∙ The Ventura City Council has extended the closure of downtown Main Street (and California St.) to vehicles until June, 2024. It is also considering ways to make the Main Street Moves closing program permanent.
Still to be considered the negatively affected businesses and the heavy costs to the city to upgrade the closed streets to make them more pedestrian friendly and attractive. The city will also consider establishing fees for businesses so that the street can be permanently closed after 2024.
The few merchants that we have interviewed are very happy with the closures and visitors to downtown seem to be very satisfied as well and like the outside patio dining.
The program started during the pandemic to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly on five blocks of Main St. (from San Buenaventura Mission to Fir St. and one block of S. California St. (between Main and Santa Clara).
The city will also consider establishing fees for businesses so that the street can be permanently closed.
To make upgrades to the streets, such as replacing the pavement with pavers, adding fountains and landscape areas would be extremely expensive but wonderful. Hopefully some grant money will be available to accomplish this.
∙ Every year, the city council considers a five-year capital improvement plan.
The 2023-27 plan outlines 127 projects totaling $929 million. $495 million worth of priority projects have funding allocations while $434 million are unfunded. Improvements to sidewalks, golf courses and the wastewater treatment plant are some of the top priorities approved by the council.
Seven projects, to divert treated wastewater to a new advanced water purification facility are in the plan. The water purification facility will treat the water to ensure it meets drinking water standards, inject it into a local groundwater basin for storage and later deliver the water to Venturans. To me this is a top priority issue. This is a huge amount of water that is now dumped into the ocean. I know that convincing people that drinking water that was once wastewater will take some doing but is well worth the effort.
∙ We have a new city attorney – Andy Heglund – who was unanimously approved by the city council. The council hires (and fires) the city attorney and city manager. He will be paid $237,000 (plus other benefits) in annual salary. He was selected out of 14 candidates considered by the council.
∙ The Village Carousel & Arcade, located in the Ventura Harbor Village, is now gone. Taking over the space will be Aarmark Beer Gardens who will serve food and have more current games for kids (and adults) to enjoy. Their opening will take quite a while to happen.
Tristan Thames, co-owner with his mother Sharon Thames of the Village Carousel & Arcade, said it was not his choice to close the business that has been here since the 1980’s. The space has been rented from the Ventura Port District.
I’m sorry that they couldn’t keep it open but truthfully it was in desperate need of major refurbishing. New paint, flooring, lighting, and more current games that today’s youths are interested in playing.
∙ The Ventura Chamber of Commerce has moved their offices from City Hall to 2478 E. Main St. I think this is a good move. Visiting their offices in city hall was a little intimidating for some people, so stop on by to meet them.
Speaking of the chamber, their Spring Business Expo is back after several years of not happening because of Covid. The event will be on May 12, from 4:00 – 6:30pm at the Four Points Sheraton, 1050 Schooner Dr. The Breeze will have a booth there (right by the food of course) so come say hello. Meet over 70 chamber member business exhibitors, enjoy great food and great company.
∙ The Ventura Police Department issued 21 citations for a variety of violations made by drivers during a bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement operation on April 12, 2022.
“Safety is a shared responsibility, with drivers holding the greatest responsibility to keep other road users safe,” said Officer Chris Wilson. “We hope this education and enforcement operation serves as a reminder to our community to look out for one another on the road.”
Drivers were contacted and cited for violations. Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk was the primary violation.
I know this is important, but I think just as important is ticketing pedestrians who walk across the street when the red “don’t walk” is displayed. In fact, this can be even more dangerous. How many times have you been downtown (especially prior to the closing to vehicles) when you legally make a right turn and there are pedestrians illegally crossing the street that you have almost run into?
∙ In our police reports column there is some information about an arrest on “three counts of attempted murder with a firearm as well as possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.” Glandros was currently out on bail for charges of possession of an unlawful weapon and also for assault with a deadly weapon with a firearm. Whatever happened to “3-strikes your out” and you stay in jail?
∙ Gary Wilde, 66, has announced his retirement as CEO of Community Memorial Hospital. He had been considering retirement but held off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He felt it was too important for him to leave during COVID. It is a very important, stressful position. He hopes to stay until a new CEO can be hired.
∙ Amazon has opened a major fulfillment center in Oxnard. When fully operational, the 2.3 million-square-foot (good grief) facility will be able to process about 2 million packages a week.
It will employ about 2,500 workers. About 60% of the workforce is made up of Oxnard residents, 10% are Ventura residents and about 5% are from Camarillo so it will help the local economy.
∙ They have been exonerated but when Mayor Sofia Rubalcava, Councilmembers Joe Schroeder, Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios, Lorrie Brown and Doug Halter traveled to the nation’s capital as part of the National League of Cities Conference they broke the Brown Act. Together they made up a majority of council members, which violated the Brown Act by speaking about city issues to other elected officials and their staff without giving public notice.
The Brown Act prohibits a majority of members of a legislative body from communicating or taking action on an item outside of an open, public meeting with some exceptions. The lack of public notice in Washington constitutes a violation of the state’s open meeting law.
“The City Council members that did attend those meetings were well-intentioned but inadvertently violated the Brown Act by attending in a majority,” City Attorney Heglund said. “However, no decisions were made during those meetings.”
Tony Wold, senior Deputy District Attorney with the public integrity unit in Ventura County, said, “Our office will not be taking any action because no decisions were made. The violation was inadvertent, and the council affirmed their intent to comply with the act going forward as required.”