A town hall-style meeting, sponsored by the City of Ventura and its citizens, was held at the Century 10 Cinema on Main Street on Tuesday night. Ventura County Civic Alliance Chair David Mirren moderated presentations by City Manager Rick Cole, Community Environmental Council Executive Director Dave Davis and Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett.
Cole praised the city of Ventura as a leading force behind the "green" movement. "Very few communities in California are as committed to a sustainable future as Ventura," he commented, noting that city facilities had reduced their energy usage by 25 percent, and had cut CO2 emissions by 1.2 million pounds a year. In addition, the city aims to completely phase out herbicides and pesticides, and is using a $1 million grant to treat polluted storm water that would normally run off into the ocean.
Davis fired off a long list of statistics, specifically drawing attention to the 2030 Challenge, by which all new buildings and major renovation projects would cut down current energy use averages by 50 percent.
He drew applause from the crowd as he rebutted the claim that a proposed liquid natural gas facility off Oxnard’s coast is necessary, arguing that the "Fossil Free by 33" movement, by which participants commit to ween themselves off of fossil fuels by 2030, was an achievable goal. He noted that wind power from the outermost edge of Santa Rosa Island alone is enough to power the tri-county area.
"That’s clean energy, off the grid; it’s independent, and it’s forever," Davis proclaimed, adding that alternative sources of energy like wind and ocean power are enough to generate 103.9 percent of energy requirements in Ventura.
Bennett framed the global warming issue as the primary concern for all citizens, appealing specifically to babyboomers like himself. "The U.S. is not a model today," he said. "Locally, we have to do things to change things nationally. We will be a stronger country if we face this squarely."
Pursuing the idea of Ventura as a state and national leader, Bennet outlined some successes within the county: The fire stations are now required to be 20 percent more efficient than building codes demand, and 12 county fire stations do sport solar panels.
He was equally concerned about the difficulty in improving public transportation. "When we push for mass transit, we get a push back from road builders," he complained, urging citizens to show their support for improved public transport.
Instead of hosting a question-and-answer session, Mirren invited citizens to give examples of the ways they had helped lessen their negative impact on the environment, and opened the floor for suggestions they had for the city. Approximately 20 people lined up to take the microphone.
Congressional candidate Jill Martinez also approached the podium to show her support for green initiatives within the city. "We are too preoccupied with a global war economy," she observed, pointing out that countries like Great Britain, Brazil and Finland were each ahead of the U.S. in conservation.