Category Archives: News and Notes

Paso Pacifico responds to viral turtle poaching video

A Paso Pacifico ranger patrols the beach near Ostional, Nicaragua, on the lookout for illegal poaching. Photo by Hal Brindley

Turtle poaching in Central America is not a new issue, but some poachers have recently become even more emboldened to carry out this illegal activity. The current political unrest in Nicaragua has only made the situation worse for endangered sea turtles, as critical resources continue to get diverted to other issues.

Ventura’s own Paso Pacifico has long been at the forefront of protecting sea turtles and their eggs, and developed the award-winning InvestEGGator decoy egg with GPS tracking in 2016 to deter poachers who use the cover of night for protection.

But a new threat emerged recently, as poachers have been seen wading into the water and carrying out nesting sea turtles in broad daylight. One poacher was even captured on video carrying a helpless sea turtle over his shoulder during a busy weekend at a beach in Nicaragua.

Soldiers typically patrol this protected beach and wildlife refuge during the nesting season, but for an unknown reason, soldiers were not present when the viral video was taken. Paso Pacifico does not have jurisdiction to patrol this particular beach, but they are stepping up efforts to increase their presence in nearby areas. Thanks to the power of social media, the Paso Pacifico team was able to quickly spread the word and generate solutions for this urgent issue.

Just days after this disturbing early-August video went viral, Paso Pacifico raised enough funds to hire two new rangers to monitor beaches in hopes of deterring illegal poaching, and the goal is to continue adding to that number. The new rangers began their assignments patrolling Nicaraguan beaches this October.

“We have been so encouraged by the response we’ve received from our dedicated supporters,” said Paso Pacifico Founder and Executive Director Dr. Sarah Otterstrom. “It’s reassuring to know that others in our community, both locally and across the globe, are as concerned about this heartbreaking behavior as we are. Thanks to the generosity of SEE Turtles for matching funds, we have more than doubled our original fundraising goal in a matter of days, but our work isn’t done. The more money we raise, the more rangers we can hire to protect these threatened sea turtles.”

Paso Pacifico already has a presence on many beaches in the Paso del Istmo region of Nicaragua, but is looking to expand their reach in light of recent events. For every $5,000 raised, Paso Pacifico is able to hire an additional turtle ranger to monitor Nicaraguan beaches.

The mission of Paso Pacifico is to restore and protect the Pacific Slope ecosystems of Mesoamerica. These habitats include the endangered dry tropical forest, mangrove wetlands, and eastern Pacific coral reefs. By working with local communities, landowners, and partner organizations, Paso Pacifico restores and protects the habitats that form building blocks for wildlife corridors. Paso Pacifico also lends its expertise to help migratory wildlife on the Central Coast of California, including threatened migratory birds and whales that over winter in Mesoamerica. Through its high-impact programs, Paso Pacifico has established itself as one of the world’s leading biodiversity conservation organizations.

Ventura County Public Works Agency prepared for the worst

The specific objectives of the exercise included testing the agency’s emergency response plans.

When a natural disaster hits such as a fire or a flood, preparation is always key to the survival of life and property and it’s never too early to start. The Ventura County Public Works Agency (VCPWA) conducted Storm Day, an annual disaster simulation drill, on Oct. 18, which focused on preparation for flooding stemming from a natural disaster and infrastructure damage.

Storm Day 2018 simulated a severe storm and a scenario depicting emergency response to structural damage to local dams and underground water lines triggered by an earthquake. In light of the Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslides, this year’s exercise was created to assess VCPWA’s preparedness to address similar, potential devastating events in Ventura County.

During the exercise, Public Works crews worked to clear out a culvert under Central Avenue that was clogged with thick mud utilizing a remote-control skid steer and excavator to clean out a bridge storm drain. Crews also practiced their flood fighting protection measures at Sycamore Dam and practiced installing and testing their portable emergency generators at the Silver Strand pump stations.

The annual exercise underscores VCPWA’s role as first-responders. In floods, debris flows, fires, earthquakes, or any other emergency circumstances, VCPWA works alongside the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, the Ventura County Fire Department, and emergency medical personnel to provide critical infrastructure support and maintain public safety. The exercise is used to create severe but plausible scenarios to test agency emergency response. The Storm Day 2018 training mobilized VCPWA to its emergency Field Operations Centers, Department Operations Centers, and it’s Agency Operation Center.

The specific objectives of the exercise included testing the agency’s emergency response plans and processes, evaluating information and communication procedures, analyzing the efficiency of agency operation centers, and testing the process and procedures to respond to a local state of emergency. The drill also helps identify any areas for improvement in the emergency response plans.

Ventura Police Department receives Traffic Education and Enforcement Grant

The Ventura Police Department has been awarded a $200,000.00 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a year-long enforcement and public awareness program. The traffic safety program is intended to educate the public on safe roadway habits and deter people from violating traffic laws or practicing other unsafe behaviors that lead to injuries and fatalities.

“Unsafe behaviors account for 94 percent of traffic collisions,” said Traffic Sergeant Michael Brown. “This grant emphasizes education and enforcement which will help keep Ventura streets safe.”

The grant from OTS will fund various education and enforcement activities for the 2019 federal fiscal year.

DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols to take suspected alcohol/drug-impaired drivers – and those unlicensed or with a revoked/suspended license – off the road.

Traffic safety education presentations for youth and community members on distracted, impaired and teen driving, and bicycle/pedestrian safety.

Patrols at intersections with increased incidents of pedestrian and bike collisions.

Checking for seat belt and child safety seat compliance.

Motorcycle safety operations in areas with high rider volume and where higher rate of motorcycle crashes occur.

Speeding, red light and stop sign enforcement.

Warrant service operations targeting multiple DUI offenders.

Compilation of DUI “Hot Sheets” identifying repeat DUI offenders

Probation supervision for high-risk DUI offenders.

Specialized DUI and drugged driving training to identify and apprehend suspected impaired drivers.

Court “stings” to cite individuals driving from DUI court after license suspension or revocation.

In 2016, 3,623 people were killed in crashes across the state, a 7 percent increase from 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Particularly alarming is the rise in pedestrian deaths, with 867 pedestrians killed on California roadways in 2016, a nearly 33 percent increase from 2012. Along with the growing dangers of distracting technologies like phones and drug-impaired driving, this grant funding will provide opportunities to combat these dangerous and illegal behaviors.

“Almost all crashes are preventable,” OTS director Rhonda Craft said. “Education and enforcement go hand in hand helping change behaviors that cause devastating crashes.”

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Ventura Police Traffic Unit is scheduling traffic safety education presentations with the support of this grant. Community Groups are invited to schedule a presentation by calling Ventura Police Community Outreach at 805-339-4317. Presentations are provided to youth and community members on distracted, impaired and teen driving and bicycle/pedestrian safety.

Celebrating the holidays in Downtown Ventura

Downtown Ventura celebrates the Holiday Season with over 100 fresh-cut, decorated trees and multiple events in historic Plaza Park.

Holidays at the Plaza, one of Downtown Ventura’s signature holiday events, returns to Plaza Park from Dec. 7, 2018 to Jan. 2, 2019. The event is marked by the Candy Cane Forest, which is made up of rows upon rows of freshly cut Christmas trees lined up in the park, each decorated by a different local organization, family, or individual.

Groups and individuals who are interested in sponsoring a tree can do so for $300. The online form to sign up for tree sponsorship is available at

In addition to the Candy Cane Forest, Holidays at the Plaza hosts events through the month of December:

Outdoor Movie Pajama Party: Dec. 7 – Holidays at the Plaza will be screening two classic holiday films for free, starting with the 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas at 6 p.m., followed by the 2004 The Polar Express. Food trucks will be available and Santa will make an appearance. The event is presented by Pacific Western Bank.

Holiday Boutique: Dec. 8 – From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Plaza Park will host vendors offering handcrafted, one-of-a-kind gifts. There will also be live entertainment and Santa will be available from noon to 2 p.m. Attendees are invited to bring a toy for Toys for Tots or a coat for Coats for Kids, in exchange for which they will receive a raffle ticket for available prizes.

Rock ‘N Roll Breakfast with Santa: Dec. 15 – Busy Bee Cafe, Live 105.5, Ventura Rental Party & Events, and Montecito Bank & Trust are hosting this casual breakfast with Santa from 8 to 11 a.m. Tickets are $10.

Yoga with Santa: Dec. 16 – Grassroots Yoga will be leading this donation-based yoga class, which Santa will join, starting at 10 a.m. All ages are invited.

Silent Night Disco: Dec. 22 – At a silent disco, there is no traditional sound system. Instead, every attendee gets a pair of wireless headphones, so they can tune into the DJ’s music. The Silent Night Disco will run from 6 to 10 p.m. and is open to all ages. Tickets are $20 and include one pair of headphones and a Ventura Coast Brewing Co. beer or non-alcoholic beverage.

The Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony returns to Ventura this month with the largest light display in city history. The yearly celebration of the season will begin at 6:00 pm at Mission Park on Friday, November 30. This year’s event will include live entertainment from several local choirs and dance groups, bounce houses for the kids, and vendors offering food and drinks.

At 7:00 pm, Santa will be arriving by Fire truck, and will join the Mayor and Mission San Buenaventura’s Father Tom Elewaut to lead a countdown to light the trees.

Once the trees are lit, the evening will continue with dancing under faux snowfall in the park and opportunities to mingle with the gathered community.

Other ways to celebrate the season include Small Business Saturday on November 24. Shop local for your holiday gifts and get great deals.

Additionally, FOOD Share’s 7th annual CAN-tree Drive runs from November 30 to December 2 at Figueroa Plaza. Individuals, families, and groups can bring cans to donate to FOOD Share, Ventura County’s Food Bank.

New Economic Development Collaborative funding to double service area

The Economic Development Collaborative has been awarded $475,000 in new funding from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and the California Small Business Development Center Network for the enhancement and expansion of its services and programs promoting business growth and sustainability. The funding doubles EDC’s Small Business Development Center’s capacity to serve the business communities of Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties.

EDC will be rolling out new programs to help businesses navigate opportunities in global trade and assist early-stage firms seeking second-stage financing and equity investors. In addition, EDC will expand its role in helping businesses recover from disasters. EDC will deliver a training program to strengthen its SBDC advisors’ disaster response capacity and it will support disaster outreach and communication for a network of business recovery services across multiple jurisdictions. In addition, EDC will expand its capacity for assisting businesses that need debt financing. As part of its outreach, EDC will focus efforts on women, minority and veteran owned businesses, with a concentration in the disaster-declared regions.

“We are excited about this opportunity to double our outreach and service capacity,” said Bruce Stenslie, EDC president and CEO. “EDC’s Small Business Development Center is positioned to serve as one of the key resources in the region for economic vitality in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties, giving businesses, community partners and civic leaders the support and services they need to succeed.”

For more information about EDC programs and services, visit or call 805-384-1800.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) serves as California’s single point of contact for economic development and job creation efforts. GO-Biz offers a range of services to business owners including: attraction, retention and expansion services, site selection, permit streamlining, clearing of regulatory hurdles, small business assistance, international trade development, assistance with state government, and much more. For more information visit:

The SBDC is funded by the Small Business Association and provides professional business assistance at no cost to businesses. Participating businesses are required to follow a well-defined scope of work and report their economic successes. These SBA milestones are defined as job creation, increase in sales, capital investment, job retention and business started.

EDC is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as a business-to-government liaison to assist businesses in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties by offering programs that enhance the economic vitality of the region. For more information about the Small Business Development Center, loan programs, manufacturing outreach and international trade programs, or other services available to small businesses through EDC, contact Bruce Stenslie at 805-384-1800 ext. 24 or Or visit


Ventura City Fire Department units respond to structure fire involving storage shed and two vehicles

On Nov.12, at 3:07pm, the Ventura City Fire Department units responded to a reported structure fire in the 100 block W. Harrison Ave.. The first arriving crew found a storage shed and two vehicles on fire. Numerous calls were received as the smoke was visible for blocks. Crews initiated an immediate fire attack and achieved knock down very quickly. Firefighters completed overhaul and ruled out extension further into the uninvolved portion of the building and all adjacent structures.

Two fires broke out in West Ventura just minutes of each other

The first fire involved a vagrant encampment adjacent to the Emma Wood group camp. The area of the fire was nestled deep into a clearing, surrounded by Arundel and local fauna, close to the river mouth.

A second fire broke out shortly thereafter in the vicinity of Foster Park that started at approximately 10:34am. The second fire was larger and moving uphill and was initially reported as being started accidentally by heavy equipment on the property. A total of 22 apparatus including engines, aircraft, and hand crews were part of the initial dispatch in attempt to quickly contain the blaze. The fire was reported to be an acre in size and was under the command of the Ventura County Fire Department, with Ventura City Fire units also assigned. An aggressive initial attack of the fire was successful in keeping the fire to a minimum.

The Ventura River fire involved an area approximately 100X100 feet. A total of 16 personnel were assigned; providing water shuttles and establishing significant hose lays deep into the river bottom to fully extinguish the fire. The incident is under investigation as being purposefully set, and the situation is being handled by law enforcement.

Both fires were fully controlled as of 1:00pm.

FIRST 5 Ventura County selects Interface Children & Family Services as new place-based service provider

First 5 Ventura County (F5VC) is pleased to announce its new strategic partnership with Interface Children & Family Services, to provide essential programs and services for Ventura County’s nearly 60,000 children prenatal – 5 and their families. Families seeking resources and more information may visit

Since our inception nearly 20 years ago, First 5 Ventura County Neighborhoods for Learning (NfLs) have been a cornerstone in the community, providing early childhood education, health and family support services.” said First 5 Ventura County Executive Director Petra Puls. “We are excited to partner with Interface Children & Family Services to ensure that families have the support they need to give their young children prenatal to age 5 a strong foundation for success in school and life.”

Interface Children & Family Services was selected through a comprehensive review process to implement F5VC’s redesigned place-based Neighborhood for Learning (NfL) initiative. The expanded partnership with Interface Children & Family Services allows F5VC to continue making a positive impact on the lives of Ventura County children and families through valuable programs, resources and community partnerships that support early childhood development.

Interface will be responsible for providing Parent and Child Together Classes and Family Support Services such as case management and Triple P Parent Education, throughout Ventura County. Interface plans to partner with the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) to address the needs of Mixtec families and New Dawn for the Triple P Positive Parenting Program. “We’re delighted to have First 5 Ventura’s confidence to implement the redesigned place-based NfL model. We’re looking forward to the partnership – we share an intense passion for improving futures for young families and their little ones. We are honored to partner with NfL’s, to learn from their trusted and successful histories in their local communities, and to do our part to bring everyone together for the critical work of strengthening young children and families,” said Interface Executive Director Erik Sternad.

First 5’s primary revenue source is from California’s Proposition 10 tobacco tax, which is distributed to county First 5 Commissions to fund early childhood programs. In light of revenues continuing to decrease annually with Californians smoking less, the F5VC Commission has carefully contemplated how to best utilize its limited funds. The redesigned Neighborhoods for Learning initiative gives F5VC the ability to implement a cost-efficient model that meets the needs of the local community and relies on sustainable investments and innovative partnerships. “We recognize that we must work differently moving forward to achieve maximum impact with limited dollars,” said Puls.

Volunteers Needed at 2nd Annual Ventura River to the Sea Coastal Cleanup, Nov. 17

A young volunteer uses a customized bucket and trash picker at last year’s Ventura River to the Sea Coastal Cleanup.

On Saturday, November 17 from 9 a.m. – 12 noon, Ventura Land Trust (VLT) and the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will team up to host the 2nd Annual Ventura River to the Sea Coastal Cleanup. Community volunteers are invited to participate in a large-scale trash clean up in the Ventura River estuary near the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

Check-in is at 9 a.m. at the bend in the Ventura-Ojai Bike Path near the end of Shoreline Dr. in Ventura. Look for the Ventura Land Trust and Surfrider Foundation pop-up canopies. Volunteers will be escorted into the estuary to clean and clear the area with the goal being to remove as much trash as possible before the rainy season begins and washes it onto nearby beaches and into the ocean.

All volunteers should wear long pants, long sleeves, close-toed shoes, a hat, sunscreen and bring a refillable water bottle. Tools, gloves and instruction will be provided. Volunteers younger than 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

To RSVP, go to and, for more information, call the VLT office: (805) 643-

Ventura Land Trust (formerly Ventura Hillsides Conservancy) is dedicated to permanently preserving and protecting the land, water, wildlife and scenic beauty of the Ventura region for current and future generations. Founded in 2003, the 501(C)(3) non-profit organization is supported by over 600 members, local businesses and government partners. The land trust manages 90 acres of land along the Ventura River and is negotiating the purchase of its first hillside property. Ventura Land Trust’s offices are located in the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Rd, Ventura, CA 93003. For more information, visit

9th Annual Castro Family & Ventura Police Community Foundation Toy Drive

From the 5th Annual Castro Family Toy Drive and still going strong.

The Ventura Police Department announces the 9th Annual Castro Family & Ventura Police Community Foundation Toy Drive. The community is invited to donate unwrapped toys or gift cards for the patients and siblings of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at the Ventura County Medical Center. Donations, for ages infant to 18 years, will be accepted at the Ventura Police Department located at 1425 Dowell Drive Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 am and 5:30 pm from November 19 to December 14, 2018.

In 2008, Corey Castro was seven years old and was treated for Gorham’s Disease, a rare bone disease. As a patient, he was asked if he wanted to pick out a toy from the center’s toy box. Corey discovered the toy box needed more toys and asked his family if they could help fill the box for other children receiving treatment at the center. The Castro Family in partnership with the Ventura Police Community Foundation worked to make that dream a reality and has since provided toys and gifts to more than 1,500 patients and their siblings. The effort raises awareness about the only pediatric oncology and hematology center in Ventura County. Ventura Police Officers join the Castro Family in hosting a holiday party for the children and their families and help pass out gifts with Santa and Ventura Police K9s.

“Bringing joy to the brave junior crime fighters at VCMC is a humbling experience. Many of these children are fighting for their lives. We appreciate this opportunity to partner with the Castro Family and our community in providing a special evening for the children and their siblings during the holiday season,” said Commander Sam Arroyo.

Toy Drop Off Location: Ventura Police Department, 1425 Dowell Drive, Ventura, 93003

Date/Time Toy Drop Off: November 19 – December 14, Monday – Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.