Category Archives: City News

Ventura’s Water security requires investment now

Susan Rungren Ventura Water General Manager.

by Susan Rungren

Did you know Ventura is one of the largest cities in Southern California to rely solely on local water supplies? Rainfall feeds the Ventura River, Lake Casitas, and local groundwater basins to meet all the water needs of our community.

Water is at the core of our identity and the future of its security is in jeopardy. Although our community’s conservation efforts have reduced water use by 20 percent, Ventura’s rain-dependent water supplies remain vulnerable to future droughts.

Additionally, results of ongoing litigation will likely limit or reduce the amount of water the City can withdraw from the Ventura River, which currently accounts for roughly 20 percent of Ventura’s water supply.

Groundwater—which supplies more than half of Ventura’s water— is expected to continue to decline due to recent regulations.

To maintain essential services and protect our water resources, Ventura must continually invest in our water and wastewater systems. Investments will allow us to improve water quality, replace old pipelines and aging infrastructure, meet regulatory requirements, and secure water supply for the future.

The City has a two-pronged approach to address our critical water supply challenges: recycle the water we already have, and access additional water supplies through the State Water Project.

The VenturaWaterPure Project will help us keep the water we already have. Currently, 8 to 9 million gallons of treated wastewater from the Ventura’s Water Reclamation Facility is discharged into the Santa Clara River Estuary each day. This is water that could be better used for our community.

This initiative will divert treated wastewater to an advanced purification facility where it will be purified to drinking water standards and injected into local groundwater basins. This approach will provide a new, drought-resistant water supply, offering up to an additional 3,600 acre-feet of water per year, representing approximately 23 percent of the City’s existing supply.

VenturaWaterPure will use an advanced water purification process to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. This purification technology is currently used throughout California, in other states, and internationally. VenturaWaterPure will address Ventura’s water needs by provide a reliable, sustainable water supply.

The City currently holds an entitlement from the State Water Project but cannot currently take direct delivery due to a lack of infrastructure to deliver that water. The State Water Interconnection Project will enable Ventura to access the water we have had rights to since the 1970s. A new 7-mile pipeline will allow Ventura to tap into its State Water entitlement, addressing anticipated cutbacks in existing local supply sources. Additionally, the pipeline will enable deliveries between regional agencies during emergencies.

These critical investments, while costly, will offer lasting water security for our community. Currently, the City is undergoing a Water and Wastewater Rate Study to ensure sufficient revenue is available to operate and maintain our existing systems and to invest in these forward-looking projects. Rates must be continually reviewed and adjusted to repair and replace aging infrastructure, meet regulatory needs, improve water quality, and secure water supply.

In Ventura, water and wastewater rates have remained low compared to neighboring communities. It has been nearly three years since Ventura Water has increased rates. Results of the recent rate study has shown that an annual rate increase of 7 percent for water service and 6 percent for wastewater service is needed over the next five years. For the average homeowner, this adjustment will amount to an average annual increase of $7.76 to a monthly bill, for the next five years.

Rate increases are rarely convenient, but now is the time for us to invest in our water and wastewater systems. Deferring project costs, improvements, and upgrades comes at a high price. Safe, clean, and affordable water is vital to life, the local economy, and our community. We hope that our ratepayers, businesses, and policymakers will continue to partner with us to ensure a sustainable and resilient future for our community.

More information on the Water and Wastewater Study is available online at www.VenturaWaterRates.net.

Ventura’s Water security requires investment now

by Susan Rungren Ventura Water General Manager

Did you know Ventura is one of the largest cities in Southern California to rely solely on local water supplies? Rainfall feeds the Ventura River, Lake Casitas, and local groundwater basins to meet all the water needs of our community.

Water is at the core of our identity and the future of its security is in jeopardy. Although our community’s conservation efforts have reduced water use by 20 percent, Ventura’s rain-dependent water supplies remain vulnerable to future droughts.

Additionally, results of ongoing litigation will likely limit or reduce the amount of water the City can withdraw from the Ventura River, which currently accounts for roughly 20 percent of Ventura’s water supply.

Groundwater—which supplies more than half of Ventura’s water— is expected to continue to decline due to recent regulations.

To maintain essential services and protect our water resources, Ventura must continually invest in our water and wastewater systems. Investments will allow us to improve water quality, replace old pipelines and aging infrastructure, meet regulatory requirements, and secure water supply for the future.

The City has a two-pronged approach to address our critical water supply challenges: recycle the water we already have, and access additional water supplies through the State Water Project.

The VenturaWaterPure Project will help us keep the water we already have. Currently, 8 to 9 million gallons of treated wastewater from the Ventura’s Water Reclamation Facility is discharged into the Santa Clara River Estuary each day. This is water that could be better used for our community.

This initiative will divert treated wastewater to an advanced purification facility where it will be purified to drinking water standards and injected into local groundwater basins. This approach will provide a new, drought-resistant water supply, offering up to an additional 3,600 acre-feet of water per year, representing approximately 23 percent of the City’s existing supply.

VenturaWaterPure will use an advanced water purification process to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. This purification technology is currently used throughout California, in other states, and internationally. VenturaWaterPure will address Ventura’s water needs by provide a reliable, sustainable water supply.

The City currently holds an entitlement from the State Water Project but cannot currently take direct delivery due to a lack of infrastructure to deliver that water. The State Water Interconnection Project will enable Ventura to access the water we have had rights to since the 1970s. A new 7-mile pipeline will allow Ventura to tap into its State Water entitlement, addressing anticipated cutbacks in existing local supply sources. Additionally, the pipeline will enable deliveries between regional agencies during emergencies.

These critical investments, while costly, will offer lasting water security for our community. Currently, the City is undergoing a Water and Wastewater Rate Study to ensure sufficient revenue is available to operate and maintain our existing systems and to invest in these forward-looking projects. Rates must be continually reviewed and adjusted to repair and replace aging infrastructure, meet regulatory needs, improve water quality, and secure water supply.

In Ventura, water and wastewater rates have remained low compared to neighboring communities. It has been nearly three years since Ventura Water has increased rates. Results of the recent rate study has shown that an annual rate increase of 7 percent for water service and 6 percent for wastewater service is needed over the next five years. For the average homeowner, this will amount to about a $7.41 increase to a monthly bill, each year for the next five years.

Rate increases are rarely convenient, but now is the time for us to invest in our water and wastewater systems. Deferring project costs, improvements, and upgrades comes at a high price. Safe, clean, and affordable water is vital to life, the local economy, and our community. We hope that our ratepayers, businesses, and policymakers will continue to partner with us to ensure a sustainable and resilient future for our community.

More information on the Water and Wastewater Study is available online at www.VenturaWaterRates.net.

 

Ventura three new City Council members

by Richard Lieberman

2020 is the first election for Ventura City Districts 2,3 and 7. The city shifted from citywide to district elections in 2018 when voters elected four city Councilmembers.

Doug Halter defeated incumbent Christy Weir in District 2. Mike Johnson won an open seat in District 3 vacated by Mayor Matt LaVere, who voters selected as a Ventura County supervisor. Voters selected Joe Schroeder in District 7 to replace retiring Councilmember Cheryl Heitmann.

The Breeze spoke with all three new councilmembers individually. We asked all of them the same questions to see where they stood on current and future issues facing Ventura.

Prior to the vote, all three candidates presented their top priorities for the city to voters. Here is what each promised.

Doug Halter, District 2

1) Balance the budget, 2) Review fees, processes, regulations, and technology to support our goals and encourage the private sector and government to work together, 3) Homelessness, affordable housing, and sustainable balance in housing stock, 4) Raise infrastructure standards for roads, sidewalks, medians, parks, and beaches, 5) Economic vitality, job creation, support for local businesses, 6) A plan and implementation strategy for sustainable water policy that includes viable sources, education, 7) Environment protection and education including beach management plan.

 

Mike Johnson, District 3

1) Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery, 2) Homelessness, 3) Housing Crisis, 4) Public Safety, 5) Water Rates, 6) Long term economic development.

 

 

Joe Schroeder, District 7

1) Promote health and safety, 2) Allocate resources wisely.

All three candidates promised to deliver economic vitality during their term as councilmembers. Improving the economy, however, is not within the City Councils jurisdiction. Councilmembers do not control which businesses move to Ventura. They also do not have any control to determine which companies should expand. However, they can make it easier for businesses to start-up or expand by easing regulations and reducing approval times.

Starting our interviews first was Joe Schroeder we asked:

What made you want to run for city council?”

“I retired June 1st this year as the CEO of Ventura County Credit Union, I had a great run there of eleven years where we did a lot of great things, I was looking forward to lowering my handicap and flattening my stomach, and travel then COVID-19 hit and then politics hit, and I really despise how polarized America is right now. It seems to me we throw the far left and the far right into Washington and Sacramento and we say they get along and out comes sausage and it is not good tasting sausage and its painful.

What are your priorities when you take your seat?”

So, I am not a specialist on water issues, and I know that some big capital that is going to have to be spent. I need to get a lot smarter on water issues. I must protect the beach and the coastal area, so I think I should, so I think there needs to be a lot of work done on the coastal plan, make it part of the general plan.

What would you do about the housing crisis?”

“A really big issue is that of affordable housing. The dilemma is people have a different vision of what they want their part Ventura to be, so at times you can talk to people and they say I am all for affordable housing, but it comes up in their neighborhood they are not for it. We are all going to have to give a little bit and we are going to have to work this out. Everybody needs a chance to get some affordable housing around them, but you cannot go nuts with it and build something that is twelve stories high.

Do you have any specific plans to recover from the devastation COVID-19 19 has brought to the city?”

“I have a hypothesis that had everybody worn a mask, and social distanced and shut down things for a while and stayed with that I think we wouldn’t be having this second wave. There is not an easy solution, but I think you listen to the medical people. So now let us work with business groups let us say to them lets be creative and innovative and ask what the city can do for them. How can we help you expand your business give grants? Make it so we are not going to lose 40% of our restaurants.

How do you intend to improve public safety and promote community policing?”

Half a dozen times over the years I have seen police intervene with someone who was a vagrant or homeless and I was so impressed with how the police handled it. So, some way we must find the right way to allocate resources to augment police. I would like to leverage social services when it comes to the homeless population.

Next, we asked Doug Halter District 2

What made you want to run for city council?’

You know this is not the first time I have run for City Council, I ran I think two other times, and my greatest passion is Ventura and I have done everything I can as a private citizen to try and make a difference. And as I turned sixty this year, I felt that it was now or never to really give it my all. Get on the council and help set policy and set direction.

What are your top priorities when you take your seat?”

Now that we are in districts, we must look at what your district would want and then you must look at what is in the best interest of the entire city? Well obviously, infrastructure is huge. The number one interface is walking on a sidewalk, driving on a street, speed limit issues, lack of stop signs where there should be one. So really upping the ante, upping the standards of our infrastructure. A huge priority for me is creating more certainty in our processes, because our processes are antiquated, we cannot see the forest for the trees.

What would you do about the housing crisis?”

Currently fifty percent of our workforce lives outside of Ventura and you see it going north and south and now you are seeing it going east. So, I would want to find out where are my friends and neighbors commuting to? I want to go to those businesses and say to them, would not you want to relocate close to where your workforce is. We have plenty of opportunity and we welcome you here in Ventura.

Do you have any specific plans to recover from the devastation COVID-19 19 has brought to the city?”

Wear a mask and distance as far as possible, try to minimize what you touch. In public I try to minimize what I touch just in case the virus is there. My life is an open book and I have worked on the AIDS epidemic for years and that is almost a forgotten pandemic and it has significantly changed my life and has taken away many of my friends at an early age

How do you intend to improve public safety and promote community policing?”

We really must take a deep look at it how we are spending our money and what is sustainable. We need to understand what kind of economic vitality we need to support the services we desire. I do not believe in defunding the police. I believe it is more about community policing, getting people to understand it is not us against them. We need the police to be well equipped for behavioral health. It is not just about getting someone off the street. I believe in transitional shelter meaning that there is case management there to determine if there is a mental health issue, or a substance abuse issue. We have made too easy for people to be on the streets. It is in nobody’s interest to have anybody living on the streets.

Our final interview was with Mike Johnson, District 3

What made you want to run for city council?”

I have been involved with city affairs for about ten years, and I started with my neighborhood and then got involved with the College Area Community Council and it just seemed like a natural progression. To get things done in this town I decided to step up and do it myself.

What are your priorities when you take your seat?”

The biggest issue we are dealing with is the pandemic. I expect it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The city is going to have to deal with the public side of that, and the economic side of that. I am not sure how our economy is going to fare over the next two years. Especially if we see the collapse of the restaurant industry. Pandemic response would be my priority, second would-be affordable housing. We need a city-wide inclusionary housing plan which would cover rental units and for sale units. We do not have that right now.

What would you do about the housing crisis”

We do not have a city-wide inclusionary housing plan. We need to look at the numbers and get a plan in place this year. Its going to be tricky because it is asking a lot of the community. We must face the problems of homelessness. We must increase the services in a way that makes the city better for people but also ways that we can do that while saving money. I would like to look at our Safe and Clean that operates out of the City Managers office and figure out what we can do

Do you have any specific plans to recover from the devastation COVID-19 19 has brought to the city?”

We can build and maintain a homeless shelter because the county is paying for half of it. At the same time, we need to keep on looking forward with the expectation that the county is going to step in and provide half the cost of everything. We need to work with the county as best we can to ensure across the county that people can get the services, they need without ever coming to Ventura. I would like to see more available beds in the shelter. In a functional sense is if the people in the shelter on Knoll Drive if there is a place for them to move into. I would like to see affordable housing on an exceptionally low level. We do not have enough of that kind of housing. It needs to be a pipeline not a dormitory. There needs to be a path to for them to get housing.

Thank you to Christy Weir for serving 17 years on the Ventura City Council

Weir is appreciative of the people that she served with.

by Carol Leish

Christy Weir, who was on the Ventura City Council from 2003-2020. got involved since, according to her, “The city, in 2003, was starting the process of adopting a new General Plan, and there was a meeting taking place about the community’s vision for the future of Ventura. I was interested in land use planning because of the long-term impact on the character of the city and the quality of life for the residents. And, I wanted to help lead civic engagement efforts, to ensure that the people of Ventura had voice in their future.”

Weir and her family have lived in Ventura since 1986. She said that her husband and her have raised their son and daughter here. According to Weir, “My son and daughter now live in this community with their families. Thus, I am fortunate to have my six grandchildren nearby.”

Weir said that she was a teacher for ten years. She was also a managing editor at a local publishing company for fifteen years.

“My years on the Ventura Council,” according to Weir, “have been spent speaking on behalf of families and children and nature. I am especially proud of accomplishments in the areas of urban forestry and beautification. Trees are not just decoration; they are essential to the health of our environment and a key in fighting climate change.”

“Protecting our health and environment for future generations has always been a top priority of mine,” according to Weir. She continued by saying, “Protecting our health and environment for future generations has always been a top priority of mine. During my years on the Council, we banned smoking in city parks and other public areas, voted to not allow the sale of flavored nicotine products and banned the use of Styrofoam by our restaurants. I also led the efforts to join the Clean Power Alliance to provide renewable energy to our residents.”

“As the founder and board member of the Downtown Ventura Partners,” Weir said, “I’ve been thrilled to have seen the success of our outdoor dining pedestrian environment in response to COVID-19. Our historic downtown is a priceless community asset, and one that we can all support with our shopping and dining dollars.”

Weir said, “After many years of efforts, we were successful in opening Ventura’s first year-round homeless shelter, in collaboration with Ventura County and other dedicated partners.”

Weir also stressed the importance of transportation “Active transportation is crucial for our future. Creating safe, connecting bike lanes and well-maintained sidewalks has been a priority of mine.”

Weir is appreciative of the people that she served with. “I was glad to share this position on the Ventura City Council), with people who she respected and has learned from: Brian Brennan, Sandy Smith, Jim Monahan, Carl Morehouse, Bill Fulton, Neal Andrews, Ed Summers, Mike Tracy, Cheryl Heitmann, Erik Nasarenko, Matt LaVere, Jim Friedman, Lorrie Brown, and Sofia Rubalcava.

I’d especially like to thank councilmembers LaVere and Heitmann, for their strength and leadership during the Thomas Fire and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the incoming new council, Weir would like to say, ‘Congratulations and welcome to our new council members: Joe Schroeder, Doug Halter, and Mike Johnson, who will be instrumental in shaping Ventura’s future.

Thank you, Christy Weir, for your many years of service and involvement on the Ventura City Council.

City recognized for environmental achievements

Cathy and Kent Bullard  have been driving on sunshine since 2011.

The City of Ventura received a Beacon Spotlight Award for its measurable
achievements in reducing community greenhouse gas emissions, further illustrating its
dedication to meet state climate goals. The Beacon Award, which is sponsored by the
Institute for Local Government (ILG), honored Ventura with a Silver Level Award for an
eight percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions during a special virtual presentation
in conjunction with the League of Cities Annual Conference.

This award builds on Ventura’s long-standing commitment to environmental
sustainability. Since joining the Beacon Program in 2010, the City has been recognized
for numerous achievements for saving energy and implementing sustainability best
practices like implementing a green business certification program, expanding open
spaces, planting drought-resistant landscaping, and encouraging alternate modes of
transportation.

“We are honored to gain recognition in our efforts to help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions in our City. By doing our part, we hope to inspire others to continue making
small changes that can help create the biggest impacts in improving our environment,”
said Mayor Matt LaVere.

In addition to participating in the Beacon Program, the City of Ventura is also part of ILG’s
BOOST Pilot Program, a joint endeavor of the ILG and the California Strategic Growth
Council (SGC) to help local governments address California’s climate and equity goals.
Through the BOOST Program, the City has secured more $700,000 in grant funding to
support its comprehensive planning effort, which will include the City’s first Climate Action
and Resilience Plan. The City’s participation in both programs provides additional
resources to assist with climate and resilience initiatives.

“Current events across the state such as record setting heat waves, devastating wildfires
and extremely poor air quality underscore the importance of implementing both proven
and innovative policies and practices to move the needle on climate change,” says Erica
L. Manuel, CEO and Executive Director of the Institute for Local Government.

Cathy and Kent Bullard are proud residents of Ventura who appreciate the City’s continued efforts to improve the environment for all residents. They both have been driving on sunshine since 2011 and helped to establish the Electric Vehicles Advocates of Ventura County. Their home in East Ventura’s has a 4.2kW solar system which provides 100% of their electrical needs including charging both of their electric vehicles. They are regular participants in our local environmental scene educating others about making personal changes to benefit everyone.

Commenting on the award Ventura Bike HUB Joey Juhasz-Lukomski stated “We can’t reduce GHG emissions quickly if we don’t get people out of cars. For errands, commuting, going to school, and every other kind of trip, having the knowledge to just fix a flat tire yourself or the confidence to ride in traffic could be the difference between reaching for your car keys or reaching for you helmet as you walk out the door.”

“As we celebrate this win, it’s important to remember that if future generations are to inherit a livable planet we must continue to follow the courageous example of our current city leadership in reducing GHG emissions.  Gratefully, the Solarize Ventura program enabled broader participation, including my own, towards mitigating the impact of climate change on our youth.  Thanks to all involved!” stated Cindy Piester.

The Institute for Local Government established the Beacon Program to create a
framework to assist local governments in setting goals, documenting progress and
sharing best practices that create healthier, more efficient, vibrant communities.
To learn more about the City of Ventura’s achievements visit: www.ca-ilg.org/beaconaward-participant-profile/city-ventura.

City of Ventura and partners provide meal kits to community members

Blanca Lopez, Omar Amaya, Gricelda Navarro, and Jamin Navarro receiving meal kits.

The City of Ventura, Aera Energy, and the Downtown Lions Club partnered together to host its 19th annual Thanksgiving basket donation event. More than 100 low-income families received Thanksgiving meal kits that were prepared in to-go baskets, and included a turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing, rolls, yams, and a pie.

“Due to the challenges presented this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City wasn’t sure it would be able to fulfill its annual commitment to local families,” said Nancy O’Connor, City Parks and Recreation Director. “Thanks to the generosity and support of Aera Energy and the Ventura Downtown Lions Club, the City was able to buy, pack, and distribute Thanksgiving meals to local families living near our Westpark Community Center.”

Thanks to $2,500 donations from Aera Energy and the Downtown Lions Club, the City was able to purchase ingredients for the Thanksgiving meal kits. The Downtown Lions Club provided volunteers to help pack the baskets, which were distributed to low-income residents at the Westpark Community Center on Tuesday, November 24, 2020.

“Ventura’s westside community is made up of predominately low-income residents,” said Anita Diaz, Parks and Recreation Youth Program Coordinator for the City of Ventura. “Right now, is an exceptionally difficult time for our families. They are struggling to keep their jobs, and their children are distance learning all in the middle of a pandemic. The Thanksgiving meal kits meant a lot to them.”

In addition to Aera’s donation sponsoring Thanksgiving meals, Aera also provided an another $2,500 to support Westpark holiday events including the annual Spark of Love Toy Drive, which provides holiday gifts for families who could not otherwise afford them.

“COVID-19 has impacted life for so many local families who are struggling every day just to put food on the table. Our donation alleviates the worry around the Thanksgiving meal and holiday gifts and allows our neighbors to focus on the things most important to them,” said Michele Newell, Aera Energy’s Public Affairs Representative. “The holidays are a time when many local families need help and Aera is happy to provide the means to support them. Our community is stronger when we come together and help those that need it most.”

For more information about the City of Ventura’s Parks and Recreation Department, please visit https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/Parks-Recreation.

Ventura Police Department awarded $220,000 grant

“Why did I drink when I was drunk?”

The Ventura Police Department (VPD) was awarded a $220,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a one-year enforcement and education program with an emphasis on safe travel. This grant will assist in VPD’s efforts to reduce deaths and injuries on Ventura roads.

“This grant funding allows us to educate and enhance the safety of residents behind the wheel, on our sidewalks, and in our bike lanes,” said Ventura Police Sergeant, Michael Brown. “Through education and behavior changes, we hope to create an environment that is safe and equitable for all road users in our community.”

The grant will fund a variety of traffic safety programs, including:

  • Patrol with an emphasis on alcohol and drug-impaired driving prevention.
  • Patrol with an emphasis on awareness and education of California’s hands-free cell phone law.
  • Patrol with an emphasis on education of traffic rights for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Patrol with an emphasis on awareness and education of primary causes of crashes: excess speed, failure to yield, failure to stop at stop signs/signals, improper turning/lane changes.
  • Community education presentations on traffic safety issues such as distracted driving, DUI, speed, bicycle and pedestrian safety.
  • Collaborative efforts with neighboring agencies on traffic safety priorities.
  • Officer training and/or recertification: Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST), Advanced Roadside Impaired
  • Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE).

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The one-year grant is for the 2021 federal fiscal year, which runs from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 20201.

To learn more about the Office of Traffic Safety grant and VPD’s educational efforts, please contact Emily Graves, Community Outreach Specialist for the Ventura Police Department, at egraves@cityofventura.ca.gov.

VFD awarded $218,000 in grant funding

LUCAS is designed to deliver consistent, high-quality chest compressions.

The Ventura City Fire Department (VFD) was awarded $218,000 in grant funding to purchase 12 automatic chest compression devices through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).

The device, known as the Lund University Cardiac Arrest System (LUCAS), is designed to deliver consistent, high-quality chest compressions, even under difficult conditions, to provide life-saving support for extended periods of time.

“The Lucas chest compression system helps first responders do what they do best – save lives,” said Firefighter Paramedic Kyle Tong, lead trainer on the new devices. “As firefighters, we want to help cardiac arrest victims as quickly as possible because every second counts. With these new automated devices, we’re able to deliver consistent care, increase the chance of patient survival, and reduce injuries that can occur during transport.”

In July 2020, Ventura City Fire started using three LUCAS devices, which helped more than 32 cardiac arrest victims in less than four months. The unit is lightweight, comes in a backpack, and can be applied quickly to a patient, interrupting manual compressions for less than 10 seconds.

As a part of the federal grant, the City of Ventura is required to provide a 10 percent funding match in the amount of $22,000, which has been budgeted.

To learn more about the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program or the LUCAS machine, please contact Emily Graves, Community Outreach Specialist for the Ventura Fire Department, at egraves@cityofventura.ca.gov.

City of Ventura launches winter weather response plan to help homeless 

As Ventura enters this year’s winter weather season, the City has partnered with the River Community Church to launch a response plan to provide stay warm packs and temporary shelter to homeless persons during severe weather events, such as severe rain, wind or low temperatures.

Now through March 31, 2021, the City is accepting community donations to create stay warm packs for sharing with Ventura’s unhoused individuals during harsh weather events. Desired donations include rain ponchos, blankets, jackets, hand-warmers, socks, toiletries, snacks, tarps, and carrying bags for items.

“When serious winter weather is forecasted to impact our community, the City will work with local social service partners, the Downtown Ventura Ambassadors, and other local non-profits to provide outreach and support to our most vulnerable population,” said Meredith Hart, the City’s Safe and Clean Program Manager.

Residents wishing to donate items for the Stay Warm Packs can bring materials to the ARCH, a homeless shelter in the City of Ventura, located at 2323 Knoll Drive. Donations can be brought to the rear of the building and dropped off near the exterior sliding glass door.  Monetary donations are also being accepted by mail through the River Community Church. Checks should be labeled “Winter Weather Response Plan” and mailed to 859 E. Santa Clara Street, Ventura, CA, 93001.

The City’s winter weather response plan also includes an emergency temporary shelter that can accommodate motel rooms for up to 20 individuals. Shelters will be activated at least 48 hours in advance when temperatures are projected to fall below 40 degrees or if weather projections show more than half an inch of rain overnight.

Priority will be given to homeless individuals who are 65 and older or live with chronic health conditions. All remaining motel rooms will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. Individuals who receive a room must arrive at the River Community Church, located at 859 E. Santa Clara Street in Ventura, between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the day of the winter weather response plan event. Those who are unable to secure a room will be provided with Stay Warm Packs.

The winter weather response plan will run from December 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.

To learn more about the winter weather response plan, please visit the City of Ventura’s Safe and Clean Program website or contact Meredith Hart, Safe and Clean Program Manager, at mhart@cityofventura.ca.gov.

City of Ventura launches general plan update

The City of Ventura has launched the first phase of public engagement activities to update the General Plan. The theme of the update “Our Vision. Our Future,” reflects the importance of encouraging community members to be involved in shaping Ventura’s quality of life for the next 20 to 30 years.

“The General Plan seeks to maintain the unique charm and character of Ventura, while creating opportunities for future improvements in our City, ranging from affordable housing to health, to economic development, transportation, public safety, environmental sustainability, open space and more,” said Mayor Matt LaVere. “This is a tremendous opportunity to gather a diverse range of input as our community helps shape the vision for Ventura’s future.”

The comprehensive update is a three-year process that is expected to take until 2023 to complete. Throughout the multi-year effort, the city will embark on a robust community engagement initiative that includes surveys, virtual and in-person workshops when safety allows, an interactive project website, meetings with Community Councils, engaging with a wide variety of residents and stakeholders within the community, and other interactive activities.

Initial activities include the formation of a General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) to guide the update effort, meetings with Community Councils, and a workshop with the City Council on November 16, 2020.

The General Plan update effort will also include a Local Coastal Program update and the creation of a Climate Action Plan to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance environmental sustainability in Ventura. California state law requires every city and county to maintain an up-to-date General Plan to guide future growth and development.

To learn more about the City of Ventura’s General Plan, visit www.planventura.com.