Measles outbreak originated in city
It wasn’t the roaring ’20s, but you might have been fooled by headlines declaring the return of the measles. In January, an outbreak of the disease once thought to be controlled through herd immunity vaccinations left health officials stunned. The Ventura County Health Care Agency issued an alert for those who visited any of several locations in Camarillo and Oxnard, and those who may have traveled to Disneyland. The outbreak became a multistate ordeal, but eventually faded away as quarantines on the infected allowed the virus to take its course.
Possible lead exposure from air traffic
In February, the Center for Environmental Health released a map showing neighborhoods and industrial areas directly around the Camarillo Airport that may have been contaminated by pollutants from exhaust, the worst of them being lead. Areas particularly affected were the Camarillo Premium Outlets and a residential neighborhood off Las Posas Road. Representatives from the Camarillo Airport said that the county is fully supportive of finding an alternative fuel with fewer emissions.
Beloved Casa Pacifica therapy dog dies
Archie, the Casa Pacifica therapy dog famed for being a “gentle giant,” passed away in August. The 185-pound Newfoundland served 4,000 children on the Casa Pacifica campus for over a decade.
Oxnard immigrant convicted of murdering newborn
A jury convicted Oxnard woman Rosalba Cruz Moran of the first-degree murder on the morning of Monday, Nov. 23, of her newborn child after leaving it in an agricultural field in Camarillo in May 2012 — her infant was found dead three days after its birth. Moran’s defense claimed she was a victim of rape and that she feared being thrown out if she brought home a baby. Her stories, however, conflicted during the investigation, when she denied giving birth. The prosecutors called her a manipulative liar. She awaits sentencing of possibly 25 years to life on Jan. 7.
Suicide by cop
A resident of Camarillo calls the police on Dec. 16 from a 7-11, saying a crime was about to happen and that he wanted the police to kill him. Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputy Leon Mah, a nine-year veteran of the department, arrived on the scene, confronted by a knife-wielding Bryant Neil Duncan, 23, who then charged the deputy and was consequently shot by Mah.
Marijuana cooperative subject of Sheriff’s investigation
It was a year of highs and lows for the Shangri La Care Cooperative, Ojai’s marijuana club for patients looking for a reprieve from pain and suffering due to illness or otherwise. In March, co-op owner Jeff Kroll announced plans for the founding of a medical marijuana testing service to weed out fungus and other contaminants, but just months later, in October, Kroll and his business were raided by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department as part of what the department calls “just another branch in an ongoing investigation.” In December, Shangri La was raided once again, as were the offices of Kroll’s personal lawyer. The goings-on at Shangri La promise to stretch into the New Year and possibly beyond.
Council mulls answers to affordable housing crisis
Tiny houses, Air BnB and more have all been on the agenda for Ojai’s embattled dealings with its affordable housing crisis in 2015. As the city reacts to a situation not unfamiliar to cities nationwide (that is, how to regulate short-term vacation rentals in a way that doesn’t subtract from an already depleted stock of rentals), they have also been presented with options on how to deal with the city’s housing deficit. Expect discussions involving many facets of affordable living to be discussed in 2016, including the advent of tiny-house living, which has become increasingly popular with city councils facing similar housing dilemmas.
Wagon Wheel Bowling demolished
In May, Oxnard’s famed and iconic Wagon Wheel Bowling closed its doors and, soon after, was leveled. All that remains are the mountains of cement and refuse, soon to be cleared to make way for a 1,500-home, 50,000-square-foot commercial space on 63 acres.
Pesticide use brings Ventura County to the forefront
In June, a revealing report on the use of pesticides near Oxnard’s Rio Mesa High School, specifically the pesticide known as 1,3-Dichloropropene, sent ripples through county and state regulatory commissions as state regulators considered creating mandatory buffer zones between agricultural fields and residential neighborhoods and schools. The report by the Department of Public Health also showed that 30 percent of Ventura County schools were within one-quarter mile of fields using potentially harmful, carcinogenic pesticides.
Funding for winter shelter subject of contention
The weather since the beginning of winter has been rather chilly, but prior to September of this year, the county’s homeless were left in limbo on whether or not enough funding would be available to open a winter warming shelter that would see them safe and warm, if only for a night. Community Action of Ventura County estimated that opening the shelter would cost around $200,000. Luckily for the homeless, the warming shelter was opened, as well as an expanded day center operated by Community Action.
Rare sighting of venomous snake on local beach
As predictions of a potentially historic El Niño condition stirred anticipation of winter rain, a deadly yellow-bellied sea snake washed ashore in October on Silver Strand beach — alive. Normally an inhabitant of tropical waters in South America, experts said rising temperatures in Southern California’s coastal waters were to blame for the rare sighting.
City renames polluted storm drains after Chumash
In an “it’s the thought that counts” manner, the Ventura County Public Works Agency’s Watershed Protection District renamed two industrial drains in November after the local Chumash, though questions regarding their cleanliness have left a lot to be desired, as the waterways may be added to the Clean Water Act list of impaired waterbodies in 2016. The drains formerly known as the J Street Drain and the Oxnard Industrial Drain are now known as the Tšumaš (Chumash) Creek and Ormond Lagoon Waterway, respectively.
Gull Wings children museum closes
After 28 years, Ventura County’s only children’s museum, Gull Wings, announced in early December that it would be closing its doors in early January. Board President Julia Chambers cited the unsafe neighborhood that the museum was in as the reason for its decline in attendance and ensuing closure.
Oxnard’s ongoing fiscal issues causes division
After years of neglect and mismanagement of at least the city’s financial paperwork, let alone its actual finances, the city goes through major leadership overhauls. But as officials continue to uncover exactly what kind of fiscal trouble the city is in, which led to cutting $12.8 million from the general fund for 2015-2016 and then borrowing $16 million from Measure O to cover costs, local safety and fire unions ask for raises to achieve pay similar to what other area safety and fire employees make. The city is asking for employees to take pay cuts. Also, in August, Oxnard proposed discussing an increase in utility costs, an ongoing issue that is raising concern among citizens.
Troubles mount at City Hall
Discord at Port Hueneme City Hall began when Housing Authority Director Joe Gately ordered an unapproved audit of federal funds in 2014, which then led to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in February. By October, HUD told this city to prove it had used the funds properly or pay back $2.38 million in 30 days, though HUD granted the city an extension. In the meantime, between the beginning of the HUD investigation and the present, some officials either announced or committed to resignation and/or retirement, including the city manager and the community development director, while others were terminated, including Gately, who ordered the audit, and Financial Director Robert Bravo. Lawsuits are impending. Further, a self-imposed line of demarcation was drawn between three longstanding City Council members — Doug Breeze, John Sharkey and then-mayor Sylvia Munoz Schnopp — and two newcomers, Tom Figg and Jim Hensley.
Shortage of lifeguards put swimmers in peril
A lack of lifeguards on duty prompted questions of safety when six beachgoers were swept into the water in October during strong currents and unseasonably warm weather. Multiple county agencies convened to rescue the swimmers, but the city’s handling of its lifeguard force — which ends its watch in late September of every year — fell onto the tall stack of issues the city is facing, including a lawsuit filed by two former lifeguards who allege retaliation by city officials.
Hueneme Beach gets some TLC
After scores of complaints about eroding beaches, residents of Port Hueneme celebrated both the reopening of their fishing pier and a restored beach in 2015. The pier had been closed for eight months.
Leopard cubs spotlight of national protest
Obi and Moshi, a pair of African leopard cubs, were born in Pennsylvania and were transported to Moorpark’s Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Inc., drawing the ire of the animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, which alleged that the new owners hadn’t the experience to handle the cubs and that the transfer didn’t meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act for transporting an endangered species.
Father Junipero Serra elevated to sainthood
Pope Francis has become known for his ability to appeal to various demographics that would otherwise have had no interest in the Catholic Church, but his surprise decision in January to canonize Father Junipero Serra, founder of 21 missions in California, including the mission in downtown Ventura, sparked ire among the native Chumash people. In order to become canonized — elevated to sainthood — a person must have evidence of having performed two miracles in his lifetime. Supporters say that Serra fought against exploiting the native Chumash, but others say that Serra brought violent evangelism to the new world.
Alleged homeless attack turns out to be self-inflicted
National attention once again turned to Ventura in February when it was alleged that a homeless man had been set aflame on the beach at the end of Seaward Avenue. The man lay in hospital for several weeks, unable to speak, with police only having his word at the scene to begin an investigation. Though three people caught on CCTV near the incident were originally sought as suspects, evidence led the Ventura Police Department to conclude that the man had set the fire himself by accident, proven by the fire itself having originated from within his sleeping bag and no trace of accelerants being found on his person.
Council votes against building moratorium
In February, the City Council asked staff to consider a building moratorium in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the state. In April, the City Council voted against the moratorium, but asked staff to create a residential allocation program whereby the City Council would be able to better scrutinize housing projects. In November, the Planning Commission rejected the residential allocation program, which cost the city $170,000 to create. The program is scheduled to go before the City Council early in 2016.
One of Ventura’s iconic Two Trees on verge of dying
The slow death of one of Ventura’s beloved Two Trees sent the city into an uproar in April, bringing into question the care of the coastal icons and the future of the city’s symbol. From drought to disease and even old age, no one can quite pinpoint why the easternmost tree appears haggard and leafless while its peer appears relatively healthy, comparatively. The tree sits on property owned by the Dabney-Llloyd Corporation, which erected fences to keep hikers away from the trees in years past. President Gary Brummett said in April that graffiti and vandalism have done the tree in.
Council passes “urgency ordinance” to stop strip club
Displaying unparalleled unity and a strong sense of urgency, the Ventura City Council came together to unanimously pass a so-called “urgency ordinance” in September to enact strong restrictions on a proposed strip club in Ventura. The proprietor, Agassi Halajyan, considered taking legal action against the city as a result. Restrictions, were the club to open, would include a 6-foot separation between performers and patrons, security guards at all times and no direct tipping, to name a few.
Joe’s Crab Shack closes
Joe’s Crab Shack closed in late September to make way for a proposed development, The Bluffs at Vista Del Mar, which will include roughly 230 luxury apartments, with a public promenade along the ocean side of the 11-acre property. Joe’s Crab Shack had been open since October 2003.
Parking structure remains free
Ventura city officials agreed on Oct. 19 not to include paid parking in the downtown structure as an option in negotiations with two downtown property owners. The proposal caused major backlash, especially after it appeared the City Council was going to approve the proposal to move to paid parking without much notification to the public.
Council approves first step in controversial hillside project
The potential for hillside development raises the ire of Ventura residents like nothing else. When Los Angeles-based Regent Properties announced plans to build a 55-home project on the Ventura hillside above Ventura High School in 2014, neighbors raised safety concerns and questions of violations of the Hillside Management Program, in addition to coordinating an effort to stop the approval of the developer’s pre-screen application. In December, the City Council approved the pre-screen application, which gives the go-ahead to Regent Properties to begin developing a plan for the so-called La Viera project.
High tide, high surf erode Ventura beaches
An unusual combination of a high tide and a swell producing massive waves on Dec. 11 eroded Ventura’s Surfers Point, upending one of its iconic palm tree planters and damaging the pier. Debate ensued over the city’s responsibility to maintain the beaches with enough cobble to prevent such erosion.
FOOD Share President jumps in, exits Supervisor race
FOOD Share President Bonnie Weigel (now Bonnie Atmore) announced her intention to run for District 1 in February at the Ventura County Government Center in front of a crowd of supporters and media and then, in early July, stepped away from her campaign, citing her commitment to the food bank as her top priority.
State agency approves wildlife corridor over 101
The Sierra Club of Ventura County received welcome news in February when the State Coastal Conservancy approved $1 million toward the start of a wildlife corridor over the 101 in Agoura Hills. Initial designs will see a corridor topped with natural environment for the easy passage over the infamously treacherous freeway for native wildlife such as the California mountain lion and other oft-struck animals passing between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest.
Craft beer reaches an apex in 2015
As the craft beer bubble expanded to enormous proportions in 2015, so too did the number of breweries in Ventura County. Opening this year were Ventura’s Topa Topa Brewery and on the county’s far north end, Smoke Mountain Brewery, both joining the likes of Camarillo’s Institution Ale Co., Moorpark’s Enegren Brewing Co., Ventura’s Surf Brewery and Poseidon Brewery, to name a few. Expect more in 2016 with the soon-to-open Made West Brewing Co. in Ventura with the potential likelihood of more on the horizon.
Psychiatric patients moved to Ventura County
A shortage of beds and a lack of funding have created a kind of shuffle game with the state’s psychiatric patients wherein hospitals must seek out acceptable accommodations for those needing treatment. In this situation, Ventura has become the location for Santa Barbara’s overflow of patients deemed a danger to themselves or others. It was brought to light in April that the Vista Del Mar facility off Ventura Avenue has taken its share of patients who were court ordered to stay in treatment for either up to 72-hours (known as a 5150 hold) or two weeks or longer (known as a 5250), both of which are involuntary. The issue has weighed heavily on the minds of county regulators and supervisors, who say that they are weighing options for funding new facilities and programs to quell the numbers brought to the city.
SOAR renewal effort begins
Signature gathering began mid-October for the renewal of SOAR, the landmark open space, ag land preservation initiative (Save Open space and Agricultural Resources) to place it on the November 2016 ballot.
The Solimar Fire raged during Christmas weekend
In the wee hours following Christmas Day, a brush fire broke out just north of Ventura. Caused by arcing power lines during a ferocious wind event, the Solimar Fire burned more than 1,200 acres before reaching containment a few days later. At least 100 residents were evacuated as the fire jumped Highway 101 and forced temporary road closures.
The law banning revenge porn takes effect on Jan. 1 in California.
Eliza Delacruz, 3 weeks old, is found dead in San Diego on Jan. 5 after she is abducted following the shooting of her parents in Long Beach, California.
On Jan. 7, 11 are killed and 12 injured when Said and Chérif Kouachi attack the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The Kouachis are later killed by police.
The California Department of Public Health confirms nine cases of measles on Jan. 7. The nine people are linked by their visit to Disneyland in Anaheim around Dec. 15-20, 2014.
Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of late singer Whitney Houston and entertainer Bobby Brown, is found face down and unresponsive in a bathtub on Jan. 31. She stays in a medically induced coma until her death on July on July 26 at age 22.
The world’s largest solar power plant opens in Desert Center, California, on Feb. 10. The project generates enough electricity to power 160,000 average California homes.
The New York Police Department announces on Feb. 14 that no homicides occurred in New York City over a historic 12-day period.
Ashton Carter is officially confirmed as the 25th Secretary of Defense on Feb. 17, replacing Chuck Hagel.
On Feb. 18, the gas processing unit at Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, California, explodes. Four people are injured.
The possession and use of marijuana is made legal in the state of Alaska on Feb. 24. Two days later, Washington, D.C., also approves use and possession of up to 2 ounces.
On March 2, the New York Times reports that Hillary Clinton utilized her personal email account for official business during her tenure as secretary of state.
Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected as Israel’s Prime Minister on March 18.
During a March 23 appearance at Los Angeles County Superior Court in Los Angeles, former NFL star Darren Sharper pleads no contest (Arizona) and guilty (California) to drugging and raping in two states in 2013 and 2014. The Arizona plea was entered by teleconference. The 39-year-old also faces charges in Nevada and Louisiana.
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s murder convictions for the 2007 death of Meredith Kercher are overturned by the Italian Supreme Court on March 27. The ruling is reportedly made because of lack of evidence and reckless investigation techniques; Kercher was Knox’s roommate.
Gov. Jerry Brown issues an executive order on April 1 to implement mandatory water restrictions in California to reduce water use by 25 percent.
On April 2, four gunmen kill 147 people and injure 104 when they strike Garissa University College in Kenya. Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for the attack.
Freddie Gray, 25, dies on April 19 from injuries allegedly suffered during his arrest by the Baltimore Police Department on April 12. Riots quickly escalate in Baltimore after his funeral on April 27.
Reality star and former Olympian Bruce Jenner, 65, tells Diane Sawyer, “Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a woman” during an interview with ABC on April 24. Jenner soon debuts as Caitlyn Jenner.
A magnitude-7.8 earthquake strikes Nepal on April 25, killing more than 8,000 people and injuring more than 17,000. On May 2, the nation is struck by a magnitude-7.3 earthquake.
On May 9, the World Health Organization declares the outbreak of Ebola in Liberia an epidemic. This occurs more than one year after the disease spread through the West African nation.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Amtrak Northeast Regional train 188 derails on May 12 as it goes into a curve at 106 mph. Eight people are killed and more than 200 are injured.
On May 17 at a restaurant in Waco, Texas, two rival biker gangs are engaged in a shootout and also fire at intervening police. Nine people are killed, more than a dozen are injured and 177 are arrested.
An oil pipeline bursts on May 19, and of the estimated 105,000 gallons of crude oil that spills, about 21,000 invade nine miles of California’s Santa Barbara County coast.
On May 23, Ireland becomes the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
Convicted killers Richard Matt and David Sweat escape on June 6 from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. This is the first escape in the 150-year history of the maximum-security prison; Matt is killed and Sweat is recaptured.
It is revealed on June 12 that Rachel Dolezal, the chapter president of the local NAACP and professor of African Studies in Spokane, Washington, is not black as she had apparently implied.
Dylan Roof, 21, allegedly kills nine people on June 17 during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
On June 26, the Supreme Court rules 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage, making it legal in all 50 states.
The United States women’s soccer team wins the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup on July 5 after defeating Japan in the final game. The U.S. is the first nation to win three Women’s World Cup titles.
The head of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, escapes on July 11 from the Altiplano Federal Prison in Mexico. The drug lord has yet to be captured.
On July 20, the U.S. and Cuba officially re-establish diplomatic relations after 54 years.
The extramarital affair dating website Ashley Madison is hacked on July 21 and users’ personal information is released.
John Russell Houser, 59, opens fire at a movie theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana, on July 23. He kills two people, wounds nine and shoots himself.
On July 31, Beijing, China, is chosen as the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics. It will be the first city in the history of the modern games to host both the Summer (2008) and Winter Olympics.
The Animas River in Colorado turns orange on Aug. 5 after millions of gallons of contaminated water is poured out of an abandoned mine when officials from the Environmental Protection Agency attempt to safely pump and treat the toxic water.
Explosions at a warehouse in Tianjin, China, on Aug. 12 cause the deaths of over a hundred people and injure more than 700.
Flibanserin, the “female Viagra,” is approved on Aug. 19 by the Food and Drug Administration.
On Aug. 20, former President Jimmy Carter announces that cancer has spread to his brain. He had revealed his cancer diagnosis on Aug. 12.
Los Angeles is selected on Sept. 1 by the United States Olympic Committee as its choice for the American bid for host city of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
Volkswagen recalls about 500,000 vehicles in the U.S. on Sept. 18 after it is accused of using software in its diesel-powered cars that causes excess pollution, violating the Clean Air Act. Globally, it is estimated that about 11 million cars are impacted.
On Sept. 22, Pope Francis becomes the fourth head of the Church to visit the U.S., nearly 50 years after Pope Paul VI made the first pontiff visit in 1965 and seven years since Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 trip.
NASA announces on Sept. 28 that liquid water has been found on Mars.
On Oct. 3, the United States Air Force bombs a Doctors Without Borders (DWB)-operated hospital in Afghanistan and declares it was acting on faulty information. On Nov. 19, a DWB hospital in Syria is attacked by unknown perpetrators.
The captive breeding of killer whales at SeaWorld, San Diego is banned on Oct. 9 by the California Coastal Commission.
The most powerful hurricane ever recorded, Hurricane Patricia, makes landfall as a Category 5 storm on Oct. 23 over southwestern Mexico.
On Oct. 29, Paul Ryan becomes the 54th speaker of the House of Representatives, replacing John Boehner who resigned mid-term.
Russian plane Flight KG L9268 breaks into pieces before crashing in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 31. All 224 people on board are killed.
In the 2015 World Series, the Kansas City Royals win their first championship title in 30 years after defeating the New York Mets on Nov. 1.
On Nov. 13, 130 people are killed and hundreds are wounded when three teams of ISIS shooters and suicide bombers attack six locations around Paris, France.
Turkey shoots down a Russian war plane on Nov. 24 near the Turkish-Syrian border, declaring that the plane violated its airspace and opening fire after 10 warnings were ignored. Russia disagrees with Turkey’s perspective.
Robert Lewis Dear, 57, opens fire on Nov. 27 at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing three people, including a police officer and injuring nine.
On Dec. 2, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik open fire at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, during a holiday party. The couple kill 14 people.
At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, a global climate change pact is agreed upon on Dec. 12, committing 147 nations to reducing carbon emissions.
Tennis star Serena Williams is named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year on Dec. 14.
The Los Angeles Unified School District closes all schools on Dec. 15 after receiving terrorism threats. New York City receives similar threats but call it a hoax.