Category Archives: News and Notes

Successful ending of the Ventura River Action Network (V-RAN) Program with awards for students

Finalists at the Awards Ceremony at the Museum of Ventura County.

After six months of involving 750 students from Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) in the monitoring and restoration of the Ventura River and its tributaries in support of the work of many environmental organizations, the last three months of the V-RAN program focused on students conducting energy, water, or waste audits of their school campuses, or researching the issues around the removal of the Matilija Dam, then crafting and submitting project proposals to reduce the environmental footprint of their schools or advocating for the removal of the dam.

Students submitted 78 projects which were reviewed by a judging panel for the first phase. The top 16 finalists moved on to present their proposals in person for the second and final phase to an expert panel of judges at the 7th Energy Efficiency to Mitigate Climate Change and Ocean Acidification (EECCOA) Challenge Award Ceremony on May 5th, 2022 held at the Museum of Ventura County.

The young authors of the top environmental business proposals in each category were awarded cash or in-kind prizes by the Ventura Unified School District. Cash prizes ranged from $500-$200, and in-kind prizes included tickets to the Channel Islands.

The MERITO Foundation would like to thank V-RAN program partners and sponsors that including UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science, and Ventura Water for their support, and all the event sponsors that helped with our culminating event. We are ready for the launch of the 2022-2023 V-RAN program!

Brownley presents $5.5 million to Ventura Harbor for maintenance dredging

Funding will help meet the dredging needs and navigation depths of the Ventura Harbor.

On Monday, June 6th , at Harbor Cove Beach in the Ventura Harbor, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) presented a check to Chris Stephens, Chair of the Ventura Port District Board of Commissioners and to Ventura Port District and Harbormaster John Higgins. The check for $5,500,000,00 was signed by President Joe Biden on March 15th, 2022 and will be for maintenance dredging of the Ventura Harbor. This funding will help meet the dredging needs and navigation depths of the Ventura Harbor which is instrumental in keeping the harbor safe and open for industries which include the fishing industry, tourism and recreation and the supply chain for local businesses. Ventura Harbor is the leading harbor for the squid market due in large part to the infrastructure and commercial fishing fleets in Ventura Harbor as well as home to a thriving visitor economy with hotels, restaurants, retail shops with coastal access on both on and off the harbor.

Presen were Congresswoman Julia Brownley (CA-26),,Chris Stephens, Ventura Port District, Chair of the Board of Port Commissioners, Mike Blumenberg, Ventura Port District, Vice Chair of the Board of Port Commissioners, John Higgins, Ventura Port District, Harbormaster,

Todd Mitchell, Ventura Port District, Sr. Business Operations Manager and others.

On March 9, 2022, Brownley announced the inclusion of nine community projects totaling $27 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2471) that passed the House of Representatives by a 260-171-1 vote. The historic government funding package will help working families with the cost of living, create good-paying jobs, and make direct investments in community priorities throughout the country, such as dredging are harbors to protect downcoast federal and municipal infrastructure and operations and keep key industries that rely on the harbor in business.

New Developments Happening in Ventura

The bi-weekly highlight of some of the new developments being proposed, approved or under construction in Ventura

by Carol Spector and Eileen Shaw, Livable Ventura

Sanjon Village (formerly The Pearl)- a 3+ story residential building with 33 condominiums under construction on the corner of Sanjon and Thompson

Thompson Village (formerly Brisa 29)- a 3 story building with 29 condominiums on the corner of Thompson and Chrisman.

Cora Apartments- 3-4 story mixed use development 140 apartments under construction at the corner of Santa Clara and Ventura Ave.

Villa San Clemente- a 3 story mixed use building with 10 condominiums under construction at the corner of East Main and San Clemente.

2200 East Main- a 3+ story mixed use development with 26 condominiums under construction at the corner of East Main and Coronado.

11101 Carlos Street- 3 story mixed use building with 43 apartments under construction near Wells and Telegraph.

For more information go to www.LivableVentura.com or access the city development map at www.cityofventura.ca.gov Permit Services “button” or Development Map Permit Services | Ventura, CA for projects Under Review, Scheduled for Hearing or Entitled (Approved) and Under Construction.

Continuous improvements are being made at the Trail

Ventura is a bronze-rated bicycle friendly community. Photos by Michael Gordon

Ventura Mayor Sofia Rubalcava, local officials, the City of Ventura, and Caltrans held a community bike ride on Saturday, May 21, at 9:00 a.m. at Westpark Community Center, located at 450 W. Harrison Ave. The bike ride celebrated the $5 million Clean California Grant awarded for the Ventura River Trail.

May is National Bike Month and this is an opportunity to celebrate the many supportive efforts to renovate and reinvigorate the Ventura River Trail,” shared Mayor Sofia Rubalcava. “We hope everyone can join us in celebrating this important win for our beloved Ventura River Trail.”

For many years this trail has provided community members access to their local schools, places of work, and recreation facilities,” said Ventura Mayor Sofia Rubalcava. “It also serves the community as a circulation corridor to our beautiful Ventura beaches, and up into the hills of Ojai.”

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the City of Ventura celebrated a nearly $5 million Clean California grant during the community bike ride along the Ventura River Trail. The money will be used to transform a two-mile portion of the trail and is made possible through Governor Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative, a sweeping $1.1 billion, multiyear clean-up effort led by Caltrans to remove trash, create thousands of jobs and engage communities to transform public spaces.

Continuous improvements of the Ventura River Trail include repaving the bike trail, adding solar lighting, and removing and replacing trail fencing. Targeted improvements include accessibility improvements to access the trail, public art, trail monuments, environmental and ‘no litter’ signage, native and drought-tolerant shrub and tree planting, wayfinding to the trail, and other various trail user amenities.

Other improvements will repave two miles of the bike trail, replace fencing, add drought-tolerant landscaping, a water-refill station and a bike repair station. The project will also include art murals on the trail floodwalls that highlight the cultural significance of Ventura’s westside and the greater community. In addition to the trail improvements and public art, the project will include new trash cans and “no littering” signs to reduce trash and debris along the trail.

All Californians deserve access to clean, beautiful and safe pathways,” said Caltrans Acting Director Steven Keck. “The Ventura River Trail is an invaluable part of California’s transportation network, and Caltrans is proud to fund this project that will beautify this trail and ensure that the trail serves Ventura’s community and visitors for decades to come.”

The Ventura River Trail was built in 1989 and extends approximately six miles along State Route 33. The path connects to the Ojai Valley Trail to the north and the Omer Rains Trail to the south. Together, these three trails comprise the greater Ventura River Parkway.

Through trail infrastructure upgrades, the Ventura River Trail Improvements project is expected to extend the life of the trail by 15 to 30 years. In addition, the project aims to reduce the amount of waste and debris on the trail, beautifying the space for public enjoyment and providing a more equitable space of recreation for the community.

With more than 60 miles of bike lanes, 35 miles of bike routes and paths, and over 400 bicycle lockers for riders to use, the City of Ventura is designated by the League of American Bicyclists as a bronze-rated bicycle friendly community.

Officer Mercado will receive approximately 120-160 hours of pre-training instruction

Pre-training instruction for Ventura Police Department Traffic Unit held in Ventura. Photos by Patricia Schallert

Officer Emerson Mercado was selected as newest member of the Ventura Police Department Traffic Unit, a specialty assignment whose primary function is to decrease the number of property damage, injury, and fatal traffic collisions in the City of Ventura. Officer Mercado is currently training to prepare for the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) 80-hour motorcycle certification that every motor officer attends and needs to pass before being able to move out into the field as a solo Motor Officer.

Officer Mercado will receive approximately 120-160 hours of pre-training instructed by current certified Motor Officers under the supervision of Traffic Unit Supervisor Sergeant Mike Brown, before moving on to the 80-hour California POST certification course. Pre-training and certification training will acquaint Officer Mercado with techniques and principles that can be utilized to maximize skills which are necessary for the safe and effective operation of the police motorcycle.  Officer Mercado will develop coordination, balance, control, and the confidence necessary for the proficient operation of the police motorcycle.

Ventura College Foundation distributes over $750,000 in scholarships

Alyna Zarate is a multiple scholarship winner.

The Ventura College Foundation presented scholarships to 240 students for the 2022-2023 academic year during its 33rd Annual Scholarship Awards ceremony, May 13, at the Ventura College Athletic Center. There were 446 scholarships awarded, including nine new scholarships, totaling $756,908. Last year’s distribution amount was $652,758. 

Scholarships ranged from an average of over $2,400 for continuing students to an average of $4,200 for students who are transferring to four-year universities in the Fall. Many students received multiple scholarships.  

“Students are still feeling the impact of the pandemic and scholarships can make the difference between being able to stay focused on education or having to scale back,” says Ellyn Dembowski, chair of the Ventura College Foundation board of directors. “Ventura College Foundation has over 400 available scholarships. Students can apply for scholarships in specific areas of study or general scholarships. We urge students to take advantage of this valuable financial resource when the scholarship applications window opens again.” 

For multiple scholarship winner Alyna Zarate, 19, her career goal is to become a lawyer or political science professor. She originally studied biology, but after she became involved in student government at Ventura College, her interests shifted. 

“The scholarships showed me the potential in myself, that I can do anything in this world,” says Zarate. Besides her involvement in student government, Zarate volunteers with the Coalition for Literacy, which helps adults and students struggling to read. “Growing up, my parents always told me to give back to the community. At the end of the day, I want to make a difference in someone’s life.”  

The Ventura College Foundation is grateful for the continuing support of scholarship event sponsors. They include Edison International, HZ Main Events Design & Consulting, Miracle Mile Advisors, Citizens Business Bank, Searle Creative, Bank of the Sierra, L&T Catering, Ohana Pet Hospital, and Trinity Wheeler Photography. 

Scholarship applications will be accepted for the next academic year beginning in the Fall. For more about the Ventura College Foundation and donation opportunities, go to https://venturacollegefoundation.org.

Harriet H. Samuelsson foundation awards $670,000 in grant funding

The trustees of the Harriet H. Samuelsson Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $670,000 to 16 local non-profit organizations providing remote and in-person services to youth and adolescents during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Grants ranged from $10,000 to $85,000, and were allocated locally:

$45,000 to CAREGIVERS: Volunteers Assisting the Elderly for matching a teen volunteer with a senior to assist with indoor and outdoor home maintenance, lawn mowing, window washing, vacuuming, laundry, and home organization

$45,000 to Community Memorial Healthcare Foundation for new adjustable bassinettes and cribettes with digital monitors for infant resuscitation at Community Memorial Hospital

$15,000 to Step Up Ventura, Inc., to recruit, train and coach volunteers to read twice a week to children impacted by homelessness to promote pre-literacy activities, increase language and cognitive reasoning skills, and support healthy social, emotional, and behavioral development

Grants are awarded in the spring and fall of each year. The deadline for letters of interest for Fall 2022 grants is September 30, 2022. For more information about the Harriet H. Samuelsson Foundation, including instructions on how to apply for a grant, please visit the Foundation’s website at www.samuelssonfoundation.org.

Ventura fire personnel respond to auto into building

The sign does say “please come in”

On May 20, at 11:43pm, Ventura Police Command Center received a 911 call of a vehicle into a building at 165 S California St. Fire personnel arrived on scene within minutes of the initial call and found a passenger vehicle inside a small commercial structure. When officers arrived on scene, they found the vehicle unoccupied. Several witnesses stated the suspects fled from the car after the accident. Officers checked the area, but the suspects were not located.

The business was occupied at the time, however, no one was injured as a result of the collision.

New Developments in Ventura

Here is a bi-weekly highlight of some of the new developments being proposed, approved or under construction in Ventura

Submitted by Eileen Shaw, Carol Spector and Livable Ventura.

Park Plaza- a 5 story mixed-use building with 87 residential units proposed on the corner of Fir and Santa Clara

Front and Kalorama- a 4 story building with 88 residential units on the corner of Front Street and Kalorama. Design Review hearing was on 3/31

Hilton Hotel a new 160 room hotel with a restaurant and retail on the corner of Figueroa and Harbor. Design Review meeting on 05/19

Two Eleven- a 6 story mixed use with 94 units proposed for the corner of Figueroa and Thompson

Anastasi- 97 condos plus commercial space in 15 buildings on the corner of Harbor and Seaward. Design Review meeting was on 3/31

Shea Homes Del Sol- 201 residential units (89 townhomes and 112 single family homes) proposed at South Wells Road and Citrus Drive. Planning Commission hearing on 05/25

For more information go to www.LivableVentura.com or access the city development map at www.cityofventura.ca.gov Permit Services “button” or Development Map https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/1854/Permit-Services for projects Under Review, Scheduled for Hearing or Entitled (Approved) and Under Construction.

Housing Trust Fund Ventura County announces $2 million in lines of credit

The Westview II units are located in Ventura.

Housing Trust Fund Ventura County (Housing Trust Fund VC) announces two, $1 million lines of credit (LOC), one each from Community West Bank and Mission Bank. The funds will be used as part of Housing Trust Fund VC’s Everyone Deserves a Home revolving loan fund, a community impact note that provides flexible, below market interest rate loans for the development of affordable housing in Ventura County. Three upcoming developments that will receive funding are a new pre-development loan for Fillmore Terrace being developed by Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Corporation (PSHHC), a GAP loan for Mesa Ojai being purchased by Mesa, and a construction loan to the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura (HACSB) for Westview II.

The LOCs provided by Community West Bank and Mission Bank join a pool of funds from other public and private investors, sponsors, and donors to provide lending capital in support of Housing Trust Fund VC’s Community Promise of building safe and equitable homes in Ventura County. Brian Schwabecher, Chief Banking Officer of Community West Bank stated, “Community West Bank is proud to support Housing Trust Fund Ventura County with financing for their housing initiatives, and we’re also honored to help sponsor the Everyone Deserves a Home Compassion Campaign event on May 12.” The nonprofit’s annual fundraiser takes on a unique twist this year as a guest immersive experience shining light on housing equity as told through the lives of connected individuals.

Please visit:  www.housingtrustfundvc.org/compassioncampaign2022 to learn more.

The construction loan for Westview II (which will provide 50 homes to low-income and homeless seniors), were pulled from a pool of investments from Bank of the Sierra, Mission Bank and Community West Bank, and were provided to the developers at below market interest rates and reduced fees to help the developments move to the next phase of development.

“We are excited to build on our Community Promise of funding affordable homes with the support of both Community West Bank’s and Mission Bank’s generous lines of credit, which allow us to continue funding impactful developments,” states Housing Trust Fund VC CEO Linda Braunschweiger.

As of April 1, 2022, Housing Trust Fund VC has invested over $22.3 million through its revolving loan fund, creating 870 affordable apartments and homes for very-low, low- and middle-income employees, transitional age foster youth, veterans, farm workers, and the homeless.