Pictured: Lake Casitas levels are under 33% of capacity, even after recent rains. 

by Kimberly Rivers

County rain totals

Welcome storms brought rain and snow to much of California last week and this week as well. Total rain falls were recorded by Ventura County Public Works.  

As of the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 13, Lake Casitas was at 32.7% of capacity, with rain totals across the county for the Dec. 13/14 rain event ranging from six inches at a location in the Sespe Wilderness to just under one inch at locations in Oxnard

Areas in the Santa Susana Mountains have logged 2.67 inches, 2.37 inches in Santa Paula, 1.23 inches in Ventura, 3.22 inches in Ojai, and 4.17 inches at the southwestern edge of Lake Casitas. 

For real-time rain levels, visit: www.vcwatershed.net/fws/rain-map/.

Statewide mask mandate

The California Department of Public Health has issued a statewide mask mandate effective Wednesday, Dec. 15 through Jan. 15, 2021 that applies to indoor areas where the public has access. The mandate is aimed at counties that do not already have local mandates in place. Ventura County has an active mask mandate for these indoor areas already in place. 

County confirms first Omicron case

On Friday, Dec. 10, the Ventura County Public Health Department announced confirmation of the first person to test positive for the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. 

According to information released by the department, the person who tested positive for the Omicron variant is a fully vaccinated adult who is now self-isolating and as of Dec. 10 had symptoms that were “improving without medical care.” People who had come in contact with them have all tested negative and none have symptoms. All of them, however, have been asked to adhere to quarantine protocol. 

The department is encouraging those who are not yet vaccinated to get the shots available at various locations for free. Appointments are available online at www.myturn.ca.gov or by calling 833-422-4255. 

People who are homebound and 12 years of age or older can receive the vaccine at no cost by calling the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging by calling 805-477-7300 or by emailing covidmobileclinic@ventura.org.

Grants available for Ventura service, arts and cultural orgs

Non-profit social services organizations, arts and cultural nonprofit organizations based in the city of Ventura have until 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 25, to submit grant applications for the Community Partnerships Grant Program. 

Details are online at: www.cityofventura.ca.gov/1741/Community-Partnership-Grant

Age Well, Drive Smart

The California Highway Patrol offers an in-person and virtual traffic safety program for senior drivers to tune up driving skills and refresh rules on the road and any recent changes to driving laws. The intent of the program is to keep seniors driving safely longer.

Normal age-related physical changes and how those might impact driving will also be discussed. 

The two hour course is free. 

To register, contact local CHP offices: Ventura, 4656 Valentine Road, 805-662-2640; Moorpark, 610 Spring Road, 805-553-0800. 

CSUCI foundation welcomes two new board members. 

Beatriz Olvera Stotzer, a resident of Los Angeles and CEO of NEWCapital LLC, and Cari Shore of Ojai, who serves as vice president and director of community banking for Montecito Bank and Trust, have joined the California State University Channel Islands Foundation Board. 

Shore, a Nordhoff High School graduate, has 25 years of banking experience, which began with her first job as a check filer at Ojai Valley Bank. 

Stotzer has over 30 years of experience in business and economic development with a focus on women and families. She was an advisor to President Bill Clinton’s administration and served on the board of the California Women’s Foundation. 

Suspect pleads not guilty to tech thefts in Thousand Oaks

On Dec. 9, Roderick Davis pleaded not guilty to burglary and theft charges after he was arrested in Pomona on Dec. 8 in connection with a slew of commercial burglaries in Thousand Oaks between Aug. 4 and Nov. 29, 2021. 

According to a written statement by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, “thousands of dollars in Apple computers and photography equipment were stolen,” and investigators from the Thousand Oaks Investigations Bureau Career Criminals Unit worked with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department as well as police departments in Glendale and Laguna Beach to identify Davis as the suspect in the thefts. He is the suspect in dozens of burglaries between San Diego and Ventura counties. 

Bail is set at $20,000. Davis remains in custody at the Ventura County jail. 

150 affordable homes slated for Oxnard

People’s Self-Help Housing (PSHH) has announced a project is moving forward to build 150 affordable homes for low-income families and farmworkers. To qualify for the housing, residents will be income qualified at or below 60% of the area’s median income. 

The project is located on Cypress Road in South Oxnard on a 5.22-acre parcel with existing buildings that will be demolished. 

A spokesperson with PSHH said construction is slated to start in 2023, with move-in in 2025. The project is the first in the city of Oxnard to be approved as part of the SB35 streamlined approval process. It received approval in February 2021. 

The project includes a community center, learning center, laundry room, recreational areas and two playgrounds and includes infrastructure improvements. 

The new housing project is designed to be Net Zero Ready, and could include an onsite greywater system. 

Called Cypress Place at Garden City, the project was collaboratively funded with a pre-development loan of $850,000 from the Housing Trust Fund of Ventura County and $3.6 million loan from NeighborWorks Capital to purchase the parcel. www.pshhc.org