Pictured: The methane plume detected in various concentrations (different colors) at the Toland Road Landfill in Santa Paula, by the Airborne Visible InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer – Next Generation (AVIRIS-NG) mounted on an airplane. www.methane.jpl.nasa.gov/

County gets $16.7 million from fire settlement

Twenty-three municipalities and special districts will split $360 million per a settlement agreement brokered with Southern California Edison for the company’s part in starting the Thomas and Woolsey Fires, and for the Montecito mudslides.

The agreement, reached during mediation sessions held in Los Angeles, includes the city of Ventura, Ventura County, Ventura County Watershed Protection District, Ventura County Fire Protection District, city of Thousand Oaks, Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, Conejo Recreation and Park District and Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency.

Ventura County will receive $20.8 million, and after attorney fees will keep $16.7 million to cover expenses associated with fire impacts.

The settlement does not apply to individuals involved in separate legal action.

The cities, counties and special districts were represented by the firms in co-counsel Baron and Budd and Dixon, Diab and Chambers.

Ventura High student with heart condition dies on field trip

On Thursday, Nov. 14, Carlos Cohen, principal at Ventura High School, released a statement to school families reporting that 12th grader Antonio Calderon “collapsed during school hours,” and later died at the hospital. It was then reported the class was on a field trip at the Ventura Botanical Gardens. The family informed school district officials that Calderon had a serious heart condition that likely led to his death.

The school is providing access to counselors and psychologists on campus for students who may need help and support. The family has set up a fundraising page to help cover funeral expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/f/nfjqfq-raising-money-for-my-brothers-funeral

Ventura Land Trust achieves accreditation

After a two-year review process the Land Trust Accreditation Commission has awarded the seal of accreditation to the Ventura Land Trust. The approval process involves an investigation of the organization’s programs and finances in order to ensure strong ethical practices, conservation permanence and an adherence to national best-practice standards, all with a focus on public trust and accountability.

The Ventura Land Trust and Ojai Valley Land Conservancy are the only two organizations within 25 miles of Ventura to receive this accreditation.

More info at www.landtrustaccreditation.org/

NASA maps methane plumes in county

Seven methane plumes have been detected at various sites in Ventura County during a two-year project conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Association’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in partnership with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission. The data has recently been released in an online interactive map available to the public.  

Plumes detected in Ventura County include the Toland Landfill, an oil field location in the Ventura Oil Field and South Mountain in Santa Paula. The methane is detected by an Airborne Visible InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer – Next Generation (AVIRIS-NG) mounted on a plane, which was flown in certain areas across California, including Ventura County.

Andrew Thorpe, technologist (AV-NG methane flight planning) with the AVIRIS-NG Team at JPL emphasized that the plumes are “snap shots” of a single moment. Sometimes the plumes are only detected once, whereas in other areas they were more persistent. In addition to the methane plumes, the map also shows known emittors, such as the Simi Valley Landfill, based on data reported to CalRecycle.

According to JPL officials, the goal of the project is to identify the major methane emittors across the state so that emissions can be reduced in order for the state to achieve its goals in combating climate change.

Link to map: www.methane.jpl.nasa.gov/

$5 million to fund CSUCI early childhood education center

The state of California has awarded California State University Channel Islands with $5 million for the building and development of a teaching and learning lab focused on improving access to early childhood education. The center will serve childcare needs for local farmworker families and students at CSUCI while also supporting professional development of educators in the region.

Amendments to injunctions ensure due process when fighting gang violence

Ventura County Superior Court has approved language modifications to gang injunction laws requested by the Oxnard Police Department and the Ventura County District Attorney, thus ensuring that the process of enforcing those laws does not violate due process rights of individuals subject to the imposed restrictions.

Gang injunction laws name known gang members and subject those individuals to various restrictions, such as prohibiting them from associating with other known gang members or possessing firearms. Erin Meister, Senior Deputy District Attorney with the Ventura County District Attorney’s office, said that in the fall of 2017, her office and the Oxnard Police Department “suspended the enforcement” of the existing gang injunction laws because of court decisions that found aspects of the injunctions violated the individual’s “right to due process.”

Meister explained that the approved amendments now require a court hearing, called a “depravation hearing,” in order for a person to be subject to the restrictions. “Now they have an opportunity to be heard before a judge,” said Meister.

Previously police officers identified and added gang members to the list of people subject to the injunctions. The amendments require judicial approval for a person to be subject to the injunction laws.

— Kimberly Rivers