Category Archives: City News

City Manager put on administrative leave

Alex McIntyre has served as the City Manager of the City of Ventura since November 2018.

The Ventura City Council has announced that City Manager Alex D. McIntyre has been placed on administrative leave pending Council direction on a private personnel matter.

Even though the reason was not stated it is assumed that it is because in March some members of the City Council took a trip to Washington D.C. for legislative matters. Council members on the trip violated the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law, by holding meetings without proper notification and agenda publication. In a separate September 2021 trip, McIntyre used his state-issued credit card to pay for dinner and wine for eight people during a business trip to Sacramento.

Alex McIntyre has served as the City Manager of the City of Ventura since November 2018. Prior to his position at Ventura, McIntyre served as the City Manager of Menlo Park from 2012-2018. He served as the City Manager of Lake Oswego in Oregon from 2008-2012. He also served as the Chief Assistant County Administrator with the County of Marin from 2006-2008, and before that he was Town manager of Tiburon from 2000-2006. He also served as Town Manager of Portola Valley from 1997-2000. Alex holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine.

City Attorney Andy Heglund announced McIntyre’s status “pending council direction on a private personnel matter.”

Assistant City Manager Akbar Alikhan was selected to serve as the acting city manager.

City announces new acting Community Development Director

Ms. Zayer has demonstrated a broad range of industry knowledge.

The City of Ventura announced that Neda Zayer has been selected to serve as the acting Community Development Director, effective November 15, 2022. Zayer will succeed Peter Gilli, who came to Ventura in June 2019. Neda Zayer has served as the City’s Assistant Community Development Director since September 2019.

“Mr. Gilli has led the department through unprecedented challenges, transitioning permits online in response to the pandemic, advancing recommendations to improve the development review process, and tackling state-issued mandates like the housing element and land use requirements,” said City Manager Alex D. McIntyre. “Peter brought many valuable initiatives forward in his time with us, and wish him all the best in his next endeavor.”

In the last three years, the Community Development Department has contributed to many important City Council goals. This includes drafting the 2021-2029 Housing Element, adopting an updated Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance, creating an expanded Permit Services Division and the Housing Services Division, supporting the City’s commercial cannabis applications, improving the historic preservation process, and launching 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. The department also works closely with various City commissions and committees that help guide and advise the City Council regarding development in Ventura. Community Development has 45 full-time employees and an annual operating budget of over $15.4 million.

“Ms. Zayer has been with the City for three years and demonstrated a broad range of industry knowledge, professional experience, and an inclusive approach that will complement the right blend of skills needed for the next chapter of our Community Development Department,” said McIntyre. “Neda’s leadership style in supporting the organization as well as our residents, businesses, and community partners is a tremendous asset for the City during this transition time.”

The Draft Climate Action and Resilience Plan is posted for community members to review

After receiving extensive feedback, ideas, and input from community members and stakeholders, the draft Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP) has been released and is available online for public review on www.planventura.com.

The City of Ventura’s CARP creates a roadmap aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare the community for potential impacts of climate change. This includes improving energy and water efficiency, reducing pollution, lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and adapting to a changing climate. The CARP also addresses State requirements of reducing GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels per Senate Bill (SB) 32.

The drafted CARP incorporated feedback from stakeholder meetings, public workshops, and surveys to develop a plan that reflects the values and vision of the community to address climate change and find effective solutions towards energy efficiency,” said Community Development Director Peter Gilli.

The City of Ventura currently has robust programs dedicated to energy efficiency and emissions reductions. Recently, the City established its Food Waste Recycling Program, in compliance of Senate Bill (SB) 1383, with the goal of diverting organic waste from landfills and reducing GHG emissions. Additionally, the City of Ventura works directly with local businesses and schools to improve resource efficiency and implement waste reduction practices.

The City of Ventura joined 29 other cities in offering clean, renewable energy by the Clean Power Alliance (CPA) in February 2018 to its residents. The City of Ventura also embarked on its Energy Action Plan to establish energy reduction targets, increase energy efficiency, and lower Greenhouse Gas emissions.

The draft CARP is available to review until December 12, 2022. Please submit comments through the contact form on the City’s General Plan website at www.planventura.com or share by email at planventura@cityofventura.ca.gov.

City approves applicants for commercial cannabis business permits 

Cannabis stores are clean professionally designed retail businesses.

The Ventura City Manager Alex D. McIntyre selected the finalists for the City’s first round of commercial cannabis permits. The three retail businesses that have been conditionally awarded permits are Responsible and Compliant Retail Ventura, located at 1890 East Main Street; TAT Ventura, located at 2835 E Main Street; and ZASA, located at 4591 Market Street. The only industrial applicant in the process has been awarded to Ventura’s Finest, located at 3037 Golf Course Drive.

“The City embarked on an extensive evaluation process that included feedback from an outside consulting group, staff, and community members. All applications were carefully reviewed to allow for responsible commercial business operations in our community,” said City Manager Alex D. McIntyre. “This is an extremely regulated area. These businesses were selected because they provided thorough neighborhood compatibility, security, and safety plans. They also demonstrated a strong desire to be responsible partners that would invest in community groups and local organizations.”

Once operating, all cannabis businesses are subject to regular inspections, audits, and monitoring. City staff, the Ventura Police Department, and State regulators will collaborate to safeguard the community and ensure all local and state requirements are met. All cannabis retailers must check IDs and ensure customers are 21 years of age or older (18 or over if a medical patient). Cannabis businesses must be at least 600 feet from an elementary, middle, or high school. Permits are renewed annually and can be revoked if a business does not conform to the terms of its permit or comply with the City’s ordinance.

In November 2020, voters approved a ballot measure for the taxation of cannabis in the City of Ventura. City Council approved an ordinance on February 24, 2021, and authorized the City Manager to initially grant up to five retail storefront or non-storefront cannabis permits and 10 industrial permits.

The City’s rigorous, merit-based application process opened in August 2021 with 25 retail and one distribution applications. In April 2022, nine finalists were selected by City staff and an outside consulting group using combined criteria of business ownership, neighborhood compatibility, community benefits, investment plans, and proposed locations, among other criteria. The finalists participated in a public meeting in July 2022, where community members shared input on applicants and the proposed locations.

Three of the five retail cannabis permits were included in the City’s first round of applications. The other two retail permits will open after the California Coastal Commission decides if cannabis businesses will also be permitted to operate in the City’s Coastal Zone. The final two retail permits will be considered Citywide and not limited to the Coastal Zone.

Cannabis businesses are expected to generate between $600,000 to $700,000 in revenue to fund City services in the first full year of operation by June 30, 2024.

For more information on the City’s cannabis regulations or the application process, visit www.CityofVentura.ca.gov/Cannabis.

Apply to join a city board, commission, or committee

The City of Ventura invites residents to get involved in decisions that impact the community. There are currently 10 openings across several City boards, commissions, and committees. These positions assist and advise the City Council on various programs and projects. All applications are due by Friday, November 9, 2022, at 5:30 p.m.

There are four openings on the Local Construction Appeals Board. This seven-member advisory board meets annually in January with additional meetings as needed. The board decides on appeals made by the Building Official or Fire Marshal relative to the application and interpretation of the City’s building requirements.

There is one opening on the Mobile Home Rent Review Board. This five-member advisory board meets on the third Thursday of every quarter (February, May, August, and November) at 3:00 p.m. to receive, investigate, hold hearings on, and act on the issues relating to mobile home park rent stabilization.

There is one opening on the Historic Preservation Committee. This five-member committee meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. to make recommendations concerning the designation of historic districts, landmarks, sites, and points of interest significant to the heritage and development of the City’s Mills Act contracts. They also provide recommendations for applications affecting identified or potential historic resources.

There are three openings on the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee. This seven-member advisory committee meets on the third Thursday of the month at 3:00 p.m. to advise on parking management strategies and programs in the Downtown Parking District area. This includes capital budgets, hours of operations, parking pricing policies, valet programs, and employee commuter parking policies.

There is one opening on the Measure O Citizen Oversight Committee. Recruitment is open to residents who are not an employee or dependent of an employee for the City of Ventura. This seven-member committee meets quarterly on the first Tuesday of the month to review the projected revenues and recommended expenditures for the funds generated by Measure O. The committee also makes recommendations to the City Council as a part of the City’s budget process.

Vacancies occur either by the expiration of a term or resignations during the year. Per San Buenaventura Ordinance 2019-003, no citizen may serve on more than one committee, commission, or board. Dual appointments are not permitted.

For questions or to apply for a position, contact the City Clerk’s Office at (805) 658-4787 or email cityclerk@cityofventura.ca.gov. To learn more about the City’s boards, commissions, or committees, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/Recruitments.

Build a home fire escape plan

The Ventura Fire Department urges residents to build a home fire escape plan and start conversations about fire prevention with loved ones.

“Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape!” was the theme for the 100th anniversary of National Fire Prevention Week. This theme serves to help residents understand the simple, but important actions they can take to keep themselves safe from home fires.

“You may have as little as two minutes to safely escape a home fire. Your ability to get out fast depends on early warning from smoke alarms and advance planning,” said Fire Marshal Brett Reed. “During Fire Prevention Week, please check that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly, practice your home escape plan, and make sure your loved ones know how to quickly respond if an alarm sounds.”

In celebration of Fire Prevention Week the public is invited to download a home fire escape plan activity at www.CityofVentura.ca.gov/FirePreventionWeek, complete the activity with their household, and submit it for a chance to win an emergency go-kit and a visit with Ventura firefighters. Submit your completed home fire escape plan via email at K9Hope@cityofventura.ca.gov.

The Ventura Fire Department shares the following home fire escape plan tips:

Make sure your plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities. Visit www.VenturaCityFire.com to download the Ready Ventura County Emergency Preparedness Guide.

Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home.

Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.

Establish an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home.

Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and once at night.

To learn more about the fire prevention and Ventura Fire’s educational resources, visit www.CityofVentura.ca.gov/FirePrevention. For more general information about the National Fire Prevention Week, visit www.FPW.org.

General Manager’s Message

by Gina Dorrington Ventura Water

I am pleased to announce that Ventura Water customers continue to conserve at record levels. These efforts are helping to keep our local water supply sustainable. We appreciate our community members’ concerns for the City’s water resources and value the input you provide. We are fortunate to have skilled and knowledgeable staff that are just as passionate as you, and assess water supply and demands through various planning efforts including the annual Comprehensive Water Resources Report and the Urban Water Management Plan. These assessments consider new development projects and the anticipated increase in water demands and impact on water supply, to ensure a balanced and stable water future. We utilize additional tools to manage our water resources including the Water Shortage Event Contingency Plan and Water Waste Ordinance. You can learn more about these efforts at the Water Commission meetings held every fourth Tuesday of each month. A lot of work goes into ensuring a secure water supply for existing and future customers.

I had the privilege of being a panelist at the September 8th Forum on Ventura County’s Water Crisis and California’s Drought, hosted by Assemblymember Steve Bennett. This was a great opportunity to talk about Ventura’s water supply reliability and to showcase how conservation has allowed Ventura to meet its water demands. Many questions were submitted at this forum, as well as at other community meetings, regarding why the City allows development projects and how it impacts water supply.

The City’s Ventura Water and Community Development departments are working together to bring you those answers and assist in moving the City forward in the development of the General Plan. We plan to host a community workshop in mid-October to address the community’s concerns and provide more information on the City’s water neutral development policy and future water supply projects.

General Plan: Guiding the vision and future of Ventura for the next 30 years!

The General Plan provides the City with a comprehensive framework of guiding policies for land use, housing, roads, recreation, historical and natural resources, balance of adequate water supply infrastructure, public safety services, and serves as a basis for decisions that affect all aspects of our everyday lives from where we live and work to how we move about.  

In November 2020, the City launched the General Plan update process, and formed a 22-member advisory committee, known as the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC), which serves as a sounding board for the process. The GPAC is comprised of residents, business owners, educators, students, and other Ventura residents who represent a diverse cross-section of our community.   

To date, extensive outreach in English and Spanish along with a variety of tools and platforms helped to spread the word and get the community involved. Thousands of community members have shared input through workshops, surveys, and pop-up events, which have shaped where we are now – which is the Land Use Alternatives Phase.  

The Land Use Alternatives were developed based on public input from thousands of residents and discussions that has been gathered up until this point sharing feedback that ranges from needing more housing, jobs, growth and preservations in our community, and everything in between.    

The land use alternatives try to balance these differing views by providing several options to consider and as discussion points of how the City could evolve over time. The goal is to hear all the feedback on the ideas presented and try to develop an option that best represents the community’s desires. The survey, which is open through the end of October, is divided up by the different areas of the City along with an overall Citywide survey.   

Everyone’s participation is critical to the process. Please don’t miss this once-in-a-generation opportunity to be involved. Visit the General Plan website at www.PlanVentura.com to take the survey, see upcoming events, or sign up for the mailing list to stay informed.  

Ventura Firefighters don pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Limited-edition t-shirts are available for purchase.

For the 12th consecutive year, the Ventura Fire Department has partnered with the Ventura City Firefighters Association and various Downtown Ventura businesses to support and promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month by selling pink, embossed department t-shirts.

“We are supporting breast cancer awareness and prevention so no breast cancer patient or family goes without life-saving treatment and support,” said Fire Chief David Endaya. “We have donated over $15,000 to date, and only hope to continue this effort for years to come.”

Limited-edition t-shirts are available for purchase during the month of October, while supplies last. Additionally, Ventura firefighters will wear pink t-shirts from October 1-15, to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment in the battle against breast cancer.

This year, funds raised through t-shirt sales will be donated to Ribbons of Life Breast Cancer Foundation, a local non-profit and independent grassroots organization that helps women and families affected by breast cancer by providing education, advocacy, and emotional and social support.

Residents can purchase pink shirts or donate to the Ribbons of Life Breast Cancer Foundation at the following participating local businesses:

  • Anacapa Brewing Company, 472 E. Main Street
  • Snapper Jack’s Taco Shack, 533 E, Main Street
  • Tiki Girl, 434 E. Main Street
  • Ventura Visitors Center, 100 S. California Street
  • Very Ventura Gift Shop and Gallery, 540 E. Main Street

T-shirts will not be available for sale at any Ventura Fire stations

To learn more about the Ribbons of Life Breast Cancer Foundation, please visit www.RibbonsVentura.org.

Homelessness takes center stage at the Ventura City Council Candidates Forum

Foto: Homelessness is a confusing issue with many layers.

by Ross Williams

On September 28th the Ventura City Council candidates for district 1, 4 and 6 met at the Church of the Foothills to discuss the homeless population in Ventura. Our unhoused population in the city currently sits at 713 people. Providing shelter, necessary services and assistance is a major concern for the city council members once elected.

City council members are elected to represent their districts and work together with the city manager in order to legislate and set the policies of the city. Ventura, along with many other areas of our state has seen an increase in the homeless population over the years. As the homeless population has grown, so has concern for the safety of our residents including the unhoused.

There are several issues at hand when it comes to our homeless population. There’s the difference between mental health issues, financial issues and drug issues. Fears of separation from family or pets, confusing and overwhelming red tape as well as the want and need for personal space and privacy. Not to mention the overarching housing affordability problem that may make an individual or family that falls on hard times homeless. These issues all require a different set of tools and tact.

Homelessness is a confusing issue with many layers. At its surface are the obvious issues of sanitation and safety. But when dealing with these issues we must think beyond the baseline and understand that these are people. People who may have fallen on hard times, people that may have mental issues and people that may be struggling with addiction. Being able to provide the necessary services to these people needs to be a part of the city’s structure and ensure that residents and tourists alike feel safe here in our city and those in need of help are in fact getting it.

These are the candidates that spoke:

District 1
Helen Eloyan, Marco Cuevas, Liz Campos

District 5
Bill McReynolds, Marie Larkin

District 6
Lorrie Brown, Danny Carillo, Jim Duran

The candidates touched on many valuable points when discussing these issues during the two-and-a-half-hour forum.

  1. Due to the jail being located in Ventura, up to 27% of unsheltered individuals in the city were once living elsewhere in the county, but once released stayed here in Ventura as there is no program in place to send these individuals back to where they came from, or find them the necessary assistance needed to start the recovery process.
  2. Of the 713 unhoused people, 331 are currently sheltered in various programs throughout the city such as the ARCH Shelter and River Haven.
  3. Private and public services are robust, but wrap around services are needed to guide people from one program to the other.
  4. The city of Ventura has 40% of the shelter beds in the county. Other cities should be working to step up their programs.
  5. Education and understanding is key. Criminal vagrancy and homelessness are two completely different things and ⅓ of 911 calls at any given time are in regards to vagrancy. This puts a large strain on our police and fire department.

Each council member candidate present at the forum was thoughtful in regards to the issues at hand and seemed to truly understand how important the topic of homelessness is to our city and the impact that they can have. The election for District Council Candidates is being held on November 8th.