Category Archives: City News

Candlelight Tours of Historic Olivas Adobe

Docent Mary Thompson will give you a tour of the Adobe.

The City of Ventura Holiday Candlelight Tours of the Historic Olivas Adobe will be held on Sunday, December 9. Attendees of all ages, looking to get into the holiday spirit, will enjoy this event while learning about life in the late 1800s.  Located at 4200 Olivas Park Drive –the first tour begins at 5:30 pm. Tours are conducted in groups, which will be offered every twelve minutes. This popular event, with limited space available, requires reservations by calling (805) 658-4726.

Experience what life was like long ago at this expansive adobe home and courtyard built between 1847-49 by Don Raymundo Olivas. Visitors will take a step back in time at this California Historical Landmark as the Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreters, a non-profit volunteer group, will perform scenes in period costumes.   Refreshments will be served, live musical entertainment will be provided and the Olivas Adobe Gift Shop will be open for those wishing to find unique holiday gifts.

The Olivas Adobe hosts private and public events year-round.  The Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreters make the history of the Olivas Adobe come to life by celebrating its Chumash, Old West, Rancho, and Latino heritage.  For more information visit the Olivas Adobe website at www.cityofventura.ca.gov/olivasadobe.

The Mayor’s Arts Awards recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the arts

Ventura takes great pride in supporting our local arts community.

On Nov.8 the Mayor’s Arts Awards were held at the Museum of Ventura County before an enthusiastic audience of several hundred. The Mayor’s Arts Awards is a collaboration of the City Manager’s Office and Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships Department. It recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the arts in 2018.The selection committee was Peter Graves, Georgeanna Lees and Jen Livia.

Kathryn Dippong Lawson Arts, Education & Historic Sites Supervisor, Community Partnerships opened the evening by welcoming the standing room crowd who enjoyed delicious finger food and drinks on the patio.

The Awards presenters were Paul Lindhard ,Donna Granata,Todd Collart,Bill Kearney,Heidi House,Marlyss Munguia Auster,and David C. Creswell.

Matt LaVere, Deputy Mayor opened the evening. “On behalf of the City of Ventura and the City Council, I would like to thank you for attending the 14th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. This is our opportunity to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of seven distinguished artists, patrons, educators, and

leaders. Ventura takes great pride in supporting our local arts community. Arts and culture help to promote the unique identity of our city. These seven incredibly gifted individuals are diverse in the gifts and talents that they provide to our community daily and have made indelible contributions to our city.

I would also like to extend my thanks to this year’s Awards Selection Committee members.”

This year’s Art Award winners are:

Elena Brokaw Arts Leader. She has served as a leader in the arts in Ventura for over 25 years. She began her career working in the City of Ventura’s Cultural Affairs Division in 1993. She created Ventura ArtWalk and Java Jump. She served as the founding director of the Ventura Chamber Music Festival, co-authored Ventura’s Cultural Plan, Creating California’s New Art City, worked to secure $1 million in grant funding to seismically to retrofit the historic Olivas Adobe, worked on the Working Artists Ventura mixed-use housing development and now serves as the Executive Director of the Museum of Ventura County.

Broc Ellinger Emerging Artist. Broc is an artist from Ventura. Broc focuses his creativity on the medium of photography. His recent endeavors into photojournalism and portrait work have established him as a prolific and diverse photographer. He received the 2016 Ventura County Star Favorite Local Artist award, the 2017 Ventura County Fair Professional Division Best of Show, and 2017 1st place California Professional Firefighters Contest.

Jasmine Duncan Student Artist. Jasmine is a stand-out scholar, athlete, and artist. Jasmine first began dancing when she was four years old. She has developed her dance skills at the Ventura County Ballet Company, Joffrey Ballet in Chicago and received special tutelage from the San Francisco Ballet. In addition to her ballet, she is a talented artist who was nominated for Featured Artist of the 1st Annual VUSD Student Art Show. As a scholar she is on the Distinguished Principals honor roll and is enrolled in Advanced Placement Courses.

Stefoni Rossiter Arts Educator. Stefoni pursued a career in theater in her twenties and then embarked on her life’s calling, being a teacher. She taught first at the preschool level, then elementary in Ventura Unified School District’s (VUSD) open classroom then as Ventura High School’s drama teacher.

Kelly Stevens Creative Entrepreneur. Kelly is the owner of superbuzzy, Inc. Kelly has contributed to the community in many ways over the years. Her most recent contribution was to coordinate the collection of donated materials and quilts from around the world for the Thomas Fire Quilt Project – a project which has, at last count, donated over 1,000 quilts to families who lost their homes in the fire and subsequent mudslides.

John White Artist in the Community. John is a painter, sculptor, and performance artist who has been exhibiting for over 40 years. John’s work is included in numerous museum collections, including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum in New York, La Foret Museum in Tokyo, and many others. He is the recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts grants and was recognized as the 2018 Artist of Distinction at the Ventura ArtWalk.

Patti Channer Arts Patron. Patti is an elegant example of community art patronage. She has long supported the arts in Ventura including Focus on the Masters, Ventura County Arts Council, Ventura ArtWalk, Ventura Botanical Gardens and the Ventura Film Society. When Patti takes hold of an idea, or cause she can single-handedly take it from concept to reality in record time.

How the Ventura City Council works

There are 7 members of the Ventura City Council. Each member must be a registered voter in the City. In the past they were elected at-large.  Starting with the 2018 Election, four Councilmembers were elected by Districts with the remaining three Councilmembers to be elected by Districts in 2020.  Until a City Councilmember is elected by Districts, they remain “at-large”.

Elections to select Councilmembers are held on the 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November of the even numbered years. The newly elected Councilmembers will assume their seat on the City Council in December and serve for a term of four years.

At the same time, the Council is reorganized and one of its members is selected to be Mayor by the members of the Council. The Mayor serves a term of 2 years and is the presiding officer of the Council. The Mayor has been delegated the responsibility to act as the City Council’s ceremonial representative at public events and functions. The Deputy Mayor is also selected in the same manner and serves a 2-year term.

City Councilmembers serve a term of 4 years with the terms being staggered on a 2-year basis with three (3) members being elected at one election and four (4) at the next. The terms commence the day of the first regular meeting in December following the election.

 

City of Ventura seeks input on short-term vacation rentals

The City of Ventura is seeking community input on the regulation and enforcement of short-term vacation rentals (STVR) in Ventura through an online survey at https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/172/Short-Term-Vacation-Rentals. The input will inform staff recommendations that will be presented to the City Council early next year. The survey is open now through November 27, 2018.

Short-term vacation rentals are residential units that are rented for less than 30 consecutive days. These units are currently allowed in the City with a permit and consistent with existing regulations. The City may consider amendments to the existing regulations and enforcement.

Before taking the survey, community members are encouraged to review the STVR information on the City’s website that includes the Municipal Code, performance standards, how to report violations, and other various materials at https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/172/Short-Term-Vacation-Rentals. Community feedback from previous public meetings is also on the website. For questions please call the Business License Office at (805) 658-4715.

The Ventura City Council directed staff to engage various stakeholders and the community to review and consider possible changes to the short-term vacation rental ordinance and related policies.

City council votes on motorized scooters at last meeting

by Richard Lieberman

The City Council has voted to ban motorized scooters at least temporarily. The council will review it at later date when data from cities that have approved the scooters becomes readily available. Cities all over the state are making an effort to manage these devices.

Suddenly with little or no warning these devices appear on the streets in the hundreds. Cities are scrambling to get a handle on them since they showed up about a year ago. Cities have tried outright bans, looking at options for strict regulation, letting them operate independently or implementing pilot programs with strict oversight.

In other cities that have had the experience the personal mobilization devices seem to have showed up overnight. Sometimes they are just dropped off by the companies that own them. Riders download an app on their smart phones that gives the location of a close by scooter. The rider then picks it up and rides away. The business model that the city has seen is one where there are no set parking places for the devices and a rider drops the scooter off just about anywhere in the city. There appears to not have been any attempts by the companies to get into Ventura County.

Downtown Ventura, a popular tourist attraction with its seaside promenade, would be a likely target for an e-scooter company according to a staff report which also noted that these devices would be picked up and impounded, according to the proposed ordinance.

“The city does not currently have regulations on the shared mobility devices”, City Attorney Gregory Diaz said. While the city has had informal discussions on the issue, it wasn’t until recently that a company offering the e-scooter model applied for a business permit. By banning their use, the city can effectively stop the companies from beginning to operate without first getting a regulatory license, Diaz said.

Regulatory licenses are typically required of massage parlors, pawn shops, adult businesses or other industries that may have been problematic in the past. Diaz said that city staff would need to research regulations and how the scooters would work in the city, and those are the same people working on the Thomas Fire rebuilding effort and long-delayed public works projects. “This isn’t intended to be a permanent ban. There are other priorities we have at the moment. It may make sense in the future”, Diaz said, just not now.

The e-scooter have worked well in Portland, Oregon, where a healthy system of bike lanes already existed, and the city regulated their prevalence. At least three council members expressed concern about the city’s liability when it comes to mishaps and accidents.

The staff report also mentions “While there are benefits of the shared mobility devices , there are issues associated with them that will require detailed analysis by the city to ensure they do not create immediate nuisance conditions to which the city is just not geared up to deal with at the time the business is established.”

VPD has new officers

New police officers, Chief Corney and others at the graduation ceremony.

Nine new Ventura Police Officers graduated from the Ventura County Criminal Justice Training Center’s Academy on October 12, 2018. The recruits completed 25 weeks of instruction provided through the combined efforts of local law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice entities. The intense training and education prepare these recruits for the responsibilities of serving the community as peace officers.

The Ventura Police Department welcomes the following new officers: Christopher AguilarRyan BischofRichard KeyJake MaulhardtKent McLaySamuel OrozcoKenneth PattonRobert Sipes and Jordan Trujillo.

The Ventura Police Department continues to accept applications for Police Officer Trainees for the April 2019 Academy! As a police officer fighting and preventing crime, protecting the innocent, and serving the community is what you do daily, but it is the individuals selected to serve who are leaders, have courage, integrity, self-discipline and compassion who make a difference in our community.

More information and an online application is available at www.venturapd.org.

Susan Rungren provides update on plans for pipeline

In May 2018, Susan Rungren became Ventura Water’s Assistant General Manager.

by Jennifer Tipton

Susan Rungren began her career with the City of Ventura in 1999 as the Utilities Engineer for the City’s Water and Wastewater Divisions and has served as the Water Resource Manager for the last seven years. Mrs. Rungren obtained her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University and is a licensed Professional Engineer. She has professional affiliations including the Association of California Water Agencies of Ventura County.

In May 2018, she became Ventura Water’s Assistant General Manager. In this position, Rungren shepherds key future water projects such as the State Water Interconnection Project and the VenturaWaterPure project that will maximize the reuse of recycled water. She works closely with Ventura Water, the Community Development Department, Public Works Department, as well as stakeholders and community organizations to meet long term water supply demands.

I asked if it’s true the City of Ventura has been paying the state $1M/year since 1971 for the rights to state water.

“The City has been paying for our rights to the 10,000 acre-feet since 1971. All State Water Project (SWP) contractors pay an annual fee, regardless of the amount of SWP water received, to help pay for the system and ongoing maintenance costs. The annual fee varies, but the cost to the City has recently been about $1M/year. The City has taken advantage of the opportunity, when available over the years, to recoup a portion of these costs by transferring our annual allocation to other SWP contractors.”

Is there consideration of dropping the pipeline?

“Although this has been discussed over the years, the City considers State Water as an important supply source to improve system reliability. The City currently depends fully on local water supplies consisting of surface water from the Ventura River and Lake Casitas, groundwater from three local groundwater basins, and recycled water from the Ventura Water Reclamation Facility. These supplies have been sufficient to meet demands to date, but continued drought conditions, heightened environmental requirements, compounded by continued population growth are threatening the City’s ability to meet water demands and will require supplemental supplies.”

Where will the state water come from once the pipeline is built?

“The State Water Project is a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, power plants and pumping plants that starts in Northern California and extends south more than 700 miles – 2/3 the length of California. The nearest SWP wholesaler to the City of Ventura is Calleguas Municipal Water District. Calleguas imports and distributes water from Metropolitan Water District, water that arrives via the SWP. The proposed connection point to Calleguas system is near their Springville Reservoir facility, located in the southwest portion of the City of Camarillo.”

Have we started to build the pipeline?

“We have begun the studies at this time. The City of Ventura in conjunction with Calleguas, the United Water Conservation District and Casitas Municipal Water District recently completed a Pipeline Alignment Study. We are now preparing an Environmental Impact Report for the preferred alignment. Upon completion of the environmental documents, the next steps before construction can commence will be completion of agency agreements, right of way agreements, permits and project design.”

Will the pipeline increase Ventura’s water supply?

“Although the City’s entitlement is 10,000 acre-feet per year, this allocation is subject to availability as established by the Department of Water Resources. Based on historical allocations, the range of available SWP water has been 5% to 100% over the last 25 years. The water projected to be delivered by the SWP is not being considered as a reliable means of increasing water supply volume for the City on an annual basis but will give the City flexibility to utilize SWP when it is available in lieu of water from Lake Casitas, groundwater or Ventura River water. Additional benefits to the City include improving water quality and providing an emergency/backup supply for Ventura Water’s proposed reuse project, VenturaWaterPure.”

Would water delivery fees from the state cost extra once the pipeline is completed?

“Yes, additional payments are made by each SWP based on the amount of SWP water delivered to their agency”.

Lastly, once the pipeline is completed, will our water bills go down?

“Ventura Water is owned by the City of Ventura and its water and wastewater customers. The water and wastewater functions are enterprise business entities that do not make a profit and their expenses and revenues are accounted for in proprietary funds, separate from the City’s General Fund. Customer rates must generate sufficient revenues to sustain operations, maintenance, debt payments and capitol improvement projects as well as the costs of oversight and administrative functions performed by the City. Every dollar paid is invested locally to ensure that our community continues to have reliable, quality water services today and into the future. The rate increases are needed to keep pace with inflationary expenses, renew our aging pipelines, facilities and growing regulatory and environmental compliance requirements”.

Anticipated completion for the pipeline is 2022 – 2023.

2018 Mayor’s Arts Awards Recipients announced

While at Montauk, Long Island, NY with East Coast Carol and West Coast Jonell Arts Patron winner Patti Channer kept up with Ventura’s art scene by reading the Breeze.

The City of Ventura’s Mayor is pleased to announce the winners of the 14th annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. These recipients will be honored at a reception on Thurs. Nov. 8, from 6:30-8:30 pm, at the Museum of Ventura County. The public is invited to attend as the honorees are recognized for their achievements and contributions.

The winners include a steadfast patron of the arts; a 2018 Artist of Distinction for Ventura’s ArtWalk; an entrepreneur who coordinated the Thomas Fire Quilt Project; a leader in the arts who has brought a fresh artistic perspective to the Museum of Ventura County; an inclusive educator whose love for the arts is contagious; an emerging artist whose photographs are diverse and timeless and a student artist who received a full scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet at the young age of 14.

The 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award winners are:

Arts Patron: Patti Channer, Artist in the Community: John White, Creative Entrepreneur: Kelly Stevens, Arts Leader: Elena Brokaw, Arts Educator: Stefoni Rossiter,

Emerging Artist: Broc Ellinger, and Student Artist: Jasmine Duncan.

The City of Ventura Mayor’s Arts Awards was established in 2005 and recognizes the contributions to the cultural community by city residents, artists, educators, organizations, and business leaders.

City Council approves Green Energy Rate

by Richard Lieberman

During a recent Ventura City Council meeting the council voted unanimously to adopt a provision that will increase your electric bill by 7-9%. The council approved a measure that will put Ventura at the forefront of a measure that will require 100% of Ventura’s electricity be sourced with renewable energy.

In recent years alternative energy providers have emerged shaking up an industry that traditional had no competition.

Last February the Ventura City Council voted to join the Clean Power Alliance. The alliance offers community choice aggregation, which works by allowing cities and counties to buy and invest in renewable energy.

Once it is up and running the, the alliance will be the state’s biggest community choice aggregation provider in terms of members.

Ventura, Camarillo, Moorpark Ojai, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and the county have all joined along with Los Angeles County, which gave the alliance a $10 million loan to help with startup cost, and 23 other cities in L.A. County.

Although actual costs are still unknown and will not be fully known until November, cities must set a default rate which is the percentage of renewable energy customers who do nothing are automatically enrolled in.

Electric utility customers who want to stay with Edison or who want a different percentage of renewables can do so, but they must manually opt out or change their default. The change can be accomplished on-line, or by mail. The options that will face Ventura Southern California Edison customers contains three tiers: 36 percent renewables, 50% renewables and 100% renewables.

The alliance predicts savings of from 1-3% for 36% renewables, no change in cost if 50% is selected, and a 7-9% premium cost for opting 100% renewables.

City staff had recommended to the council that Ventura go with the 50% renewable tier, but after several public speakers advanced the 100% alternative as the best, smartest way to face a future of global warming, sea level rise and continuing drought, as an effective way of reducing the city’s carbon footprint the council agreed.

Currently the alliance is projecting savings on Edison base rate in the 36% tier of about 3 percent, 1% or less for the 50% tier and addition costs of up to 9% for the now approved goal of 100% renewables.

Camarillo, Moorpark and Simi Valley have set their rates at the 50% level, while Ojai and the county set their rates at 100% renewables. Oxnard has yet to set a default.

Clean Power Alliance Executive Director Ted Bardacke said he anticipates those rate differentials holding true even with a significant decision made by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The commission voted unanimously to change the way “exit fees” are calculated on community choice aggregation customers who leave investor owned utilities (like Edison). The fees are charged to ensure every customer, whether they are served by a community choice aggregation or an investor owned utility pays for power already purchased on their behalf.

PUC commissioners felt the new exit fees more fairly spread the costs between investor-owned utility customers and community choice customers.

Last year 32 percent of Edison’s energy came from renewable sources, according to Edison also offers customers the option to increase that percentage of renewable energy to 50 and 100 percent at additional cost.

The council also considered and approved to continue with plans for a new parking garage in downtown and the city is soon reviewing architectural plans and drawings.

The council also released Thomas Fire new construction permit numbers and they now stand at 82 permits issued, with more forthcoming.

Council passes a contract for temporary generator rental which will include ten generator rentals for emergency power.

Ventura City Council selects Alex McIntyre as new city manager

McIntyre has been City Manager for the City of Menlo Park.

The Ventura City Council announced today that it has selected Alex McIntyre as the new City Manager of Ventura. McIntyre is scheduled to begin with the City in mid-November. He replaces Mark Watkins who left in December 2017 after five years in the City Manager position.

I believe Alex’s experience, enthusiasm and inclusive leadership style make him an ideal fit to be Ventura’s next City Manager,” said Deputy Mayor Matt LaVere.  “I know Alex is eager to begin his work here alongside Council, City staff and all of our residents for the betterment of our community.”

McIntyre served as the City Manager for the City of Menlo Park since 2012.  Prior to his position at Menlo Park, McIntyre served as Chief Assistant County Administrator with the County of Marin from 2006-2008, and before that was Town Manager of Tiburon from 2000-2006.  He also served as Town Manager of Portola Valley from 1997-2000.

McIntyre holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine.

In accordance with the City Charter, the City Manager is appointed by the City Council as the administrative head of the City government.