Paul Blatz

33-year resident of Ojai, 65, lawyer, current Ojai mayor, Ojai City Council 2010-present, mayor 2013, Planning Commission, 1998-2008, chairman 2002, 2006; Redevelopment Commission 1996-1998

What are the major city issues of concern to you in the future?

The current drought and our diminishing water supply is, by far, the most pressing issue facing Ojai now and in the future. Ojai only has two water sources — the Ojai Groundwater Basin Aquifer and Lake Casitas. Water is the life blood of our community.  Our community’s conservation will not solve our declining water supplies. We must work with the Lake Casitas, and other regional agencies, to assure all users, including those outside the Ojai Valley, are doing their fair share to conserve the lake’s water and to investigate other alternate sources of water.  We, as the Council, are now also working on updating Ojai’s building codes to mandate water-wise construction methods, gray-water irrigation systems, and the capturing and retention of rainwater.

What issues in the past do you feel are not being addressed?

I believe all issues affecting our city are currently being addressed.

What are your thoughts on the state of local businesses in the city?

There are two types of businesses in Ojai — those that rely on tourism and those that do not. Ojai’s economy is based on tourism and many our businesses rely heavily on tourism to survive. Working with the Ojai Visitors Bureau Ojai has become as a destination city. The Libbey Bowl now has become a commercial concert venue which will also bring additional business into our community.  In addition, Ojai is always interested in attracting environmentally sensitive non-retail businesses.

What are your thoughts on current public safety issues?

We are very fortunate that Ojai’s crime rate continues to drop. We are now working diligently to establish the necessary regulations with regard to medical marijuana facilities so that, working together with law enforcement, we can assure the health and safety of our community will not be adversely affected

What are your housing concerns for the city? How will you address them in the future?

Our #1 concern is affordability.  We must address issues affecting families with children if we expect to have any effect on declining enrollment in our school district. We directly addressed this issue by ratifying and enforcing our existing ban on “short-term rentals.” STRs have reduced available rental housing stock. Additionally, our Housing Element provides areas available for affordable housing infrastructure. Unfortunately, given land and construction costs, low- and medium-income housing developments have become cost-prohibited.

How important are the city’s natural resources to you and what are you doing about it?

Natural resources are extremely important to Ojai not only for the health and safety of our citizens but, also, for the thousands of visitors to Ojai. Our water, air and scenic corridors are what creates Ojai’s beauty and character. We must diligently work to preserve and protect our natural resources because they could easily be lost forever.

Discuss other concerns you have with your city and what you will do to address them.

The struggling Ojai Unified School District is a serious issue. While the city has no direct authority over the District, there are pressures being placed on our community affecting the District that we do have control over. We need to address issues affecting families with children if we expect to have any effect on declining enrollment. The biggest issue affecting families with children is the availability of affordable housing. Our action to protect our housing stock was ratifying and enforcing our existing ban on “short-term rentals,” which has reduced available rental housing stock.  Our Housing Element provides areas available for affordable housing infrastructure. Unfortunately, given land and construction costs, low and medium income housing developments have become cost-prohibited.