E7 and above anymore? I believe this policy is contrary to the intent behind the Navy's fraternization policy, and it also seems unfair that an E8, E9, O4, or O5 with a $2500-3000 BAH could be assigned a townhouse while an E4 with an $1800 BAH could be assigned a single family home. Thank you for your consideration.
Answer: Catalina Heights, managed by Lincoln Military Housing as part of a public-private venture (PPV), has always been an open community, accommodating all ranks of service members throughout family housing in any home that is available. Homes are filled as per Navy wait list policies and with respect to the Navy/PPV operating agreement and management plan.
Our PPV neighborhoods stay above 95 percent capacity these days, and as we continue to grow – we are set to gain 700-900 personnel over the next seven years – this will continue to be the case. Holding single family homes open based on rank, rather than filling homes with those who qualify as space is available, is not feasible or recommendable in such a high-demand environment. It’s not how we take care of our Sailors.
As for the Navy’s fraternization policy, living in a neighborhood with Sailors junior to you does not constitute fraternization. Fraternization is inappropriate behavior and relationships between you and junior Sailors; your own actions are what are judged, not your street address. We are all part of the Navy family, and living side-by-side helps remind us of that.
Question (March 2014): I have noticed the rise in popularity of electronic cigarettes around the base. Is there an instruction or policy that describes the specifics on where people can use them on base?
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address what is an area of great interest. We do not have an instruction specific to Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) because higher-level instructions are clear.
Tobacco use inside facilities controlled by the Department of the Navy is prohibited by SECNAVINST 5100.13E, Navy and Marine Corps Tobacco Policy. There are a few exceptions, such as personal housing units. The Food and Drug Administration classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products, and as such they fall under this restriction.
Like smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes are not considered to be a safe alternative to smoking and are not a Navy medicine-approved smoking cessation tool. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of premature death in our country. Your health and wellness are important to the country, the Navy and NBVC, and helping you quit safely is important.
For more information about Navy medicine policies and initiatives related to tobacco cessation, visit www.med.navy.mil or talk to your physician during your next visit.
Question (February 2014): I am concerned about the quality of water we drink here at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Port Hueneme. Sometimes the water smells so strongly of chlorine, I can’t believe it’s safe to drink.
Answer: First, thank you for allowing me to address this very important issue. At NBVC, providing you with safe, clean drinking water is one of our top priorities. We publish an annual water quality report, and our system is constantly monitored and tested according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.
Your water is treated using chloramines, a combined chlorine/ammonia disinfectant. Periodically, water systems using chloramines conduct a chlorine “flush” to remove residual deposits in the system, including excess ammonia and nitrates, and disinfect the system. This process is recommended by the EPA as a safe method that will not cause any adverse health effects.
During this process, you may notice that your water has a stronger smell than it usually does. This is a result of both the process change and possible residual levels of chlorine in the system during and after the flush. According to the EPA, the maximum residual disinfectant level goal for chlorine is 4 parts per million (ppm). We monitor our water daily, and we stay well under that guideline, generally under 2 ppm.
During the flush, you may also notice some discoloration or cloudiness in your water. You may also find air pockets in the system. The discoloration and air are harmless, but you may want to run water through the tap until it runs clear.
Question (January 2014): Why are families with pit bulls not allowed to live in base housing? I understand the stigma surrounding these dogs, but it’s based on fear and is untrue. Was there any real research done on this issue before this rule was made?
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address this issue. The breed restriction policy is not a local decision. The Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) instruction governing housing standardization, CNICINST 11103.2, dated September 2009, requires all privatized government housing throughout the Navy to have breed restrictions “consistent with local installation policies and state and local restrictions that may ban aggressive or potentially aggressive breeds.”
Because policies vary widely from community to community, each installation in turn had different policies.
In 2010, Navy Region Southwest, of which we are a part, made a decision, in cooperation with Lincoln Military Housing, to standardize the breed restriction policy for all regional installations. This restriction, which includes pit bulls, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers, went into effect Oct. 1, 2010.
The current policy is in line with other Navy regions and is spelled out in a lease addendum pet owners must sign when living in military housing.
The same pet addendum also bans “any pet that bites a human, or another animal, regardless of circumstances.” Should my golden retriever bite my neighbor, the pet policy in housing requires me to “immediately and permanently remove” my pet from housing. This is done in the interest of maintaining a safe community for our families.
Pet ownership is viewed as a tangible quality of life benefit, but that benefit must be balanced with the safety and perceived comfort of everyone who lives here. To that end, these standardized policies were created and are enforced throughout the region.
Question (September 2013): I heard a rumor that the base is considering cutting chapel services at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu. Is it true? Why would you cut spiritual services to such a large portion of our families?
Answer: Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue. As the fiscal belt has tightened over the past year, we have taken a hard look at the services we offer and how they’re being used. Gym classes, galley utilization and chapel attendance are just a few of the many areas examined.
We are assessing the usage of the chapel at Point Mugu. On average, fewer than 50 people a week attend religious services there. The Seabee Chapel at Port Hueneme, on the other hand, sees four to five times as many people on Sunday alone.
We want to provide for our Sailors’ and families’ spiritual needs, but with limited funds, we have to maximize our resources. From the outside looking in, we are one installation and need to justify why we need two chapels.
I’ve said it before: Vote with your feet. If you want to keep a service, use it. When we are forced to make critical budget decisions, underutilized services are the first to be considered for elimination. Religious services are critical to supporting Fleet, Fighter and Family, but if one chapel is not being patronized, it may be closed to conserve our limited financial and personnel resources and concentrate on the more heavily attended chapel.
Question (August 2013): My husband is a geobachelor stationed at Naval Base Ventura County while our family lives in Las Vegas. Recently, he’s started standing watch in the barracks and can’t come home as often. What are these watches for, and why can’t they do them on weekdays instead of weekends so my husband can see his family?
Answer: I understand your concern and your desire to spend as much time as possible with your Sailor.
The additional watch is a once-per-month requirement we are asking of our senior geographical bachelors as part of their military obligation. The additional watch is a newly established requirement for daily roving patrols in single Sailor housing, part of the Navy’s larger effort to curb alcohol-related incidents and sexual assaults.
Making the decision to be a geographical bachelor is a difficult one for any Sailor and his or her family; however, one’s status as a geographical bachelor cannot be used to avoid the requirements of military service. Service comes with obligations and duty. This roving patrol is one such obligation, and not one that can be waived because a Sailor has chosen to live apart from his or her family. We try to minimize the burden on Sailors and families as much as possible, but we still have a mission to be met. Protecting our fellow Sailors and ensuring they live in a safe environment are critical to ensuring our mission readiness. It’s the right thing to do, for our installation and our Navy.
Question (October 2012): There is a family living on base who bullies the neighborhood. The daughter goes around threatening other kids and if you confront them, the parents do nothing to curb the behavior and instead start bullying other parents in the neighborhood. The father continues the bullying at work, abusing his authority and ignoring his chain of command. What can we do?
Answer: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. No one should ever have to tolerate bullying at home, work or school. I have forwarded the specifics of your complaint to my command master chief who will be working through the chain of command to resolve this specific issue.
In any neighborhood, it’s important that everyone be treated with respect and dignity. In a military community, it is even more important. We rely on one another, and to have that support network harmed by threatening behavior is unacceptable and should be reported if it cannot be resolved between community members.
In addition to reporting through the chain of command, Lincoln Military Housing should also be notified. If the behavior becomes threatening or violent, report it to Force Protection at 805-982-4591.
Question (September 2012): Why isn’t there air conditioning in our child day care centers? I’ve kept my child home when the temperature was predicted to be over 90 degrees, but she’s still getting overheated.
Answer: The air conditioning question is one that we’ve addressed before, but we’ve recently received several inquiries specific to our child care centers so I wanted to take the opportunity to answer again.
Although it was a warm summer, generally the temperature at our Point Mugu and Port Hueneme facilities only gets above 80 degrees 15 days out of the year. It’s really only above 75 for about 45 days a year, based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s past seven decades of data.
Because of this extremely mild weather, Naval installations in Southern California are expected to start all projects with the assumption that air conditioning will not be included. It’s just not the best use of taxpayer dollars.
We do everything we can to keep our children cool and comfortable for those few days a year that the temperature is warmer than usual. Our facilities have child-proof fans and keep windows open throughout the day. We offer water and ice and conduct water play activities on especially warm days as well.
The CDC facility at Point Mugu stays a little warmer than the one at Port Hueneme, because of its design and location. Due to your concerns and comments, we did submit a request to install air conditioning there, which was recently approved! Although we do not have a start date at this time, we should have the equipment installed before next summer.
We are installing thermometers in all of our care rooms and will have our providers monitor the temperature at multiple times throughout the day. This will help us establish how well our efforts are working and give us a good baseline for any future plans.
Question (August 2012): There seemed to be more mosquitoes this year, and fleas too. Mosquitoes can carry disease. Is there any way we can get housing to spray our yards for these insects since we pay them rent?
Answer: Mosquitoes and fleas are a common nuisance in summer and fall. We have a 22 different species of mosquitoes here at Naval Base Ventura County, partly because of the extensive protected wetlands onboard Point Mugu. Salt water mosquitoes, which make up the bulk of the mosquitoes we get at NBVC Point Mugu, are luckily not disease-bearing, just annoying! Freshwater mosquitoes can spread disease, and there are several ways to deter them, starting with wearing repellant when you are outdoors and cleaning up any standing pools of water around your home.
We monitor standing water in the wetlands and take abatement efforts, using long-lasting briquettes and larvicides, whenever possible. In housing areas, groundskeepers do a great job of cleaning up standing fresh water and monitoring for larval activity. You can help by making sure your yard doesn’t have any breeding areas for the insects, such as old bird baths or water pooled on tarps or other outdoor covers.
Fleas are another matter. Housing does not spray yards for fleas because the choice to have a pet is an individual one, and flea abatement and control is the pet owner’s responsibility. As a dog owner, I understand the frustration of finding fleas on your pet. If your usual flea treatments aren’t working, I’d recommend talking to your veterinarian about alternatives, but housing will not take responsibility for spraying yards for fleas.
Question (August 2012): I am an E-4 living in Anacapa Housing on Point Mugu. I am concerned about the Radon levels within my residence. My initial concern was the quality of the bases tap water. I then reviewed the annual Water Report 2011. I noticed that the report specifically pointed out the Radon levels in the water. The report states that the amount of Radon in the water is average but this raised a concern about whether the Radon levels in the air are safe. Radon is known to cause lung cancer in humans. There is no such thing as a safe level of Radon but levels above 4 pCi/L would require immediate attention. Would it be possible to supply the residents with test kits so that we may insure the levels of Radon are not above harmful levels. Thank you for your time, Sir.
Answer: Thank you for taking the time to read our water safety reports and for asking the questions that will help keep you and your family safe. The report specifically lists radon as a compliance requirement. I’ve spoken with Environmental, Safety and Industrial Hygiene regarding radon. Radon levels in municipal water sources is not regulated, as you can see in the report, nor is testing required at the federal or state level here in California. Because this is not something Safety or Environmental tests for, we would not be able to supply you with tests or kits. If you’re concerned about radon in your home, you can get an affordable kit from the California Department of Public Health. Check them out online at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/environhealth/Pages/RadonTestKits.aspx.
Question (July 2012): Sir, Please let us GBs stay in Port Hueneme, I like riding my bicycle to work and it helps me save gas money and mileage for my car. Almost every weekend us GBs travel almost 200 miles to see our family, I only have 1 year and a half and some of us only have months left in the command or in the navy. It is very helpful and convenient for us to be able to wake up in the morning knowing that we are not going to be late because we can walk or ride our bicycle to our work place. Please let us stay in our GB barracks in Port Hueneme. Thank you.
Answer: I understand your desire to stay close to your regular place of duty. Being a Geographical Bachelor is a tough choice to make, and traveling to see your family is one of the reasons that decision is difficult. We aren’t funded for the high number of GBs we have here, but we put in a waiver request each year to allow a higher number of GBs than the Navy standard allows. This allows you to work here without moving your family. However, the trade-off is that GBs must stay where we have space available: Point Mugu. At Port Hueneme, barracks space is at a premium, and our student population has priority for that space.
GBs were allowed to live at Port Hueneme as a temporary solution while buildings and barracks were being upgraded. However, this was always considered a temporary solution. As we continue to work our quality of life upgrades at all NBVC locations, we will slowly begin moving the GBs back to Point Mugu to free up space at Port Hueneme. Please know that these decisions are not made arbitrarily, but as part of a larger plan to optimize the use of the space we have to support our troops in the best way possible.