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.
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.