Severo Lara

33, small-business owner, Ojai City Councilwoman

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

Water, affordable housing, preserving our environment and maintaining a healthy and sustainable economy.

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

I want to give more attention to the issue of affordable housing.

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

Local revenue in the city of Ojai has been increasing. While Ojai has a tourist-driven economy, it is extremely important we develop other sources of revenue.

What are your thoughts on current public safety issues?

One of the most critical issues facing the public health and safety of our community is the drought and lack of water resources.  The Council is being proactive in two ways.  Internally, as a city, we are working on development standards that will use less water, retain existing water, and potentially water reuse. 

We also need to improve accessibility and infrastructure for pedestrians and multimodal transportation, including bicycles. 

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

There is a lack of affordable rental housing in the city, especially for seniors. I believe that the city should explore how and where to build affordable housing, while being mindful of the need for secure and dependable water sources. 

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

Our open space and water are very important.  

To make sure the city will have enough water for our future generations, the Council has been communicating with other agencies to bring in emergency water in case there is a shortage.  The city is also looking at development standards that will use very little water, capture water and potentially reuse water.

As far as open space, the city has many requirements and ordinances that preserve the small-town character of our community.  As mayor, I will continue to work toward maintaining the priorities of our residents.

Discuss other concerns you have with your city and what you will do to address them. This may include water issues, the state of your city’s school districts, the city’s financial stability, unemployment, etc.  

Due to demographic changes in the city of Ojai, our schools are facing the challenge of declining enrollment. Dealing with the issues of affordable housing, economic development and creating opportunities for families and children are critical to addressing this issue.