Proposal fails for downtown apartments
The Ventura Planning Commission deadlocked on Wednesday, June 20, after failing to decide whether or not to include affordable housing in a planned downtown apartment complex.
The proposed project would put 255 units on three and a half acres at Junipero Street, between Santa Clara Street and Thompson Boulevard. The first motion, to approve the project with 15 percent affordable housing included, failed, with two members of the Commission — Dan Long and David Ferrin — voting in favor while two others, Laura Dunbar and Rondi Guthrie voted in favor of market-rate pricing for the housing.
Three members of the Commission abstained from voting due to conflicts of interest.
Ventura’s Downtown Inclusionary Ordinance requires that 15 percent of for-sale and for-rent projects include affordable housing, but recent California Supreme Court rulings have brought into question whether or not the requirement is legal, argued attorneys for developer John Ashkar.
Ashkar has until 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 1 to appeal the decision to City Council, but the failure to pass the project in any regard effectively adds several months to the already delayed construction.
Barbara Macri-Ortiz, an attorney representing low and moderate-income households in support of the inclusionary housing, said during open commentary that it “isn’t a just society” that would allow a certain segment of the population to live downtown while the “slaves that serve them” are forced to commute.
Dunbar said, however, that there already exists an “inordinate amount of low-income housing” downtown, before voting against the 15 percent proposal.
Film screening highlights human trafficking issue
A film documenting the plight of victims of human trafficking and the people who work to put an end to it will be screened this Saturday in Thousand Oaks in support of Forever Found and the Ventura County Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
In Plain Sight: Stories of Hope and Freedom follows six female abolitionists as they fight against sex trafficking. Through interviews with victims and law enforcement officials, the reality of human trafficking is unearthed.
Detective Cpl. David Ruggiero of the Ventura Police Department says that human trafficking in Ventura County is a big problem.
“It is a big problem, but how big of a problem is difficult to say,” said Ruggiero. “The hidden nature of the crime and just the fact that we haven’t been proactively looking for it as law enforcement in the county makes it difficult to determine.”
While Los Angeles County has created a task force to seek out perpetrators and to assist victims in transitioning into normal lives, Ventura County doesn’t currently have an equivalent. Ruggiero says that this is a problem of a lack of reporting the issue and that if the people of Ventura County wanted to put an end to it, those with the power to start a task force would do so.
“With human trafficking you don’t have customers with minor girls calling us and saying they found a victim,” said Ruggiero. “For the most part, the girls see themselves as criminals because they’re involved with prostitution, so they don’t often report it, either.”
Forever Found and the Ventura County Coalition Against Human Trafficking are made up of members of local law enforcement, members of the District Attorney’s office and social service agencies.
In Plain Sight will be screened Saturday, May 30, at 11:30 a.m. at the Muvico, 166 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, $10-15. For more information, visit www.foreverfound.org.
Earthquakes subject of dinner event
Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismological expert from the U.S. Geological Survey and Seismological Laboratory of CalTech, will discuss the consequences of earthquakes at Ventura County District 4 Supervisor Linda Parks’ quarterly dinner event on Thursday, June 4, in Westlake Village.
Jones’ work with the city of Los Angeles includes the recent approval of earthquake safety standards by the City Council for cell phone towers, which could hinder search and rescue efforts and even the long-term economy of a city if damaged during an earthquake. Jones also pointed out that many of the city’s water pipelines travel across fault lines and that keeping water flowing is critical to recovery after a quake.
Parks says that though LA and Ventura County are different in many ways, preparation for earthquakes should be a similar venture.
“Each community has their own special vulnerabilities,” said Parks. “We need to be working with our fellow jurisdictions, cities and counties, because one can get really cut off from services. You really do need to count on your neighbors.”
The dinner will be held at 7 p.m. at Petra Mediterranean Cuisine, 3731 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Westlake Village, $35. For more information and to RSVP, call 214-2510 by Friday, May 29.
Wagon Wheel Bowl set for demolition
Wagon Wheel Bowl, the last remnant of an era long gone in Oxnard, closed its doors on May 24.
The bowling alley was built in the 1950s near the now long-demolished Wagon Wheel Hotel and Restaurant and has remained open through the turbulent time leading up to an eventual redevelopment of the area, the iconic neon sign still standing.
The 63-acre site upon which the bowling center sits will soon become a 1,500-home, 50,000-square-foot commercial space, plans for which have been bouncing around since before the onset of the recession in 2008.