Vol. 11, No. 9 – Jan 31 – Feb 13, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• I want to compliment the City Council, Community Service Director Jeff Lambert and Chief Building Official Yolanda Bundy for the wonderful job that they are doing to help those who lost their homes in the Thomas Fire. They have set up a separate department in order to expedite the plan checking period for homes to be re-built. Plan check will be completed within 14-days compared to the usual 5-6 weeks. In addition to using City employees, outside consultants have been hired to make this possible.

Also, homes that had non-conforming setbacks (a setback is the distance which a building or other structure is set back from property lines) can be built using the same layout as previously existed and an increase in lot coverage will be allowed. If the lots are sold, these conditions will go with the lot and can be used by the new owners.

Many fees have been eliminated, and the City Council is looking at eliminating or reducing the other remaining fees as suggested by some council members. This could be difficult because of the higher salaries that the consultants are costing the City. And the fire has already cost the city millions of dollars.

You can go to City Hall and obtain more information before proceeding with your drawings, etc.

People who might have the only remaining home on their block also have major decisions to make. It would be extremely difficult to live in a home when lots are being cleared and during the noise and dust from several years of construction. And, the big challenge is that their insurance won’t pay for them to live somewhere else during this period.

• The Breeze hopes to follow a few fire victims through the entire process until their new homes are built. Dealing with insurance, plans, etc. I know that this is a difficult period for most, but if you would like to share your experience with us please let me know by emailing publisher@venturabreeze.com. In addition, for other readers, please feel free to include feel good stories, etc.

•On page 2 of this issue, you will see an ad regarding the “let’s just have fun” party that the Ventura Breeze and Secret Garden is having on Feb.11. Would love for you to join us. Just bring some food, a chair and your tuba.

•A must see event is Buyer & Cellar now playing on the Rubicon stage, starring Brian McDonald in a one person rollicking comedy. Brian is the Rubicon’s Associate Artistic Director / Director of Education and Outreach. He has been with the Rubicon for fifteen years and, in addition to all of his wonderful contributions, he teaches summer acting classes to our youth (including my grandkids). See the review on page 23.

•Portside Ventura Harbor, the Ventura Harbor’s new waterfront development, is expected to open their first phase with 56 residences for lease in the summer of 2018. More information on this, along with Harbor developments and events, can be found in the Harbor Views insert that will be included with our Feb. 14 issue (Valentine’s Day for all you lovers).

•The temporary ban on leaf blowers (to continue) has been approved by a 5-2 vote by the City Council. Member’s Monahan and Tracy voted against it. I agree with them. I don’t think blowers cause anymore ash in the air than autos and wind. All the current moratorium does is make folks mad at the gardeners who keep using them . Many of these folks have lost several customers whose homes were destroyed, and this just makes their lives a little more difficult.

I know that some cities have outlawed the blowers entirely. Perhaps this can be considered by the City Council in the future.

•Ventura has settled its lawsuit against Brooks Institute. The city had claimed the school breached its contract. Brooks has paid Ventura approximately $72,000 to settle a breach-of-contract lawsuit. This amount doesn’t even begin to cover Ventura’s losses.

Brooks closed in 2016 without any warning and left partially completed construction, including the building located behind City Hall and several buildings downtown. Massachusetts based GPHomestay bought Brooks in 2015 from the struggling Career Education Corp.

I think that the City must assume some responsibility for this calamity for not doing a sufficient job of vetting Brooks’ financials prior to leasing them 20,000 square feet. There weren’t any safeguards, such as sufficient up front money if they did go under.

•Unbelievable! This is the President of the United States lowering himself to this level. Doesn’t he have more important things to do running our country?

This is what Trump said. “The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!”

•Finally, Highway 101 has reopened after the massive Jan. 9 mudslide in Montecito closed the busy freeway. Caltrans had promised that it would re-open many times before it finally did.

Folks stuck north of there had to drive to Bakersfield to get here, which took 6-8 hours. Amtrak and Island Packers were the other ways to go back and forth to Santa Barbara.

•The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office is again warning victims of the fire to watch out for scams, including people posing as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inspectors.

Officials want people to know that FEMA inspectors will only arrive once an assistance application has been completed. Inspectors will not collect any personal identifying or bank information or ask for money.

Amazing how good some crooks are at what they do, even going so far as to wear apparel that makes them look official. So please be very diligent in dealing with people that want to be of help, including those asking for money to help fire victims and first responders.

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