Pictured: Industrial hemp fields in Camarillo, 2019. Photo by Michael Sullivan

by Kimberly Rivers

kimberly@vcreporter.com

Farm Bureau plans to sue Ventura County over hemp ordinance

Earlier this year the Ventura County Board of Supervisors passed an emergency ordinance prohibiting the growing of industrial hemp within a half mile of land zoned residential or near schools, day care centers, colleges and universities. In response, the Board of Directors of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County (FBVC) voted to commence legal action to overturn that ordinance because of the “significant finance harm” members of FBVC has “suffered…as a result of the counties action.” 

The Farm Bureau, in their newsletter, said the ordinance “arbitrarily put[s] a third of the suitable cropland in the county off-limits” to the crop. 

FBVC states the county’s ordinance “also set an alarming and dangerous precedent: For the first time, a local government body has declared a commercial agricultural crop — recognized as legal by state and federal law — to be a public nuisance.”

Industrial hemp is a different plant than cannabis, but residents say hemp still has an undesirable odor. Hemp is used for paper, fiber, hemp oil and can be used to manufacture plastics and other materials.  Residents across the county submitted public comment regarding their negative experiences from the crops being near their homes including coughing and sneezing. 

The Farm Bureau points to the fact that hemp uses less water and pesticides can vegetable crops it may replace saying industrial hemp is “a poster child for sustainable agriculture.” 

Joining FBVC in the action will be the Ventura County Agricultural Association, Ventura County Coalition of Labor. The group will be retaining the Santa Barbara based firm of Brownstein Farber Hyatt Schreck, which has experience in hemp and cannabis cases across the state. 

Due to the closure of the courts in response to the pandemic FBVC states contracts between growers and suppliers and other in the supply chain are being disrupted and could cause a serious economic drop in county’s agricultural sector. 

Hazardous waste event on May 16

Free hazardous waste collection events are returning to the city of Ventura starting on Saturday, May 16, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m at Gold Coast Recycling, 5275 Colt St., Ventura. They will continue to be held monthly, every third Saturday. 

Items accepted for responsible disposal include: motor oil, oil filters, household cleaners, brake fluid, paint, pesticides/herbicides, batteries, pool chemicals, expired medications, anti-freeze and fluorescent light bulbs. Items not accepted include hazardous waste from businesses, explosives and ammunition, garbage, tires, large appliances such as refrigerators, stoves and washing machines. Controlled substances are also not accepted. 

Attendees must remain in their vehicles and are encouraged to wear a face covering. Additional social distancing requirements will be followed. 

Advance registration is required. Call 805-652-4525 or visit https://form.jotform.com/93287230055152.

Ventura relaxes water shortage level

On May 4 the Ventura City Council reduced the water shortage stage to Level 2 on the recommendation of staff. The new level requires a 10 percent conservation reduction goal and will take effect July 1, 2020. 

Since 2013 the city has been at Level 3, which required 20 percent conservation. 

City staff reviewed water supplies of Lake Casitas, the Ventura Rivers and groundwater basins the city supply draws from issued the annual Comprehensive Water Resources Report (Available online HERE.). https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/21208/2020-Comprehensive-Water-Resources-Report

The appropriate stage is determined by using expected water supply, taking into account projected demand and reviewing the 2014/15 Water Shortage Event Contingency Plan (ONline HERE.) https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5627/2015-Water-Shortage-Event-Contingency-Plan

Old bike parts needed by nonprofit on May 18

Ventura Bike Hub, a local nonprofit organization, will pick up your old bike parts to use in their efforts to encourage more bicycle riding in the county. Donated parts will be repaired as needed, cleaned and used in free repairs and maintenance program the organization provides to community members. 

Parts can also be dropped off at Ventura Bike Hub, 490 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura, Tuesday-Friday 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

To make an appointment for pickup: 805-641-2665 toby@bikeventura.org

More information at www.bikeventura.org

Local uranium deposit on federal supply list

A known uranium deposit north of Lake Casitas in the Ventura River Watershed is included in a federal report compiled at last year’s request of President Donald Trump. A second deposit is located in Northern Ventura County in Barringer Canyon. 

Calling it “an issue of national security” Trump said the United States should be producing uranium, a “critical mineral” domestically and not relying on overseas sources. The U.S. Department of Energy compiled the report and listed a “deployable micro-nuclear reactor” project of the U.S. Department of Defense to provide reliable energy in military applications cas one reason to establish strong domestic sources of uranium. One objective of the project is to “streamline regulatory reform and land access for uranium extraction.” 

Local environmental groups including Los Padres ForestWatch (LPFW) and Sierra Club object to any uranium mining in the area and are monitoring the issue. 

The deposits were previously targeted for extraction in 1978 and a local group called Stop Uranium Now as formed which ultimately blocked the plan to build roads and potentially develop 36 uranium mining claims along the Coyote Creek drainage. That plan included the drilling of 76 “test holes.” According to LPFW the plan was initially approved and could have led to an open pit uranium mine. The community effort at the time led to a 20 year moratorium on uranium mining and exploration in the area, which expired in 2004. 

The Department of Energy report is available online HERE.