Pictured: Pedestrians and diners enjoying the area of Main St. in Ventura that has been closed to pedestrians to support outdoor dining. Saturday, June 20. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

by Kimberly Rivers

kimberly@vcreporter.com

Emergency notification bill passes Senate

Senate Bill 794, introduced by Sen. Henry Stern (Dist. 27) and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (Dist. 19), will, if passed by the House and signed by the governor, expand the state’s emergency alert system to ensure local governments can notify the public regarding local emergencies. 

“During last year’s power shutoffs, too many vulnerable people and families were not only literally left in the dark, but were also not given ample warning to prepare. SB 794 will ensure our emergency officials can reach you in these dire moments,” said Stern.

“SB 794 will help ensure all our residents — including those most vulnerable — receive the life-saving information they need in the event of an emergency,” said Jackson.

The bill will allow cities and universities to automatically enroll residents in local emergency alert systems. Opt-out options will be available. Today, residents have to opt in to alert systems. The bill also allows local governments to identify and send specialized alerts to people with particular needs, including disabilities, those who may not speak English, the homeless and those without transportation. 

County launches $5,000 grant program for businesses, nonprofits

The application process started on Wednesday, June 24 and is open through July 8. Doug Stamper emphasized that it is not first come, first served. “Anyone who gets their application in and meets all requirements” will have their application processed. Information is online www.rapidresponsevc.org or call 805-600-2875. 

The Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) is offering free assistance to potential grant recipients with two online options. 

Virtual Convening: These are “webinar” styles informative sessions to help walk applicants through the process.  (online link will be provided with registration): 

Virtual Office Hours – these sessions will be “live” offering applicants the opportunity to have their individual questions answered. 

Fellowship program for journalism students

Google News Initiative has launched a student fellowship program with the goal of developing and supporting students of color who are interested in careers in areas where technology, media and journalism connect. Application deadline is Aug. 1. Details and application online: www.newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/training/fellowship-us

Zero bail emergency rule ends

Effective June 20, the Judicial Council of California voted to end the COVID-19 emergency bail schedule, which allowed bail to be set at zero for many people in order to prevent potential transmission of the coronavirus into local jails. 

Eviction and foreclosure rules remain in effect

The Judicial Council of California did not vote on rescinding existing eviction and foreclosure emergency rules put in place in the wake of the pandemic. 

“After discussions with the governor, legislative leaders and Judicial Council members — as well as hearing from residents with many different viewpoints,” said Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chief justice on the Judicial Council of California, “I have suspended for the time being the vote on the emergency rules dealing with evictions and judicial foreclosure.”

The lack of a vote means that the eviction and foreclosure rules, limiting landlords’ ability to evict and begin foreclosure procedures, passed during the pandemic remain in effect. 

Public Works employees recognized

In May, three Ventura County Public Works staff members were recognized as Employee of the Year in three categories. 

Kelly Hahs, Sean Hanley and Tony Sheppard were recognized by their fellow employees for their skills and outstanding job performance in three categories, respectively: office, operations and maintenance, and management. 

CSUCI campus police ban carotid hold

On June 5, the campus police at California State University, Channel Islands, changed their policy to disallow the use of “carotid control hold to restrain a subject, and no officer will receive or participate in trainings that teach this form of control, which involves putting pressure on a person’s neck to control their movement.” 

“At CSUCI, we have worked really hard to build and maintain strong, trusting relationships with our community,” said Michael D. Morris, police chief at CSUCI.  “But I feel as though the tragic events that have happened around the country require us to do more to ensure we examine our own policies and continue to build trust to ensure that our community feels that we are transparent and responsive to campus needs.”

The action was taken by all 24 CSU campuses to adhere to public safety recommendations made by former President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 

CSUCI reports that the carotid hold has never been used on campus. 

Main Street Ventura goes pedestrian

Starting on Tuesday, June 16, five blocks of Main Street have been closed to vehicles, allowing pedestrians to walk down the street and facilitate outdoor dining and other activities. Several businesses other than restaurants have extended their shops into the street. 

The closure, called “Main Street Moves,” will last for 30 days, through July 16,  to determine whether it should be made more permanent. 

Blocking off the street was done by using special vehicle barriers from Meridian Rapid Defense Group, which can be moved by one person but will stop trucks or cars attempting to move into the pedestrian area. The barriers are the only ones to be certified by the United States Department of Homeland Security SAFETY Act. 

Businesses must follow guidelines for social distancing and apply through the county for a permit to expand onto public property. For more information, contact the city’s Economic Development Office at 805-677-3947.