Category Archives: Opinion/Editorial

Vol. 10, No. 19 – June 21 – July 5, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  In a future issue we will have an article about the “controversy” of the City having two golf courses that are costing Ventura a lot of money to maintain. A few of my friends who play golf told me that if these two courses allowed players to only use 9-holes that more people would play there. So, instead players use the 9-hole course in Saticoy which is not in the City. I’m sure the logistics of how players would use only 9-holes would need to be figured out, but I’m positive that golfers are very honest and would only play nine holes if that is what they paid for.

•  The VCMC (Ventura County Medical Center) had their ribbon cutting ceremony for their new addition (see article in this issue). I attended and was shocked that I didn’t see any Ventura officials in attendance (sorry if I missed you – let me know if so). VCMC is located in what Ventura is calling the Wellness District, and VCMC is an important part of it.

•  I’m glad to hear that the Pierpont Inn has finally (after 18 months) secured their permits to continue with the construction (they previously started renovating without permits). Hopefully, the remodel will restore the lobby and other areas to the Hotel’s wonderful original look. The restaurant and inn have remained open.

•  I think that the Breeze might have suggested that the recently sold Anastasi property located at Seaward and Harbor will not have a project built there. Of course something will be built there but, as always, it could be many-many years away.

•  FOOD Share CEO Bonnie Atmore (aka Bonnie Weigel before her recent marriage) has resigned after nine years running FOOD Share to focus on a land trust she and her husband, Rich Atmore founded. Under Bonnie, FOOD Share grew from serving 38,000 people per month to 74,500.

She and Rich plan to spend more time on the Rancho San Buenaventura Conservation Trust, which oversees 860 acres and is in the process of buying 752 additional acres in the Ventura hillsides.

I wish them much success, and based on her past experiences, they will certainly attain their goals.

•  Residents living on Vista Del Mar Dr. have shown what can be achieved if neighbors get together to try to make things happen without forming an actual community council. By contacting City Council Members and heads of other City departments, they have had informative signs installed and overhanging trees and vegetation growing onto the street cut back to the curb or pavement edges making it much easier and safer to drive this very narrow street. And a special thanks to City Council Member Mike Tracy (and 2 VPD officers) for meeting with the neighbors at one of resident’s homes. If you use the street as a short cut please drive safely and slowly.

•  Once again, thank you all who have reached out to Diane and I by emails, phone cards and personal cards to express your thoughts regarding the passing of Scamp. It has been really amazing and comforting.

•  I’m glad to hear that teen vaping, which has been skyrocketing, fell dramatically last year in the United States. A recent government survey suggests the number of high school and middle school students using electronic cigarettes fell to 2.2 million last year, from 3 million the year before.

Health officials have worried about the booming popularity of vaping products among kids and the potential impact on adult smoking rates in the future.

It’s the first decline CDC has reported in teen vaping since the agency began tracking it in 2011.

If you don’t know what they are, e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide users with aerosol puffs that can contain nicotine.

Health officials have warned nicotine in e-cigarettes is harmful to developing brains.

And if you read my column, you know that I have always been opposed to them.

•  Very glad to hear that Patagonia bought the former Brooks Institute property that has sat empty since Brooks went out of business leaving many holding the bag.

The almost 8-acre site, located at 5301 N. Ventura Ave., is zoned industrial so it will be interesting to see what Patagonia does there (especially to the very large sound stages). The property is not actually located in the city of Ventura.

•  Recently, the Planning Commission approved amendments (7-0) to our “adult business” ordinance to forward to the City Council for approval.

Adult businesses must meet some location requirements so they can only in a few very specific areas:

M-1 and M-2 zones (heavy industrial)

Must be minimum of 500’ from defined sensitive areas

There must be 200’ between them

This means that there are only about 80 properties in Ventura where they can be located.

Also, there must be a minimum of 6’ between the “entertainers” and the patrons (so VPD officers will now carry tape measures as part of their regular equipment – kidding).

• The Ventura Port Board of Commissioners have given their blessing to two future developments in the Harbor. It will be many years before anything is built, but approvals include….. the California Coastal Commission plus all of the many Ventura City approvals.

The Board Commission stated that, “The sites are underutilized and could bring more tourism and make greater use of the bigger area that includes Ventura Harbor Village, the Channel Islands Visitors Center and the Harbor beaches.”

One site is at the end of Spinnaker Drive and the other near what was Blackbeard’s BBQ (now being remolded to be a full-service restaurant). While I agree that the Harbor could be much better utilized these projects must account for the many autos that they would bring to the area. Even now there are weekends when there are no parking places in the Harbor and many people just leave. More about this in future issues.

Vol. 10, No. 18 – June 7 – June 20, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

Pokemon Should Go. Photo by George Robertson

•  Recently, Venturan’s were surprised when California St. was closed for the day between Poli and Main, for what appeared to be a private party. They were even more surprised when they found out that it was due to filming an ad for Pokemon Go. There was little warning that the streets would be closed for the day. There should be much more warming when this type of thing occurs. Phone calls, emails, use of Nextdoor.com, etc., etc.

From the City – “Commercial for Pokemon Go, talent playing hand held video game in the street.  California Street will be a scene of a street type fair with a small stage for background.  Production assistants will be a various locations to assist with traffic/pedestrian control while the Drone is in the air. A drone will be tracking shots, camera on sticks and hand held cameras used.”

Either the City or PokemonGo should have done something  to show Venturan’s that they care about us.

I figured that the saving grace is that the filmmakers were charged a lot of money for this inconvenience. But, turns out, the amount was shockingly low.

The fees were basically about $410 if you subtract fire, police  and parking fees reimbursements.

$50.00                   Film Permit Application

$300.00                 Film Permit

$496.00                 Fire Inspection (4hrs/ x $124/hr)

$6204.00              Police (2 officers @$94/hr ea. X 13hrs)

$60.00                   Staff Administration

$4,397.75              Parking

$11,507.75           Total

•  The Ventura Auto Center is in the final stages of their expansion application. The proposed improvements include widening of the freeway frontage road and extending Olivas Park Drive to connect to Johnson Drive – plus enhanced signage and many other improvements.

There is some concern about proposals for a new large sign as part of the Ventura Auto Center Specific Plan that will be appearing before the Planning Commission on June 14. The meeting will start at 6pm in the City Hall Council Chambers. You can attend the meeting and express your thoughts, good or bad.

The new illuminated “freeway sign” will stand 82’ high. The large sign will also need to have the approval of the Design Review Committee, so there will be several opportunities to express concerns if you have any. The design of the smaller dealer signs are dictated by the auto manufacturers.

After the Planning Commission approves the Specific Plan it will go to the City Council for final adoption – possibly in July.

Debbie Fox, owner of Fox Fine Jewelry stated,  “the Auto Center is getting a long overdue makeover and Venturans will benefit with increased sales tax dollars. This is a great opportunity, but there needs to be a balance between increased taxes, and sight and light pollution from the signage.”

If you are interested in seeing what changes are in the plan, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov “Public Meetings,” scroll down to Planning Commission and select June 14 Item 3.

The City Council has set the Auto Center’s future as a high priority. Let’s face it, the Auto Center is looking rather old and worn out. I agree that the Center really needs sprucing up and it is important to Ventura because of the large amount of taxes it pays and the amount of people it brings into Ventura from other cities. I also think the extension of Olivas to Johnson is a wonderful idea.

Part of the approval is that there cannot be car lots that just sell used cars, used cars must be part of the selling of new autos.

•  Congratulations to our former Superintendent of Ventura schools, Dr. Trudy Tuttle Arriaga, who has been selected as Professor of Education of the year at California Lutheran University. She will receive the honor from the Association of California School Administrators. Trudy has been teaching at CLU for almost 10 years and became a full time teacher after she retired from Ventura in 2015. Recently, her replacement as Superintendent, Dr. Babb, was “dismissed” by the school board.

•  Another proposed project that has been many years in the making has come to an end. Anastasi Development Co. LLC is in the process of selling the large property that it owns at Seaward and Harbor Blvd.

After years of public input and city review, officials approved plans in 2010 for 138 condominiums with some retail space. Later on Anastasi reduced the units to 86 town homes.

As usual in such cases, Anastasi is blaming the City for delays in their decision to sell the property. City says that they just never listened to its concerns so Anatasi never submitted plans that would obtain approvals.

It’s unfortunate that once again a piece of property that has been vacant for many years will sit for many, many more .

Hopefully, the future property owner’s will want to develop condominiums there. I think that there is a great need for more condominiums in Ventura as the cost of single family residences just keep rising.

•  It’s sad that Ventura keeps losing some of its ionic businesses due to various factors. Included are Tipps Thai, TLC and Avenue Hardware.

•  I want to thank the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging for giving the Ventura Breeze their 2017 Optimal Aging Champion Award Age-Friendly Media Award. (see article in this issue). It means a lot to all of us at the Breeze to be recognized for all of the effort that we put in celebrating and educating our senor population (people like me).

Vol. 10, No. 17 – May 24 – June 6, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I sincerely thank all of you who have reached out to my wife Diane and I regarding the loss of Scamp. We have received emails, phone calls and even sympathy cards in the mail. Many of them came from people who have never met us or Scamp. This has meant a lot to us and we love you all for being so kind and understanding.

There are, obviously, a few minor changes to our revised Pet Page. We have all of the same wonderful pet information just without the comments from the Professor. I’m sure that you will still enjoy reading it.

•  In our last issue, a reader complained that there were too many ads, so I thought I would give a lesson in Newspaper Publishing 101. The industry standard is there should be an equal amount of ads and editorial (50%-50%), especially so when the paper is free. Because we manage to keep our overhead down, we don’t need to quite meet this criteria. In the last issue we had about 37% ads. In order to keep to about 40% ads this issue has expanded to 28 pages. This is our first 28-page issue.

Ashley Bautista and officer Jeff Wojnarowski were also guests telling us about the Ventura Police Department.

So, we all need to thank our advertisers for their great support, which allows us to distribute our beloved newspaper every two weeks. Pleas show your support by frequenting our advertisers.

•  It’s not very often I would complement a utility company, but Edison is great at telling its customers when they will have a temporary black-out. Informed me by email, regular mail and phone message.

•  I want to remind you that The Ventura Chamber of Commerce will hold its Spring Carnival Business Expo on May 25 from 4:30-7:30pm. The event will be held at the Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort.

The hotel’s ballroom will be filled with over 75 exhibitors, including restaurants (with food), businesses, and services, showcasing the best of what Ventura has to offer. The Ventura Chamber’s popular, twice-yearly expo is free and open to the public.

As always, our booth will be right next to the food, so be sure to come say hello and grab a snack.

•  I don’t enjoy many comedians and maybe this recent experience is why. Flipping through channels, “comedian” Kevin Hart was just coming on, so I decided to watch for a few minutes. It was an amazing stage with flames shooting up from the floor. He opened by saying, “I’m Kevin Hart, do you like my flames?” And the crowd roared with laughter. Maybe I need to learn to laugh more easily, so that I can find this type of banter funny.

•  Six developers have been invited by the City Council to submit proposals to build housing and provide services for veterans in Ventura. This project would be on City owned property next to the current Veterans Home of California on Telephone Rd.

Karyl Lynn Burns and Brian McDonald were recent guests on my KPPQFM104.1 radio show talking about the Rubicon Theatre Company. The show airs at 10am Mon., Wed, Fri. and, other random times each week.

The six were chosen from 13 companies that had responded to developing the 9.5 acres.

Councilmembers Cheryl Heitmann and Jim Monahan were selected to work on this project. They will work with City staff and consultants in developing the formal request for proposal (RFP). As part of the request, the submission must include audited financials to ensure the developer is solid (I hope this is to prevent what happened with the closing of Brook’s Institute). Councilmember Monahan was instrumental in having the Veterans Home of California constructed.

A measure passed by state voters in 2014 set aside $600 million for multifamily housing for veterans, with at least half of that going to those with very low incomes. The City hopes to secure some of these funds.

•  Local event organizers were shocked when hearing that Ventura was raising fees and increasing insurance requirements when hosting a concert or other gatherings in the city. Thankfully, in response, the City Council put the changes on temporary hold and asked for input from those wanting to promote events.

The proposed charges were based on the expected size of the event, whether alcohol is served and other considerations. It also raises the insurance requirement, which has been in place for more than 30 years (so this might be warranted).

I hope the Council realizes how important our (typically held outside) concerts and events are to Ventura and doesn’t price promoters out of the City.

In fact, I think the City should do everything possible to bring in even more events. The Promenade should be filled with musicians, entertainers, and vendors every weekend.

•  Amazingly, it has been almost 16-months since the City red-tagged a portion of the historic Pierpont Inn. The owner, Irvine-based DKN Hotels, started a remodel of the lobby-restaurant area without the required permits, which Included removing some bearing posts and walls. They should have known better.

The Inn is still functioning nicely with a small registration area and the restaurant is still open (contrary to what the VC Star reported) with an entrance in the rear of the hotel. And the rooms have been remodeled.

The delay in moving forward with required permits and construction is costing the owner about $1,300 per day in City fines.

I understand that final plans have been submitted to obtain permits and get the construction going.

Vol. 10, No. 16 – May 10 – May 23, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I know that I have written a little about this but actually making the decision that Scamp’s life no longer had any meaning to him was one of the most difficult and agonizing decisions (and writing this) that I have ever had to make. Fortunately, I didn’t need to make it alone.

We basically kept Scamp alive for several weeks by spoon feeding him, but he was drinking water, still walking around and still smiling at us which is what kept us continuing his life. Was it for his sake or ours, I hope his.

But, on April 28th we decided that he is time was up. Called the vet (Ventura Veterinary Hospital) and took him in on Saturday.  I went in while Diane stayed in the car with Scamp. A young lady that works there came out to speak to Diane who started to cry and then the young lady started to cry.  I asked her do you cry every time and she said “yes”.

I did feel comfort right then in knowing that they would be so caring towards him.

We took him into the examining room and were given a few choices to make.  The first one was do we want to be with him when they put him to sleep.  They explained that he would be given an IV and then the fatal shot.  We decided to say goodbye in the exam room knowing that he would have several compassionate ladies with him petting him and saying goodbye. And our last thoughts of him wanted to be of him still looking at us with his cow eyes.

The other decision was did we want him to be cremated individually so that we could have only his ashes or cremated with 400 other animals.  We decided that (need to stop for a moment because I’m crying) he would like to be with other animals, so we made that decision.

While lying on the exam table unable to get up, he suddenly stood, stared (taking another pause) at Diane then stared at me and laid back down to never get up again. I’d like to think that he was saying goodbye.

It is now been nine days and our large house still feels empty without this 20 pound hairy (he had hair and not fur) little guy.  I still look at the bed with our cat, Savana, in it and then look for Scamp who isn’t there.  Or, I’ll look down at the floor while eating and he isn’t there either. I’m sure that will eventually stop to some degree.

I, again, want to thank all of you for your kind words, emails, prayers and cards. They have really helped make it easier for us.

The next question, is, of course, is we will be getting another dog?  That decision will be 100% up to Diane because she is the one that takes care of our pets.  I’m like a grandpa and hand them to her when they need their diapers changed, bathes (or fleas removed).

•  The Ventura County Star has announced that the Los Angeles Times will soon start printing the VC Star beginning with the July 12 edition. The Star will be closing their printing facility.

The Star stated, “The cost-cutting move comes as The Star, like newspapers across the country, continues to grapple with declining advertising revenue.”

Well – we must be doing something right as this issue contains our largest number of ads to date. I want to thank our readers, advertisers and especially our great account rep, Breezy Gledhill, for making that possible. And, of course all of the other people who continuously work hard on each issue.

The funny thing is that the Star gave us a printing quote a few years ago. Just imagine if we had accepted – the headline would have been,  “The LA Times’ stock jumped 11% since it was announced that they would be printing the Ventura Breeze.”

•  In our last issue we had an article about the planting of a new tree at Two Trees (funny why that is capitalized). We have had some emails and a call disputing some of the facts of just how many trees are up there and when they were planted and cut down. Were there 5 in ???? and 2 in???? and 15 in ????. So, maybe some of the numbers were wrong but is it at all important? The important thing is the new tree replaces the dead one and we got that right!

•  An exciting find. A team of astronomers says they have sited a super-earth called GJ1132b that might be capable of sustaining life and it is “only“ 39 light years away. Before you get too excited and buy a ticket to visit, that is “only” 229,266,396,108,687 miles away.

•  I have had four shows on my new radio show (on KPPQ-LP 104.1FM). The show airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am and a bunch of other times during the week that I don’t know about. 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. I haven’t aired a new show because I have had a viral cough for several weeks which makes it tough to host a radio show. And the meds wiped me out, but made me happy. You can listen to the shows at www.venturabreeze.com “Face Of Ventura”.

•  In his first 100 days in office, the Trump’s have spent $30 million on traveling expenses. It’s nice to know that they now have funds available to start taking some vacations.

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.