Category Archives: City News

Ventura City Council approves portion of Measure O revenue

On June 12, the Ventura City Council voted unanimously to approve $1.64M of
Measure O revenue annually to keep all fire stations in Ventura open. Consistent with the
Measure O ordinance, the ongoing funding will maintain nine rotating full-time firefighters who
staff Fire Station 4 (three firefighters daily), located at Telephone Road and Montgomery
Avenue, and ensure the fire station remains open for the next 25 years. The Measure O
funding was approved with the adoption of the City’s fiscal year 2017-2018 Operating Budget
of $278M; Ventura’s General Fund budget is $110.6M.

“The City Council is upholding the promise we made to Ventura voters,” said Mayor
Nasarenko. “All revenue from Measure O stays right here in Ventura and this initial allocation
will help to maintain fire and paramedic response times for the 15,000 calls for service
received each year from citizens who need emergency care.”

The FY 2017-2018 balanced budget reflects the City Council goals to steward Measure O
dollars responsibly, create and maintain economic development and vitality, and enhance the
response to homelessness. General Fund budget highlights include: increasing the City’s
operating reserves by $1.5M to prepare for the future, funding for public safety to improve
emergency communications center response, and one-time funding for the parks
ambassador program. The City held four public workshops and two public hearings regarding
the proposed operating budget for FY 2017-2018.

In November 2016, Ventura voters approved Measure O, a half-cent transaction and use tax
for 25 years that will generate $10.8M annually to maintain vital services. In accordance with
the San Buenaventura Municipal Code Section 4.129.160, the Measure O Citizens Oversight
Committee reviewed and unanimously recommended that the City Council approve ongoing
funding to staff Fire Station 4.

The City established a separate Measure O Fund to review expenditures and ensure that
they are appropriate under the Measure O ordinance. An annual, independent financial audit
of the funding is required.

Fire Station 4 was closed in 2010 as a result of budget cuts. To maintain area coverage and
keep the fire engine in service the City applied for and received two, 2-year Staffing for
Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants consecutively from Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2010 and 2013 totaling nearly $5M, to provide
previous staffing levels for four years during the economic recovery. The total cost to
maintain a fire station is approximately $2.23M annually; Measure O dollars will fund the
staffing for Fire Station 4 and the City’s General Fund will cover the operating expenses.


The following was sent by Watkins to city employees

Mark Watkins announces retirement as City Manager.

“ After much thought and discussion with my family I have decided to retire from my position as City Manager effective December 28, 2017. Working for Ventura has been a dream job for me. I was a 26-year old engineer when Amy and I arrived here in November of 1987, we welcomed the birth of our first daughter just a month later and have loved living here ever since. I took a 12 year hiatus to work for the City of Thousand Oaks and was thrilled to come back to Ventura in early 2013 as City Manager.”

“As I reflect on my time here it is easy to think of all of the physical attributes that make Ventura such a great place to live and work. We have a wonderful downtown, beautiful beaches, a great harbor, the pier and promenade, hiking in the hillsides, and cultural amenities. However, what I will remember the most fondly is all of the outstanding city employees that bring their energy and enthusiasm to work every day to continue making this one of the best cities in America.”

“ I am providing a long notice to assure a smooth transition for the organization. I have appreciated the trust the City Council has placed in me and am extremely proud of all that we’ve accomplished during my tenure. In the past 4 years we have been able to restore fiscal stability, refocus the organization on core services and infrastructure, pursue the water resources required for our future, and make headway on complicated issues such as homelessness. With Measure O funding the City is now poised to address Ventura’s highest priority needs, make critical investments in our community, and insure that Ventura remains one of the best places live, work, and recreate.”

“One of the items that I am most proud of is the employee agreements that we have reached over the past several years. We have made progress on increasing salaries and improving contributions to health benefits while balancing the other needs of the city and recognizing our increasing PERS contributions. Our employee groups and all of our employees have shown leadership and understanding in this critical area so that we can continue to have the best work force to serve our community.”

“This has been both the most challenging and rewarding positon that I have held in my 33 year career. It has been an immense pleasure to work with our outstanding department head team, city employees, and our community, and I am confident that the City organization is now well positioned for the future.”

“ I clearly remember that day in November 1987 when I walked out the front door of City Hall, looked down California Street to the ocean and historic pier, and wondered how I could be so fortunate to live and work in such a beautiful place. I still feel blessed to be in Ventura and Amy I plan to remain here and serve the community in other ways. Ventura is a 150 year old city with a rich and proud history, but I truly believe that its best years lie ahead. I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve the City and look forward to great things in the future.”

Mark Watkins-City Manager

City Council Member Matt LaVere told the Breeze “Although it has only been a short time, I have really appreciated my time on council with Mark. He has gone out of his way to work with me on issues important to Ventura. I wish him and Amy nothing but the best as they move into retirement. He leaves Ventura a better place than when he arrived, and that is the mark of a good city manager.”

Vol. 10, No. 20 – July 5 – July 18, 2017 – City classes and camps

This is just a small sampling of City of Ventura classes and camps. Check out hundreds more on web-site including Cooking International Cuisine and

Best of Broadway Musical Theatre Camps 7-13 years
Call 658-4726 to register, if you already have an ACTIVENET account online, visit
Held at the Barranca Vista Center, 7050 E Ralston St. unless noted. To register call 658-4726.

Murder Mystery Drama Camp “A Lovely, Deadly Cruise” CAMP 9-14 years
7/10-7/14 M-F 9 am-4 pm $190+$20 materials fee #8549
Learn the art of interactive drama as we work towards a murder mystery performance for family and friends at BVC, Friday at 6:30-8:30 pm. All campers are cast in a speaking part. $20 cash production fee includes: scripts, costume materials and a camp t-shirt

Capturing Color Art CAMPS At Red Brick Gallery 8-15 years
$120 per week
7/10-7/12 M-W 9 am-12 pm Outer Space & Undersea #8613
7/17-7/19 M-W 9 am-12 pm Furry Friends #8614
Push your creativity and understanding of art into a new direction! Work in a variety of mediums including watercolors, acrylics, pencils, mixed media, print making, mosaics and sculpture. No previous art experience necessary. All supplies are included in the cost of class. Red Brick Art is located at 4601 Telephone Road #112 (Telemark Business Center).

Cartooning 8-12 years
7/10-8/14 M 4:15-5:15 pm $50 #9005
Draw wonderful characters with Mr. Scott, a cartoon master.

Mr. Scott’s Chess Club 8-12 years
7/10-8/14 M 5:15-6:15 pm $50 #8983
Improve skills and gain new strategies with a National Championship Coach.

Beginning Argentine Tango 18 years-adult
7/12-8/16 W 6:30-7:30 pm $70/person #9062
Tango in no time with our “true basics in six weeks” class. Classes held at The House of Dance, 3007 Bunsen #E .

I Made a Video Game CAMP 6-9 years
7/17-7/21 M-F 9 am-12 pm $190 #8529
Working with a partner students conceive, design and build their own original 2D “bouncy ball” computer game. Very basic design and coding techniques will be introduced and students will complete fun activities like creating characters and making them bounce around the game screen! Camp held at Bible Fellowship Church.

City of Ventura’s 9th annual Art Tales

City of Ventura’s 9th annual Art Tales “writing contest inspired by art” recently held a standing room only reception to honor the 2017 contest winners. Youth, high school and adult writers submitted a record 123 works of short fiction and poems inspired by the City of Ventura’s Municipal and Public Art Collections that can be seen in the corridors of City Hall.

Contestants ranged in age from kindergarten to over 80 years old and most entries came from Ventura County.

Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko welcomed the writers and their guests at the reception held at the E.P. Foster Library in Downtown Ventura held on June 8. Mayor Nasarenko stated “Thank you, teachers, all of you, for inspiring your students to write such beautiful pieces inspired by art.”

Denise Sindelar, Ventura Community Partnerships Manager told those in attendance “The Art Tales program introduces the city’s Municipal Art Collection to a whole new community. Over 120 creative writing submissions were contributed by writers from all over the state. Wonderful works by talented writers inspired by world class art.”

City of Ventura launches new easy to use and navigate website

The City of Ventura is pleased to announce the launch of its new website The new website includes a fresh new design, refined navigation for an enhanced user experience, and supports all devices including smart phones and tablets making it easier for citizens to access City information. In addition to the host of improvements, the new site supports the Ventura City Council’s ongoing goal of enhancing public trust by increasing transparency and improving access to municipal government.

The updated website features five large icons on the home page to access the most-used functions: Public Meetings, City Service Requests, Videos, Contact Us, and the new feature “Notify Me.” The “Notify Me” module allows users to sign-up to receive notification of public meeting agendas, public hearing notices, emergency bulletins, public works construction updates, special event announcements, bid postings and more via email or text message. My Ventura Access, a popular feature to notify the City of issues, concerns, or opinions, is accessible through the City Service Requests icon.

Developed with user needs in mind, the website design improves navigation through the use of five mega menus to help citizens quickly find information in these main categories: Government, Services, Community, Business and How Do I. Residents and businesses can: access forms such as permits, file a police report, and conveniently pay for services online such as water bills and parking tickets. The new site also features Google Translate in the bottom right hand corner of every page wherein the service translates web pages into more than 100 languages with one click.

The former website had been in place since 2010. Through a competitive Request for Proposal process the City selected CivicPlus to design, configure and implement a new and improved website. CivicPlus specializes in designing website solutions for governmental agencies. The City will continue to enhance the site to better serve citizens.

City of Ventura classes and camps

Musical Theatre “Hairspray” Camp 7-14 years
6/26-6/30 M-F 9 am-4 pm $180+$15 materials fee #8548
Put on your dancing shoes, drama faces, and get ready to sing and dance your way through a magical celebration of “Hairspray”! to perform for family and friends at BVP, Friday, 6:30-8:30 pm. $15 cash production fee includes practice CD, song sheets & camp t-shirt.

Exploring Oil Pastels 7-12 years
6/26-6/30 M-F 9 am-12 pm $150 #8554
Learn how to transfer images without tracing, make spatial connections through drawing, and practice many technical applications of oil pastel. All supplies are provided. Please bring a snack and water. Instructor Ashley Konzmann.

Capturing Color Art 8-15 years
$120 per week
6/26-6/28 M-W 9 am-12 pm Wild Animals #8612
Push your creativity and understanding of art into a new direction! Work in a variety of mediums including watercolors, acrylics, pencils, mixed media, print making, mosaics and sculpture. All supplies are included in the cost of class. At Red Brick Art located at 4601 Telephone Road #112 (Telemark Business Center).

Ghost Investigating Camp I 8-14 years
6/26-6/30 M-F 9 am-12 pm $135 #8562
Organize a ghost hunt at this haunted landmark, collect psychic data, conduct interviews and publish your findings with paranormal expert Richard Senate at the Olivas Adobe, 4200 Olivas Park Dr.

Musical Theater “Beauty and the Beast” Camp 6-9 years
6/26-6/30 M-F 1-4 pm $130 #8629
Campers will enjoy dancing, singing and acting along with crafts and other fun activities to the Beauty and the Beast theme. Camp held at Billy Clower Dance Studio, 75 MacMillian Ave. in Ventura.

Beach Yoga 16 years-Adult
6/27-7/25 Tu/Th 9:00-10:10 am $85 #8949
Increase flexibility, tone the lungs and instill peace with classic Hatha-style breathing and postures, for all levels. Park on Martha’s Vineyard Ct. by Pierpont School. Bring large towel, yoga mat, sunglasses and/or hat. Please wear sunscreen. Instructor Nisahna Engel. No class 7/4. To register call (805) 658-4726.

Flamenco Dance 18 years-adult
7/5-7/26 W 7:30-8:30 pm $75 #9068
Learn Spain’s passionate gypsy dance form and its cultural significance as you build up your flexibility, grace, fitness and confidence. Instructor Wendy Castellanos. Classes held at Namba, 47 S Oak St. in Ventura. To register call (805) 658-4726.

Fairytales in the Park for Families
7/8 Saturday 4pm FREE
Fairytales in the Park is celebrating its 23nd season! Join us at Barranca Vista Park for a production of The Shoemaker and the Elves. Performances are the 2nd Saturday of every month through September. Bring a blanket, picnic and low lawn chairs. For more information call 654-7553.

All held Barranca Vista Park, 7050 E Ralston St unless noted. Call 658-4726 to register, if you already have an ACTIVENET account online, visit Check out hundreds more on the web-site.

City of Ventura’s Art Tales contest honors writers of all ages

2016 Art Tales’ winners being honored by Cheryl Heitmann.

All participants of the City of Ventura’s 9th annual Art Tales “writing contest inspired by art” and the public are invited to attend a special reception and reading with refreshments at E.P. Foster Library, 2nd floor on Thursday, June 8 at 5:30 pm. Community members are invited and encouraged to hear the winners  read their entries and receive their prizes.

Youth, high school and adult writers, from around the country, submitted a record 123 works of short fiction and poems inspired by City of Ventura’s Municipal Art Collection and public art created by artists Blue McRight & Warren Wagner, Tom McMillin, Leonard Poteshman and Michelle Stevens and team.  Contestants ranged in age from kindergarten to over 80 years old. Most entries came from Ventura County: 33 adults (18 & up); 30 teens (13-17); and 60 youth (12 & under). Many teachers from the Ventura Unified School District encouraged their students to enter.

The five contest judges were Ventura County Poet Laureate Phil Taggart, Ventura County Librarian Irma Morales, Ventura Poet Richard Newsham, Ventura Library Advisory Commissioner Debbie Giles and Community Partnerships Manager Denise Sindelar. The judges received all entries “blind” – identified only by (1) a number, (2) the artwork that inspired it, (3) prose or poetry category and (4) age group of the writer.

The 2017 winners of Art Tales are:

Youth Poetry: 1st  Rachel Patrykus  2nd Gianne Garman     3rd  Katie Trevisan

Youth Fiction: 1st  Sidney Crutz  2nd  Amy Baumgardner 3rd  Sienna Mody

Teen Poetry:   1st  Penelope Duran  2nd  Jolee Niberding-Swanberg 3rd  Sophie Stimer

Teen Fiction:   1st  Nadia Connelly 2nd  Calista Marsh  3rd  Anna Berezovskiy

Adult Poetry:  1st  Melissa Waters 2nd  Andres Rodriquez  3rd  Anabelle Warren

Adult Fiction:  1st  Patty Vickers    2nd  Juan David Cure  3rd  Rick Garcia

“We thank all participants for sending in such beautiful poems or stories,” said Art Tales Curator Tobie Roach. “It is amazing to read the many ways the artworks in our Municipal Art Collection inspire more creativity than anyone could imagine.”

Family Reconnection Program has reunited over 100 homeless individuals

Homeless camps in the Santa Clara riverbed happen overnight.

by City Councilmember Christy Weir

There are a growing number of camps being constructed in the Santa Clara riverbed behind the city’s golf courses.  It is very sad to see people living in these conditions. The City of Ventura and our social service agencies offer help to the homeless who are living there, and we periodically clean up the encampments for environmental reasons. The trash and human waste that accumulate are a source of pollution that cannot be ignored. It is essential that we continue to clean up our river areas so they are free from the pollution that impacts water quality at our beaches.

Last week we ran into several people. The people were known by the VPD as chronically homeless who have been offered help many times over the years, including today. One man is a veteran from Santa Clarita and has declined services and housing. Another woman came to the river bottom after being in jail. She is a meth user, who has refused all help, including transportation to her family in SF. She told us she didn’t like taking “charity” and supports herself by panhandling. The man with her had previously turned down help because he had a dog– but he doesn’t have a dog now and today was not open to receiving services. This is our biggest dilemma with entrenched homeless individuals- how do you give a “hand up” to people who won’t accept it? We need to keep trying. Giving cash to panhandlers is not helpful–it only prolongs their unhealthy lifestyle by enabling them to live on the streets or in the riverbeds, rather than accepting services that permanently improve their lives.

On a positive note, just last week, a chronically homeless woman who has been living on the streets accepted help for her alcoholism, after it being offered to her many times over the past few years. She is now receiving treatment. And our Family Reconnection Program has reunited over 100 homeless individuals with loved ones who are now helping to care for them.

Ventura-based arts non-profits are invited to apply for the 2017-18 Cultural Funding Program

Applications and guidelines are now available online for the City of Ventura 2017-2018 Cultural Funding Program Grants at Applications are due by Thursday, June 22. The program is open to any Ventura-based arts non-profit.  All organizations will be required to provide proof of their 501(c) (3) status or that of their Ventura County based fiscal agents. $90,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis to non-profit arts organizations, with grants ranging in size from $1,000-$20,000.

Grants range in size from $1,000-$20,000. Organizations whose annual budgets are less than $10,000 are only eligible to request $1,000 and do not have to submit California DataArts information. Applicants are asked to make a specific grant request. The request may NOT exceed 10% of annual budget.

The City of Ventura Cultural Funding Program, first developed in 1993, supports the following cultural goals of the community as stated in the 2005 Ventura Cultural Plan and in the “Our Creative Community” section of the 2005 Ventura General Plan:

To support Ventura’s cultural infrastructure of arts organizations and artists

To ensure comprehensive access to and involvement in cultural opportunities by all segments of the community

To support economic development and increase tourism

To enhance lifelong learning opportunities in the arts for all ages

Organizations are required to submit financial information via the California DataArts Arts Project at (unless their annual budget is less than $10,000). In addition to the DataArts information, applicants will submit a projected year end (2017/18) operating budget on a supplied form, and the last completed fiscal year-end budget. Artistic samples will be required and the artistic samples form must be submitted. Past applicants must have submitted a Final Report from the previous year to be eligible for future funding.

Ventura Water presents 95 Ways to Save during the days of summer

Ventura Water has partnered with 95.1 KBBY and 100.7 KHAY to deliver the message that saving water still matters. While most of California has been relieved of “drought status,” Ventura remains in a Stage 3 Water Shortage event.  Ventura residents have demonstrated extraordinary efforts in water conservation reducing consumption by over 20 percent in 2016. Ventura Water wants to showcase the community’s hard work and thriftiness by asking the question, how do you save water?

Ventura Water’s annual summer awareness campaigns are designed to be a fun and engaging opportunity to highlight the community’s conservation efforts. During the 95 days of summer, Ventura Water, 95.1 KBBY and 100.7 KHAY will be raffling prizes on the air and on Facebook to those willing to share their water saving practices.  The public is encouraged to tune in and find out how to win theme park tickets or they can look for 95 Ways to Save on Ventura Water’s Facebook page where they can enter to win prizes by posting their water saving tip. Ventura Water’s Outreach booth will be at Summerfest, Saturday June 3rd so families can share their water savings tips with the camera crew.

“The continued support and commitment from our community is crucial to protecting our local resources,” said Acting General Manager Joe McDermott. “We have to be mindful that the best source of available water is the one we conserve today.”

This summer also marks the launch of Ventura Water’s new Free Smart Sprinkler Controller Program. Eligible residents can replace their old analog controller with a new smart irrigation controller that uses local weather data, soil, and plant types to create a customized watering schedule. Apply today by visiting Ventura Water offers customers many ways to save water during the dry summer months ahead, including: the Recycled Water Mobile Reuse Program, Water Wise 2.0 Turf Replacement Program, and free water conservation surveys.

Visit or  for more information.