Category Archives: City News

The demand for professional first responders can exceed availability

Local residents graduate from CERT training.

After over six weeks of emergency response training, 40 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) students participated in their final practical exercise, a simulated earthquake with multiple victims. They practices lifting vehicles, putting out fires, triaging the injured, and managing an incident.

In the aftermath of a major disaster, the demand for professional first responders can exceed availability. We are so grateful these Ventura and Santa Paula residents are more prepared and feel confident taking action.

This program equips residents with essential knowledge about potential local disasters and how to safely, swiftly, and responsibly respond. Participants will learn how to reduce fire hazards, set up medical treatment areas, assist responders, conduct light search and rescue, and more!

Completing the CERT program requires 24 hours of training and each graduate will receive a certificate of completion, a manual, and a CERT disaster start-up pack containing a helmet, gloves, vest, and safety goggles.

After several months of wild weather and natural disasters, the city of Ventura is re-instituting their program called the Community Emergency Response Team.

It’s a free program that trains civilians to respond to emergency situations before, or in place of, first responders, such as assessing the level of trauma, applying tourniquets, CPR, putting out fires and more. It’s the first time the C.E.R.T. course has been offered since COVID-19 shut it down.

Ventura Police Department Mac Douglas said they received 93 applications for the course, showing that the community wants this kind of education.

“The fact of the matter is when we have a major incident, our first responders, as good as they are, are going to be overwhelmed,” Douglas said. “So, the community needs to take more of a responsibility for their own preparedness and supporting themselves and their neighbors.”

Ventura introduces enhanced permit counter and services for streamlined project development

The City of Ventura is stepping up its permit services with a new centralized permit center located at Room 117 at City Hall following the success of Ventura Online Permit Services (Ventura OPS) introduced in 2021. This upgrade demonstrates Ventura’s commitment to simplifying the permit process and offering personalized assistance to meet the needs of each project.

“These improvements underscore our commitment to modernizing services as we strive to enhance customer experience and satisfaction,” remarked Mayor Joe Schroeder. “With the updated permit counter at City Hall, we are dedicated to meeting the evolving needs of our community, making the permit process more efficient and user-friendly, and ensuring easier access to City staff for questions and information.”

The recent enhancement to permit services introduces online appointment booking for all permitting needs, such as building, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing services. Customers, businesses, and contractors can effortlessly schedule appointments online to address permit or development inquiries with Permit Services, Building and Safety, Ventura Water, Fire Prevention, Land Development, and Planning. This streamlined process simplifies departmental reviews and ensures individuals receive real-time updates and seamless communication with city staff.

Since the inception of Ventura OPS three years ago, the City of Ventura has seen a significant increase in permit distribution. The number of permits has risen from 4,821 in 2021 to a projected 6,600+ in 2024, reflecting a growth rate of approximately 36.9%. Additionally, with the creation of Insta Permits, tailored for express and solar projects, the permit process has been streamlined by automating issuance upon submission and payment. This increase underscores the steadfast dedication to streamlining the permit process.

“The improvements in our centralized permit center go beyond being fast and efficient; they’re about making the process smooth and supportive for every project, big or small,” said Rachel Dimond, Community Development Director. “Clients can now schedule appointments, choose specific permit categories, and work with planners focused on meeting their individual needs during their appointment.”

Effective Monday, April 1, new walk-in hours for the permit center’s public counter are Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 pm. While walk-in hours are available, it is recommended that applicants schedule appointments in advance for a seamless experience. For more details, visit the City’s Permit Services webpage at www.cityofventura.ca.gov/Permits or call 805-654-7869.

City of Ventura appoints Charles “Charlie” Ebeling as new Public Works Director

Ebeling has over 15 years of experience as a public works director.

The City of Ventura is pleased to announce the appointment of Charles “Charlie” Ebeling as its new Public Works Director, effective April 1, 2024, following an extensive selection process. Mr. Ebeling brings a wealth of experience and expertise in roadway and bridge design, traffic engineering, and transportation planning to his new role.

With over 15 years of experience as a public works director and nearly 27 years of engineering experience in both the private and public sectors, Mr. Ebeling’s leadership has been instrumental in delivering significant transportation projects in his previous roles at the City of Goleta and the City of Carpinteria.

“We are thrilled to welcome Charlie Ebeling to our City’s leadership team,” said City Manager Bill Ayub. “With the City of Ventura’s rich history spanning over 150 years, our aging infrastructure presents unique challenges. Charlie’s extensive experience and innovative approaches will be invaluable as we address these issues and continue to enhance and maintain our public infrastructure for the benefit of our community.”

A native of Santa Barbara, Mr. Ebeling received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from California State University Chico. He holds credentials as a Professional Engineer and Traffic Engineer and is a Certified Master Technician through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

“I am honored to join the City of Ventura as its new Public Works Director,” said Charlie Ebeling. “I look forward to collaborating with the talented team here and working closely with the community to address our infrastructure needs and enhance the quality of life for residents.”

The City of Ventura’s Public Works Department is accredited by the American Public Works Association (APWA) and is responsible for overseeing the City’s capital improvement program, floodplain management, engineering survey, environmental sustainability, fleet and facilities, and transportation engineering.

As Public Works Director, Mr. Ebeling will earn a base salary of $246,973.00 annually.

Ventura PD officers honored for saving a life.

Officers Veronica Ross and Nick Nunez were dispatched to the fifth story of the hospital parking structure to check the well-being of an individual seated on the top floor ledge. They saw him leaning over the edge and wasted no time quickly leaping towards him to pull him back before he slipped entirely off the edge.

Nick and Veronica were honored as our 2023 Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officers of the Year for their patience, skill, and compassion in de-escalating crises and ensuring community safety.

City of Ventura announces Carlene Saxton as the new Assistant City Manager

Ms. Saxton is also the President of Women Leading Government.

Carlene Saxton has been selected as the new Assistant City Manager after an extensive national recruitment process, with her start date set for April 15, 2024. Ms. Saxton brings diverse experience in private and public sectors, focusing on community planning and economic development.

Ms. Saxton joins the City of Ventura after serving as the City of Moorpark’s Community Development Director. She was previously the Economic and Community Development Director for the City of Palmdale.

“We are excited to bring a dynamic leader to our executive team with a demonstrated commitment to fostering positive relationships and understanding the pulse of communities,” shared City Manager Bill Ayub. “Ms. Saxton has a proven track record for streamlining government processes and bolstering economic vitality, which we believe will help contribute to the City’s sustainable growth and long-term needs. Additionally, her extensive experience in community development further strengthens our team’s ability to address housing and development.”

Ms. Saxton holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Valparaiso University and a master’s in development and planning from University College London. Spearheading groundbreaking initiatives, including comprehensive General Plan Updates, Zoning Code Revisions, and pivotal large-scale development projects, Ms. Saxton also instigated district establishment for tourism and enhanced infrastructure financing.

Ms. Saxton is also the President of Women Leading Government, helping women succeed in public service by enhancing career-building models that develop leadership skills and networking professional women in government.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve the City of Ventura as its Assistant City Manager,” said Saxton. “I am deeply passionate about public service and empowering connections with our community to collaborate and drive positive change for the future and our residents.”

The Assistant City Manager will support daily operations and manage highly complex administrative support for the City Manager’s Office and City Council members. Learn more about the City’s leadership team at www.cityofventura.ca.gov/Leadership.

Water General Manager’s Message

by Gina Dorrington

It can be said that when it rains in Ventura, it pours. This rainy season has given us another set of challenges here at Ventura Water. Water and wastewater crews worked 24-hour shifts responding to broken water lines and increased flows in the sewer system. Thanks to one concerned resident, we were alerted to an exposed water line and were able to isolate the line without service interruption. We also lent support to our Public Works coworkers, cleaning debris, and pumping down flooded areas. The best part is you probably didn’t even know it. This is the goal, so that our customers rarely experience disruptions. No matter what obstacles we encounter, Ventura Water’s purpose stays the same; to provide local, reliable, and quality service for all generations.

We are guided by four quality standards: Safety, Reliability, Professionalism, and Stewardship. These are demonstrated routinely by the Ventura Water team, and it is an honor to work with them. One of our teams, the Sewer Collections Department, was honored this past month with the California Water Environment Association (CWEA) Tri-Counties Section Collection System of the Year Award and has been nominated for the State level award. The dedication is so great with this team that when the awards ceremony was held, half of the team was out clearing debris from a pump station that had been inundated by high surf events.

City of Ventura names Rachel Dimond as new Community Development Director

Dimond joined the City of Ventura in May 2023

Following an extensive recruitment process, Rachel Dimond has been appointed as the Community Development Director, effective February 17, 2024. Dimond has been serving in the interim director role since the end of 2023.

Ms. Dimond joined the City of Ventura in May 2023 as the Interim Assistant Community Development Director and has since demonstrated exceptional leadership, overseeing various planning projects including major hotel, mixed-use, and residential developments.

“Drawing from a diverse planning background that extends from the State of Colorado to Southern California, Rachel brings over 20 years of industry insight and a wealth of knowledge to the role,” stated Ventura City Manager Bill Ayub. “Her expertise in urban planning, addressing both long-term strategies and immediate objectives, will be instrumental in fulfilling the City’s developmental requirements for residents, businesses, and community collaborators.”

Prior to joining the City, Ms. Dimond held the position of Assistant City Manager for the City of Compton and played senior planning roles in the City of West Hollywood. Dimond holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from The George Washington University and a Master of Urban Planning degree from New York University.

Over the past three years, the Community Development Department has made significant contributions to several important City Council goals. This includes drafting the 2021-2029 Housing Element, updating the Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance, establishing an expanded Permit Services Division and Housing Services Division, supporting commercial cannabis applications, enhancing the historic preservation process, and initiating the General Plan Update process.

The Community Development Department is responsible for planning and zoning, building and safety, code enforcement, housing, and redevelopment for the City of Ventura. It ensures that new construction and additions to existing structures meet the policies and guidelines established for public safety, zoning, and development.

With 45 full-time employees and an annual operating budget of over $15.4 million, the department also works closely with various City commissions and committees that help guide and advise the City Council regarding development in Ventura.

For more information about the City’s Community Development Department, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/CD.

 

Ventura Fire to host public Wildfire Preparedness Town Hall

The Ventura Fire Department, in partnership with the Ventura County Wildfire Collaborative, will host a free, public town hall to discuss wildfire preparedness on Thursday, March 7, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room at City Hall, located at 501 Poli Street in Ventura.

The town hall will cover a wide variety of preparedness topics, including wildfire risk in the City of Ventura, Fire Hazard Reduction Program guidelines, defensible space and home hardening tips, home ignition zone assessments, wildfire home insurance, and information about the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Firewise community certification process.

“Fire safety is a shared responsibility, and an engaged and prepared community is our strongest defense against the threat of wildfires. We are thrilled to partner with the Wildfire Collaborative in providing a town hall for a two-way dialogue with our residents,” said Fire Chief David Endaya. “We want to work together to strengthen our community’s resilience and protect what matters most.”

Agencies presenting at the event will include the Ventura Fire Department, Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council, Southern California Edison, and the California Department of Insurance.

“Collaboration is at the heart of effective wildfire preparedness. By working together with organizations like the Ventura Fire Department, we amplify our impact and empower communities to take meaningful action,” said Mason Thurmond, Program Lead for the Ventura County Wildfire Collaborative. “The Ventura County Resource Conservation District is proud to play a role in fostering a resilient and well-informed community through the work of the Ventura County Wildfire Collaborative.”

In addition to speakers, a variety of booths and community outreach materials will be provided by the California Office of Emergency Services, American Red Cross, and the Ventura Land Trust.

Live streaming and Spanish interpretation will also be available.

For all event information, please visit CityofVentura.ca.gov/FireTownHall. To learn more about emergency preparedness in the City of Ventura, visit CityofVentura.ca.gov/EmergencyPreparedness.

Applications open for Community Partnerships and Cultural Funding Grants

Applications are now being accepted for the City of Ventura’s Community Partnerships Granting Program (CPGP) and Cultural Funding Granting Program (CFGP). Both grant programs were developed to support nonprofit organizations that provide services to Ventura residents.

“These grants, administered by the Parks and Recreation Department, support our local social service, arts, and cultural nonprofit groups who work hard to serve the many unique needs of Ventura residents,” said Recreation Manager Emily Fox.

The Community Partnerships Granting Program, developed in 1998, is available to 501(c)(3) social service organizations located in Ventura County. $140,000 is awarded on a competitive basis, with project-based grants ranging in size from $1,000 to $20,000 in a two-year cycle during the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 fiscal years.

The Cultural Funding Grant Program, developed in 1993, is available to Ventura-based nonprofit arts and cultural organizations with 501(c)(3) status or that have a Ventura County fiscal agent with 501(c)(3) status. $90,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis, with grants supporting projects, initiatives, and general operating expenses ranging in size from $1,000 to $20,000 in a one-year cycle during the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

Applications for both grants are due by 5:00 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, February 27, 2024. For more information including grant guidelines, eligibility requirements, and applications, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/Grants.

Additionally, the City of Ventura’s Special Event Grant Program (SEGP) will be opening in early Spring 2024. This year’s SEGP will include an additional $150,000 in one-time funding to support free and affordable community events in the City of Ventura. This grant will be available to nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) status or that have a Ventura County fiscal agent with 501(c)(3) status, including recipients of grant funding from the Community Partnerships and Cultural Funding Grant Programs. More information will be available on the City’s website in early March 2024.

Ventura Awarded $640,000 Grant for Homelessness Prevention Program

The City of Ventura has received a significant boost in its efforts to combat homelessness with the recent allocation of a homeless housing, assistance, and prevention-round four state grant from the California Interagency Council on Homelessness. The grant, totaling $640,000, includes $96,000 earmarked to assist transitional-age youth between 18-24 years old.

“The City has made strategic investments in various areas to create meaningful outcomes for individuals facing homelessness,” said Ventura Mayor Joe Schroeder. “We’ve bolstered our affordable housing inventory by 250 units and allocated over $1.5 million to combat homelessness. This grant funding will amplify our endeavors, empowering us to extend crucial assistance to our community’s most vulnerable populations, thereby ensuring they possess the necessary resources to obtain and sustain secure housing.”

The funding will be utilized to establish a robust homeless prevention and diversion program aimed at providing vital rental and utility assistance to individuals and families. By supporting these households, the program aims to help people maintain their permanent housing and ultimately reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in the community.

The urgency of this initiative is underscored by recent data indicating an increase in homelessness within Ventura. According to the 2023 Point-in-Time Count, there are 644 individuals experiencing homelessness in the City of Ventura, though this figure represents only a portion of the total affected population over the course of a year.

Ventura County 2-1-1, a key resource for housing assistance, has reported a significant rise in calls for aid, with over 380 calls originating from residents within the City of Ventura in 2022 alone. This upward trend highlights the critical need for proactive measures to address homelessness in the City.

“Effectively addressing homelessness demands a comprehensive strategy that integrates supportive services with tailored interventions,” expressed Leona Rollins, Housing Services Manager at the City of Ventura. “Through collaborative efforts with the County and numerous community partners, we allocate resources to fund a range of initiatives and programs, encompassing case management, housing navigation services, street outreach, and our vital emergency shelter program.”

With the grant funding secured, the City is poised to launch a comprehensive two-year pilot program under the Homeless Prevention and Diversion initiative. The program aims to serve at least 100 eligible households, providing up to $4,000 in financial assistance to each household to help them maintain their permanent housing.

For more information on the City of Ventura’s Housing Services Division and its initiatives, please visit: www.cityofventura.ca.gov/HousingServices