Category Archives: City News

City Council to reduce qualified marijuana delivery services

by Burris DeBenning

To further restrict marijuana access in Ventura, City Council, at the meeting held on November 13, voted to limit the number of outside, approved medical marijuana delivery services from five to three to assure greater control of the delivery pipeline. Before November 13, staff had presented the limit to five delivery services that required both a delivery permit and business license to sell medical marijuana to City residents. According to some in Council, the original proposal of five services lacked clarity as to five being the precise number, or whether it would be possible to institute a tighter limit. After Council discussed the matter among themselves and questioned Jeff Lambert, City Community Development Director and the City Attorney, Greg Diaz, Council decided on a motion to set the limit to three allowable delivery services.

While state residents approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) in November 2016, Ventura City Council, with strong support from local law enforcement, adopted an Interim Urgency Ordinance that extended a citywide moratorium on commercial cultivation and sales until mid-November 2017. The state is not expected to develop or institute AUMA regulations until January 2018. AUMA also defers medical use and sales to local jurisdictions, so Ventura is not obligated, at any time, to allow commercial cultivation or dispensaries. Tonight’s vote centered on the latest staff recommendation for a cannabis restriction ordinance that would only allow vendors outside city limits to sell marijuana to residents medically authorized for use.

In earlier discussions of the ordinance, staff recommended that only five businesses be allowed to sell in the city. After staff presented the latest iteration of ordinance on November 13, Councilmember Mike Tracy asked if the number five was final. Other members were concerned as well about the clarity and “magic number” issue. Mr. Lambert responded that five was based on the Council’s direction to “go slow” and assess the true medical need among residents. The City Attorney and Police Chief Ken Corney agreed that five was not a mandate, but was a reasonable number of services that staff and law enforcement could monitor. Staff went on to say that the range of three to five was based on studies in other municipalities.

Councilmember Christy Weir voiced concern about the regulation process itself, and that five delivery services seemed more unwieldy than a lower number. Staff and Council concurred that Council had full discretion to amend the ordinance by restricting the number of outside sellers to three. One citizen protested that local delivery services were being disadvantaged by the ordinance. The motion to amend carried 7-0.

Note: Burris DeBenning is a new contributing writer to the Ventura Breeze. He will be reporting on City Council news and other related stories.

Ventura Police supports the local community

The Foundation supports opportunities for Ventura Police Officers to provide mentoring opportunities for local youth.

The Ventura Police Community Foundation (VPCF) Board of Directors invites the community to a Fall Night Out at Barrelhouse 101 , 545 E. Thompson Blvd. on November 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The VPCF mission is to foster and support programs and initiatives that strengthen a safe community and enhance the quality of life in Ventura. Programs supported by the foundation include after school programs for 510 students at school sites throughout our community, programs for 80 students at Westpark Community Center, community partnerships that enhance the relationship between the community and the police department and public safety initiatives that address specific public safety needs that improve police effectiveness and officer safety through the use of specialized equipment.

“The crime fighting team of the Ventura Police Department is fortunate to have the confidence and support of the community we serve. The VPCF is a 501(c)3 and was established to provide the opportunity for community and business members to support programs and initiatives that will improve the quality of life and safety in our community,” said Police Chief Ken Corney.

In addition to afterschool programs and specialized equipment the Ventura Police Community Foundation supports opportunities for Ventura Police Officers to provide mentoring opportunities for local youth. Special outings to sporting events and entertainment venues allow an opportunity for at-risk youth to enjoy time with officers and develop impactful relationships. The support of the foundation goes directly back to the community and the police department. Join us at Barrelhouse 101 on November 9 to learn about our efforts and join us in making Ventura a better and safer community for all!

This is a no host event. Guests are encouraged to mention VPCF at point of sale. 20% of proceeds will be donated to the VPCF. Questions? Please contact 339-4317 or abautista@venturapd.org.

The Ventura Police Department will be hosting Coffee with a Cop at Art’s Corner Café , 1907 E. Thompson Blvd. on Thursday, November 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The community is invited to come together in a friendly, informal environment to discuss community issues, build relationships and enjoy a good cup of coffee.

Most contacts police officers have with the public happen during emergencies or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street or during the course of their duties. Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows time for relaxed one-on-one interaction.

Engaging the community in public safety efforts is a top priority of the Ventura Police Department. They offer monthly opportunities at Community Council meetings to learn about crime trends and crime prevention. They also provide regular community meetings and neighborhood meetings upon request. Coffee with a Cop is an additional opportunity for residents to get to know the officers that serve Ventura.

Similar events are being held across the country as police departments strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve.

The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time. Coffee with a Cop provides an opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s service. There is no formal agenda, just a casual opportunity to voice concerns and share ideas. This is a no host event.

City of Ventura invites residents to participate in district based elections map process

How would you divide Ventura into districts?

The City of Ventura encourages residents to participate in the district based elections map process with easy to use tools now available on the City’s website at www.cityofventura.ca.gov/districtelections. Citizens can create their own maps by using the one-page map (available in English or Spanish), an online Excel file to map population units by district, or by using the interactive on-line drawing tool. The deadline to submit all draft maps is November 17, 2017. All draft maps meeting the rules set by the Federal Voting Rights Act and the California Voting Rights Act will be considered by the City’s demographer, National Demographics Corporation, and the Ventura City Council.

Community members can pick-up printed maps in the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, Room #204, 501 Poli Street, use their own map, sketch one on a piece of paper, or provide written comments/descriptions for the districts.

Draft maps can be submitted to National Demographics Corporation via fax to (818) 254-1221, email to Ventura@NDCresearch.com, or mail to P.O. Box 5271, Glendale, CA, 91221. All draft maps meeting the requirements will be considered by the City Council and published on the City’s website one week before the meeting at which they will be discussed.

The Ventura City Council is slated to adopt an ordinance establishing the district boundaries by January 14, 2018, and will be effective for the 2018 Election. Residents are encouraged to attend the upcoming Public Hearings on district based elections December 4, and December 11, 2017, at City Hall. A certified interpreter will be on hand for the public hearings.

For a complete list of key dates, administrative reports and frequently asked questions, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/districtelections. The City will be working to keep this webpage up-to-date as we progress through discussions on districts.

Miguel Espinoza selected Ventura Police Crime Fighter for November

Congratulations to Officer Miguel Espinoza who has been selected as the Ventura Police Crime Fighter of the Month for November. Miguel was nominated by his peers for his teamwork, thoroughness and positive attitude. His co-workers appreciate his work ethic, willingness to assist and take pride in the way he represents our department to the community. Please join us in congratulating Officer Espinoza!

We congratulate our officers for their exceptional service to our community.

Sixteen Ventura Police Officers were recognized alongside officers throughout Ventura County at the 41st Peace Officers of Ventura County Law Enforcement Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony held on October 7 at the Ronald Reagan Library. The Medal of Valor is awarded to officers for extraordinary bravery, above and beyond the call of duty, where risk of life existed and the officer was aware of such risk.

Incident One: On December 17, 2015 at 8:30 in the morning the Ventura Police Department received a 911 call stating a female subject had been shot. There were limited details to the shooters whereabouts. Officers arrived on scene and immediately went into action. As dispatchers attempted to gather further information, a child could be heard crying in the background. As officers formulated a plan a female victim exited the residence. It was obvious that she had sustained multiple gunshot wounds. It was later determined that she had 18 wounds. As the victim exited the residence officers, without hesitation still not knowing the whereabouts of the shooter, formed an immediate reaction team and went into rescue mode. Officers rescued the victim and immediately began first aid until medical personnel arrived on scene.

After the female victim had been rescued officers staged at the doorway of the residence. A male subject could be seen lying at the top of the stair case. He was later pronounced deceased. A child could be heard screaming from an unknown location within the apartment. The suspect’s location was still unknown but officers made entry into the residence to render aid to the child in distress. The distressed child was unharmed. Officers rescued the child.

The suspect’s location was still unknown. Agencies throughout Southern California were searching for the suspect. The Ventura Police Department posted a picture of the suspect on the department’s Facebook page. A Ventura resident was vacationing in Mexico and came across the photo on social media. She was eating at a restaurant in Rosarito Beach and noticed the suspect was also at the restaurant. She called the Watch Commander to report identifying the suspect and detectives then worked with authorities at the border to apprehend the suspect. The suspect is now awaiting trial for murder and attempted murder.

Sergeant Anselmo, Detective Acquarelli, Officer Davy, Detective Corporal Marchetti, Officer Martinez, Officer Kasper, Detective Corporal Gilbert, Officer Fowler and Officer Brittle received the Medal of Valor for their service above and beyond the call of duty during this incident.

Incident Two: On June 29, 2016 two people were shot, one fatally on E. Main Street in Ventura. The shooter fled the area in a vehicle occupied by additional subjects. Officers responded to the shooting scene but three officers began patrolling the surrounding area and located the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle drove recklessly at speeds over 100 MPH through areas of heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The suspect vehicle ultimately crashed into an orchard in east Ventura. The driver fled the vehicle leaving the three injured subjects in the vehicle. The vehicle caught on fire with the subjects trapped inside. At this time, officers were completely exposed to the suspect who had fled into the orchard, the weapons used were still outstanding and the subjects were wanted for murder. The officers made the choice to sacrifice their safety and rescue the occupants before they were engulfed in flames. Officers approached and rescued the occupants with the vehicle on fire. The driver, who tried to escape, was later apprehended in the orchard. The subjects are now awaiting trial for murder and attempted murder.

Corporal Knackstedt, Detective Conger, Detective Gutierrez, Officer Almaguer, Officer Dillard and Sergeant Medina were awarded the Medal of Merit for risking their own lives to save the occupants of the vehicle who otherwise would have been trapped in flames.

In the past year, Building and Safety has experienced an influx of projects

Yolanda has been the Chief Building Official for three years.

by Yolanda Bundy, Chief Building Official City of Ventura

The Building and Safety Division is the City office that issues building permits for construction projects in Ventura, such as new housing developments, commercial structures, small residential remodeling projects, or the installation of solar panels on a commercial or residential structure. The permitting process embraces all aspects of building construction – life/safety, structural, plumbing, electrical and mechanical – and is based upon the mandated state building codes, regulations and city ordinances.

In the past year, Building and Safety has experienced an influx of projects, ranging from large developments, to tenant improvements, to home remodeling projects. Currently our Building and Safety counter (room 117, City Hall) serves approximately 800 to 1200 walk-in customers each month. Some of the services that we provide include issuing building permits, answering building code questions, processing Public Records Requests and assisting architects, engineers, owner-builders and contractors with their building plans. We have processed an average of over 4,300 permit applications for the past two years and are on track to exceed a total of 4,500 permit applications that will have been processed by the end of 2017.

The number of plan checks received and reviewed is expected to exceed over 5,000 this year, topping last year’s record number of 4,400 plan checks. Our inspection volume has increased tremendously over this past year as a result of the many projects and building activities in our community, with a steadily increasing monthly average of 1,200 per month. As a point of reference, our office was conducting an average of 600 monthly inspections just two years ago, so the increase in construction has had a definite impact on all aspects of our operations.

While this construction activity can be seen by all in the medical hub of Midtown, at the Harbor, in the housing projects on the east end, the commercial projects on South Victoria, new dealerships at the Auto Center and prominently along the Highway 101 corridor with Kaiser Permanente’s clinic in final construction activity, it is important to note that the planned and predicted population growth rate of .88% in the 2005 General Plan remains only at .45% population growth over the ten year period from 2006-2016, per Department of Finance data. This growth rate when applied to “predicted” development activity shows that the City is growing at 45% – residential, 27% – industrial, 22% – hotel, 17% – retail, 14% – office of the totals identified in the General Plan.

These percentages through end of 2016 account for all built and under construction, but also approved projects not yet issued building permits. The city is in year 12 of a 20-year General Plan projection period with the expectation in 2018 to commence a 3-year effort to formally update the General Plan, which will include significant community and City Council engagement to determine our land uses and community development for a new projection period.

Building and Safety is committed to continuing to work with all community members to ensure that each project is reviewed in a timely manner and that we provide the best possible customer service for our city.

City Council districts are coming

The City of Ventura received a threat of a lawsuit relating to our current At-Large Election Process for selecting city council members from Attorney Robert Rubin which in part stated that our current method of electing city council members at-large does not conform to the California Voting Rights Act(CVRA) and that city council elections must transition from the current “at large” method to “by district” in order to conform to CVRA requirements.

The State of California has also determined that the Ventura City Council does not represent the racial diversity in Ventura and that we need to elect our city council by districts.

The City of Ventura currently elects City Council members through an at-large election process, which means all voters elect all members of the City Council. Changing to district based elections will result in the City being divided into seven geographic districts, each with one City Council member who resides in the district and is chosen only by the voters residing in that district.

City Attorney Gregory Diaz has instructed the City Council that to avoid a costly legal battle, that the city would probably lose Ventura should start the process to a voting system where its elected officials are seated based on where they live in Ventura.

“While a number of options are provided for the City Council’s consideration, transitioning to districts is the only one that clearly meets the requirements of the CVRA,” Diaz wrote in his staff report.

To protect the City and avoid significant legal costs the City Council adopted a resolution on October 16, 2017, declaring the City’s intent to transition to district based elections; the ordinance needs to be adopted by January 14, 2018 making district elections effective for the 2018 election.

Along with drawing new lines, the council must consider what to do with council members who find themselves living in the same district as is the case now.

The following meetings will be held to discuss the proposed new district voting.

Community Information Meeting: October 26, 6 p.m. at the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Rd.

Public Hearings: November 6, 2017 at 6 p.m., December 4, 2017, at 6 p.m., December 11, 2017 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 501 Poli St.

For a complete list of key dates, administrative reports and frequently asked questions visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/districtelections. You may provide input via email at cityclerk@cityofventura.ca.gov. The City has created a short video that explains the district elections process at www.facebook.com/thecityofventura .

City Council speaks out against islamophobia, racism, sexism and xenophobia

On October 2 the Ventura City Council supported a resolution opposing racism and violence brought forward by Councilmember Cheryl Heitmann.

Cheryl stated” It was sparked by what happened in Charlottesville but seems it also applies again with the senseless violence in Las Vegas. I have left off the whereas part due to its length but here is the rest.”

NOW, THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of San Buenaventura does hereby resolve, find, determine and order as follows:

Section 1: The City Council of the City of San Buenaventura desires to make it known that the City and this City Council stands for the following

Principles:

• We believe in and stand for values of inclusion, equity and justice. We condemn islamophobia, racism, sexism and xenophobia in rhetoric or action.

• We welcome all people and recognize the rights of individuals to live their lives with dignity, free of discrimination based on their faith, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or immigration status.

• We will continue our work in making our services and programs accessible and open to all individuals.

• We believe in the public sector for the public good. Advancing equity and inclusion is critical to the success of our communities and our nation.

Section 2: The City Council desires that these principles be reflected in how the City conducts its business and how our City officials, employees, and residents treat each other.

Measure O to fund neighborhood drug and crime prevention

The Ventura Police Department (VPD) will step up prevention efforts on neighborhood drug and crime issues through Measure O funding. This was approved by the City Council during its regular meeting on September 25. The funding will be dedicated to a comprehensive plan developed by VPD that will specifically address narcotics and property crime issues by adding sworn officers onto the streets of the Ventura community.

“This funding will strengthen our ability to effectively respond to crime and narcotic activity, and further our long term efforts to improve the quality of life for Ventura residents,” said Mayor Erik Nasarenko. “The revenue generated from Measure O is providing vital services we need in our community.”

The Measure O funding for neighborhood drug and crime prevention is ongoing. The partial year appropriation is $622,000 for non-sworn, non-safety, Police Officer Trainees. In subsequent years, the Trainee positions are expected to transition to 1 Police Sergeant and 4 Police Officers performing the full range of law enforcement duties and the appropriation will adjust to $940,000 after five years.

The City of Ventura has the highest per capita Part 1 Crime Rate in Ventura County, driven most significantly by property crimes. Additionally, Ventura has the highest incident of drug overdoses in Ventura County and receives more than 100 calls per year to its Narcotics Hotline regarding concerns of neighborhood and public space drug offenses. The Ventura Police Department has no dedicated resources to effectively respond to the problem.

Prior to the recession the Ventura Police Department had 13 Police Officers assigned to property crimes and drug narcotic investigations. There are now only seven Officers assigned to both areas, while reported property crimes have increased by more than 20%.

City of Ventura Fall Camps

Call 658-4726 to register, if you already have an account online, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov.

Fall CAMP Minecraft Engineering with Lego Materials 5-7 years

10/23-10/27 M-F 9 am-12 pm $190

Build engineer-designed projects such as a motorized Creeper, a portal to the Nether, and a moving Minecart! Create your favorite Minecraft objects with the guidance of an experienced Play-Well instructor. At BVC.

Fall Camp Minecraft Masters Engineering with Lego Materials 7-12 years
10/23-10/27 M-F 1-4pm $190
Build a motorized walking Creeper, a terrifying Ghast, and a motorized Minecart! Students will explore real-world concepts in physics, engineering, and architecture while building their favorite Minecraft objects. At BVC.

Fall Billy Clower Hip Hop Boot Camp 5-16 years
Ages 5-7 10/23-10/27 M-F 9 am-12 pm $135
Ages 8-10 10/23-10/27 M-F 1-4 pm $135
Ages 11-16 10/23-10/27 M-F 5-8 pm $135
Each day starts with a warm-up full of freestyling, stretching and conditioning guaranteed to get your heart pounding. Performance at end of week for family & friends. At Billy Clower Studio, 75 Macmillian Ave. At BVC.