Category Archives: Opinion/Editorial

Vol. 10, No. 12 – March 15 – March 28, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•   On our cover is an article about the firing of Ventura Unified School District head Dr. Babb. I had one occasion to meet him when I contacted him after his hiring and we met in his office at the school district HQ.

We had a nice conversation and I told him of several articles that I would like written about the VUSD for the Ventura Breeze. He was very receptive and even had several of his own that he wanted to write about, and he even wrote them all down. We came up with a nice list.

I never heard from him again.

•   The all new CAPS Media radio station, KPPQ-LP, has officially launched and is live 24- hours a day at 104.1 FM. Even though it is a low-powered signal (3.5 mile radius), the channel is being heard in a larger area and being picked up in Pt. Hueneme and other areas outside of Ventura.

Breeze music writer Pam Baumgardner (venturarocks.com) is hosting her own show – a one-hour mostly local music show on Tuesdays from 5-6 pm.  The show is also being rebroadcast as the station fills in their scheduling.

I might also have an upcoming show – I will keep you posted.

It’s a really good station to listen to all of the time with programming from many other FM affiliates and great National Public Radio (NPR) programming.

•   The U.S. and North Korea are on a collision course towards nuclear war and our President is worried that Obama might be listening to his phone calls.

•   The City is taking action to provide housing for the homeless. This would include supportive services (such as mental health), which are as important as the housing need.

At their March 8 meeting, the Planning Commission approved (by a 6-1 vote)  a code amendment that would create a zoning overlay district (Emergency Shelter Overlay District) that will provide a location where emergency shelters (for the homeless and their pets), with full supportive services, which can be established with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).

The Planning Division determined that there is no substantial evidence that the proposed sites would have a significant adverse effect on the environment, and that a negative declaration (ND) may be adopted.

At the meeting, Cappi Patterson spoke on behalf of the Buddy Nation (supporting dogs of the homeless) encouraging the Commission to also allow pets at the shelters. Many supporters of Buddy Nation were in attendance.

At the March 20 City Council meeting, the Council will consider adopting the Commission’s recommendations.

Of course this is really the simple part, the difficult part will be finding a developer (non-profit?) that would build and support the shelters.

We are certainly not the only city with a homeless population. Venice is taking steps to house some of their homeless. A proposed homeless housing development will have 68 units and some retail shops that would serve as job training sites (very important).

Supportive services would be provided by four full-time case managers.

This is similar to finding a developer to build housing for veterans and their services. But, in many ways, much more difficult.

Speaking of veteran support, the city owns a 9.6-acre parcel in East Ventura – located next to the existing Veterans Home of California on Telephone Road. This property is being considered for Veteran housing.

The timing is critical so that the project might be provided with Proposition 41 funding that was passed by voters in 2014. It sets aside $600 million for multi-family housing for veterans, with at least half of that going to those with very low incomes. The funding only lasts a few years and because the city has the available land adjacent to veteran services, this might help the project’s chances of receiving State funds.

Requests for qualification to be the project’s developer have been submitted to the City and are due by March 22. A few companies will be selected to be part of official proposal process selection during a public hearing scheduled for as early as May. Developers with experience managing veterans housing and services will be preferred.

Veteran’s shouldn’t get too excited about moving in yet it would be at least 3-years before any activity would start on the site.

•   Continue to watch your consumption of water. Even though Lake Casitas (one of our three water supplies) is about 40% full, so we are still in drought. All of the current rain we have experienced is still not enough to get us out of our drought. It seemed like a huge amount of rain, but is still just a little over an average year of rainfall here, and we have had five years of drought.  And, it seems that our rain season is coming to an end.

•   The killing of animals for their ivory tusks is incredibly cruel and unnecessary. Of course, killing animals for their meat is still somewhat cruel but perhaps necessary for survival.

The solution to this is being implemented in LA County where ivory worth hundreds of thousands of dollars have been seized from shops selling them in the County. Existing laws do ban the sale of this material.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife agents are enforcing the laws. A small step, but one that would stop such sales if retail stores that purchase ivory goods lose all of their product.

•   From the LA Times: “The nation’s pediatricians are pushing back against parents who resist having their children vaccinated against a broad range of dangerous diseases by calling on states to stop offering waivers to those with non-medical objections to the practice.”

I certainly agree. As an example, polio, which was basically wiped out, is making a comeback in some third world countries because polio vaccination workers are being killed by ignorant groups that think that this is a Western plot to eliminate them.

•   At the March 13 City Council meeting City Manager Mark Watkins announced the Ventura Water General Manager has resigned and will be leaving her position in 4 weeks. Perhaps in the next issue we will have further information regarding this.

 

Racism Riles Residents: One OPINION  

A recent meeting was held at school district headquarters to discuss racism concerns.

by Sheli Ellsworth

Since the January 13 tweet by two Buena High School students containing altered images of themselves holding nooses around two black men, the community has erupted in protest. The school district is fielding phone calls, the students are facing discipline, and a group of local organizations have called for the district to take steps against racism and discrimination.

The group demands the district adopt three resolutions:  safe haven status for all students;  ethnic studies classes; adopting a program called restorative justice, in which people involved in a dispute talk about it. The group spoke at a meeting of the Ventura Unified School District board.

“Sending an apology letter isn’t enough anymore,” Ocil Herrejon, a youth organizer for CAUSE, the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy. “In the current political climate, we need to address these issues, make a safe haven for students of color on campus.”

Yes, school should be a safe place for all students. But is it possible that one incident isn’t a fair representation of Buena students or district policies?

In the seventh grade, my best friend, Dawn, and I were bored. It was the seventies, a decade— without cell phones, internet or satellite TV. But hey, we were capable of entertaining ourselves. We weren’t spoiled rich kids. We could sew, cook, and be creative—and stupid.

One winter day, we were discussing rumors that our single male history teacher was dating our single female PE teacher. Tame stuff by today’s standards, but I was a Perry Mason fan who understood extortion, my friend—a gifted writer. Together we were middle school morons who regaled ourselves by writing a blackmail letter. We exorcised our boredom by imagining our teachers’ faces when they found out that someone was on to their little tête-à-têtes. Would they be embarrassed? Would they pay for our silence? It was all in the wording: careful, adult-type wording.

Did we send the letter? Nope. And thank goodness there was no Twitter or Instagram.

Did we ever plan to extort money from our teachers? Nope.  But  Dawn and I became steeped in scandal. My mother found the letter. The torn, discarded pages were discovered by my mom who was certain that I was a budding sociopath—a criminal in the making—a peccant, penitentiary-worthy juvenile delinquent! She was prepared to call the police, the school and the district attorney.

How did I get off death row? A levelheaded, loving adult spoke up on my behalf. My grandmother talked my estrogen-challenged mother off the ledge. Grandma was a wise woman who knew that kids did stupid things— like writing blackmail letters and pretending to be white supremacist racists. (Isn’t it Dr. Phil who says, “never expect children to deal with adult issues?”) We now know that our brain is not mature until our mid-twenties, but my grandmother had figured it out long before neuroscience did.

I didn’t grow up to be an extortionist or even a criminal. My friend Dawn now owns an insurance agency, so I guess you could say that she is “still in the extortion biz.” Neither of us have ever been jailed or have ever made money illegally unless you count the money we found in change slots. Maybe doing stupid things is just a part of being a kid . . . maybe taking it down a notch is another way to approach the problem.

Sheli Ellsworth, a former school guidance counselor, has a master’s degree in psychology. Her latest book, Ex Parte: Episodes of existential fiction from BeachHouse Books has recently received a five-star review from Book Junkie Reviews.

Vol. 10, No. 10 – February 15 – February 28, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  Behind City Hall is a property referred to as 505 Poli St. It has housed a variety of uses since it was acquired by the City in 2006 from the County for $3.64 million. The purchase included the significant adjacent parking and the 9.95 acres that is currently leased to the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

In 2009 the 3rd floor was converted into a business incubator for technology entrepreneurs with many successes. The 4th floor was used to subsidize office space to help non-profit organizations that had to move when Brooks Institute took over the two upper floors.

The City has never developed a long range plan for the building or the adjacent Crime Lab, though this is now being conceived. The need for a plan became even more apparent when Brooks Institute closed-up leaving the construction on the 4th and 5th floors un-completed and still empty.

A detailed financial analysis has not been completed yet which includes fire, seismic and basic commercial upgrades such as HVAC, elevator, plumbing and electrical systems. The City Council has asked staff to complete a plan for evaluation.

At a recent City Council meeting a number of possible options for the space were presented by staff.

The Crime Lab, a two-story concrete structure located behind 505 Poli , is in need of abatement of hazardous materials before it can be occupied.

Option 1: Sell the property
(505 building and/or the Crime Lab).
The Council rejected this.

Option 2: Demolish the Crime Lab.
The Council rejected this.

Option 3: Keep the property.
This was approved by the Council. The Council will now need to determine what to do with the property.

I completely agree with the decision to retain the property and look forward to learning about the staff reports and further action by the Council. Hopefully, the final use will include space for non-profits, and an incubator for business start-ups.

I hope that if they have market value space to rent that they hire a professional leasing company to handle this so that we don’t end up with another Brook’s debacle.

•  The Ventura City Council has approved by a vote of 5-0, with two councilmembers absent, a new “park exclusionary ordinance“ that they hope will reduce the amount of people who break laws at city locations. It will make it easier for police to temporarily ban dangerous or illegal activity from parks, the promenade and other city owned properties. Issues include urinating and/or defecating in public, using or selling drugs, vandalism, fighting or having an aggressive dog.

Depending on the number of offenses, and the nature of the act, people can be banned for a day or up to a year. Those given an exclusionary order would have up to five days to appeal to the City Manager’s office.

The VPD requested this ordinance be in place for about 3 years, but there was concerns about its legality. City Attorney Gregory Diaz said the ordinance could withstand a legal challenge because of the appeals process put in place.

I agree that there are some serious problems at these locations and hope that it doesn’t unfairly criminalize the homeless but only those who are breaking the law.

•  Here I go again: Researchers at UCLA reported that electronic cigarettes may increase the risk of heart disease.

They found that two risk factors for heart disease were elevated in 16 e-cigarette users compared with 18 nonsmokers.

“The pattern was spot-on” for what has been seen in heart attack patients and those with heart disease and diabetes, says cardiologist Holly Middlekauff, a co-author of the study.

E-cigarette users in the study had heartbeat patterns that indicated high levels of adrenaline — also known as epinephrine —which is a sign of heart disease risk.  Researchers also found signs of increased oxidative stress, an imbalance of certain protective molecules that can cause the hardening and narrowing of arteries.

“Electronic cigarettes aren’t harmless,” Middlekauff says. “They have real, measurable physiological effects and these physiological effects, at least the couple that we found. have been associated with heart disease.”

•  The VC Star (that some of you old-timers still call the Star Free Press)keeps getting smaller (no more section B, etc.), and it has less local coverage. I really hate to see newspapers struggling so much. Hopefully, the Breeze’s advertisers (and readers) will always be here to support us.

•  Recently, I went to listen to the Ventura County Concert Band play at Ventura High. They were wonderful – it’s unfortunate that we don’t have a performing arts center here in the city where they could have played.

•  The VPD is presenting is a public education program titled Mental Health First Aid that can help individuals across the community understand mental illnesses. Read more about it in this issue it is very important.

•  Chang Liampetchakul, the owner of Tipps Thai Cuisine located downtown, recently suffered a stroke. He was cooking up some ribs for Super Bowl, when some friends came to pick him up. When they arrived he crawled to the front door to unlock it. Doctors think he’s going to make a good recovery, but it will take time. I certainly wish him well and a quick recovery. A GoFundMe account has been set-up for those wishing to help raise funds. https://www.gofundme.com/chang-chang-chang

•  Please see the ad below for the Ventura Breeze presenting the Equinox Ensemble at the Squashed Grapes and come join in on the fun. I will be there at 5:30.

Vol. 10, No. 9 – February 1 – February 14, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

Happy Valentine from me and artist Jaime Baker.

•  In this issue, (see cover) we have an article about some very exciting new construction projects in the city and there are more happening soon. I think that this is very important for Ventura for several reasons;

These projects are what “we” in the industry (my background) call “type V projects” meaning that they can be of wood frame construction. These type of projects employ workers of all different skills paying from $10 to up to $100 per hour, so they are a boost for our economy.

Also, a city needs to continue to evolve and to bring in new residents. I only wish we could build some executive style homes to provide housing for high wage earners so that they don’t work here, or have businesses here but live somewhere else.

•  At a recent City Council meeting, the council (by a 7-0 vote) decided that the best use of the Harbor Church property is to allow single family homes to be built.

Some residents in the area wanted the building to become a community center (some didn’t) and many spoke at the council meeting. The community center advocates were very disappointed with the council’s decision even though the use of the property as a community center wasn’t even being considered by the council.

There were basically two reasons why the council wants to sell the property to a developer. When the city paid about $2.3 million for the property (in order to avoid going to court) it was with the understanding that action would be taken to quickly recover most of the money spent (complete recovery will not happen).

Also, the cost of converting the building to a community center (requiring lots of handicap upgrades) would be large and would bring traffic and congestion to this residential neighborhood, just as the church did. And would require very expensive upkeep and salaries.

There is also the slight chance that the VUSD might be interested in the property because it is right next to a school.

At this meeting, the Council also approved some startup funds for the proposed Kellogg Park in West Ventura. Not enough for much construction, but it is necessary to start in order to not lose grant money that was awarded to the project.

In the meantime, the Westside has probably what is the most comprehensive and utilized park in Ventura (the Westpark Community Center). In fact, I’m not sure why people say that that the Westside is underserved when Westpark is located there (and a Boys & Girls Club).

•  Did anybody ever think that, in 2017, we would be friends with Russia and enemies with Mexico? Is Canada next and then the rest of the world? If you’re not concerned with what is going on, you should be!

•  All of Ventura’s water supply comes from either the Ventura River, groundwater and/or Lake Casitas. Even though we are having a nice rainy season (about 15”, which is more than our average) we are not out of the woods yet. The lake is still less than 40% full. The use of recycled water should increase in the future.

The City Council has taken action to consider another water source by authorizing a study to look at design, water flow, and environmental impacts of other sources.

The United Water Conservation District, Casitas Municipal Water District and Calleguas Municipal Water District are considering being part of a regional effort. All of these agencies could be involved in the ability to transfer water between districts in times of high drought. The study will look at the potential benefits for all the agencies involved.

The idea is to store water during rainy seasons, so there is water “in the bank” when needed. New piping would need to be installed to bring some of this additional water to Ventura. Imported water would be much more expensive but could be necessary if the high rains don’t continue for several more years.

•  Ventura’s 2017-18 budget will include millions of dollars of new money from Measure O, the half-cent sales tax voters approved in November. The new rate goes into effect on April 1, and the city will receive its first partial payment in July.

The measure included the formation of a seven-member citizen oversight committee to make “recommendations“ regarding how the money should be spent.

When this committee is formed, we all must be the committee that keeps an eye on the council’s committee.

In my opinion, an important use of this money will be to help our homeless population. City Manager Mark Watkins stated, “The final goal is to expand resources to the homeless population, both by offering more programs to those who want assistance and directing law enforcement resources toward those who don’t follow the rules.”

New Councilmember Matt LaVere will be on the council’s homeless subcommittee and should bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to this ongoing problem.

 

Vol. 10, No. 8 – January 18 – January 31, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•   The “MY VENTURA” city brochure that is mailed to your home by the City includes many wonderful city events, services, art classes, tours and more for the entire family (including dogs), so be sure to check it out and participate in some of the great classes/seminars.

•   In this issue, we have an article regarding the City Council’s actions on the new California laws impacting marijuana usage and second unit development (housing). I agree with the Council approaching the second unit law very slowly and with much input from staff and stakeholders. The law is very complicated and removes much of the city’s rights and decisions (similar to Government laws versus State laws). There are many concerns in the city about how this law will be applied.

I do think that they should make decisions regarding the marijuana laws much more quickly. The language of this law is quite clear.   It shouldn’t require a lot of study and analysis as to how it is to be applied in Ventura.

City owned church would make a wonderful community center.

•   As you might recall, the Harbor Missionary Church, 3100 Preble St. was purchased by the city in order to settle a lawsuit (out of court). The church, which is adjacent to Blanche Reynolds Elementary School, has a lease to remain in the building until June of this year where they pay $3,000 per month rent.

As part of the settlement, the church closed down its Operation Embrace program to feed the homeless and agreed to move out of the city. Residents had complained of problems with the homeless and increased crime in the neighborhood.

City staff has provided eleven possible scenarios for the property that will be presented to the City Council for consideration. In two of the cases Ventura will retain ownership of the property.

These are the possibilities that will be presented:

A neighborhood market, townhouses, several single family uses, leased as is, sold as is, demolish and sell land, school expansion, converted to park or become a community center.

City staff are looking for input from residents before going to the City Council.

Recently the Midtown Ventura Community Council held a meeting so residents could give their input on what the city should do with the property. Those attending would like it to become a community center.

A local community center would be a wonderful, but would also be a very expensive scenario. Changing the use of the building would require many ADA improvements and maintaining requirements  and staffing would be an ongoing expense.

Perhaps funds from the new sales tax could be used to remodel and maintain the church as a community center. The new sales tax goes into effect in April, and the city will receive its first payment in July. It is projected that the income will be approximately $10-11 million annually.

Discussions on regarding the best usage for the proceeds began last Saturday during a special city meeting held in the training room at the Ventura Police Department.

The council will be selecting a special 7-member citizen oversight committee that will look at the additional revenue and offer non-binding recommendations during budget talks.

•   As massive as our planet is, it decelerates thanks to the braking action of ocean tides (I’m sure that you understand that). In fact, our planet decelerates 2 milliseconds per day per century. This results in the planet’s rotation slowing compared to atomic clocks. Because of this, a leap second needs to be added about every 500 days so be sure to reset all of your clocks so that you aren’t late for appointments.

•   Don’t get overly excited about our water drought being over because of our recent rain and the large snow packs in Northern California. We don’t receive any of our water from snow runoff. We will need several seasons of very large rains to eliminate our drought problems.

•   The State passed over 800 new laws (maybe over 900) in 2016. That is absurd. These are just a very few of my favorites (so glad that our legislators have nothing better to do):

Denim is now the state’s official fabric to recognize its role in California history (I was hoping that it would be corduroy).

Beauty salons and barbershops can now offer patrons a free beer or glass of wine (just in case your haircut is terrible you won’t care).

Voters can now legally take a selfie with their completed ballots (this is for people who don’t have many friends).

Voters are permitted to legally hand off their sealed ballots to anyone to mail or deliver in person (could I give mine to Scamp to deliver?)

A program providing electric-car rebates will now be available only to those making $150,000 per year or less (that’s good, now poor people can get rebates).

Women can now pick up an entire year’s worth of birth control pills at once (saves going to the pharmacy often, saving gas and precious time).

Every autographed collectible sold in California must come with a certificate that verifies it’s not a forgery (what if the certificate is a forgery)? Maybe there should be a law that verifies that the certificate is not a forgery).

California businesses and public agencies must have on hand medicine designed to combat severe emergency allergic reactions (can this be over the counter or would I need a prescription)?

 

Vol. 10, No. 7 – January 4 – January 17, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•   Just a few of the more notable Ventura events in 2016. There were certainly a lot more, so sorry if I missed some of the more important ones.

  • Museum of Ventura County temporally closes galleries (will re-open in a few days)
  • Ventura County Fair has record attendance
  • Midtown parking structure completed by the new CMH under construction
  • Professor Scamp becomes write-in presidential candidate (another dog won)
  • There was an oil spill in Hall Canyon
  • Ventura Breeze goes all color and begins 10th year of publication
  • There was a ground breaking for Kellogg Park in West Ventura
  • Ventura Park Ambassadors started working with the homeless in city parks and the Promenade
  • Carl Morehouse announced he wasn’t running for another term on City Council (served 17 years)
  • Matt LaVere elected to City Council to replace Carl
  • Venturans approve 4 city ballot measures including a tax increase
  • Sondermann Ring large development project located at Harbor breaks ground after 16-years
  • Ventura celebrates 150th anniversary
  • Construction on California Street Bridge Pedestrian Project starts(will be completed any day now)
  • Brooks Institute announces plan to move into downtown Ventura including behind City Hall
  • Brooks Institute closing leaving many in shock
  • Ventura Pier re-opens after repair to damage caused by large waves
  • City buys Harbor Community Church for $2.3 million
  • Venturan’s approve State new marijuana laws by 59%
  • There were 2 murders on Dec.4. The probable suspects in both cases have been identified and arrested

Several notable Venturan’s passed away. These are just a few of the people who made a large contribution to Ventura:

  • Sandra Laby
  • Howard Boroughs
  • Don Haskell
  • Ed Warren
  • Jim Spencer
  • Linda Elder
  • Warren Gavin
  • Lynn Jacobs
  • Jim Mangis

•   Two new super markets are coming to Ventura. Not the usual ones that you might familiar with. Grocery Outlet Bargain Market will be located where Ralphs was previously at 9300 Telephone and Sprouts Farmers Market is coming at the shuttered Sports Authority space at 4870 Telephone Rd. (in the Kohls/Barnes & Noble shopping center).

•   In a complaint filed in 2013, Jarrod Matthew Wilfert claimed he was terminated without warning on March 13, 2012 by the Oxnard Police Department as a direct result of comments made by officials and officers from the Ventura Police Department. Wilfert had been a VPD officer for nearly four years.

He claimed that officers at the Ventura Police Department made untruthful and disparaging remarks about him which resulted in Oxnard firing him.

He sued the City for wrongful termination and a jury trial was set for Dec. 2016. Ventura and Wilfert have agreed to settle the wrongful termination suit for $25,000 avoiding the jury trial. This amount is much less than the City would have spent on outside legal fees.

The City is still involved in a legal case involving former Ventura Risk Manager Ellis Green, who was let go in July 2015. Green is suing the city also alleging wrongful termination, saying he was subjected to discrimination for his age, gender, race and disability. He claims the City failed to make reasonable accommodations for his end-stage renal disease.

The City disputes Green’s claims, alleging he was “unable to perform the essential functions of the position” with or without reasonable accommodations.

Green worked for the city for 15 years and served one term on the Port Hueneme city council.

•   As you know, we have a feature in the paper called Answer In A Breeze. To this point, we have been able to answer reader’s question – until this time.

A while back Jaime Baker (reader and Breeze employee) asked us (in part), “See if you can find out anything from the city about the spraying of toxic chemicals in a field near Wells and Darling. This is a very bad situation and anyone who lives in the area should be very concerned. The workers who sprayed the field were wearing hazmat suits and gas masks. The smell was so intense that for 2 days we really didn’t want to go outside.”

We contacted Ventura City Manager Mark Watkins to help with this question. He replied, “I drive by the parcel and noticed the mustard and when it was gone but was not aware of any spraying. The parcel is owned by the Broome family, and it is outside city limits in unincorporated area. They are represented by Kioren Moss, Real Estate Appraisers & Advisors perhaps you should contact them.”

We contacted Kioren Moss but never received an answer to our inquiry. Perhaps this mention will get us an answer.

•   The average temperature in 2015 was 1.62 degrees higher than the 20th century average, and 2016 will break that record.

•   Beginning January 1, 2017 you will be breaking the law if you’re caught holding a cellphone or other electronic device while driving in California.

Assembly Bill 1785 requires those who use a cellphone while driving to either place it in a 7-square-inch (that’s about 3”x2.33”) lower area of the windshield farthest from the driver or a 5-square-inch space in the lower windshield corner nearest them. Drivers also will be able to put the phone on the dashboard, provided it doesn’t block their view of the road or keep an airbag from deploying (time to find out where and how your airbag deploys).

So if you are pulled over by a police officer and he is caring a tape measure you might be in trouble. You should also carry your own tape measure so you can dispute the officer’s measurements if necessary.

Vol. 10, No. 6 – December 21, 2016 – January 3, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

This is your Christmas present spend it as you wish.

•  Happy Chanukah (starts Dec. 24), Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our wonderful Breeze readers. The years go by much too quickly.

•  Wishing Carl Morehouse, first elected to the Ventura City Council in 1999, all the best in his “retirement” from the City Council. Maybe now he will have time to pursue his musical career.

And, all the best to Matt LaVere who will now find out the incredible amount of time that he will be spending serving on the City Council. Good thing members earn $600 per month to make it all worthwhile.

•  How wonderful that the so called “Sonderman-Ring” project (see article in this issue) has finally broken ground (only took 16 years). This development be great for the Harbor and even for those living in the mobile home community right across the street. It will cut off some of their views but will have a community park, a great promenade for walking to the water and commercial space that might make some of their shopping easier.

I congratulate the developers for sticking with it. A funny aspect of it is that Brian Brennan reviewed it as a City Councilmember, as a member of the coastal commission and a member of the port district. He must have gotten very tired of looking at the project.

•  I wonder if the people shouting USA, USA, USA will be shouting that next year when their iPhone8’s costs $1,500?

•  To encourage second units being built on residential properties, the state has loosened restrictions to ease the affordable-housing crisis.

Under new rules, the review process is meant to be faster and less difficult and will be certainly cheaper because large city hook-up fees will not be allowed. The city can’t, in most cases, charge a water or sewer connection fee or require a new connection. This will result in huge changes to the building of second units on residential properties.

The new state regulations are set to go into effect Jan. 1, and cities are trying to figure out exactly how it will affect existing local ordinances and what changes will need to be made. Most of those ordinances are going to be eliminated or be revised.

What the new state regulations will mean exactly in Ventura will be discussed in great detail by our city attorney, planning staff and city council.

The new law allows detached units to be up to 1,200 sq. feet. Ventura currently allows 750 sq. feet. Units attached to existing residences can be up to 50 percent of the residence’s living area, compared to the maximum 30 percent set by the city now.

Recently, many Ventura residents (especially in the Pierpont community with their small driving lanes) have been unhappy with the growth of short-term vacation rentals, arguing they have resulted in increased traffic, noise and strangers into their neighborhood.

Some Venturans feel that these type of rentals should be banned altogether in residential zones because they are actually commercial uses. Some rental property owners claim that they carefully monitor the tenants and maintain their properties in a clean condition and that the visitors contribute to the city’s economy. In some cases the rent allows owners to remain in their homes.

If any of you are thinking of adding a second unit, I’d be happy to help with any  questions and concerns (I’ll put on my retired architect’s hat).

•  Great to report that new Federal survey data shows that teen drug and alcohol use has fallen to levels not seen since the height of the drug war in the 1990s.

The Monitoring the Future survey of about 50,000 high school students found that “considerably fewer teens reported using any illicit drug other than marijuana in the prior 12 months — 5 percent, 10 percent and 14 percent in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively — than at any time since 1991.”

And the use of electronic cigarettes (vaping) has also declined for the first time since researchers began tracking the practice in 2011.

Marijuana use has been another area of concern with the move by numerous states to legalize the recreational use of the drug. But a recent survey shows that changing attitudes toward marijuana appear to have little effect on teens’ inclinations to use the drug. The marijuana use trends have proved surprising to authorities who predicted that legalization would lead to greater teen acceptance of marijuana use, and more teens using it themselves.

All good news. I hope that the trends continue. Perhaps when cigarettes are $8 per pack (when the new taxes are added) even fewer will be smoking.

•  A Saudi woman was going out for breakfast when she decided to make a social statement. In violation of the country’s moral codes, she reportedly stepped out in public wearing a multicolored dress, a black jacket and ankle boots without wearing a hijab or abaya, a loose-fitting garment.

It resulted in drawing death threats and demands to imprison or even execute the woman. Police in the country’s capital of Riyadh said they had arrested the woman following their duty to monitor “violations of general morals.” Hard to even comprehend that kind of thinking, at least it is for me.

Vol. 10, No. 5 – December 7 – December 20, 2016 – Opinion/Editorial

•  This is the first time that I’ve placed an opinion letter (sent to our Mailbox) in my column. But I feel that this is an important enough topic to get your comments regarding the Electoral College, which I commented about it in our last issue. Would love to hear from more of you.

Sheldon Brown:

Before tossing off the slavery pacification theory you might want to read the history of The Electoral College. And who cares if you think the name is stupid. Have some respect for the foundations of our Republic, especially when the news (such as you report) is filled with fake history.

Joyce Ward

Joyce:
Thanks for your email. I’m glad that you care about what I think and took the to send me a note with your thoughts.

The “slavery pacification” as you call it is not theory, it is documented history.

Please look at the following video, http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2016/11/22/why-was-the-electoral-college-created-slavery-orig.cnn for a brief explanation and this excerpt from TIME Magazine.

TIME Magazine

“Remember what the country looked like in 1787: The important division was between states that relied on slavery and those that didn’t, not between large and small states. A direct election for president did not sit well with most delegates from the slave states, which had large populations but far fewer eligible voters. They gravitated toward the electoral college as a compromise because it was based on population. The convention had agreed to count each slave as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of calculating each state’s allotment of seats in Congress. For Virginia, which had the largest population among the original 13 states, that meant more clout in choosing the president.”

“Standard civics-class accounts of the Electoral College rarely mention the real demon dooming direct national election in 1787 and 1803: slavery.”

“At the Philadelphia convention, the visionary Pennsylvanian James Wilson proposed direct national election of the president. But the savvy Virginian James Madison responded that such a system would prove unacceptable to the South: ‘The right of suffrage was much more diffusive [i.e., extensive] in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.’ In other words, in a direct election system, the North would outnumber the South, whose many slaves (more than half a million in all) of course could not vote. But the Electoral College—a prototype of which Madison proposed in this same speech—instead let each southern state count its slaves, albeit with a two-fifths discount, in computing its share of the overall count.”

“If the system’s pro-slavery tilt was not overwhelmingly obvious when the Constitution was ratified, it quickly became so. For 32 of the Constitution’s first 36 years, a white slaveholding Virginian occupied the presidency.”

“Southerner Thomas Jefferson, for example, won the election of 1800-01 against Northerner John Adams in a race where the slavery-skew of the Electoral College was the decisive margin of victory: without the extra Electoral College votes generated by slavery, the mostly southern states that supported Jefferson would not have sufficed to give him a majority. As pointed observers remarked at the time, Thomas Jefferson metaphorically rode into the executive mansion on the backs of slaves.”

I hope that this helps your understanding, and I still think that it’s a stupid name. A degree from the Electoral College is as worthless as one from Trump University.

•  The second seat on the Ventura School board is finally decided after many recounts with Jackie Moran winning. The final tally is Jackie Moran 13,894, Don Wood 13,681.

•  The City Council has approved the following appointments (recommended by the Appointments Recommendation Committee) for advisory boards:

Downtown Parking Advisory:

  • Ashley Pope (Spice-Topia) and Debbie Fox (Fox Fine Jewelry). Excellent choices because are both are downtown business owners.
  • Mobile Home Rent Review Board: Terrence Towner.

•  I have been asked about the Rhumb Line Restaurant’s new ownership (the business, not the building). Their plans are to close in February for about 6-weeks to remodel, change the name and the menu. I hope that it’s a big success, as it’s a wonderful location night and day to enjoy sunsets and watch the harbor boats.

•  There is a new Christmas tree lot located at Seaward and Pierpont – Winter Springs Christmas Trees – that is run by the tree growers who came down from Oregon . A nice young couple, so check it out. They also sell a lot of really nice children’s books. We got a really nice tree there.

•  A group calling for California to secede from the United States submitted a proposed petition recently seeking a ballot measure that would strip the state constitution of language that says California is an inseparable part of the nation. The group has gained momentum with the election of Donald Trump.

The Yes California Independence Campaign hopes to put a question on the November 2018 ballot authorizing a vote on independence in spring 2019.

The group’s Vice President Marcus Ruiz Evans said the organization now has 15,000 Twitter followers, 30,000 Facebook followers and 13,000 volunteers who have signed up to collect signatures.

Before you get too excited about this happening, the U.S. Constitution does not provide for state secession. It is basically impossible, but fun to think about. Experts say the only way to legally secede would be to change the federal Constitution, which requires the approval of Congress and 38 states.

Dividing a state into two would be a little easier (Virginia and West Virginia did it a long time ago) but repeated attempts to create a 51st state in Northern California, named the State of Jefferson, have also failed. That movement generally draws more conservative supporters who are dissatisfied with California’s dominance by Democrats.

 

Vol. 10, No. 3 – November 9 – November 22, 2016 – Opinion/Editorial

Foto: “Being a judge at the Halloween dog costume competition at the Harbor was very difficult because they were all soooo cute (photos in next issue)”

 

 

  • I want to thank all of the candidates that ran for the Ventura City Council and Ventura School Board. Wanting to serve in these positions is based upon making a contribution to Ventura and certainly not motivated by the small “salaries” that they receive. The election results were too late for this issue but can be seen at www.venturabreeze.com.

 

Thank goodness the elections are over, hopefully the country can get back to “normal”.

 

  • Based upon a recent survey taken in Los Angeles County this is the breakdown of their homeless population.

 

Mentally ill 30%

Substance abuse 23%

Experienced domestic violence 18%

Physically disabled 17%

Unknown 12%

 

For those of you who think that the homeless are just a bunch of bums that don’t want to work consider the situations that have led to them to homelessness.

 

I certainly agree that Ventura has a homeless problem but complaining about it really won’t solve the problem. What is needed is some type of housing even if as basic as a well maintained tent city with portable toilets. Refugee camps in Europe are providing this for the immigrant displaced. We should be able to at least provide this.

 

I am especially concerned about the mentally ill homeless population. Many of them are too ill to understand what help is available for them or are too paranoid to accept any help at all.

 

I’m also concerned about the number of the mentally ill people who are being killed by police officers. Mentally ill lives matter also and  perhaps even more so than other populations. Because they don’t always understand their situations and have little control over it.

 

Police departments and policymakers around the country are grappling with how to bolster training for police officers on mental health issues. This is because  of a string of high-profile fatal incidents involving suspects believed to be in the throes of mental breakdowns.

 

  • It’s absurd how long it is taking to complete the California Street Bridge Pedestrian Project.

 

“The California Street Bridge enhancement project includes replacing the existing low-height pedestrian railing along the bridge with a six-foot high 250-foot long decorative railing, adding eight decorative pedestrian lighting fixtures, and resurfacing the sidewalk area to create a safer environment for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists crossing the bridge and will help visually distinguish the California Street off-ramp as the entry to our historic downtown.”

 

  • On September 12, 1949, the Ventura City Council passed Resolution No. 3191 creating the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura. On December 1, 1949, the first regular meeting of the Housing Authority was held. The City of Ventura provided desk space, and clerical help with the City Clerk acting as treasurer of the Authority. On July 1, 1950 a secretary was employed and the Housing Authority had its first full-time paid employee.

 

Recently, the City Council adopted a Resolution approving issuance by the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura of tax-exempt obligations not to exceed $15,000,000. This is to

assist Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation ( CEDC) in the new

construction of 22 apartments located at 1031, 1019, 1007, 995 and 1013 Los

Angeles Avenue.

 

A yet-to-be-formed California limited partnership will be the owner of the

development, with the general partner including a CEDC affiliate and a tax credit

investor limited partner.

 

I’m really not sure whose money this is and don’t completely understand the process, but doing the simple math that amounts to $681,000 per unit. For that kind of money (2) 3-bedroom homes could be purchased in that area which would provide 6 bedrooms. Living in private homes would also provide privacy (a backyard), the pride of living in a home (which some of the residents will never get to do) and interaction with neighbors and their families.

 

What am I missing?

 

  • Could millions of connected devices like cameras, thermostats, DVDs, home surveillance cameras, kids’ toys and the increasing amount of internet household devices and appliances (13 in the average home already) bring the Internet (and the world) to its knees. Is cyberwar coming?

 

Recently huge cyberattacks crippled a major internet firm that sends information to many popular websites across the United States (did you lose your Netflix connection and have nothing to do)? The hacker group that is claiming responsibility for this has stated that this was just practice and that their eventual target is Russia in retaliation for what appears to be Russian hacking in the United States.

 

  • Nice to see what was called the Sonderman-Ring project by the Harbor moving along (and only after about 10-years and the death of one of the partners).

 

Development is in their 3rd plan-check review submittal with Building and Safety, and is nearing a final building permit approval.   It will include 300 residential units,  21,000 square feet of commercial space, 107 boating slips, a 2.44 acre waterfront park and a public promenade extending 1,650 linear feet.  The project will include 2, 2-story parking garages.

 

 

It will be nice if the commercial space includes a mini-mart so that the residents of the mobile home park across the street could just walk to get some of their groceries and staples.

 

 

Vol. 10, No. 4 – November 23 – December 6, 2016 – Opinion/Editorial

SheldonPicColor•   Congratulations to Christy Weir and Cheryl Heitmann for being elected to another term on the City Council and to Matt LaVere (who received the most votes) for being elected to the Council for the first time. They are all good choices, and should serve us well.

And, kudos also go to School Board winner’s Sabrina Rodriquez and either Jackie Moran or Don Wood (you fill it in) for the second seat. The latest count shows only 12 votes separating them. Perhaps they could each serve half of the term.

Speaking of local elections, I was a little surprised that the tax increase passed and hope that the citizen’s oversight committee which will be formed to recommend uses for the money will do what is best for Ventura. We should all act as an oversight committee for the oversight committee and keep our eyes on their decisions.

I was surprised at the large quantity of yes votes for term limits, which I highly endorsed.

The loser of the Presidential election received more votes (nearly 1.5 million) than the winner of the election. In 1787, the  Founding Fathers created what is now called the Electoral College (even the name is stupid) to appease the Southern slave states so that they would sign the new Constitution.

The United States Electoral College is the body that elects the President and Vice President of the United States. Citizens of the United States do not directly elect them – instead they choose “electors”, who usually pledge to vote for particular candidates (even though they do not need to).

It is almost impossible to change it. So, finally after all these years the South has won the civil war.

•   Several restaurants have new owners (not the actual buildings); the Watermark will become the Limon y Sal when it re-opens and the Shanghai Beer Garden is now the Rumfish y Vino (confusing ain’t it). The Rhumb Line has not changed its name yet, but I’m sure it will have a new name shortly.

I wish all of the new owners the very best, it is a tough, time-intensive business. Be sure to check out all of them – let’s support our local businesses.

•   Some folks have been surprised when they’ve gone grocery shopping and were charged 10-15 cents if they used the market’s plastic bags. Grocers in Ventura County and throughout California have started charging shoppers for reusable bags as part of the recently passed Proposition 67.

The measure bans single-use plastic bags in California’s grocery stores. Many of the plastic bags have handles and are reusable.

•   New research finds that teens who regularly “vape” e-cigarettes are more likely to become frequent and heavy cigarette smokers. I have always assumed this was going to be the outcome, and it turns out that I am correct.

A survey of students at 10 Los Angeles County public schools found that teens who vape frequently are more than twice as likely to start smoking. The study was published Nov. 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

•   Steve’s Hardware (located at 1199 E. Thompson) sells PVC pipe by the foot. Also, they are very knowledgeable and will help you with all of your plumbing needs. Tell them that I sent you in, and they will give me a hug.

•   The Vatican has issued new rules to determine whether healings qualify as miracles for sainthood. A panel of medical experts scrutinize potential miracles. A potential miracle can no longer be considered if it fails to pass before the board of medical experts three times. So if you think that you have a miracle, you will need to bring a note from your doctor.

•   From the LA Times, in part, “…months after outrage over the 6 month sentence for sexual assault given to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.” Why is it relevant that he was a Stanford swimmer? Would they write “former Stanford cello player” or former Stanford chess player”? What is the importance of him being an athlete?

•   Word of the day (or this year actually): Gentrification – The buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper-or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.

•   It is that time of the year when communities need to find shelter for the homeless. If you think that being homeless is a “life choice” by some, try sleeping outside during the cold winter and when it’s raining.

The Ventura National Guard Armory that has been used in previous years is not available. The Oxnard National Guard Armory that alternates with Ventura is available.

Family Promise is a national movement in which churches rotate providing overnight lodging. On Nov. 3 they announced that two churches are now committed to the program — North Oxnard United Methodist Church and Temple Beth Torah in Ventura  and that several more have expressed interest.

Family Promise represents a national movement that believes family homelessness can be addressed in our own communities. Churches trade-off providing overnight lodging, with host sites rotating weekly. The housing is temporary. Nationwide, families stay in the program an average of 63 days.

•   Now that the state marijuana initiative Proposition 64 has passed it will be up to each city as to how they want to deal with the legalization of the use of marijuana. In the past the Ventura City Council has made it clear that they do not want medical dispensaries in Ventura.

The state measure allows people who are 21 and older to grow up to six plants indoors and use marijuana recreationally but will give local municipalities control of outdoor growing, sales, distribution and other aspects of the use of marijuana.

Police Chief Ken Corney, President of the California Police Chiefs Association has stated that in Colorado, which has allowed recreational use since 2012 marijuana-related emergency room visits and Poison Control Center calls have increased since marijuana use became legal.

Drug-related school suspensions and expulsions have also climbed, Corney stated.

Cannabis-related products that target youths will no longer be available because the state law is banning products shaped like animals and fruit and other products that appeal specifically to the young.

The City Council will be dealing with their concerns and those of the police department at future city council meetings. Including the delivery of medical marijuana to Ventura.

Ventura City Attorney Diaz will be giving the Council the “legal” directions that they can take. We certainly don’t want more law suits to be filed against Ventura.