Category Archives: News and Notes

The Ventura Police Department, partnering with allied agencies, conducted enhanced patrols

As part of the City of Ventura’s ongoing efforts to respond to concerns from the community as well as business merchants regarding illegal behaviors in the parks and surrounding areas of the downtown corridor, 4000 block of E. Main St, and the Victoria corridor, the Ventura Police Department, partnering with allied agencies, conducted enhanced patrols in the those areas on May 9. The officers involved included Ventura PD Motor Unit, Ventura PD Patrol Task Force, VCSO Mounted Enforcement Unit, Ventura County Probation and Ventura County Behavioral Health

The goal of the City of Ventura’s Safe and Clean Initiative is to ensure safe and clean public places for the entire community to enjoy. One of the core elements of this effort is to direct and leverage limited resources to better address illegal activity and quality of life behaviors in public spaces.

As a result of this effort a total of 13 arrests were made in the focus areas:

  • 4 arrests for being under the influence of a controlled substance (misdemeanor)
  • 1 arrest for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanor)
  • 1 arrests for possession of a controlled substance and possession of a dangerous weapon (Felony)
  • 6 arrests for violation of probation
  • 1 arrest for a possession of a stolen vehicle warrant (Felony)

The locations of these arrests included:

  • 1 at Plaza Park, 600 E. Santa Clara St.
  • 2 at Mission Park, 190 E. Main St.
  • 4 at Promenade Park, 398 Figueroa St.
  • 6 at various other locations in the downtown corridor

The City of Ventura is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for the community by making a concerted effort to support the Safe and Clean Initiative.

Quarantine of mussels

The Ventura County Environmental Health Division (Division) in coordination with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is issuing a warning that the annual quarantine of mussels taken by recreational shellfish harvesters is effective May 1, 2018. This quarantine is due to hazardous levels of toxin causing paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) that may be present in mussels along the Ventura County Coast.

The quarantine applies to all species of mussels taken by the public anywhere on the California coast including all bays, harbors, and estuaries. Commercially-harvested shellfish are not included in the annual quarantine.

By complying with the mussel quarantine and advisory, exposure to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) and Domoic Acid Poisoning (DAP) can be prevented. PSP affects the central nervous system producing a tingling around the mouth and fingertips within a few minutes to a few hours after eating shellfish that contain PSP toxins. This typically is followed by disturbed balance, lack of muscular coordination, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing. In severe poisonings, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur.

Symptoms of DAP can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, and dizziness. These symptoms disappear completely within several days. In severe cases the victim may experience excessive bronchial secretions, difficulty breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, permanent loss of short- term memory, coma and death.

There is no known antidote to the toxins, and cooking cannot be relied upon to destroy them. Supportive medical care, however, has proven effective in managing the

Put your phone down. Just drive!

Drivers are using their cell phones less often while driving, 10 years after “hands-free” became the law, but distracted driving remains a serious safety challenge in California. Observing April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the first week in April as California Teen Safe Driving Week, safety advocates will focus on education and enforcement efforts statewide.

The Ventura Police Department will join law enforcement throughout the state to step up enforcement along with awareness efforts by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to discourage distracted driving. Officers will have a special emphasis this month on enforcing all cell phone and distracted driving laws.

The California Department of Transportation will put distracted driving messages on the changeable message signs on freeways during April.

Traffic officers have issued hundreds of thousands of citations over the past three years to those texting or calling on a hand-held cell phone. Recent legislation now makes it illegal to use your smartphone’s apps will driving.

Since 2011, OTS has conducted an observational study of handheld cell phone use every year. “This year’s study on the use of handheld cell phones and texting shows a decrease over past years; however, more work needs to be done to target those who were observed to still be breaking the law,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft.

Preliminary 2017 data also shows nearly 22,000 drivers were involved in distracted driving collisions in California, a decline from the more than 33,000 drivers involved in distracted driving collisions in 2007, the last full year before the hands-free law went into effect.

Safety tips for preventing distracted driving:

  • If you receive a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location, but ‘never’ on a freeway. Once you are safely off the road, it is safe to text.
  • Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
  • Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your final destination.

The Ventura Police is deploying extra traffic officers with grant-funded resources, during the month of April, in city locations with higher numbers of traffic collisions. Violators will be stopped and cited with fines set at $162 for first time offenders. This campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Thomas Fire Evacuees invited to complete survey for chance to win $200

The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) and University of California, Berkeley Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (UC Berkeley) encourage Ventura County wildfire evacuees to participate in a study

VCTC and UC Berkeley announce the launch of a research project, Understanding the Decision Making Process of Evacuees, designed to learn more about evacuation decisions by households that experienced the December 2017 Southern California Wildfires, including the Thomas, Rye, Creek, and Skirball Fires.

The research project will help gain insight about wildfire evacuations and analyze how individuals make decisions after receiving a mandatory or recommended evacuation order. According to The New York Times, these four wildfires resulted in the evacuation of more than 200,000 California residents.

“VCTC is one of many local partners helping UC Berkeley collect survey responses for this study. The Commission recognizes the critical role transportation systems play in a safe, effective evacuation process,” said Darren Kettle, executive director of VCTC.

Surveys take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Participants are not required to be evacuees to take the survey. All participants will be entered into a drawing to win one of five Amazon Gift Cards each valued at $200. All participants will also have the opportunity to participate in a future focus group.

To participate in the survey, visit this link: https://berkeley.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5A2yZRTA2HI5ebb&Q_JFE=0

For more information about the Understanding the Decision Making Process of Evacuees survey, contact:

Susan Shaheen, Professor (Faculty Sponsor) sashaheen@tsrc.berkeley.edu or 510-642-9168

Joan Walker, Professor (Faculty Sponsor) joanwalker@berkeley.edu or 510-642-6897

Stephen Wong, Doctoral Student stephen.wong@berkeley.edu or 330-998-4533

The Ventura County Transportation Commission is the regional transportation planning agency committed to keeping Ventura County moving. Program information is available at goventura.org.

The 25th year of riding to end AIDS

For the first time the finish line will be in Downtown Los Angeles in front of the iconic City Hall.

In a couple of weeks, more than 2,300 cyclists and 650 volunteer “roadies” who support them, will journey 545 miles for seven days to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic.

It’s a life-changing ride—not a race—through some of California’s most beautiful countryside. AIDS/LifeCycle is co-produced by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation and is designed to advance their shared interest to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Thousands of cyclists and volunteer “roadies” will embark on a 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles, from June 4 through 10, united by a common cause: fighting to end HIV/AIDS.

Over 2,200 cyclists will camp overnight at San Buenaventura State Beach on the way to Los Angeles. They will also hold their annual Candlelight Vigil to remember those who have died from AIDS.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over. Currently there are 1.2 million people living with HIV nationwide and an estimated 39,000 will become infected this year.

Ventura schedule:

Friday, June 8: Lompoc to Ventura for a stay over

Saturday, June 9: Ventura to Downtown Los Angeles

Some of the participants:

Adan: This 22-year-old wants to inspire other young people to help end AIDS. As an employee of an HIV clinic, he has observed firsthand how HIV and AIDS disproportionately affect the Black and Latino communities.

Andrew: An active Army captain, he is co-captain of Team Outserve comprised mainly of U.S. military personnel united to help end AIDS. His 24-member team hail from nearly all branches of the U.S. military.

Bobbee: As a transgender women living with HIV, Bobbee wants to put a face to a segment of the LGBT community that’s at high-risk of becoming exposed to the disease.

Isabeau: She was raised in a four-parent LGBTQ family. When she was a teen, one of her fathers died of AIDS-related complications and, years later, her other father’s best friend also passed away to the disease. This first-time participant is riding in their memory.

Ventura College proudly hosted Climate Action Summit

Ventura College GeoSciences Department partnered with the 350 Ventura County Climate Hub to host an informative Climate Action Summit held on Tuesday, April 24, in the Applied Sciences Building.

“I am honored to be included in an opportunity to provide clarity and truth to the discussion of climate”, says Professor Patty Ridenour who opened the doors to bringing this event to the college.

One of the presenters was Kitty Merrill, the founder of 350 Ventura County Climate Hub. She explained “We hear that climate change is coming, but what can you do? The Ventura Climate Action Summit will give you tools to survive and push back against climate change here in Ventura.”

Speakers included, Dr. Omar Clay, an Environmental Physicist who has been researching writing and teaching on subjects related to sustainable development, environmental challenges, climate change and global security for over a decade. He is the Research Director of Science for the People, an Environmental and Sustainability Research Center in Baja California, Mexico.

Dr. Clay is concerned about the Trump Administrations bludgeoning of the EPA and the associated attacks aimed at undermining the credibility of science and scientists. His interest in what is taking place in our biosphere has also spurred his own move towards a more conscious sustainable life style.

The Summit addressed a variety of climate change related topics with a focus on what can and must be done to make the changes needed in our own community.

Ventura City Councilmember Christy Weir was enthusiastically chosen to be a “Climate Action Presenter” on the panel as well. Weir has played an active role to ensure that Ventura will be moving toward a clean energy future.

Jan Dietrick, a local business leader active with the Citizens Climate Lobby had far more of value to impart than time allowed, as did Kimberly Rivers, the Executive Director of Citizens for Responsible Gas and Oil.

A vigorous Q and A followed the presentations.

Ventura College Foundation awards 103 students

The Ventura College Foundation recently awarded 103 Ventura College students with individual STEM and Phoenix scholarships.

The annual Phoenix scholarships are awarded to Ventura College re-entry students with minimal or no financial resources to cover the costs of their education. At the 19th annual event, each student received a scholarship between $500 and $5,000 for a total of $48,400.

Phoenix Scholarship recipients are selected based on their applications, essays, recommendations from counselors, faculty and employers, and individual challenges overcome by these dedicated re-entry students. Now in its 19th year, the positive impact of the Phoenix Scholarship program is reflected in its results: 63% of recipients are first-generation college students, 33 % are single parents and 63 % are pursuing education and training in the growing health-related fields of nursing, paramedic and emergency medical technology (EMT).

“Our re-entry students are often part-time students, working and/or caring for a family, which requires commitment and sacrifice. Typically, these are students who don’t qualify for most traditional scholarships or financial aid,” said Anne King, VC Foundation executive director. “Individuals in our community fund the Phoenix Scholarships to help these students, making it possible for them to continue their education rather than abandoning their goals.”

Since its inception, the VCF Phoenix Scholarship program has recognized more than 350 students and awarded more than $250,000 in individual scholarships.

STEM scholarships went to 75 students pursuing education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The STEM scholarships were funded by the Gene Haas Foundation, Southern California Edison, and a partnership between the National Science Foundation and University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Ventura College Foundation received over 500 applications for the scholarships available.

Established in 1983, the Ventura College Foundation provides financial support to the students and the programs of Ventura College to facilitate student success and grow the impact and legacy of Ventura College as a vital community asset. For more information, contact Anne King at  289-6461 or aking@vcccd.edu. Or visit www.venturacollege.edu/foundation.

California needs action on flood insurance reforms

Guest Columnist
by Steve Ellis vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense and a member of the SmarterSafer coalition

The record-breaking floodwaters that recently soaked Ventura County should serve as the latest warning that unless Congress reforms and renews the nation’s debt-ridden flood insurance program, more than 238,900 residents across California may be unable to rebuild after the next storm strikes.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides flood coverage to more than 22,000 communities across the country, expired last fall and is billions of dollars in debt to U.S. taxpayers. Due to inaction in the Senate, lawmakers have been forced to issue a series of short-term extensions to keep the broken program afloat. But with the next deadline approaching in four short months, the Senate must act now to address the NFIP’s mounting debt and ensure it is sustainable in the future.

The Senate can start by passing a legislative package similar to the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, a bill that passed the House of Representatives last fall and includes several significant reforms that address the program’s mounting debt.

One important aspect of the bill would clarify that property owners in flood zones can use private flood insurance to satisfy the federal lending requirement.

Even with more than 238,900 NFIP policies, too few California residents have purchased flood insurance. Some residents may avoid the NFIP because the one-size-fits-all policy fails to provide homeowners with the coverage they need at a price they can afford. Expanding the flood insurance market with more private insurance options would encourage more residents to purchase flood coverage, since policies could be tailored to individual properties.

There are several other reforms that the Senate should pursue to help better protect people and property at risk of severe storms— several of which were included in the House legislation.

One desperately needed reform is to update FEMA’s flood maps so they use the most accurate risk-assessment tools and modern technologies. Updated flood maps would give property owners an accurate picture of how vulnerable their property is to flooding and would help them take the appropriate measures to prepare for future storms. It would also help ensure that rates more accurately reflect the risk a property faces.

Floods have hit California hard in the past, and unfortunately, major storms will likely continue to hammer the state and rest of the country for the foreseeable future. The time has come for the Senate to tackle these NFIP reforms to ensure homeowners suffering from flood damage are not left hanging out to dry.

National Bicycle Safety Month

May is National Bicycle Safety Month. The Ventura Police Department and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will be focusing on bicycle safety enforcement operations throughout the month. Special patrols will be deployed to look for drivers and bicyclists who violate traffic laws meant to protect all roadway users.

With about 80 million bike riders sharing the road with millions of vehicles, the importance of safety precautions in traffic cannot be overstated.

Autos: California law now mandates at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist. Look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space. Yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Be especially watchful for riders when making turns. It is unlawful to drive in a bike lane except for 200 feet prior to make a right or left turn.

Bikes: Wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time you ride. Cyclists who wear a helmet reduce their risk of head injury by an estimated 60%, and brain injury by 58%. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash. Riders are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic. Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, and at dawn and dusk.

To be noticed when riding at night, the law requires a front light and a red reflector to the rear. For additional safety, use a flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.

USDA announces additional wildfire recovery details

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced new details on eligibility for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster program, 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations in at least nine states with hurricane damage and states impacted by wildfire.

“While USDA has a suite of disaster programs as well as crop insurance available to help producers manage their risk, Congress felt it was important to provide extra assistance to our nation’s farms and ranches that were the hardest hit last year,” Secretary Perdue said.

Wildfire Recovery: Any crop, tree, bush or vine, damaged by a 2017 wildfire is eligible.

Eligibility will be determined on an individual basis, using the level of insurance coverage purchased for 2017 for the total crop acres on the area for which the WHIP application is made. Eligible producers who certify to an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of at least 75 % derived from farming or ranching, including other agriculture and forestry-based businesses during the tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015, will be eligible for a $900,000 payment limitation with verification. All other eligible producers requesting 2017 WHIP benefits will be subject to a $125,000 payment limitation.

Crop Insurance Requirement: Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP. However, all producers opting to receive 2017 WHIP payments will be required to purchase crop insurance at the 60% coverage level, or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) at the 60% buy up coverage level if crop insurance is not available. Coverage must be in place for the next two applicable crop years to meet program requirements.

The WHIP factor ranges from 65 % to 95 %. Producers who did not insure their crops in 2017 will receive a 65 % WHIP Factor. Insured producers, or producers who had NAP, will receive between 70 percent and 95 percent WHIP Factors; those purchasing higher levels of coverage will receive higher WHIP Factors.

Drought, wildfires and other disasters continue to impact farmers and ranchers, and 2017 WHIP is just one of many programs available through USDA to help with recovery.

FSA will hold a sign-up for 2017 WHIP no later than July 16. Additional information on WHIP is available on FSA’s 2017 WHIP webpage.