Open space usage debate – Part one

What’s a voter to do?
by Sheli Ellsworth

In November, Ventura County voters will decide how they want to promulgate their open space kingdom. Is NIMBY-ism a bad thing? Should Ventura County become an extension of the San Fernando Valley? Depends on whom you ask.

In the VC Star, Columnist Joe Mathews espouses that the princes and princesses of Ventura County are immature about questions of growth. “If a county wants to protect open space from development, great. But it must be compelled to open gates in its walls wide enough to bring more progressive development into the Kingdom.” Mathews claims that open space initiatives “. . . drive dense, multifamily development into urban cores . . .” He blames SOAR for Ventura County’s choking traffic, high housing prices and economic slump. He is supported by a governor who wants to, “exempt many urban housing developments from local review.” Mathews also seems to think that San Fernando Valley’s housing and traffic problems are caused by Ventura County’s SOAR, and without SOAR all of the valley could live like______. Voters must fill in the blank.

Assistant professor of economics at CSU, Jared Barton is also against both SOAR and SUSTAIN VC’s Measure F. Barton writes that geography alone protects Ventura County from overcrowding. From the VCS, “ . . . 80 percent of the land in this county isn’t buildable. Open space will still be there.” Barton doesn’t think that Ventura County Voters (many of whom are property owners) should get to vote on how the land is used. “It’s like if all the grocery store owners in a town got to vote on whether a new grocery store could go into business, of course everyone would vote ‘no,’”  he said in an interview.

Barton feels that healthy economics should decide on the best use of the land, and that because farming in Ventura County is subsidized by lower water rates, it is not the best use of the resource or the land. Barton writes that if voters are worried about housing and environmental issues without SOAR then the answer is, “. . . pricing the use of water and roads at the true cost to society (charging all water users the same, scarcity-based price and charging drivers for the traffic and air pollution to which they contribute), not restricting housing.”

Neither Mathews nor Barton own property in Ventura County.

Part two in Oct.26 issue



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