Protecting our Ventura Hillsides

Over the last several months, there has been a great deal of community discussion regarding Regent Properties’ proposal to build 55 homes on 40 acres of the Mariano Rancho in the hills above Ventura. Recently, Regent Properties and the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy (VHC) entered into an agreement to negotiate for a donation of approximately 722 acres. Should the development, known as the La Viera project, win approval, Regents’ donation would result in the preservation of this land in perpetuity and provide trail connectivity from Hall Canyon to Grant Park and the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

Since the announcement, the VHC has fielded inquiries from both its own members and the wider community as people seek to better understand the details of the La Viera project. Some want to know more about the process by which the proposal will be evaluated by the Ventura City Council. Still others want to voice their opinions either for or against the project. People also want to know what role the Conservancy has in this.

The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) land trust organization with a mission “to preserve the hillside, canyons and open space that contribute to the unique character and natural environment of the city of Ventura and the surrounding region for the benefit of present and future generations.” If the Conservancy becomes the steward of this land, then that mission will be carried out.

As a land trust, the VHC is traditionally neutral and does not to take a position for or against a particular development. Our role is to acquire, protect and steward land in order to maintain open space for the good of the planet and for Ventura’s citizens and visitors to enjoy. We are not a political organization, and so we leave the debate to worthy organizations such as the Ventura Citizens for Hillside Preservation, which has worked on these issues for over a decade, or the recently formed Neighbors for the Ventura Hillside.

The Conservancy supports the procedures and regulations set forth by the city of Ventura. We believe that the Ventura City Council and Planning Commission will thoroughly investigate the La Viera project. We have confidence that our elected and appointed officials will evaluate the facts and weigh the concerns of citizens as they make the appropriate decision, whether that decision is an approval of the project or a denial that could result in the rescinding of the offer of acreage.

The agreement with Regent simply enables us to be in a position to negotiate how a donation of land would be handled by the Conservancy. There are many details that must be worked out with donations such as this, including issues of safety, access, maintenance and restoration of natural habitat — but that’s part of the VHC’s unique role as a land trust. We are dedicated to ensuring that the hillsides that make Ventura so special are protected and well stewarded, now and for generations to come.

David Comden, VHC President
Paul Meehan, VHC Vice President
 David Comden is the publisher of the VCReporter.


Candidate for Ventura City Council

It is with great pleasure that I announce my candidacy for Ventura City Council in 2016. I have been a 25-year resident in Ventura, where I helped raise my son and granddaughter after I moved here from Malibu. I have been involved in city politics in Ventura, as I was also in Malibu, and before that in Boston and Los Angeles. I am a graduate of UCLA in political science and business accounting and have been involved in many campaigns here in California. One of my campaign agenda items is to get working on helping the homeless find shelter this November. In addition I am pro-police, pro-business, a slow-growth advocate, fiscal conservative and a preservationist. I pledge to serve no more than two terms, and promise not to display yard signs on public property. In addition I promise not to accept any campaign contributions, as I will be beholden to no one or to any special interest. I promise to use my auditing skills to tighten up our budget and possibly try to lower taxes within the city by saving budgeted money. I look forward to a positive campaign and to meeting the thousands of voters that I hope will select me as their next Councilmember. Thank you very much.

Randall Richman




Fifty parking spaces

I enjoyed your informative article on the Downtown Ventura parking structure clash (“Parking proposal questioned,” news, Oct. 8).  However, stating that there are 494 spaces in the structure for public use is wrong. There are more like 50 at the most. The rest are already paid for by the businesses who have claimed them. I see people parking in the evening in the banks behind the structure or trying to locate some parking somewhere. It is a revolving door on the weekend of our citizens going into the structure with no luck at finding a spot now.

Fran Smith

Abide by the rules

I just read your article re Regent’s latest land offering (“Going uphill, news, Sept. 26). You didn’t mention in the piece the biggest point that is not being talked about in this development. The plan as it sits does not comply with the city’s own Hillside Management Program adopted to responsibly and safely build on this type of property. Most of what is in place today in the plan will have to be completely rewritten to accommodate such a project, throwing all the work put into this document to safeguard the city from a project such as this out the window, essentially opening up the door for more. It is noteworthy the Dr. Pradel you mention in the article had nothing to do with the original geological report that was sent to the city from Regent’s geo division; he is essentially just agreeing to what was given to him by Regent. If you have read the HMP, you will see where most of the opposition is coming from. They know the area in question was slated to be built eventually and just want the HMP enforced as written. If the project is worthy, abide by the rules set in place by our city.

The extra bit of unbuildable land they are dangling to get the public onboard comes with strings. The city will be on the hook for maintaining trails, liable for any accidents that occur while hiking those trails with all the oil field production obstacles one will have to navigate, not to mention walking past the shooting range coming into Grant Park.

This actually could be a good project for the city if there were some more forethought instead of the quick dollar. I know the term executive housing turns on city officials, but it doesn’t bring in business just because someone can purchase an expensive tract home with a view. (Yes, they are tract homes.) I would bet money that some of these will be someone’s vacation home. Here is an idea: a state-of-the-art, flagship development of custom, green, energy-producing, high-efficiency, water-smart dwellings that use the most cutting-edge tech available. Make that work, and businesses in those industries might want to come to our town to be part of what’s happening.

Andy Rowley

The proverbial cake

Paul Moomjean, I have read a few of your articles in the past and have gotten a real bad taste in my mouth. This article “Religious Reformation” (Right Persuasion, 10/8) really takes the proverbial cake.

First of all, every one of those men you pointed out was definitely mixing religion with politics. It’s true that this pope does have a decided affinity for making speeches. It’s real easy to make speeches when you know you don’t have to actually do anything about the subjects you are talking about. Every politician in the world knows that; it is the first thing they learn in politics 101.

You state that he reminded everyone that America must respect the religious beliefs of others — do you mean the way the Roman Catholic religion respects the religious beliefs of others?

On the subject of immigration, I wonder how many immigrants live in the Vatican City. On abortion, you state that, again, people should respect the views of others. Once again I ask, do you mean like the Roman Catholic religion does?

In any case, considering the many topics the pope hit on in his eloquent speeches, he destroyed any good he may have done by going along with the idea of making a slave owning, rapist, pedophile, murderer a saint. Of course I am speaking of Junipero Serra, the person that did more to destroy the lives of the American Indians than any other person in history.

Rellis Smith




Fiscal cuts

Thank you for your fair-minded coverage of the recent Simi Valley Republican debates (VCReporter, Sept. 24). I would now like to see a cover story dealing with how the Ventura County welfare — or, more specifically, the populace, black Hispanic and, increasingly, white, seeks to deal with fiscal cuts and federal program alterations proposed by Republican candidates, especially the platform espoused by Donald Trump. Thank you again.

Alix Walker



Best of Ventura County

Good morning. Being a resident of Ventura County for over 20 years, I have always enjoyed following the “Best of” awards and have even used several of the recommendations to good advantage.

Over the years I have been somewhat puzzled to see how many city of Ventura awards far outweigh the entire county, so decided to run an unofficial survey to see how the awards played out.

Of the 251 awards I counted, the city of Ventura took first place in 143 (57 percent), Camarillo was a distant second with 43 first-place winners, Oxnard third with 25 first-place winners. (See NOTE 1.)

Comparing East County, i.e., east of Conejo grade, to West County, West County took 227 first-place awards (90 percent) compared to 37 for East County, which includes Agoura (which is actually in Los Angeles County).

Given the high population density in East County, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, one might expect more awards to businesses and services located in that part of the voting area. One might conclude that the Reporter is not as well-distributed in East County or, if it is well-distributed, that it is not well-read or that readers don’t care to vote. The Oaks Mall and Thousand Oaks Auto Mall are certainly worthy of some voters’ recognition.

Regardless, given the results of the survey, perhaps you might consider calling the survey “Best of the City of Ventura” or at least “Best of Western Ventura County.”

NOTE 1: Not all categories were counted in the survey. For instance, Best Surf Spot, Best Beach, Best Yacht Club, Best Athlete, Best Auto Detailer, Best Food Truck, Best Radio Station, so on, to name a few of the approximately 27 I did not include since they were names of individuals, teams, events, so on. (Not sure there are any surf spots in Ojai or Simi Valley.)

In counting award locations, many chain operations were voted for with multiple locations; so if Topper’s Pizza won first place in multiple cities, I counted each individual city as an award. If there was more than one location within an individual city, the city was given only one award.

I also noted that McGrath State Park won third place for best campground although the park has been closed for more than a year.

There were no third-place awards for five categories. No second- (or third-) place awards for Best Gay Bar.

Please be sure this survey is “unofficial” at best but nevertheless shows how the city of Ventura seems to outweigh the rest of the entire county combined.

Please feel free to contact me if necessary. It was fun, took a few hours, but did answer some of the questions I have had over the years.

Spencer Westbrook




Saving water

Unfortunately a large waterline broke on the curve between Cedar and Poli. For myself and my wife it really has been sorta nice — no traffic past our home in three days. It’s like being on vacation.

However, and there is always a however, as the city crew is working to correct the problem they have had to open a fire hydrant in order to evacuate the water in the pipe they are working on. What that means is that thousands of gallons of water have been shot down Cedar Street and other streets while the crew is working for the past three days.

My question is, why don’t they simply connect a hose to the fire hydrant and save the water in one of the large water trucks that Ventura Water owns? That water could then be used to water trees or other things we need water for.

Out of all the bosses that have been involved in this situation, you would have thought that one of them would have thought of that method of saving the water.

Rellis Smith



Creative programming

This letter to the editor is in response to “EPA accuses Volkswagen, Audi of evading emission laws,” USA Today, 9/18

So much for VW’s clean-burning diesel reputation. We had originally attributed our VW Sportwagen TDI’s outstanding performance to superior German engineering and not obfuscation. I still think they build super-engineered and affordable automobiles. TDI owners’ environmental holier-than-thou status, however, is now questionable.To VW’s credit it is still planning 20 plug-in hybrid or all-electric models before 2020.

The recall will net us TDI owners’ negative power, torque and mpg performance. Goodbye to 40-plus mpg. I used to procure VWs and Mercedeses for the U.S. Army in Germany back in the ’80s. Both were excellent and trustworthy companies at that time. We never had a problem with either one. My European-spec VW hatchback really had good performance and mileage [due mainly to fewer emissions restrictions].

This cheating scandal is an unfortunate setback for lot of reasons: (1) unsuspecting TDI owners, (2) the breathing public and (3) VW (whose stock plummeted along with consumer confidence). Giving the maximum fine the EPA can levy will probably not happen. If, however, the EPA and the DOJ could see fit to mail a small portion of the proposed $37,500/ vehicle fine to us jilted VW buyers, that would be nice. Especially since the lion’s share of any class-action suit to make us whole will nominally go to the lawyers.

P.S. No one from VW has contacted us regarding the recall, which is supposed to take place in less than a year. We should all understand and reconcile ourselves to the fact that mitigating man-made global warming will be an expensive proposition and not a party — but it sure beats the alternative. 

P.P.S. Trust EPA and CA are checking other auto manufacturers. My guess is VW wasn’t the only one to employ creative programming.

Bob Nast




All of us at Love Heals Jewelry are super-grateful for the 2015 Best of Ventura acknowledgment.

We are so happy to be involved with all of our partners in Ethiopia in our tree planting campaigns. The whole community comes together and the landscape is being transformed. Very sweet!

The Love Heals Tribe




The two Santas

There have been some truly great confidence games, Ponzi, multilevel marketing, etc. But they pale in comparison to the two run by the Republican party to fleece the gullible.

First, we have the Two Santas. In 1978, Jude Wanniski, a conservative columnist, penned a column advocating that the Republican party adopt the two Santas approach. First Santa, massive tax cuts for the rich, and second Santa, spend like crazy on things Republicans like; you know, war, farm support, financials. Then, when Democrats get into power, which they will from time to time, scream that they can do nothing to help the average American because of the massive deficits. Ronald Reagan followed this like a champ, creating two huge welfare programs, the B-1 bomber and the Star Wars SDI program, while cutting taxes and creating the massive S&L banking crisis, $125 billion tax payer bailout for 872 failed banks. Clinton refused to follow their plan, raised taxes, and with peace and prosperity and budget surpluses, turned the presidency over to G. W. Bush, and the two Santas con came roaring back. With the economy in free-fall, massive deficits, war on two fronts, Republicans tried to block every effort of Obama to stabilize the economy, screaming, “Look at the deficit.” The same con run for 35 years, and America still falls for it.

The second con is Planned Parenthood and abortion. Republicans shut the government down in 1995 over Medicare and Planned Parenthood. But there was a Democrat in office then. After all, Ronald Reagan as California governor, signed a bill in 1970 legalizing abortion. He only opposed abortion when he decided to run for national office as a Republican. Like all other Republicans, he knew this was a con to fleece the gullible. With George Bush, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House for six years and did nothing about abortion or Planned Parenthood. Why? They didn’t need to fleece the fools; they were in office. So now, out of office and with an election pending, here comes the con, same Republican con for the past 35 years.

So, fools, line up, get fleeced again, let the wealthy steal you blind by voting Republican as they run the same cons again.

Norm Rodewald








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  1. Spiritual Bodies: Photography by Carlton Wilkinson

    January 10 @ 8:00 am - February 29 @ 8:00 pm
  2. History Lecture Series: Accommodation and Resistance

    January 14 @ 7:00 pm - March 10 @ 7:00 pm
  3. Meleko Mokgosi: Acts of Resistance

    January 22 @ 10:00 am - April 9 @ 4:00 pm
  4. Ventura County Research Symposium: Sustainability Through Soil Health

    February 27 @ 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
  5. Post-Fire Food Safety Workshop

    February 27 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  6. Wildfire Recovery Community Healing Workshop

    February 28 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  7. Watercolor on Yupo Workshop

    February 29 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  8. Zlatomir Fung, Cellist with Janice Carissa, Pianist

    March 1 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  9. Dinner & Art Demonstration

    March 3 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  10. Ojai Women’s Fund 2020 Grant Workshop March 3rd

    March 3 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

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