Category Archives: News and Notes

Locals speak out on pot laws – Part 2 of 2

by Paul Peterson

Ventura citizens filled the Community Meeting Room in City Hall on September 28 to express their views on the pending cannabis regulations.

The unity in the room was palpable as numerous personal stories were presented in favor of the need for easier access to medical cannabis, delivery services, convenient storefronts and growing pot, indoors and out. Responsible suggestions and positions in favor of these issues were offered. Several seriously ill patients expressed the difficulty of traveling outside the county to get medication due to our local restrictions. The overall message to the council was clear, that citizens want and expect our city to respond to the will of the people. It seemed the questions waiting for the council’s answers at the October 9th meeting was not if but when and how fast to move.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity to hear from the community regarding the City’s policy on marijuana/cannabis. We will be providing the City Council their options and recommendation at the October 9th City Council meeting”, reported Jeffrey Lambert, Community Development Director.

It is expected that the recommendation will only include medical marijuana deliveries within the city and nothing for recreational access.

There is a great potential income to the city coffers, in addition to making sure citizens have safe access to what they have voted for, which includes the right to own and cultivate small amounts of marijuana. There are also jobs at stake. There have been a number of high profile conventions in the LA area catering to various elements of this budding new industry.

The Emerald Exchange, held in Thousand Oaks in August was a Renaissance Faire-like presentation of growers, collectives and new cannabis related products that have sprouted up around them. “We had over 1,000 attendees and over 50 brands represented”, reported event organizer Michael Katz (emeraldexchange.com). It was the ancillary products that carried the day. Offerings of new derivatives from the cannabis plant including extracts used as medicine, tinctures and infusion into foods were dominant. There were seminars on the use of cannabis for treatment of PTSD, seizures and chronic pain. Celebrity stoner Tommy Chong of the comedy duo Cheech & Chong was on hand to represent his latest line of pipes. But the main focus was on multi-course meals specially prepared with varying levels of cannabis infused. Other companies offered baked goods from cookies to brownies but now extending to juices, teas, coffees, soda, beer, chocolates and desserts. The future of the pot industry seems to not only be healthy and smell good, but taste good too.

Those interested in investing in this blossoming industry gathered at the MJAC Conference September 1 and 2 in downtown LA to bring cannabis product entrepreneurs together with investors. It was a Shark Tank for pot related products and services. A panel of judges awarded cash on the spot to lucky entrepreneurs. Among those were CBD pills that extract only pot’s pain relieving qualities, not the psychoactive qualities and could soon be available as a supplement over the counter. There was a stylish, odorless humidifier for home pot storage and a line of luxury aroma free purses and handbags to carry your stash to the girl’s night out. “We aren’t guilty teenagers anymore, it’s a new cannabis culture” declared the creator.

Business was also brisk at the Cannabis World Conference at the LA Convention Center September 13-15. The Reverend Al Sharpton delivered a spirited keynote address calling for legalization with diversity and fairness in the new industry. “This can’t be an industry where blacks go to jail and whites go to the bank”, he stated. Opportunity for all was the message. The presence of larger manufacturing companies bringing their expertise to the business was also apparent as the level of industry acumen rises to meet the massive pending demand. Those looking to start large or small grow farms, collectives, pot shops and related items found everything they needed to open their storefronts from products to packaging to promotion to navigating the legal hurdles. It is those legal ground rules that are the most complex, depending on where you are in the state.

That brings us back to the Ventura City Council and how they will rule and what guidelines will be set after considering their citizen’s input.

Editor: We would love to hear your thoughts on this very important issue. Editor@venturabreeze.com

What is a VPD VIP?

Jerry Mendelson and Paul Magie will do vacation checks on your home while you’re away.

by Jerry Mendelsohn

Ventura Police Department Volunteer

What is a VIP? Well, other than a shortcut to a definition of Very Important Person, the Ventura Police Department uses the abbreviation to identify a successful program it implemented over a decade ago–Volunteers In Policing.

Who are these people, and what do they do? Having been one for almost 7 years, allow me to simply say that each person is someone who wants to “pay it forward” by giving back to the community, has some time to volunteer, and believes in the merits of law and order.

Both men and women participate. Though most are retired, their backgrounds show talents as teachers , school administrators, corporate positions, business owners, law enforcement, and so on. Stringent background checks precede an invitation to a police “aca demy, ” and, upon graduation, it is suggested that a volunteer attempt to give a minimum of 16 hours or more of service per month .

You have probably seen VIPs around town in marked white vehicles, either vans or SUVs. They are radio-e quipped so VIPs can be in touch with the police station’s “comcenter”- -dispatch–and vice versa, for assignments and anything else with which VIPs can help. VIPs typically patrol in pairs.

The primary purpose of the VIP is to be a “visible presence” in the community and to aid the regular , sworn officers as needed, primarily to relieve them of some of the duties that might occupy their time when they could be better utilized as crime fighters involved with more serious issues that , unfortunately, impact every community .

VIPs commonly do traffic control when needed. They are permitted to issue some citations for non-moving violations, such as parking illegally, etc . Indeed , Ventura had a fairly frequent problem of people parking in designated handicapped spots but with no displayed placard.

Partially through a concerted, continual effort by the VIPs, handicapped parking violations have diminished dramatically .

VIPs often will take written reports of non-injury accidents, interacting with the victims, calling for back-up of an officer if needed, and then entering said reports into the police system, typically for insurance companies. Further, VIPs will assist officers with transportation of personal property of vagrants and others who the officers may need to take to a hospital or jail.

VIPs are called to residences to, again, take written reports on home and auto burglaries. While city resident s are invited to file online reports, many do not or are uncomfortable with doing so, so VIPs assist .

As a community service, VIPs will do vacation checks on your home while you’re away, walking

your property to verify doors and windows are secure, that there appears to be no break-in attempts, and

that your property seems OK until you return. Visible signs of an owner being away, such as door-hangers and newspapers, or trash cans left out, may be picked up and/or put away as is feasible.

The VIP may patrol school zones, with a keen eye out for suspicious loiterers or people perhaps sitting in cars who don’t belong there or are acting strangely.

Other tasks also fill up VIP shifts, but I’ve tried to identify some of the more frequent ones. Should you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you may contact the Ventura Police Department Civic Engagement Specialist at 339-4317.

Impact of domestic violence on homelessness

A program serving homeless children and families in Ventura will be hosting their third annual event highlighting the connection and impact of domestic violence on homelessness.

Team Up Against Domestic Violence is being hosted by The City Center Transitional Living and will take place on Thursday, October 12 from 6 to 8pm at The River Community Church, 889 East Santa Clara St. Tickets are available at www.teamupagainstdv.eventbrite.com.

“Most people are shocked when they hear me say that more than a third of homeless children and families in Ventura are escaping domestic abuse in their homes,” says Jim Duran, The City Center Executive Director. “Domestic violence has a direct and tragic effect on the lives of vulnerable children and families in Ventura. And The City Center is on the front lines of this issue.”

Guest speakers will include domestic violence survivor Ericka King, Ventura City Council member Mike Tracy, Ventura County Assistant Sheriff William Ayub, radio celebrity Tom Spence as well as additional powerful testimonies from current residents of The City Center. Kris Simeon, Jermarie Dizon, Monse Casmiro, Unko Henry, and Charleen Morla of Dirty Rice will provide special musical performances.

The City Center helps homeless families by providing a temporary, safe place to call home. During their residency, clients find stability so they can focus on getting their life under control and obtaining the help and necessary skills they need to get back on their feet.

The City Center’s transitional housing program includes a high level of accountability with the goal of transitioning clients into long-term housing within one year. Clients contribute 30% of their income for housing and services while 20% is saved for future financial stability. Clients must also be employed or actively engaged in seeking employment. Services include comprehensive professional case management, spiritual and life mentoring, job placement services, and other critical needs.

“The board, staff and volunteers at The City Center are pleased to share the stories of hope and restoration made possible because of the courage of our residents,” says Duran.

Two talented ladies honored for their contributions to the arts

Mayor Erik Nasarenko honored two distinguished artists at the Museum

On Wednesday, Oct. 4 the 2017 ArtWalk Collectors Reception was held at the Museum of Ventura County. Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko honored the two “Distinguished Artists.” Honored were Artist of Distinction Maribel Hernandez and Global Artist of Distinction Shamsia Hassani.

A sampling of the juried works by 2017 ArtWalk featured artists was also on display. ArtWalk was held in Ventura on Oct.7&8.

The well attended event was hosted by the City of Ventura and the Museum of Ventura County

in the Smith Pavilion . The evening included music, hors d’oeuvres and a no-host beer and wine bar.

Maribel Hernandez is a native of Michoacan, Mexico who moved to California in 1988 at the age of 18. Her first art classes were at Ventura College where she found a love for creating wonderful art. Her working studio is located at the Bell Arts Factory located on Ventura Ave. where her diverse and colorful artwork can be seen.

Global Artist of Distinction Shamsia Hassani traveled from Kabul, Afghanistan, to take part in ArtWalk. Her murals depict the hardships of her hometown. She was born in Tehran in 1988 to Afghan parents and is a fine-art lecturer at Kabul University. Recently she completed a residence at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles where she was brought to the attention of ArtWalk.

VLT Rebranding Party

Executive Director Derek Poultney ,Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko and Board President Paul Meehan welcomed those attending name change.

by John Hankins- Trustee for the VLT

The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is now called the Ventura Land Trust (VLT), a name change driven by significant opportunities for public recreation and land restoration, more members, business partners and funding.

“This is a very important evolution in our history,” said Executive Director Derek Poultney at the rebranding party Oct. 5 at Ventura City Hall. “This is a formal excuse to share with you that we have a much bigger vision and are on the cusp of something huge.”

That ‘something’ is the likelihood for permanent public access into about more than 2,000 acres of now-private lands along the rivers, hills and valleys often visible and inviting, but no trespassing is allowed.

“That is exciting,” Ventura city Mayor Eric Nasarenko said to cheers and applause. “It will bring economic vitality, open up the tourist market and showcase what makes Ventura so special.”

Poultney noted that, “for decades we’ve had to go to Ojai, Santa Monica Mountains and Santa Barbara to have the outdoor experience.” This “gift to the community” is permanent, he stressed, as even National Parks can be taken away by political action.

The Hillsides Conservancy formed in 2003 when a group of citizens rallied together to monitor housing projects encroaching on Ventura’s natural background. It became well-known for its success by attracting thousands of volunteers for education programs, hands-on restoration, and the popular Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

It already has two properties along the Ventura River, transforming the landscape to its natural state, along with habitat stewardship throughout the county. VLT is negotiating for 2,100 acres of prime open space in the hills above Ventura to provide miles of nature trails for hiking, biking, and simple enjoyment.

“The time is right to update our name and look,” Poultney said, emphasizing that Ventura has waited generations for owners willing to sell properties that are so near, yet so far away for public access.

The rebranding party attracted local politicians or their reps, businesses, volunteers and members. Most of all, credit was given to the “insane amount of work” by VLT’s staff and by its board of trustees.

To leap forward, “we need everybody’s skin in the game,” he concluded and urged the public and businesses to help support what is a “game-changer for Ventura.”

To join, volunteer or sponsor events, call the VLT at 643-8044 or visit: www.VenturaLandTrust.org

Ventura City Fire Department respond to fire and extinguish in seventeen minutes

On Oct.5, at 9:22pm Ventura City Fire Department responded to a report of smoke and fire in a residential home in the 200 Block of N Ventura Ave.  Upon arrival fire crews found a fire burning underneath of a raised foundation house and extending into the interior of the home.  Firefighters extinguished the fire seventeen minutes after arrival. The home, which had burned a year earlier, was unoccupied at the time of the fire.  The cause of the fire is suspicious and remains under investigation.  No firefighters were injured as a result of this incident.

City schedules open discussion on pot regulations

How should the city approach the new pending marijuana regulations?

by Paul Peterson- Pat 1 of 2

The city of Ventura has just announced it will host a community meeting for all Venturans to offer input as to how the city should approach the new pending marijuana regulations. The meeting will be held Thursday, September 28th at 6pm in the Community Meeting Room at City Hall, 501 Poli Street. The public will be asked to weigh in on issues such as marijuana store fronts, delivery services, cultivation, taxes, zoning and other related issues. The input will then be given to the city council at another public meeting on October 9th, also at 6pm in council chambers. Those who can’t attend are encouraged to email their input to jlambert@cityofventura.ca.gov. This is a real opportunity for the people to speak out on this subject.

On January 1st, 2018 marijuana becomes legal to consume and cultivate for Californians over age 21. The supporting cannabis industry has been gearing up for legalization with a series of pot industry conventions and confabs throughout Southern California. The level of business acumen and innovation is surprising. More details on these gatherings along with input from the September 28 meeting will follow in a second installment for The Breeze.

Recent polls have shown national support for medical marijuana now tops 90% while support for legalization for all is now over 60%. It seems to be the will of the people. Ventura has remained on the sidelines so far as to whether the new law will be approached as a problem or an opportunity.

There has been enormous financial success for Colorado since enacting their law. Gross sales will surpass one and a half billion dollars this year resulting in tax revenues of over 116 million dollars for Coloradoans. California’s gross sales are expected to top 8 billion in a few short years.

How Ventura will fare in this coming tax and licensing windfall lies in the policies developed going forward.

It should be noted that at all the aforementioned cannabis confabs, optimism is very high and opportunities for starting new businesses were everywhere. Many women were seen as leading entrepreneurs in these new businesses, especially in food infusion and minorities seek to be equally represented as shop owners and distributors. There seems to be new opportunities for many.

January is right around the corner and Ventura’s opportunity to take advantage of a whole new industry is on the line. It appears to be the biggest new revenue source in decades for city coffers. Opposing progress might be akin to being the last dry town in a wet state, to use a prohibition example. Illustrating this, the town of Milliken, Colorado is now approving pot shop licenses to two new businesses because the nearby town of Garden City now credits pot taxes and license fees for bringing in half of their $1.3 million dollar budget. Imagine doubling a city’s income and being able to fund new projects and complete existing ones. That may be the opportunity before our city council. Citizens have a chance to express responsible views at the upcoming events September 28 and again October 9th. City funding and jobs are at stake.

Fire Foundation seeks funds to help local firefighter

The Ventura Fire Foundation has launched a crowdfunding campaign in support of recently retired Fire Captain John Van Mannekes.

Van Mannekes was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in July 2016. He retired from the Ventura City Fire Department last month due to his illness.

After 21 years as a Ventura City Firefighter, John is no longer able to do the job he loves to do.

The Ventura Fire Foundation is sponsoring a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to support John and his family. With the mounting medical bills due to his ALS diagnosis and with treatments, which are primarily experimental and not covered by medical insurance, his medical bills are multiplying.

Throughout his career, John helped countless members of our Ventura community. It’s now our turn to help John and his family including his wife Rebecca and two teenage sons, Johnny and Jamie.

Being a firefighter has meant the world to John, although the journey getting there wasn’t easy. After becoming a fire explorer, where he realized his calling was to a life in the fire service, John tested with over 40 fire departments across California, some more than once. He put himself through the fire academy, then paramedic school. Finally, in July of 1996, after a year working with a private ambulance company, he received the offer he’d been hoping for: Ventura City Fire Department.

Almost as soon as his probation ended, John became a relief driver. He earned his certification as a Fire Officer. He went to HAZMAT school. After only four years as a firefighter-paramedic, John received a promotion to Engineer Fireman. And then, even more quickly, he earned the title of Fire Captain – a position John held in Ventura for over 14 years.

“ As a Fire Captain, you lead by example,” John says. “You are in charge of and responsible for the engineer and the fireman at the station on that shift. You kind of set the tone… It’s a lot more responsibility.”

It is now our responsibility to set the tone and support John, his wife, and his sons through this difficult time. You can ease the significant financial burden of his care. You can give access to essential therapies to delay his symptoms and buy precious time as critical research evolves. You can change lives, the same way John changed lives throughout his firefighting career.

The Ventura Fire Foundation was established in 2014 to enhance the lives of our community members and enhance local charity and community activism within the Ventura Community. We are also focused on establishing a healthy benevolent fund to be used during times of crisis when one of our members becomes ill or injured in the line of duty.

Donations can be made by going to venturafirefoundation.org.

Distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s eyes or mind off the road

Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko addressing the students. Photos by Bernie Goldstein

On September 1, a virtual reality 360° driving experience showing the potentially deadly consequences of smartphone distracted driving was held at Buena High School, 5670 Telegraph Road.

The event included a simulator car, virtual reality gear, signage and a digital education display. The It Can Wait simulator was accompanied by AT&T It Can Wait campaign ambassadors.

AT&T partnered with the Ventura Police Department and Buena High School to bring awareness about the dangers of smartphone distracted driving with its virtual reality simulator.

Ventura Mayor Nasarenko told the students, “Six thousand individuals die every year because of distracted driving. That would be like the entire student body of Buena High School vanishing along with two other high schools of the same size. So don’t send that text, answer the phone, or put mouse whiskers on the Snapchat photo while you’re driving. Remember, It can wait.”

Inset is 9th grader Armando Ontiveros being virtual.

The students learned that:

Distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s eyes or mind off the road or hands off the steering wheel -especially texting and cell phone use, whether hands-free or handheld. Who’s doing it? Most drivers. It has been estimated that, at any one time, over 10 percent of drivers are using a mobile device.

According to the California Office of Traffic and Safety:

  • 80 percent of vehicle crashes involve some sort of driver inattention.
  • Up to 6,000 people nationwide are killed in crashes where driver distractions are involved.
  • Talking on a cell phone or texting is the number one source of driver distractions.
  • Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, far enough to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph. Most crashes happen with less than 3 seconds reaction time.

What can a driver do? They can obey the law. They can also work to eliminate distractions:

  • Never text and drive.
  • Turn off the phone when you get behind the wheel.
  • Don’t text or call someone when you know they are likely to be driving.
  • Make a pact with family, spouse, and caregivers never to use the phone in the car.
  • No eating or drinking while driving.
  • Don’t program your GPS, MP3 player or other devices while driving.
  • Pull over and stop to read maps.
  • No grooming, no reading, no watching videos.
  • If something falls to the floor, pull over before trying to reach it.

The Annual California Coast Classic (CCC) Bike Tour

Join the riders at San Buenaventura State Beach. Photo by Murray Robertson from 2016

The Annual California Coast Classic Bike Tour is one of the Arthritis Foundation’s top fundraising events, whose goal is to raise over $1.2 million. Funds raised support the Arthritis Foundation’s mission to conquer the disease by spreading awareness and raising money for research. Arthritis affects over 50 million adults, or one out of five, and 300,000 children nationwide.

The Arthritis Foundation’s California Coast Classic Bike Tour is a scenic bike ride that takes place over 8 days and is estimated to cover an additional 45 miles over 2016 and 2700’ of elevation over the course of the tour. The Tour starts in San Francisco and ends in Pacific Palisades with a stop in Ventura.

The Tour will be coming through Ventura and you’re invited to meet the riders, volunteers and staff. Join the riders at San Buenaventura State Beach Day 7, Friday, Sept. 15.

Where they will camp out. Festivities include CCC Social Hour (4-6 p.m.), dinner (6:30 p.m.) where there will be great opportunities to interview riders and tour staff.

The next day, Saturday, Sept. 16, the last day of the tour cyclist will have breakfast (6:30-8:30 am) and then ride 55 miles and climb 1,800 feet of rolling hills along the gorgeous coast into Malibu, and cross the finish line at 2 p.m. as a group in Pacific Palisades to fanfare and an emotional welcome.

For more information on the California Coast Classic Bike Tour, visit californiacoastclassic.org.