Pictured: The Ventura River at Foster Park where water levels and Steelhead habitat are at issue in Ventura River Watershed Adjudication. Sept. 7, 2020 Photo by Kimberly Rivers

by Kimberly Rivers


Hate crime conviction

On Aug. 31, Vidal Fregoso of Camarillo was found guilty by jury of a hate crime, attempted vandalism and attempted theft. 

On Sept. 25, 2019, Fregoso and the victim, Luthere Swayne, a 72-year-old Black man, were aboard a private chartered fishing boat operated by a company out of Ventura County. Fregoso used “racial slurs” while physically threatening Swayne. Witnesses of the incident saw Fregoso attempt to take Swayne’s fishing pole and throw it overboard. The crew of the boat intervened and the men were kept apart until the boat returned to shore. 

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation and arrested Fregoso. 

A sentencing hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 5, 2020. Fregoso faces up to one year in jail. 

Naya Rivera autopsy completed, son remembers cry for help

Glee actress Naya Rivera died as a result of accidental drowning, according to the final autopsy report of the Ventura County Medical Examiner. The investigation revealed that she called for help before sinking below the surface of Lake Piru on July 8, 2020. 

Rivera and her 8-year-old son were spending the day on the lake in a rented boat. Rivera’s mother told investigators that the boy remembers jumping into the lake with his mother and then shortly after she told him to get back in the boat and helped him climb up. He then heard her yell “help.” He remembers her arm reaching up out of the water before disappearing into the lake.  

Testing revealed Rivera’s blood alcohol level of 0.016 and a low level of prescription medication used to treat anxiety. 

Oxnard Union High School District serving meals during distance learning 

Students at schools across the Oxnard area can get meals at no cost through two programs. 

The Supper Program: All children ages 18 and younger can receive meals three times on service days. No documentation is required.

The second program, called Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), is for all students enrolled in the following schools for the 2020-21 school year: Channel Islands High School, Hueneme High School, Frontier High School, Oxnard High School, Pacifica High School, Rio Mesa High School and Condor High School. The CEP program requires that a student ID be shown for the enrolled student. Parents can pick up meals on behalf of the student.

Meals for both programs will be served three times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Serving times: 7 a.m.-9 a.m., 12 p.m.-1 p.m. and 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

Oxnard serving locations for The Supper Program and CEP are: 

  • Channel Islands High School, 1400 Raiders Way
  • Hueneme High School, 500 W. Bard Road
  • Rio Mesa High School, 545 Central Ave.
  • Oxnard High School, 3400 W. Gonzales Road
  • Pacifica High School, 600 E. Gonzales Road

For more information, contact OUHSD Nutrition Services at 805-385- 5749.

Ventura says it won’t collect legal action fees from the public

The cities of Ventura and Ojai have announced the signing of a joint “letter agreement” stating that the city of Ventura will not seek to recover legal fees from property owners who are involved in the Ventura Watershed Adjustication matter commenced last year.

The action resulted in private property owners of over 12,000 parcels in the Ventura River Watershed receiving notice of a legal action that could impact their water rights. The legal paperwork received by property owners stated that the city of Ventura could recover legal fees from property owners.

The letter dated Aug. 26 and approved by the Ventura City Council in closed session states that the city will not pursue attorney fees from the numerous cross-defendants (property owners) should Ventura be the “prevailing” party in the lawsuit. 

The letter, signed by Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere, is online at www.venturariver.com/resources-2/.

Supervisors to decide on Upper Ojai oil project

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 1 p.m. the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will hold a de novo hearing on a project that was first before the supervisors in 2016. The Agnew Lease project at that time was for the drilling of three new oil wells and trucking of oil and waste water on Koenigstein Road in Upper Ojai. The split-vote approval of the project led to the county being sued by Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas (CFROG), a local nonprofit watchdog organization. CFROG argued the project review failed to both properly apply the emission threshold of 5 pounds per day mandated by the Ojai Valley Area Plan (OVAP) and to consider cumulative air quality impacts on the Upper Ojai airshed. 

In fact, the Ventura County Planning Department made an error early on in placing the project outside the area plan boundaries. 

CFROG prevailed in court against the county, and the judge ordered a supplemental environmental impact review be conducted. 

Carbon California Company LLC, the lease owner-operator, has revised the project, seeking to drill two new wells, which drops the emissions from new wells below the threshold of the OVAP. 

The staff report for the project will become available at 5 p.m. on Sept. 17 for the hearing on the following Tuesday. Public comments can be submitted in advance of the hearing by emailing project planner Kristina Boero at kristina.boero@ventura.org