Category Archives: Opinion/Editorial

Vol. 10, No. 15 – April 26 – May 9, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I want to congratulate the new members of the Measure O Citizens Oversight Committee. With the passage of Measure O last November an oversight committee was required to review the new revenues and to recommend expenditures for the new funds. Ventura’s half-cent sales tax oversight board received close to 70 applications for seven spots. The tax is expected to generate close to $11 million in 2017-18 and will last 25 years.

The members for a one-year term are Kristopher Hansen, Bill Hickman, Mary Laurel Rutledge and Jordana Ybarra-Telias. Three-year term members are Kathlene Bololes, Marni Brook and David Jaffe.

In a previous issue, we erroneously stated that the members would serve 3 and 4 year terms. They have a very important job so I hope that they do it well. Their first presentation to the City Council will probably be on May 10. Should be very interesting.

•  Deciding when Scamp’s time will be up has been one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make (so I will let Diane make it). We are not even sure if spoon feeding him to keep him alive is the right thing to do. He is still drinking water on his own and moving around the house and smiling at us. Just not sure if we are keeping him going for his sake or ours?

•  The latest guest on my new radio show on KPPQ-LP 104.1FM was Elena Brokaw – the Interim Executive Director for the Museum of Ventura County. The show airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am. Try to listen (low wattage so not always easy to pick up) and give me your feedback (good and bad) and suggestions for future guests.

•  In this issue our Person to Person question is “What is your favorite season in Ventura?” Interesting that no one specifically said summer which would shock mid-westerners. A compliment to us that all of our seasons are wonderful.

•  I know that I shouldn’t make too many comments about our president, but like late night comedians it is impossible not to. When running he kept telling us that he never would settle a law suit (real men don’t do that). He just paid a $25 million settlement in the Trump University litigation. Maybe he doesn’t consider a measly $25 million a settlement.

•  Three very important people make the Ventura Breeze happen me, Alfred J. Lewis and Breezy Gledhill are left-handed. There have been some (and are) other lesser known lefties like Alexander The Great, Julius Caesar, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Napoleon Bonaparte, Beethoven, Charlie

Chaplin, Babe Ruth, Bill Gates and 6 out of the last 8 US presidents – to name just a few. About 10% of the population are lefties. No wonder the Ventura Breeze is so amazing.

But being left-handed has not always been easy. Even today I read a report that a school teacher in Oklahoma sent a 4-year old left-handed boy home with a note from the teacher that left-handedness is associated with evil and the devil.

In fact the word left derived from the Old English word “lyft” which means weak and useless.

In the old days when people used ink pens our hands went right over the writing and smudged the ink. That is why some older people write with the hand kind of upside down so that the hand is in back of the ink. Of course lefty kids today don’t have that problem because they do as all of their writing on computers, tablets and phones.

But now at least you know that if the Breeze does something wrong that the devil made us do it.

•  Say it isn’t so – my world just got turned upside down. The writers of “reality” TV shows walked off the job recently in an attempt to unionize more unscripted shows. Will I find out next that the Easter Bunny really has nothing to do with Easter?

•  Between Donald Trump and Mexican drug cartels there is a war on journalists and journalism. Trump has called journalist “enemies of the people.” That’s one of the nicer things he has called us. Anything that he doesn’t agree with is “fake news”( I know I said I wouldn’t comment too much on him , but I just can’t help myself).

In Mexico, so many journalists have been killed for writing articles exposing the drug cartels that several newspapers have closed down.

Of course no news organization is perfect (liberal or conservative) but an independent press is vital in all democracies and guaranteed by our constitution.

•  Jackie Moran, who was elected to the Ventura Unified School District board last year, has been found not guilty of truancy by allowing her son to be routinely absent from Cabrillo Middle School.

Moran had been charged in February with allowing her son to be routinely truant.

She told Judge Michele Castillo that her son had to miss school because of an ongoing medical condition (without doctor’s proof). The judge felt that Deputy District Attorney Brandon Ross did not prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt.

I’m not taking sides but to waste the time of a judge, district attorney, etc. for what could have been a $100 fine is ludicrous. Certainly the school and the Moran’s should have been able to work this out without going to court.

Vol. 10, No. 14 – April 12 – April 25, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I have been asked why we didn’t include April fool gags in our last issue like we’ve done in past years’ issues (that has gotten me in so much trouble).

Because Scamp announced that he is very sick and won’t be with us for much longer, I didn’t want readers to think that this might be a joke, so nothing funny out of respect for him.

Regarding Scamp (read his article), he is still with us. This has been a transition time for Diane and I. He is kind of here and kind of not here. He’s not sitting next to us any longer when we eat so kind of getting used to him not being here. I said “kind of,” but it isn’t going to make it any easier.

If he would just start eating, he might get some of his strength back.

Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko was my first guest on radio station KPPQFM.

•  On my new radio show on KPPQ-LP 104.1FM, I have interviewed Mayor Erik Nasarenko and Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney. The show airs on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (hopefully) at 10am. You can still hear my interview with Erik on Saturday at 10am. Try to listen and give me your feedback (good and bad) and suggestions for future guests.

•  In referring to an article in the LA Times about the homeless in Pomona, our Ventura City Community Development Manager Peter Brown stated, “Which once again shows that our homeless population is not unique or even worse than other cities.”

“A couple of really interesting articles in the Times the last couple days. Pomona could be replaced with Ventura” because this article is 100% in line with what’s happening here (like it or not), because it’s all about balancing the needs of all community members.”

Pomona has taken a different approach though. Officials agreed after months of soul-searching on a comprehensive strategy that gives as much weight to enforcement as assistance. And the city is moving swiftly to remove an obstacle to that enforcement – its failure to offer people living on its streets a place to sleep or store their belongings.

Pomona has built nearly 400 steel lockers, one for every “unsheltered” homeless  person in the city . Officials then approved a comprehensive plan, as well as $1.7 million to buy land for a temporary shelter with 175 beds.

To compare us to Pomona, there is one homeless per 219 residents in their city and in Ventura it is one per 275 residents, so they have us beat. And where would you rather live, here or Pomona?

There is always the concern that if our services for the homeless are more comprehensive than other local cities that we will become a magnet for the homeless. This indeed might be a reality, so it is very important that other local communities provide their share of homeless services.

Some living in Pomona argue that the city’s generosity has prompted neighboring towns to send their homeless people to services in Pomona.

Hopefully, the recently approved overlay districts that will allow homeless facilities to be created will greatly help the situation – that is, if developers can be located to provide the facilities.

•  I recently attended “Live at The Fillmore” – the top Allman Brothers tribute band – at Discovery Ventura. To be honest, my music tastes are rather specific (always have been) to jazz and classics so really don’t know what the original Allman Brothers band sounded like. So, I don’t know if the band sounded like them, but they were good (I think) and had two full drummers which I had never seen before.

A great evening, and, because the food there is excellent, I ate while listening to the music. You can eat in the restaurant, the bar, while bowling or on the patio and hear the music anywhere. If you haven’t checked it out, go have a drink and take a look. And you’re not drunk if you see the bowling pins floating in the air.

•  The cigarette tax rate has increased from $0.87 to $2.87 per pack of 20 cigarettes. I have never smoked, but I really oppose this. If this is a way to get folks to stop smoking then raise the cost of a pint of gin to $50 to get people to stop drinking. If it is intended that the additional money will be used for research and anti-smoking campaigns it might not happen. Additional revenue monies never seem to be used for what they were intended for. Look at the zillions of dollars being collected by lottery and building fees for our schools and yet our schools are always short of money.

•  The amount of applicants who want to serve on the Measure O sales tax oversight committee have overwhelmed the city. It seems that how the new taxpayer money is spent has great interest to Venturans. About 70 applications have been received from those wanting to serve on the seven member board for either a four or three year term.

The tax is expected to generate nearly 11 million in 2017-18 and will last for 25 years.

Three members of the City Council serve on the Appointments Recommendation Committee. Neal Andrews, Christy Weir and Matt La Vere. It will be a monumental task for them to select seven from this large amount of applicants. Hopefully they will be selected in time to provide guidance for our next budget.

Vol. 10, No. 13 – March 29 – April 11, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•   Local CAPSTV has a new low wattage FM station KPPQLP (104.1FM) that I have a show on called the Face Of Ventura. On my first show I interviewed Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko. It airs on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 10am and Wednesday at midnight if you can’t sleep. It has a range of about 7-miles so if you are in ear shot of Ventura listen in and let me know what you think.

•   If you read Scamp’s column on page 16 you will see that he is a very sick doggie. So sick in fact that he has from two weeks to two months to live. If you have never had a pet you might not realize what an important part of the family they are and how much they are missed. Especially in this case where I have been his alter ego.

•   The City has removed many of their “coffin” multi-racks downtown but you can still find the Breeze in the remaining ones and in many of the downtown businesses (plus another 500 locations in Ventura), which still amazes me.

•   Talking about amazing, the Pierpont Inn has still not proceeded with obtaining building permits for the illegal construction that they started 15 months ago (they were red-tagged and a portion of the building was closed down). All of the Inn is still open including the reduced size restaurant with a new entrance.

•   Regarding the “firing” (not the word the school board choses to use) of VUSD Superintendent Dr. Babb, I have asked several of the school board members why he was let go and I got “for personal reasons.” I think if it was for personal matters, it is even more important that we know what they were or we will just let our imaginations run wild.

The board has hired a search firm to help find a superintendent to replace Babb. The Ventura Unified School District will hold public forums and conduct an online survey to hear what Venturan’s want in our superintendent. At least this won’t be held behind closed doors, said John Walker, Vice President of the district board. The board will get employees’ input, as well, Walker said. Joe Richards, who had been Deputy Superintendent, is serving as interim superintendent but has stated that he is not interested in the permanent position.

•   For once I agree with what Trump said. He recently stated, “I never said that I would repeal Obamacare in my first 64 days in office.” What he did say when elected that he would repeal Obamacare immediately. So he is correct.

•   Once again the fate of the original Top Hat Burger in Downtown Ventura was discussed during a public meeting of the city’s Historic Preservation Committee. Built in the late 1940s, it has been vacant since 2010 still waiting for a very long delayed condominium project (what else is new?) to be constructed.

Plans are to build a 25-unit condominium development at the site. I like the idea of it being a condominiums and not apartments. I think ownership is important downtown.

Opinions vary about what to do with the structure, but I do not think that it is an historical building or a significant piece of architecture. It is a plywood non-descript structure, not historical just because it is old. If that was the criteria then I am historical (and also non-descript perhaps). I don’t think that it should be made to be part of the project.

There was not a final vote of what to do with the building at the meeting just more of “direct staff to review some options.” Whatever the committee decides to do let’s get it done already and not have an empty lot sitting there growing weeds and with graffiti.

•   The City might decide to write off $4.6 million in subsidies to the golf operations. Theoretically the money is a loan but it will never be paid back.

Councilmembers once again have spent time discussing how to stop the losses from the golf course operations. The two public courses have consistently lost money, which could up to $300,000 in the 2017-18 budget.

To add to the loss, one of our recent storms caused significant damage to Buenaventura Golf Course.

Do we really need two golf courses and what else could at least one of them be used for? A future article in the Breeze will deal with this question.

I certainly hope that the half-cent sales tax, approved in November, is not used to support the courses.

•   The City Council has approved new rules that require gun stores in Ventura to install more physical barriers to keep vehicles from ramming stores in order to burglarize them. The new ordinance requires gun retailers to install bollards that would keep vehicle out by striking the bollards before making contact with the structures.

The Ventura City Council approved the increased security measures but decided against taking a closer look at whether the city could use zoning to help direct where the shops can be located. If passed, this would certainly be appealed in court. Councilmembers Christy Weir, Cheryl Heitmann and Mayor Erik Nasarenko questioned whether gun retailers could be banned near schools.

Even though I don’t care for guns much I tend to agree with Councilmember Neal Andrews who opposed the ordinance stating, “It is an unnecessary waste of time. A narrow, ideological sector of the community that wants stricter gun rules and meanwhile, the city and gun retailers are burdened by the costs.”

Councilmember Mike Tracy (ex-chief of police who certainly understands gun violence) said he opposes going further. “I doubt there’s a more regulated business in the country than gun sales. I understand that people get concerned about a gun shop in their neighborhood. The risk to the average person isn’t the sale of that gun at that gun store at the time it’s sold.”

State voters approved stricter controls with Proposition 63 and elected state officials have passed strict gun legislation .

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.