Category Archives: News and Notes

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.

Ventura City Fire units respond to overturned pickup truck and trailer

On April 29, at 11:30am, Ventura City Fire units responded to an overturned pickup truck and trailer on SB 101 at Johnson Dr. The trailer was on fire, with people trapped inside the truck. First arriving unit reported all occupants out, two victims in need of medical care. Patients were assessed and treated. The fire was knocked-down within approx. 10 minutes of arrival.

One patient was transported to a local hospital with moderate injuries, the other patient refused treatment/transport.

City of Ventura 2017 Uniform Crime Reporting

The City of Ventura’s Part 1 Per Capita Crime dipped slightly in 2017 to 37.7 per thousand residents, compared to 38 percent in 2016.

Despite the slight drop in overall crime, serious and violent crime increased significantly. Violent crime increased 25 percent with 460 reported violent crimes. This is the highest number of violent crimes in Ventura in over 25 years, and an increase of 92 Violent Crimes compared to 2016.

Aggravated (Felony) Assaults had the most significant increase of 43% with 86 more felony assaults than in 2016. Gang Involvement was known or suspected in 22% of the cases and felony domestic violence accounted for 25%. 68% of the reported aggravated felony assaults were cleared by arrest or arrest warrant, significantly above the national average of 53 percent.

Reported sexual assaults for 2017 rose by 20 percent, including an increase of 8 child molestations and 7 additional reported rapes of an incapacitated or drugged victim.

Overall violent crime clearance rates (crime solved by arrest or arrest warrant) was 56.7 percent – more than 10 points above the national average (46.6 percent).

Reported property crimes in Ventura decreased by 2.8 percent in 2017 with a total of 3,655, compared to 3,762 in 2016. (107 less reported crimes).

These numbers reflect a reduction of 75 fewer commercial burglaries, but residential burglaries rose with 32 more incidents (289 vs 257).

State Beach Bike Path to close intermittently for repairs

California State Parks is closing the bicycle path located at San Buenaventura State Beach, that runs from San Pedro Street to the south side of the Ventura Pier from May 21 – June 8, as the entire bike path is receiving an upgrade and will be repaved.

There is an alternative dirt path adjacent to the paved bicycle path from San Pedro Street to the San Buenaventura State Beach Lifeguard Headquarters.

Past the lifeguard headquarters there is no alternative path. Pedestrians can cross the same area by accessing the beach. Dogs are not allowed on the beach at San Buenaventura State Beach.

Crews will be working Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

For more information regarding the closure of the bike please contact Tyson Butzke at 331-8014, or visit ca.parks.gov.

Fire and police units respond to multiple intentionally set vegetation and rubbish fires

On April 30, spanning from 9:43am to 4:57pm fire and police units responded to multiple vegetation and rubbish fires, intentionally set in rapid succession within small geographic areas. Fires occurred at various locations between Harbor/Olivas & Telephone/Portola. No structures or property were significantly damaged, and no injuries were reported. An investigation is ongoing, anyone with pertinent information is encouraged to contact the Ventura Police Dept.