Category Archives: Featured News

Ventura Harbor increases sustainability with new EV charging stations

“Sustainability is a major initiative at Ventura Harbor.”

Five new electric vehicle charging stations support EV drivers

The Ventura Port District has installed five new SemaConnect charging stations for Ventura Harbor visitors. The new Series 6 charging stations replace a pair of charging stations previously installed at Island Packers and are open to all plug-in EV drivers that visit the harbor.

The five new SemaConnect stations are installed at Ventura Harbor Village and Harbor Cove Beach parking, 1691 Spinnaker Dr. and 1860 Spinnaker Dr. respectively. The durable Series 6 charging stations are designed for the outdoors and replace old equipment previously installed outside Island Packers. With interactive LED lights, smart card authentication, and network connectivity, the new ENERGY STAR-certified stations help reduce emissions in Ventura. Using the SemaConnect Network, station administrators can view station usage, energy consumption, and carbon-offset reports – perfect for the Port District’s year-end sustainability reporting.

“Sustainability is a major initiative at Ventura Harbor,” said Brian Pendleton, general manager at Ventura Harbor. “We’ve seen an increase in visitors with electric vehicles in the last few years, and we’re excited about the addition of our new SemaConnect stations. We wanted to make sure that our new equipment could withstand sea air and charge all present and future EVs that visit the harbor. We’ve already seen some EV drivers charging at our new charging stations, and we look forward to welcoming Californians back to Ventura Harbor.”

“SemaConnect is honored to be the Ventura Port District’s choice for electric vehicle charging stations,” said Georgette Cardona, national sales director at SemaConnect. “With fewer people driving this summer, many commercial properties and public agencies nationwide are updating their infrastructure and installing new smart EV charging stations. The Ventura Port District is setting an example for other marinas, retailers, and harbors with their new SemaConnect smart stations. We look forward to supporting EV drivers at Ventura Harbor.”

At Ventura Harbor’s new SemaConnect charging stations, drivers have the most options for starting a charge. In addition to a smart card, drivers can start a charge using the SemaConnect app, online portal, 1-800 automated phone system, or Pay With Plugshare. The stations have a $1 plug-in fee plus a $0.17 per kWh energy fee. After four hours, drivers are charged an additional $1 per hour. Live station status, locations, and pricing details can be found on the SemaConnect or PlugShare mobile applications.

Ventura Police officer receives MADD honor

James Dillard has worked for the Ventura Police Department for the past 5 years.

Prior to his employment with VPD, James Dillard served as a Probation Officer for the Ventura County  and studied Criminal Justice at Cal State Los Angeles. James always comes to work with a positive attitude and a passion to serve his community. James quickly established himself as one of the top officers at VPD when it came to impaired driving enforcement efforts. His dedication to the community fueled his desire to seek additional training in the detection of impaired drivers and James attended multiple prerequisite classes to earn him a coveted spot in the Drug Abuse Recognition Expert Course (DRE). Becoming a DRE, James has continued to keep our community safe by actively searching for impaired drivers. In 2018, James was recognized as the top officer at VPD for DUI arrests and he continued his efforts into 2019 where he arrested 41 drivers for impaired driving and was awarded, a second time, as VPD’s Top DUI Enforcement Officer by Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

James commented on this award by saying, “It is an honor to receive this award. I am pleased to be able to protect the citizens of Ventura by getting impaired drivers off the road.”

 

Celebrating 100 years of the League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters continues its mission of civic engagement.

by Betsy Patterson, President, League of Women Voters of Ventura County

The League of Women Voters is celebrating its 100th anniversary, having been founded after the passage of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, granting women their right to vote.  Tennessee was the last state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920 due to the tie-breaking vote of one Harry T. Burn, acting on the advice of his mother.  It was officially adopted on August 26, 1920, and the work of the League of Women Voters began in educating voters about the process of voting and about the candidates and issues.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our celebration will not be all that we intended. However, we must take time to recognize the historic significance of these women who pushed for their right to vote, even during their own 1918 influenza pandemic.

We have seen many changes over the past 100 years.  Few women had access to higher education; now over 50% of college graduates are women.  When women married, they took their husband’s name; but they lost their right to own property, manage business, and could not have their own bank account or, later, a credit card without the signature of their husbands. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed in 1974.

During wartime, women ran the farms, worked in industry and continued to manage the household and raise the children.  Post-World War II, many women were expected to return to their previous roles of home-maker and mother and not work outside the home.  It took a 2nd wave of feminism to break down some of these social barriers.

Women entered politics.  Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to serve in Congress, elected in 1917 from Montana, serving only one term.  Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first female governor, serving from 1925-1927 in Wyoming.  Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and served until 1983.  Today women currently hold 25% of the Senate seats and 23% of the House of Representative seats.  Women make up 50.9% of the US population, as of 2019.

Locally, Susan K. Lacey and Maggie Erickson Kildee were the first women elected to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, both in 1980.  Today the Board of Supervisors and all ten city councils in Ventura County have one or more elected women serving.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan and non-profit organization with over 500,000 members and supporters today, including men since 1974.  Our local League began in 1960 with 22 members under the leadership of Mrs. John (Carol) Quinn.  Today we have 125 members.  Our members come from a wide array of fields, including education, environmental studies, corporate and small business, law, agriculture, arts, medicine, science, and politics.

 

So, as we celebrate our 100 years, the League of Women Voters continues its mission of civic engagement, encouraging voters to become informed about the candidates and issues and to vote.  In the coming months we will be helping the VC Elections Office (venturavote.org) to educate voters and answer questions about the upcoming November election.

Check our website: http://www.lwvventuracounty.org and follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LWVVenturaCo/ ,Twitter https://twitter.com/LwvVentura and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lwvofventura/

Cheryl Heitmann to not seek re-election

“For the past 9 years it has been my honor to serve as a member of the Ventura City Council, including 2 years as Mayor. These 9 years have been filled with good times, joyful times, frustrating times and memorable times. These past few months of a forced slower pace have given me more time for reflection and soul searching and I have decided not to seek re-election. Ventura is a beautiful city with a rich history, incredible residents and strong sense of community.”

“As many of you know, I also served for 8 years as a trustee on the Ventura County Community College Board so I have had the privilege of serving in pubic office for 17 years. I have learned so much and have always tried my best to govern for the greater good. During the next few months I will continue to represent you with the same energy and commitment that has guided my public service. I sincerely appreciate all of you who have supported and counseled me during these 17 years and I know that we will continue to work together in the future. These years of public service have been some of the best years of my life. What a journey!”

Cheryl Heitmann

Serra on the move

On July 23, the statue was removed and taken to a temporary location.

The Ventura City Council voted unanimously 6-0 (with Mayor LaVere recusing himself) to remove the Father Serra statue in front of City Hall and temporarily have it stored. It most likely will eventually be moved to the courtyard at the Mission San Buenaventura. The City Council also approved the removal of the wooden statue of Father Serra from inside City Hall and asked that it be moved into storage until an appropriate site for it is selected.

Some historians blame Father Serra for what they say were his efforts to do away with Native American culture in California and for the deaths of thousands of indigenous people.

Mission San Buenaventura, founded by Serra in 1782 as the last of his nine missions, has been named a minor basilica by Pope Francis. It becomes the first church in the Catholic archdiocese to claim that distinction and the seventh in California.

Councilmember Jim Friedman told the Breeze “Rather than look at it emotionally, I looked at it pragmatically. In the last month, California had three Serra statues ripped off their podiums and destroyed. It was clear to me that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when ours would be destroyed as well. Unless we were willing to spend hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars a year to protect the statue, a good compromise was to relocate it to the mission. That way, people who appreciate the statue can enjoy it for many years to come. Those who do not, would now have it out of prominent public view. This isn’t giving in to threats. We are simply getting ahead of the situation in an effort to secure the safety of our statue. It’s not a perfect solution, but one that provides a sensible compromise.”

Councilmember Christy Weir went on “As a City Council member representing this community, my goals in supporting the relocation of the Father Serra statue to the Mission Basilica San Buenaventura are to:”

“Honor the Chumash, whose home this has been for over 12,000 years, by determining a more fitting place for the statue.”

“Honor the Catholics and others who revere Serra by caring for his statue in a safe location where his significance will be 100% celebrated.”

“Honor the craftspeople and artists who created the work of art, by acknowledging their talents and contributions.”

“Each community has times when it’s important to consider the symbols and monuments  we celebrate. These changes need to be made through collaboration and deliberation, not resorting to vandalism, to ensure that the decision is thoughtful and durable. Even if we don’t find a statue objectionable, respect for our original inhabitants should inspire us to consider those who do. We received thousands of heartfelt communications about this decision, sharing their opinions and personal connections to Ventura, as well as diverse historical perspectives. My understanding of the Chumash and Mission periods has grown, and I am grateful to live in a community that cares so deeply about our heritage.”

The wood statue of Father Serra, on display in the City Hall atrium will also be relocated.

Regarding the move Ventura City Manager, Alex D. McIntyre stated “In recent weeks, the City of Ventura received thousands of emails, phone calls, and public comments (equally divided) about the Father Junipero Serra statue. Last night, the City Council reached a peaceful resolution to remove and relocate two Serra statues.”

“When a group of people has suffered trauma, we all need to step up and do something to heal that. The actions the Council took are a step forward as we stand in solidarity with our Chumash community. As we relocate the statues, we hope to provide healing time for our City and find a more suitable place for the Father Serra statues to be protected and preserved,”

All students will learn remotely until January 2021

The Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) Board of Education voted unanimously on Friday, July 17, to move to a full distance learning model for the entire Fall 2020 semester citing stability and safety as their main reasons. The Board considered input from staff, parents, and local and state officials when making this decision. This week it was announced that many Ventura County Districts were moving to distance learning for the start of the Fall 2020 semester and Governor Newsom announced that schools must stay on a distance learning model until the county they are in has remained off of the state monitoring list for at least 14 days. VUSD will begin online on August 18, 2020. The District has also moved to a 1-1 technology environment ensuring that every student will receive a District device.

We have learned from past experiences that providing stability to our families for long term planning rather than switching between models each time a surge happens in our County was important to us,” stated Board President Sabrena Rodriguez. “The Board does reserve the right to make a change to this decision if there is a dramatic turn of events that would allow students to physically return to our campuses safely and according to state and local guidelines.”

We understand the hardship this may cause some of our families. We will do everything we can to assist our families in providing connections and resources to help our VUSD community’s various needs. We have worked diligently over the last few months, redefining our distance learning plan based on feedback from staff and families, training our teachers on our new platforms, and allowing them time to build courses to prepare for this scenario. We are ready,” stated Dr. Roger Rice, Superintendent.

Vagabond Inn and Best Western Motel have ended their participation as homeless shelters

by Richard Lieberman

The Vagabond and Best Western Hotel recently turned into homeless shelter for the vulnerable homeless population has ended its lease with Ventura County. Citing difficulty with insurance coverage, and a desire by the insurance company to end coverage of the program.

Ventura County Department of Public Health took steps to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus at the beginning of the emergency by securing housing in Ventura, Oxnard and Newbury Park. The county signed leases on two Ventura properties, the Vagabond and the Best Western

The cost of housing 400 homeless individuals is currently at 1.3 million dollars per month. The cost is shared 25% county and state and 75% by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and has been named “operation room key”. Funding for the program was scheduled to end on June 30th, however FEMA extended funding through the end of July. All the motels in the program have opted to terminate their leases even with a funding extension.

A new program administered by the county and backed by federal funds called project “Home Key” will help in securing hotel and motel rooms throughout the county utilizing a voucher program for the homeless being displaced.

The Vagabond and the Best Western are owned by Vista Investments of El Segundo who acquired the properties in 1997. The company will be faced with extensive repairs and refurbishment that will be needed after the program ends.

Tara Carruth, program manager of the Ventura County Continuum said “It was the motels decision to terminate the leases”

“The county is partnering with us to provide a motel voucher program to provide continued placement to high risk individuals,” added Carruth. We are transitioning from full facilities to offering motel vouchers for a select group of individuals that are considered high risk. “one hundred thirty individuals countywide have been offered shelter based on vouchers to those high-risk individuals,” she said. These individuals are the most medically vulnerable.

Voucher funding has been extended and will run throughout the rest of the year. So far seventy-five individuals have returned to the streets and remain unsheltered. “For some of the homeless it was their plan all along to return to the streets because they knew it was temporary and maybe weren’t engaging on a housing plan. Others either were not eligible for or declined every resource that was offered to them, and those are the folks that are still actively searching for housing and have income and just haven’t found a place yet and are working with service providers,” she said.

The motels in question have agreed to accept vouchers instead of leases at least for the time being. The county will pay for the nightly vouchers.

“The hope now is to get those individuals back into shelter through the voucher program. The county also recently started the process of potentially converting one or more motels in the count to permanent supportive housing” added Carruthers.

Ventura named a bicycle-friendly city by PeopleForBikes

We’ve seen many community members rediscover a joy for cycling.

The City of Ventura was honored as a top bicycle-friendly city by PeopleForBikes for its commitment to develop and improve bicycling while encouraging healthier and more sustainable transportation choices.

The PlacesForBikes program ranks cities by scoring metrics such as bicycle ridership, safety, and how well the bicycle network serves all communities. This distinction recognizes the City’s commitment to creating transportation and recreational resources that benefit residents of all ages and abilities while encouraging healthier and more sustainable transit choices.

The pandemic has had an undeniable impact on bicycling. Data from bicycle counters around the City recorded a 56% increase in bicycle trips over the same period just last year. Local bicycle shops in Ventura report skyrocketing sales as more residents seek opportunities to ride their bikes. Some of our economically vulnerable citizens, who do not own a vehicle, now look to alternative public transit options by turning to the bicycle for their commute while local families are going on rides to get out of the house for fresh air and exercise.

Under the direction of the City’s adopted General Plan in 2005, all transportation designs, including street resurfacing projects, aim to expand opportunities to reinforce our bicycle infrastructure for the health and safety of historically underserved sections of Ventura.

Closing of downtown Main Street to vehicles has begun

The closing of a few blocks of downtown Main Street to vehicles has commenced. This allows restaurants and stores to expand into the street.
This was part of an “emergency economic development policy,” approved by the City Council.
“We’re taking innovative, creative, flexible steps to show our business community that we’ll do everything within our power to support this
recovery,” Mayor Matt LaVere said.
This will last for one month as a pilot program at which time the Council will decide whether to leave it in place