Category Archives: Featured News

March for reproductive justice held in Ventura

The event was spearheaded by the Women’s March national organization. Photo by Patricia Schallert

The Supreme Court signaled it is prepared to dismantle women’s reproductive rights when it refused to stop Texas’ SB 8, which made abortion illegal after six weeks and instituted a bounty system on violators. On December 1st the Court is scheduled to hear Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi case which prohibits abortion after 15 weeks.

“Roe v Wade is under attack like never before in its 50-year history,” said Miriam Mack, Justice For All Ventura County Board Member. “Our march, along with marches in over 600 communities across the country, is intended to show the Court that a woman’s right to control her reproductive destiny is a human right that must be protected.”

Hundreds of Ventura County women (and men) marched on Saturday, October 2, at noon at Ventura City Hall. Marching were Justice For All Ventura County, along with the Ventura County Reproductive Rights Network, Planned Parenthood, Indivisible Ventura, Women United for Change and others. They marched to the State Court of Appeals Building at Santa Clara Street and Figueroa Plaza.

The effort is spearheaded by the Women’s March national organization and is intended to send a message to the Supreme Court that 77% of the country wants to preserve the protections of Roe v Wade and state legislative actions to limit that right cannot stand.

The march was disciplined and peaceful and the signs sent a clear message that the protections of Roe v Wade must be preserved.

For more information go to https://justiceforallvc.org/.

A vacant lot has been transformed into a beautiful garden

The large lot behind the Museum of Ventura County, on Santa Clara, is now a permanent and temporary garden of sculptures and metal tee-pees. It opened on September 22 and included live music and a food truck.

The project, “Echoes of a Recent Past.” was created by Ventura artist Paul Lindhard from Art City Studios located off of Ventura Ave.

Many of the materials came from the buildings that were demolished across the street.

“Echos of a Recent Past” can easily be viewed from the street as folks drive by looking through the chain-link fence. It will be open during special events and accessed from Santa Clara.

Elena Brokaw, The Museum Barbara Barnard Smith Executive Director told the Breeze
“We are very thankful to Paul Lindhard for his vision and hard work. He and his team transformed an ugly empty lot into a beautiful and sustaining art installation and place of peace and contemplation. The space is not only attractive – the artwork speaks to the transformation of space, and the temporal nature of our built environment.”

Deputy Director of the Museum Denise Sindelar went on “The Museum of Ventura County had 237 attendees at the opening reception for Paul Lindhard’s Echoes of a Recent Past art and garden installation. There were musical and aerial performances set to the backdrop of the setting sun on the evening of the Autumnal Equinox. The evening began with a ceremonial Chumash blessing offered by tribal leader Julie Tumamait-Stenslie

County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez in CAPS Media studio

Recently CAPS Media produced a set of informative videos with Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez in the CAPS Media studio directed to renters throughout the county that have been impacted by COVID-19. Recorded in English and Spanish the informational videos provide renters facing eviction with clear direction on how to obtain assistance from the County and other resources. The videos and other information can be viewed at venturacountyrecovers.org

CAPS Media’s local Radio station – KPPQ, 104.1FM is adding new programming every week. New episodes of In The Women’s Room, Teen Centric and Ventura Vibe!, are being added to the scheduled. Plus new shows selected from outstanding programs throughout the country are added to the 24×7 mix on KPPQ.

The KPPQ team is also working Ventura’s creative community to develop and distribute personalized podcasts on a variety of topics. Plus the continued expanision of KPPQ has fostered a search for a media intern to help with programming, social media and more. Anyone interested in working with the KPPQ crew should send a message to radio@capsmedia.org.

ECTV, the award-winning student internship collaboration between CAPS Media and El Camino High school is gearing up for the new school year. Mentored by CAPS Media staff and utilizing the resources at the CAPS Media Center, El Camino high school students write, produce, direct, host, and edit magazine-style video and podcast programs on topics of interest and concern to teenagers. Student topics range from drug abuse and discrimination to racial prejudice, the climate crisis and more in their self-titled ECTV series.

The innovative program teaches students how to use digital, computer-based tools and technology to create, develop and communicate their stories. The program includes hands-on training with HD video cameras, audio recording equipment, digital editing equipment and graphic software. In addition to developing hands-on media skills the students receive high school, college, and community service credits. This year the ECTV program expands into the KPPQ study for training in radio production and podcasting.

For more information on how to become a member/producer at CAPS Media and information on programming and more, go to capsmedia.org.

Due to the COVID-19 emergency the CAPS Media Center is closed to Members and the public until further notice. CAPS Member/Producers can submit programming via the online portal at capsmedia.org for broadcast and streaming on CAPS public access television Channel 6 and on CAPS Radio KPPQ 104.1FM.

All of us at CAPS Media encourage everyone to get vaccinated. The sooner we are all vaccinated the sooner we can fully enjoy our beautiful community, and the sooner we can reopen the CAPS Media Center to our Members and the public. We hope you all Stay Safe and Stay Strong during these challenging times.

Choose the right car seat

The Ventura Police Department joins the California Office of Traffic Safety to raise awareness about the importance of keeping children in the correct car seat for their age and size.

During Child Passenger Safety Week, September 19-25, the Ventura Police Department will conduct child passenger safety enforcement to ensure drivers are securing children in the correct safety seat for every trip, each time.

“Motor vehicle injuries remain one of the leading causes of preventable deaths among children. Getting a car seat professionally checked and learning how to properly install it can prevent childhood injuries and protect the youngest passengers in our communities,” said Sergeant Mike Brown.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 46% of car sears are not installed correctly.

Under California law, children under two weighing less than 40 pounds and less than 40 inches tall are required to be in a rear-facing car seat. Children under the age of eight or less than 4’ 9” tall must be secured in a car or booster seat. The fine for not securing a child in the correct child safety seat is $490.

Parents and caregivers can schedule a free car seat installation or car seat check by appointment only at the local Ventura California Highway Patrol (CHP) office by visiting www.CHP.ca.gov or calling 805-662-2640.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To learn more about the Office of Traffic Safety grant and VPD’s educational efforts, visit www.OTS.ca.gov or contact Emily Graves, Community Outreach Specialist with the Ventura Police Department, at egraves@cityofventura.ca.gov.

Ventura County Public Health extends indoor mask order

Ventura County Public Health has extended the indoor mask order, requiring all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings when indoors in public settings, with limited exceptions. The order will continue to be in effect until October 19, 2021 or until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended by the Health Officer. “Our current case rate of 19.3 is still considered widespread community transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health,” said Public Health Officer Doctor Robert Levin. “We need to see a continued decrease in the case rate and hospitalizations before safely lifting indoor masking requirements to help prevent future surges.”

The order directs that face coverings must be worn over the mouth and nose – regardless of vaccination status – in all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and workplaces, including but not limited to offices, retail stores, restaurants and bars, theaters, family entertainment centers, conference and event centers, and government offices serving the public.

Individuals, businesses, venue operators, hosts, and others responsible for the operation of indoor public settings must:

  • Require all patrons to wear face coverings for all indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination status; and
  • Post clearly visible and easy-to-read signage at all entry points for indoor settings to communicate the masking requirements to all patrons. Signage is provided by Ventura County Public Health at www.vcrecovers.org.

This health order aims to reduce community transmission of COVID-19. Health officials are concerned by the substantial levels of increased community transmission, especially among unvaccinated people. In part, this is due to the widespread COVID-19 Delta variant, which is substantially more transmissible than previous forms of the virus. Recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also indicates that even fully vaccinated individuals can in some cases spread the Delta variant to others, and so indoor use of face coverings provides an important added layer of protection.

More information about COVID-19 available at: www.venturacountyrecovers.org.

Robotics Team 4414: HighTide presents Tidal Tumble Competition

Student participants range from grades 9 – 12.

Local Robotics Team 4414: HighTide was recently showcased as a part of SessaMfg’s celebration of 42 years in business. Guests got a close look at the HighTide Robotics Lab, talked with team members and learned about this STEM program. Michael Sessa addressed the crowd and congratulated the award-winning team. He said, “Having the Team 4414 lab within the company has been a win-win collaboration … the team has access to a manufacturing facility and our company SessaMfg. has tremendously gained by our student summer paid internship opportunities that potentially lead to future employment.”

Team 4414: HighTide is an industry-based robotics team. Student participants range from grades 9 – 12 and attend school at Buena, Foothill, El Camino or Ventura High. The team provides a hands-on learning atmosphere and opportunities to compete through FIRST Robotics. Mentor Jonathan Sessa said, “Students on HighTide are trained by industry professionals on computer aided design, CNC manufacturing, and software programming. These skills are then put to the test when the team constructs a new robot every year in 6 weeks to compete against other teams worldwide.”

COVID brought many teams to a halt and some folded, however HighTide continued to hone their skills, enhance their robots and recruit new team members.

During the showcase celebration, 17-year-old Anshul Bajaj announced a new venture hosted by the team~ Tidal Tumble, an off-season robotics competition for FIRST Robotics teams. “After two cancelled seasons, I wanted to bring a competition opportunity to Southern California, to inspire and engage students,” said Bajaj, Event Director. “We are bringing students from all around California to compete here in Ventura October 15-17.” Bajaj believes that off seasons are a great way for younger team members to try their hand at competition, accelerate their learning and get more involved.

This year, due to Covid-19, the event is not open to public spectators. The team is currently seeking FIRST Robotics teams to participate as well as volunteers and sponsors.

Tidal Tumble is generously sponsored by: SessaMfg, FASTSIGNS of Ventura, Kearney Family, Narayan Family, Shew Family, Taylor Family, and Wulff Family.

For more information: tidaltumble.com.

Large scale on-going cleanup of homeless encampments at the Santa Clara River bottom continues

A makeshift abode is typical of housing for unsheltered people living in the watershed.

by Richard Lieberman

In coming weeks, a collaborative effort to clean up the watershed will begin. The cleanup effort will concentrate on watershed cleanup, removal of homeless encampments, and relocating homeless individuals by connecting them to safe and reasonable shelter and supportive services to help individuals with longer term accommodations.

During the past several years, the population of homeless on the river bottom has increased and clearly demonstrated the need for long term solutions. The increased population of homeless people has made the problem more acute. The large population of homeless poses a real threat to public health, sanitation, and environmental health. At the same time, the on-going pandemic has caused a decrease in the number of shelter beds available, exasperating the current problem. In Ventura a chronic shortage of affordable housing contributes to the dilemma.

The county Board of Supervisors is spearheading the effort, led by the Supervisors of the impacted areas, including Supervisor Matt LaVere, ex-mayor of Ventura. They have embarked on a program that will, in the short-term, cleanup the watershed (river bottom) and address the long-term problem of homelessness.

“Supervisor Carmen Ramirez and I have taken an important first step the past few months focused on an effort to look at the encampments. We saw a significant growth in encampments and increasing crime rates in the neighborhoods around the river bottom. We saw this as a real opportunity to both tackle the cleanup from an environmental perspective and being able to provide services for those at the encampments. This week we specifically focused on the cleanup of abandoned encampments,” he said. “In three days, we removed 188 tons of trash just from the abandoned encampments,” he added.

Project Room key, an effort to lease a motel in Ventura (The Vagabond) had ended but has been extended through January of this year. The motel was able to house over two hundred unsheltered from Ventura and Ventura County. The county established a program “the coordinated entry system countywide homeless management information system” (HMIS) along with 8 one-stop service centers throughout the county that help connect individuals to housing and supportive services, including whole person care, recuperative care, food assistance, rapid housing, emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing.

“This has to be a multi-pronged effort. First, let’s clean up the trash in the abandoned encampments, and for the remaining active camps we are going to do some focused efforts surveying everyone; finding out who is willing to take health services and possible shelter.” LaVere also notes “Frankly this is life saving for these individuals. If we get a rainstorm, which is going to happen, with climate change we are seeing more and more intense storms. If we get a flow through there, people could drown and die”.

There have been many efforts in the past to cleanup and evacuate unsheltered individuals from the river bottom. Still, the camps remain occupied. Just throwing them off the property will just scatter the occupants into nearby neighborhoods and commercial zones. The city, the county, and the federal government will be placing large sums of money to combat and solve the problem of homelessness in the long term. “It must be done in conjunction with housing and services in order to get a long-term solution,” added LaVere.

Perhaps this time with a major influx of city, county, state and federal financial resources we will be able to make real progress in solving the dilemma of the unsheltered encampments in the river bottom.

Ventura looks to add big box retailers behind auto center

The site likely won’t be fully developed for up to 10 years.

The City of Ventura is working on its Olivas Park Specific Plan area, next to Highway 101 and the Ventura Auto Center, to extend a road in hopes of attracting big-box retailers, such as IKEA.

In 2019, the council adopted an Olivas Park Specific Plan that allowed flexible development of the site. The area consists of multiple parcels (16) totaling 139.0 acres, which are mostly undeveloped. Of the 139 acres, approximately 53% of the land is developable, 22% designated as open space, 9% include the levee and road construction, and 16% is already developed.

‘The Olivas Park Specific Plan sets forth a plan for the infrastructure necessary to develop the area, establish maximum flexibility to support commercial and/or industrial development of the area, and establish an efficient review process, to allow the City to respond to potential developments that provide jobs and strengthen the local tax base.’

The City Council unanimously approved terms for a potential development agreement worth $35 million to extend Olivas Park Drive and construct a levee in the flood plain along the Santa Clara River. Completion of a levee/floodwall that is approximately 5,400 linear feet in length along the north side of the Santa Clara River will be required.

Under the agreement, the city would pay for the road extension and the three property owners would pay for the levee. The property owners are John Hofer’s Hofer Properties LLC, Allen Camp’s Ventura Olivas Company LLC and Louis Wolff’s MBL Golf Course.

Last Monday’s City Council meeting approved key terms of the potential development agreement. City staff members hope to bring the final proposed deal to the council early next year. The city’s share of the total costs is estimated to be $25.5 million which includes the roadway, demolition of a Montalvo Community Service District facility, a new sewer line and sewer connection fees.

Traffic mitigation fees, collected to offset the impact of new development on the existing road network, will be used to pay for the project. The fund’s current balance is about $19.9 million.

Councilman Doug Halter said he has heard about the project for the 36 years he’s lived in Ventura. “It’s an asset for this community,” Halter said.

Officials believe the improvements would provide the city an estimated $60,000-$280,000 in annual property tax revenue, which doesn’t include new sales tax generated, which is anticipated to be significant. Auto Center tax revenues account for about $4.5 – $5 million in annual revenue, around 20-25% of total annual sales tax collected.

The site likely won’t be fully developed for up to 10 years, the staff report said, and future revenues wouldn’t be realized for the same duration.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving holds officer appreciation day

by Richard Lieberman

Mothers Against Drunk Driving sponsored an officer appreciation event to present officers from the Tri-Counties area with awards for the most drunk driving arrests in their individual departments. The event drew Law Enforcement from Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Maria CHP and Port Hueneme, among others. A lunch sponsored by Dukes Griddle and Grill restaurant in Ventura was offered to the gathered representatives. It was held on Thursday, August 26, at the Museum of Ventura County in Downtown Ventura.

Opening remarks at the event were given by Georgina Avilez, Program Manager for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). She thanked the officers for their diligence and commitment to get impaired drivers off the road. She emphasized MADD’s commitment to its mission “A nation without drunk and drugged driving.” She also talked about MADD’s mission “to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking.”

Following opening remarks by Avilez, Staci Brown, Program Specialist of MADD Tri-Counties, remarked to the gathered attendees, “I want to thank all of the law enforcement attendees for coming to receive awards for the most DUI arrests”. She added “Congratulations and good work to all the award recipients.” Brown also remarked to the attendees “We appreciate all that you do to keep our streets safe.” Brown went on to offer a special thanks to the Museum of Ventura County for hosting the event.

Over forty-five law enforcement officers representing eighteen departments were honored at the event. Each recipient received a certificate and had their photos taken with Staci Brown of MADD.

Ventura Police Chief Darin Schindler also attended the event along with three members of the Ventura Police Department. “I think the MADD event is great, they do this every year; they recognize the public safety officials that are out there taking drunk drivers off the roadway whether it be alcohol impairment, drug impairment and or some other impairment.” Stated Chief Schindler.

“No one knows how many lives are saved by taking these impaired drivers off the road,” It’s great to recognize the officers who are doing this job,” he added. When asked about solutions and police enforcement approaches to solving the dilemma of impaired driving he offered several approaches that are being undertaken now to help get some of these drivers off the road. Drunk driving checkpoints are one approach regularly used by police. “It’s a deterrent in the scope of being proactive about it,”. Another approach Ventura police utilize is a partnership between police and the OTS (California Office of Traffic Safety). They supply police with equipment and additional funding. Another approach is police visiting bars and restaurants on weekend nights and approaching people as they are leaving and asking “how much they have had to drink” “We ask them if they are OK to drive and if they volunteer, we have them blow into a portable breathalyzer to show them their current blood alcohol level,” added Schindler.

Police agencies and MADD agree that one effective solution to the impaired driving epidemic is Sobriety Checkpoints. Checkpoints have reduced fatalities by 20 percent. Checkpoints are mandated to be publicized in advance and signs are posted at the approach to the checkpoints. Another law enforcement approach MADD supports is “Saturation Saturday” which designates the Saturday before Labor Day weekend a day to team up with law enforcement agencies nationwide to amplify the message that if you choose to drive impaired, you will get caught. Yet another method MADD supports comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”. Law enforcement departments have picked dangerous parts of the year, and keep a special eye out for drunk drivers on those days, letting potential impaired drivers know that law enforcement is out there looking for and pulling over impaired drivers.

September is Pedestrian Safety Month

“But officer I started out in the crosswalk.”

As part of Pedestrian Safety Month, the Ventura Police Department will have additional officers on patrol throughout September specifically looking for California Vehicle Code violations pertaining to drivers and pedestrians.

These violations include right-of-way at crosswalks, illegal turns, and not properly stopping for signs or signals, and speeding.

“A simple safety step can make a big difference. Look out for one another by slowing down when driving and stopping for pedestrians,” said Ventura Police Traffic Sergeant Mike Brown. “If you’re walking, be mindful of vehicle traffic, be predictable, and do not leave a curb or place of safety carelessly.”

Based on data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 2020 had the largest ever annual increase, 21 percent, in the rate at which drivers struck and killed pedestrians. In California, pedestrian deaths accounted for 27 percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2019.

The Ventura Police Department offers steps community members can take to reduce the risk of vehicle-pedestrian collisions:

Pedestrians

Be predictable and use crosswalks.

Do not walk or run into the path of a vehicle. No vehicle can stop instantly. At 30 m.p.h., a driver needs at least 108 feet to make a complete stop.

Be visible. Make it easy for drivers to see you by wearing light colors and reflective material, and using flashlights for added visibility at dawn, dusk, or night.

Be extra careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night when it is harder to see, or when crossing busier streets with higher speed limits.

Always use the sidewalk when available and avoid walking in the street alongside traffic, especially during morning and evening hours.

Drivers

Do not drive distracted and never drive impaired.

Drive defensively, follow the speed limit, and slow down at intersections.

Avoid blocking crosswalks while waiting to make a right-hand turn.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To learn more about the Office of Traffic Safety grant at ots.ca.gov.