Thousand Oaks fights “astronomical” water rate increase

Water, water everywhere as of late, but the cost may still rise for the residents of Thousand Oaks. That is, unless the City Council has anything to say about it.

In what has been dubbed “the astronomical rate increase” by Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-De La Peña, the City Council debated a proposed water rate increase of 32 percent by provider California-American Water Company at the Tuesday, Jan. 24, session. The increase could be smaller, 15 percent, should Cal-Am choose to consolidate rates with other cities who receive Cal-Am service.

California voters passed Proposition 218, the so-called Right to Vote on Taxes act in 1996, but Cal-Am is a private water provider and thus not restricted by the amendment.

The Council voted unanimously in favor of ratifying an agreement between the city attorney and Downey Brand LLP for up to $100,000 for legal services in opposition to the rate increase.

Rents up again in Ventura

Just when Ventura residents thought they’d touched the ceiling, the ceiling cracked and revealed yet another, higher and possibly harder ceiling, as the average price of rent in the city has risen by half a percent.

Apartment List, an online apartment rental marketplace, has released a report on rents across the country, detailing a national trend of rental increases. The data compilation finds that rates in the city of Ventura are up by 0.5 percent over the same time last year, but that after a quick increase from 2014 through 2015, nationwide, rents have plateaued.

The median price for a one-bedroom in Ventura is $1,550, according to Apartment List, and for a two-bedroom, $1,850. Across the county, the median price for a similar one-bedroom is $1,580; two-bedroom, $1,950, a 1.7 percent increase over last year. The numbers show a 0.4 percent month-to-month increase countywide.

Arson strikes Ventura Harbor

Fire destroyed a 50-foot commercial fishing vessel in the Ventura Harbor on Tuesday, Jan. 31. At approximately 1:45 a.m., Ventura City Firefighters responded to the blaze; and though the fire was eventually quelled, the boat was a total loss.

The response led to the discovery of three smaller fires nearby within a fork lift, a workshop and upon another boat in dry dock. A suspicious car fire earlier in the night in the 1300 block of Spinnaker Drive is also being considered part of the same investigation, and all have been considered possible arson.

Measure O oversight committee seeking volunteers

In November, Ventura voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase known as Measure O. Now, the city is seeking volunteers to form the Measure O Citizen Oversight Committee, which will oversee the implementation of the sales tax set to go into effect on April 1.

The seven-member committee will review projected revenues and recommended expenditures for the funds generated by Measure O and make recommendations to the City Council as part of the city’s budget process. After an audit, the committee will provide its findings to the City Council.

Four selected members will serve a one-year term and three members will serve three-year terms. Succeeding members shall be appointed for terms of four years. Committee members will be required to disclose all reportable interests held at the time of appointment and are required to attend ethics training every two years. Applicants must not be elected officials or employees of the city of Ventura.

The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24. Applications are available online at www.cityofventura.net/involved/advisory or from the City Clerk’s Office, Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli St., Room 204.