SECOND UNIT AMNESTY PROGRAM EXTENDED FOR A YEAR
The Ventura City Council has extended the deadline for homeowners looking for amnesty under a program that would bring illegally constructed home additions up to code.
The original deadline of Dec. 24 was met with criticism at previous City Council meetings when members of the community complained that the cost to upgrade the units is excessive with the combination of both building and energy code requirements.
The program, which requires that additions to homes be brought up to modern code, will affect hundreds of homeowners and could cost upward of $16,000 after complying with both safety and energy codes.
Camille Harris, advocate for safe housing, has fought to extend the amnesty program — which would significantly lower the cost of permits for area residents — and to make changes to the requirements that would allow homes built prior to the enforcement to ben grandfathered in.
Harris argued that access to information is lacking. Currently, only the application for the amnesty program is in Spanish and English, while literature pertaining to the requirements is difficult to come by.
“The public must be included in the whole process of safe housing,” said Harris, “and communication is a key factor.”
Chief Building Inspector Andrew Stuffler has long held that the energy code requirements are mandated for all residents, while Harris urged the Council to consider portions of Section 25402 of the Public Resources Code, which states that only new residential and nonresidential construction is required to meet the energy code standards.
“Clearly there has been some confusion and different people feel like it says different things,” said Mayor Cheryl Heitmann. “What we asked is for staff to bring back some definite clarification from the state, because the energy codes are state-mandated and not something we’re doing at the local level”
The new deadline will be Dec. 31, 2014.
SINGLE-USE CARRYOUT BAG ORDINANCE PASSES
The city of Ventura will join neighboring communities and cities across the state in banning single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores.
With a vote of 6-1, the City Council directed staff to draft the ordinance that would not only ban plastic, but also apply a fee of 10 cents to paper bags provided in stores.
Councilman Neal Andrews, the only dissenting vote, asked that the ordinance drop the fee for paper bags. The motion failed by a vote of 4-3.
“I have a personal bane against plastic bags,” said Councilman Carl Morehouse to the VCReporter back in August when the ordinance was introduced for policy consideration. “The visual impact on my short walk between Loma Vista and Telegraph, the amount of trash is immense.”
Morehouse and former Councilman Brian Brennan first attempted to set in motion the bag ban in 2010 but found opposition from local Tea Party members, resulting in the consideration’s failure with a vote of 4-3. Carpinteria’s bag ban faced a lawsuit regarding the use of single-use bags in restaurants, resulting in the city’s acceptance of plastic bags for prepared food and at takeout counters.
The ordinance, drafted by Brennan and Morehouse, will cost $5,000 to draft and use 80 hours of staff time.
The ordinance should be returned to the Council within six months.