Pictured: The male mountain lion, P-56, was killed with a depredation permit on Jan. 27, 2020. Photo from National Park Service Wildlife camera. 

by Kimberly Rivers

County can now test for coronavirus, chance of contact with infected low

The Ventura County Public Health Laboratory has announced they are not an authorized facility to test for novel coronavirus.

As of press deadline, Feb. 12, there are still no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ventura County, which is causing thousands to fall ill and about 900 to die so far in Wuhan, China.

“At this time the chances that someone will encounter a person infected with this new coronavirus in Ventura County are very small,” said Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County Public Health Medical Director in a written statement on Feb. 10. He said they are monitoring the situation and will inform the public as needed.

Two county residents have been tested, one of those was negative for the virus, one test is still pending.

The tests have been conducted at the Atlanta, GA based Center for Disease Control laboratories, but now if there are any future required tests they can be conducted locally, making turnaround time shorter.

If you have recently traveled to China, and you have become ill with fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call Ventura County Public Health Communicable Diseases at 805-981-5101.

Mountain lion shot with state depredation permit

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued a depredation permit to a property owner following the determination that a mountain lion had killed 12 livestock animals over two years on a property in the western Santa Monica Mountains.

It was confirmed that on Jan. 27, 2020, a male mountain lion called P-56, who was estimated to be four or five years old, was killed under the rules of that permit. CDFW has reported the landowner in this case took measures to protect their animals including using trained guard dogs, motion lights, and auditory hazing.

Since 1990 mountain lions are protected, but state law allows depredation permits to be issued with pets or livestock have been killed. Between 2001 and 2018 the state has issued 19 depredation permits to Ventura County property owners allowing them to kill mountain lions. 10 of the large cats were “taken” as a result.

“The loss of a breeding male is a concern for the study, especially when the population is already very small,” said Jeff Sikich, the lead field biologist for an 18-year National Park Services study examining the health of the small population of mountain lions in this fragmented habitat. “There are always animals out there that are not being tracked. Currently, there is only one adult male in the Santa Monica Mountains that we are tracking and that is P-63.”
CDFW has a number of recommendations for keeping mountain lions wild on their website https://wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Lion, which include confining livestock in a full enclosure at night.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park System, it comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/samo.

Storage yard for oil field equipment seeks expansion

On Thursday, Feb. 13, 10:30 a.m. in the Santa Cruz Conference room at the Ventura County Government Center, there will be a public Ventura County Planning Director Hearing on a proposal to expand an existing oil field materials and equipment storage facility in the unincorporated area near Canada Larga Rd. in west Ventura.

Ben Giordano of Cascade Well and Pump Co. is asking to add 8.04 acres to the current facility that is about 1.5 acres at 1800 School Canyon Rd., Ventura, a parcel owned by Chevron USA. According to the permit the facility is an “agricultural contractor service and storage yard,” and Cascade is also permitted to store and be a “generator” of “hazardous materials such as waste oil and diesel fuel.”

According to the project description the expansion is needed to accommodate increased demand and will allow additional storage area on “already disturbed” land.

Cascade has a permit to store certain amounts of diesel fuel and “waste oil” on the property, which is overseen by the Ventura County Environmental Health Division. An inspection in March 2019 found violations related to “manifests/receipts” and “accumulation time” for the hazardous waste on site.

There is a 10-day appeal period following the decision of the Planning Director.

Simi office manager charged with stealing over $300,000

The Ventura County District Attorney has charged Simi Valley resident Laura Leonard (DOB 05/01/75) with seven felony counts related to allegedly stealing over $300,000 from Protek CNC Sales Corp., in Simi Valley, where Leonard was employed as an office manager, a position she was promoted to in 2014.

If convicted of all charges Leonard faces up to nine years in prison. Leonard was arrested on Jan. 28, is out on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 11, 9 a.m. in Courtroom 12 in Ventura County Superior Court.

Guilty plea in case of illegal waste disposal

Samuel O. Castro (DOB 2/25/73) pleaded guilty to felony charges for illegally directing haulers of non-hazardous solid waste to not take the debris to a licensed landfill, but instead to dump the waste on privately owned property throughout Ventura County.

Through his actions Castro’s company, “Sandbag Masters and Erosion Control,” caused over 150 tons of waste to be illegally disposed of at one site in Fillmore.

Terms of the plea include up to 270 days in jail, three years felony probation and victim restitution payments of over $400,000. Sentencing is scheduled for March 17, in courtroom 12 of Ventura County Superior Court.

Conejo seniors needed to serve on Commission

People 50 or over who live in the Conejo Recreation and Park District can apply to serve on the Goebel Senior Center Commission, a nonprofit service organization that works closely with the senior center staff as a volunteer to develop programs and respond to the needs of senior patrons, including overseeing weekly Bingo programs, allocating funds for upgrades, equipment and other services.  

Applications are online at www.crpd.org/gacc and are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 2, 2020, emailed to mbraff@crpd.org or delivered to Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Rd., Thousand Oaks.