Pictured: The Ghost Bike placed on Cuyama Rd.. in Ojai to memorialize Marion Weil, killed on Aug. 7, when she was struck by a car. Photo by Andrea Neal. 

by Kimberly Rivers

kimberly@vcreporter.com

Holser Fire near Lake Piru

On Monday, Aug. 17, a small brush fire on Holser Canyon Road near Lake Piru grew from five acres at about 2:30 p.m. to 3,000 acres by the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 18, when the fire was just 20 percent contained. Morning inversion layers hindered air operations on Tuesday morning.

Two firefighters with minor injuries were transported to Santa Paula Hospital and later released. As of press time no structures were lost. 

 The fire straddles the county line and a Unified Command was initiated with Los Angeles County. Ongoing reporting at www.vcreporter.com.

Ojai residents rally to support post offices, protect votes

Over the weekend, and every day since, a small and dedicated group of Ojai residents have braved the heat to gather in front of the corner post office at Ojai Avenue/Highway 150 and Signal Street. Rain Perry, Kristopher Young and others gathered with signs and waved at honking cars.

“I just decided to go,” said Perry, speaking by phone on Aug. 15, about her involvement with the sit-in, which started on Friday. “I made a sign and went and sat there for three hours. We can’t march on Washington right now, but we all have a post office in our town — so we can support that.”

Participants are standing in opposition to what they say are attempts to manipulate the Nov. 3 presidential election by reducing the ability of the United States Postal Service to handle, process and move mail. 

Many states are relying more on vote by mail during the pandemic and reports of mailboxes and sorting machines being removed from some USPS locations across the country have raised concerns about whether those changes could be an effort to manipulate the election. 

Bear attacks ranch worker near Santa Paula

On Aug. 15, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife began an investigation into reports of a bear attacking a man who was working on a ranch near Aliso Canyon, just west of Santa Paula. 

The incident occurred just before noon. The man was treated for minor injuries and released. 

In the event of a bear sighting, the public is encouraged to avoid interacting with the bear and to contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 858-467-4201.

For information on how to prevent interactions with bears and other wildlife, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/keep-me-wild

Bicyclist dies after being struck by car in Ojai

On Friday, Aug. 7, Marion Weil, 78 of Ojai, died at the scene on the 1000 block of Cuyama Road in Ojai after being struck by a car while riding a bicycle. 

The incident occurred at about 7 p.m. and the driver remained on scene and fully cooperated with the investigation. 

A bicycle painted white, called a Ghost Bike, has been placed at the scene to memorialize Weil.

EV chargers at Harbor Village, Cove Beach

The Ventura Port District has installed five new charging stations for electric vehicles at the Ventura Harbor. The new SemaConnect Series 6 charging stations replace two chargers previously at Island Packers and are available to all drivers. 

The modern EV charging stations include interactive LED lights, smart card authentication and network connectivity and they track the overall usage, which will be part of the Port District year-end reporting on emission reductions in the county. 

The new stations charge drivers a $1 “plug-in” fee, and then a $0.17 per kilowatt energy fee. After four hours, the drivers are charged $1 per hour to encourage them to move their cars once fully charged. 

Planning Commission supports changing oil permitting rules

On July 30, in a four-to-one vote, the Ventura County Planning Commission supported a staff recommendation to update how decades-old oil permits are handled. 

Thousands of wells in the county are governed by “antiquated” permits, granted decades ago and without modern environmental review. These old permits generally do not have expiration dates or limits on the number of oil wells that can be drilled. 

The Ventura Oil Field, operated by AERA energy, which straddles Ventura Avenue in Ventura, is governed by an antiquated permit. Today, new wells can be drilled without modern environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the company only needs to obtain a zoning clearance — considered a “ministerial” process that grants the clearance if the operator meets all the requirements of their existing permit and does not include public notice. 

Last year, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors directed staff to examine the issue and later County Counsel confirmed there is a legal way to subject those older permits to modern review. 

Oil companies argue that the older permits they hold give them vested rights and that their operations should be allowed to be grandfathered in. 

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors is the final decisionmaker on the issue and the item is scheduled for a final vote on Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. Any parties that dispute the final decision of the supervisors has the option of filing legal action in court.