Lower Ventura’s sales tax

This week the Ventura City Council gave the green light to work on placing an initiative on the November ballot increasing the sales tax one-half percent to 1 percent.

Although I support the school district, I believe that lowering the tax rate one half of a percentage point would actually increase sales in town, thus achieving the same result of adding sales tax dollars to Ventura.

For example, the purchase of a $35,000 automobile or kitchen remodel would cost $350 less in Ventura than Oxnard if our tax rate was 1 percent less than Oxnard. I think this would drive people to spend here, considering the savings.

Excessive taxes and business regulations are a damper to our economy. The problem in Ventura is not how much taxes we collect but rather how poorly we spend our dollars. The Facebook page Watchdog Ventura is a good platform for studying this issue. I encourage everyone to read it.

Randall Richman

Promote central coast conservation measure 

The Central Coast is one of California’s most treasured landscapes. We hear it almost daily from our friends and neighbors, and we know it from personal experience. Our natural areas are prime contributors to the high quality of life area residents enjoy. That’s why we need to conserve more of these special public lands right here in our backyard. 

We took that message to Washington, D.C. in April, when a small group of volunteers (which included ourselves and Michelle Stevens, owner of the Refill Shoppe Ventura) met with elected officials about our support for the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which would safeguard important areas in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. 

We met with staff from Sen. Barbara Boxer’s, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s and Rep. Sam Farr’s offices, as well as with Rep. Lois Capps and Julia Brownley (all representing California, all Democrats). We were also fortunate to speak with staff from the House natural resources committees. 

The region’s mild climate, clean air and water, plentiful open space, and easy access to outdoor recreation make this a great place to live and work, enhance property values, attract tourists, and promote  a healthy economy. 

Outdoor recreation in California generates $85.4 billion in consumer spending, supports 732,000 jobs, and contributes $6.7 billion in state and local taxes, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. In 2011, visitors to the Los Padres National Forest contributed $24.1 million dollars to the regional economy. 

We need to be good stewards of this shared natural resource, so our area will be a good place to live and visit for generations to come. 

The legislation that Rep. Capps and Sen. Boxer crafted is the product of years of discussion and negotiation, led by Rep. Capps, involving business leaders, conservationists, elected officials, ranchers, mountain bikers and other stakeholders interested in the use and well-being of these iconic lands. That is why our communities support the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act and urge Congress to take the steps necessary to pass it. 

Fortunately, our bill is making progress, but the journey is far from over. A week after our visit, a Senate Energy and Natural Resources’ subcommittee included the Central Coast bill in a hearing, moving protection of these beautiful lands one step closer to reality. Ideally, committees in the House and Senate pass the bill and it moves smoothly through a vote by the full membership of both bodies. That’s a tall order when there’s so little time left on the legislative calendar. Still, there’s a chance the legislation can become law this year if it continues to travel through the legislative process. 

That’s why we thank Rep. Capps and Sen.Boxer for their leadership and urge them to make this legislation a priority for the remainder of the Congress. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and the rest of the California delegation can help by co-sponsoring the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act. Safeguarding outstanding natural areas like the Central Coast is vital to the region’s and the state’s economic future. 

Carmen Ramirez
Mayor Pro-Tem, Oxnard

Jan Marx
Mayor, San Luis Obispo