My name is Ray Hepinstall. I read an article in your paper called Our Environment, by Kit Stolz (feature,12/24). I thought it was a job well-done! I’m sending you my song called, “Hey Now.” It’s a green pop-reggae song about saving our planet. Hope you enjoy my song. Keep up the good work! (The song, “Hey Now,” can be found on Ray’s Myspace page:

Ray Hepinstall, Simi Valley


Domestic disturbance redefined
Two of your Dec. 24 headlines spoke directly to me: “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes” and “Remembering the homeless.”

To realize that a sudden change in one’s life could cause homelessness and put an ordinary person in those extraordinary, uncomfortable shoes is unimaginable.

A recent experience made me much more aware of the physical and emotional trauma than I would have conceived of months ago.

I am a retiree, having moved from Los Angeles some six years ago, a move which has brought me much pleasure because of the welcoming, healthful environment with its many activities here, all within reasonable distance of one another.

I rented an apartment at the Beachfronter complex near the Promenade, always paying my monthly rent on time and never having a problem with my kind and friendly neighbors. I renewed my lease periodically and was fully prepared to stay there indefinitely.

However, my lease expired this time and I was fully expecting a renewal, I received instead, in the mail, notice of my termination of tenancy and to be out of my apartment in 60 days, that I was to “quit (vacate/move out) and surrender possession of the premises to the landlord.”

In shock, I attempted to contact the corporate management to determine the reason for this action. My calls and certified letter were not answered. The notice stated that under California law “… the landlord … may terminate a month-to-month tenancy without cause since the premises are not located in a rent-controlled district.”

My five years-plus as a tenant meant nothing.

I live alone and had to scramble to find another apartment, checking place after place until I found an acceptable location — at a higher rate than I had been paying. This, plus the trauma and expense of moving, has taken its toll.

I am 81 years old.

Studies have shown that moving is one of the most traumatic experiences in life.

Clearly, my experience does not compare to the tragedy of those you wrote about who are suddenly confronted with this horror and those who have been experiencing it for years. For them, there is no immediate solution available.

But perhaps the Reporter’s focus on the plight of homeless people in Ventura, the importance of evoking everyone’s compassion, the need for a year-round shelter and services and, indeed, protection for unsuspecting renters like me will bring

about a much-needed change.

Virginia Donohue, Ventura


Oppressive code violations
In the Dec. 11 issue of the VCReporter, there is an article title “Resale homes cause Ventura homebuyers major problems.”

It is not the home that is causing the problem but the policies and procedures implemented by Ventura County that are causing major disruptions in people’s lives. If anyone other than Ventura County was to attempt something like this, it would be called extortion.

No doubt due to the intense expensive process required to build anything, building projects (and thus permits) are not generating the revenue they once did. Of course, you can put your project on the “fast track” (give them extra money to do their jobs).

If you have a misconceived notion that a permit ensures that you have paid for anything and everything this county can dream up to complete your project, you have been deceived! You will also be disappointed to know that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunnyu do not exist

Other companies lay off staff when business decreases, but what does Ventura County do? Go for the jugular and invent creative methods of filling the coffers. Code violations are just one of these revenue generators.

I am also a victim of these oppressive tactics used by Ventura County. I owned a 60-year-old building and suddenly I was attacked with claims that somewhere between 1948 and 1953 something was done without their blessing. I was told that these “violations” are “complaint-driven” yet an extensive research project could not reveal who this mystery complainer was.

Every time you speak to anyone, you are billed for their “time.” I have been billed over $1,400 just for attempting to clear this up! They demand you go through the entire permit process, where each and every different person you have to deal with generates giant fees for you to pay them.

They go so far as to require everything be brought up to the new codes. Even when that is impossible due to the changes in their building codes. Meanwhile, you are always on the clock for each and every requirement.

Why else would they call themselves Resource Management Agency if it wasn’t entirely about the money?

We need to declare a moratorium on the bullying strong-arm tactics used by Ventura County to oppress its citizens.

Curtis Harrington, Ojai


Futility of Israel’s unrest
The massive air assault against Hamas and the Palestinian semistate will produce absolutely nothing positive. In fact, once again, Israel, as it did in Lebanon, has fallen into a bloody trap. The immense destruction of lives disintegrated in the massive blasts will only reap long-term havoc on any possibility of peace.

Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and every Islamic nation will now take up the cause célèbre. The essential failure of the Lebanon campaign has not provided enough pain! What was accomplished? Why follow the same path! Massive destruction, and flooding hospitals with dead and dying, will not advance the cause of Israel to any degree. Furthermore, our new administration is already burdened with problems that may very well overwhelm it.

It appears that Iran will be the greatest beneficiary of this tragedy. I personally believe it could not have hoped for a greater initiative for added terrorism. All eyes will now be turned on the small area of the Middle East while the situation in Afghanistan erodes, and Iraq may also fall to increased deterioration of its newly formed government.

The feeble rocket and mortar attacks on Israel did very little to damage or harm the civilian population. Drone aircraft and radar detection could have blunted the attackers. Also, the United Nations should have been called into special session and presented with the scope of the problem and immediate assistance requested. Hamas should have been put on the defensive.

Year after year, our secretary of state visited the area and should have provided insight into the current situation. It was well-known that Israel really did not wish to continue the limited truce. When that truce ended, why did we not continue our efforts? The fact that Hamas has been a total failure at governing Gaza is more than evident, and it has used the rocket attacks to create the conflagration. This has unified the Islamic Nations and caused most to support Hamas and seek to alleviate the immense suffering of the Palestinian population.

So we have Lebanon revisited! And to what gains? Every terrorist will be enhanced, energized and supported all the more. And Iran’s power will be renewed. Our new administration may very well bend under the problems unfolding, and to the very great pain of every American who had hoped for a new day.

Alfred C. Surwin, Ventura


Defining the VCORD View Initiative
We appreciate our Mayor’s acknowledgement of the VCORD (Ventura Citizen’s for Organized Development) View Initiative (Letters, 12/31), and we appreciate the work of the council’s appointed View Task Force. As an all volunteer nonprofit organization, we know the sacrifices asked of these appointed volunteers and are confident their work will be a valuable foundation for the View Resources Board that will be formed by our initiative.

In fairness, however, please allow VCORD to define its own View Initiative. It is much more than a building height ordinance. To understand its purpose, one need only look at the VCORD mission: to strengthen the voices of all of Ventura’s unique neighborhoods, through uniting them, so they may be heard more clearly at City Hall.

The VCORD View Initiative merely gives Ventura’s neighborhoods the right to define their own environment through the writing of a view initiative that will then be voted upon by the voters. We believe, as Venturans, that our distinct neighborhoods share respect for each other and will demonstrate that respect at the ballot box.  There will be a temporary hold on final approvals for tall buildings in view overlay districts until the people have a chance to vote on the written initiative. This is the detail that has the city wringing its hands, but it’s a red herring. The real issue is about giving power to the neighborhoods to determine how they want to live. The new idealogues at City Hall believe they know what’s best for us, and we simply do not share their vision.

The VCORD View Initiative is a direct response to the current City Council’s, with the exception of Jim Monahan, implementation of a high-density, high-rise ideology through coding and zoning. This new ideology lacks fiscal impact studies, ignores compatibility, co-opts solar access and the sweeping east/west views of the city. Infill was re-licensed as overfill. And the mantra, “We must go up” morphed from 30 feet to 75 feet through residential neighborhoods. Affinity fraud was imposed as “sustainability” as if there were no other way to survive other than living like rats in cages. This ideology is being imposed upon our residents by a minority due to the intensity of their movement.  We are like the frogs that are being cooked so slowly that we don’t notice until it’s too late. But we have noticed after all.

The View Initiative has the potential to slow this high rise movement by giving power back to the neighborhoods, so the city is flailing away at it, and will continue up until election day. Good luck, I say. Venturans didn’t save the hillsides to see them disappear from view. We’re a pretty laid back town until we get our backs up, then we’ll stand up for our values with amazing resolve. We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again.

Camille Harris, President, VCORD Ventura


Gaza and the ‘Blame Game’
You elected Hamas. You must be held responsible for everything that Hamas does.  Seven months ago when they started firing missiles into Israel, that was an act of war, and Israel should have declared it so and taken the appropriate action against all of Gaza. Could Japan have claimed that Tojo and his military group were alone responsible for Pearl Harbor and not Japan itself? If the response from Israel is not to your liking, get rid of Hamas and stop saying, ‘They did it’!!

Bernard Lehrer, Ventura