Vol. 9, No. 15 – April 27 – May 10, 2016 – Opinion/Editorial

The City Council has approved the pre-screen process.
The City Council has approved the pre-screen process.

•   I still see many signs saying “SAVE OUR HILLSIDES” opposing the proposed Regent Properties hillside development. Asking the City Council to “reject pre-screen application.” It is time for those opposed to the development to make new signs. The City Council approved Regent’s pre-screen application several months ago. It is now up to Regent to decide if they want to spend the large amount of money (and time) to proceed with the project. The development plans, and actual construction will continue if Regent decides to move forward.

The public will have many opportunities to comment on the final submitted plans as they progress through the various city departments. Hopefully, comments will be based on the facts of the project and not exaggerated concepts (like the one about 50 foot retaining walls – that don’t exist).

•   The VC Star has rejected my offer to buy the paper for $10,500,000 cash (that is all that I had in my wallet and my credit cards are tapped out) and have sold it to someone else. That is okay, as I’m too busy now.

•   Congratulations to Ventura College for the opening of their new 19,000 square foot $15 million Applied Science facility. A 2002 bond measure helped fund the building. We are lucky to have this outstanding college in Ventura.

•   If you have noticed, there is a “for sale” sign on Seaward in front of the Golden China Restaurant – the restaurant and property are for sale. The property does not include the area in back of the restaurant, as that is scheduled to be a future hotel. Marcus & Millichap are the Realtors. Their listing said they are “pleased to offer for sale ‘Seaward Avenue Commercial Development Opportunity’, a 3.38 acre tract of land including an 11,000 SF restaurant.”

It is an unusual sale as there is not a stated asking price. Interested parties submit their terms of purchase. It’s a great piece of property that will certainly be purchased for a future development if a developer is willing to deal with the challenges of building in Ventura.

•   Ventura is in the process of developing a Net Zero Policy. The plan would require a new or intensified development project to provide supplemental water and/or financial resources to the City’s water system in an amount equivalent to the new net demand for water created by the development.

Ventura’s recently released water report reports shows (not unexpectedly) that Ventura continues to have a water shortage problem (too bad Northern California got the El Nino and we didn’t), and that demand will continue to exceed supply.

The report shows that If the drought continues into next year (which is expected), the city will have about 16,503 acre-feet of water available, and demand will reach about 17,025 acre-feet.

A proposed ordinance will charge developers (based upon a rather complicated procedure) a large fee for every acre-foot of new water required. The City Council did not take action on the ordinance which might return to the Council for a vote in May or June.

If it is approved, projects that don’t yet have full entitlements would be subject to the ordinance 30 days after enactment.

Ventura gets its water from Lake Casitas, the Ventura River and groundwater, so the large snow packs from El Nino really don’t help our water situation. There are several other possible sources of water, including receiving some from the State that are being studied.

Several people who spoke at the meeting criticized the ordinance for very different reasons.Some arguing it would prevent badly needed affordable housing from being built, while others proposed that all construction should be stopped.

Several speakers, including Diane Underhill, a member of the city’s Water Shortage Task Force, urged the Council to develop a building moratorium until the drought is over and it can be shown that water would be available for further development.

Breeze reader Daniel Cormode (more from him in next issue) stated to us, “Representatives of Ventura Water and Water Consultancy made a Net Zero Policy presentation to the City of San Buenaventura Water Commission on March, 22, 2016.  A detailed review of the proposed Net Zero Policy was conducted and serious flaws in the estimation of costs and yields were noted.  These flaws in underestimating the true cost and overestimating the yield will result in future developments not being charged their fair share of the real cost of new water supplies and current customers of Ventura Water being obligated to pay the remainder of the costs.”

•   Ventura has reached a settlement agreement with Ventura Multi-Cinema, the owners of the downtown Century10 Theater, regarding the use of the Santa Clara parking structure. The city will pay Ventura Multi-Cinema $1.2 million for violating the terms of the 1996 lease between the parties.

Because the theater will invest at least $1.1 million into upcoming improvements including stadium-style seating, I think that this was a fair settlement for the City. The theater’s owners claimed that the City had broken the terms of the lease by giving the 60 California St. building owners exclusive use of 57 spaces for its customers (the City is paid by the owners for this use). The lease specifies that the structure should have ‘unrestricted’ parking for 40 years. The City had admitted that they had broken the terms of the lease.

 

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