By Chris O'Neal 06/26/2014
County redistricting efforts worked, report says
Up until the year 2000, voting districts in Ventura County were drawn by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. That same year, however, a new census showed that representation on the board was not reflective of the population growth — and so, in an unusual move, the board delegated a redrawing of the districts to a citizen task force. In 2001 the board approved the new districts.
The task force comprised members of CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy) and other members of the community, both liberal and conservative.Whether or not the redistricting helped to improve representation was a bit of a mystery until this year when a newly published report suggested that the redistricting worked.
Gregory Freeland, chairman of the Department of Political Science at California Lutheran University, published his study on June 19 in the publication SAGE Open, an open-access journal. In the study, Freeland says that the new district lines make the Board of Supervisors more reflective of the populations it represents.
Freeland points to the fifth district, which, prior to the redistricting, encompassed parts of Camarillo and Oxnard.
“People in the fifth district felt like they weren’t being represented,” said Freeland. In 2008, after the redistricting, John Zaragoza replaced long-time Supervisor John Flynn, who was once considered a safe bet in the fifth district.
The redistricting has also made it possible for separate communities in the county to get the kind of representation that reflects their political, cultural and ideological needs, and has drawn attention from across the country from other counties attempting the same kind of redistricting effort.
“Now, they’re kind of like the model for other communities that would like to get their citizens and community members involved in policymaking that will affect their everyday lives,” said Freeland.
The report is available online at www.sgo.sagepub.com/latest.
Thousand Oaks’ bus brings residents to beach
Getting to and from the beach from inland Ventura County on a typical summer day can be a real hassle. The droves of folk flocking from far away make it near impossible to find parking, at least within a reasonable distance of the shore. Fear no more, residents of Thousand Oaks and the surrounding area: The summer beach bus has returned with expanded service.
The summer beach bus was first introduced to city residents in the summer of 2013 through a collaborative effort between the City of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Recreation and Park District’s Teen Center after much demand. The bus, which travels from Thousand Oaks to Zuma Beach in Malibu, Monday through Thursday, will run from June 16 to Aug. 21 and cost $6 for a round trip fare, or $3 for those aged 65 and older.
“Community response to last year’s service was really great,” said Thousand Oaks Public Works Transit Manager Mike Houser in a press release. “We received lots of positive feedback and as a result have added another 11 days of service this year. We are also adding a new stop near the CLU campus.”
The passenger buses do not come from the city’s fleet of green-energy buses, however, but are contracted due to the passenger limitations of the public buses. The contracted ones have storage space available for surfboards and other items for a day at the beach.
The busses have a capacity of up to 50 people and there will be two times during the day when passengers can hop on in a first-come, first-served basis, at 9:15 a.m. and at 11:30 a.m. Passengers will have up to four and a half hours at the beach before the bus returns.
The bus will have three pickup locations. For more information on the summer bus and for a full schedule, visit www.totransit.org.
Free camp for Ventura middle school students
For the last several years, the Ventura College Summer Career Institute has given middle school kids an opportunity to get a somewhat brief taste of a possible future career, whether that is grounded in criminal justice or starry-eyed in the field of robotics. This year, however, is potentially the last year for the program due to a lack of funding — and the organizers are looking to make it the biggest event yet.
The program, funded by the California Community Colleges’ Chancellor’s Office and the Governor’s Career and Technical Education Initiative (SB70) grant, requires an application for each year needed. The grant, however, has come to an end, making it difficult to come by the upward of $8,000 needed each year. The camp, which is free for area students, provides all supplies, snacks, field trips and transportation for them.
“The instructors provide a very general, basic overview of, let’s say, robotics and criminal justice, which are our two most popular programs,” said Celine Park, CTE Project director and program specialist. “It really gives a general overview of what the career path entails.”
In last year’s robotics class, students built and operated miniature robots using Lego pieces, while students enrolled in the criminal justice class were instructed by a full-time police officer who gave an overview of what it’s like to work in a forensics lab and led a field trip to the local police station.
“If students have no idea what they want to be when they grow up, which is most likely the case since they’re only in middle school, it really gives them a glimpse of that career,” said Park.
Each of the four classes — which include architecture and drafting, criminal justice, “The Millionaire Middle Schooler Next Door” business camp and robotics — has a minimum of 35 students each.
“This is really to focus on student success, because our aim is to get students to go into a two- or four-year college so they can get ready for a high-demand, high-paying and high-skill job,” said Park.
For more information on the Summer Career Institute and to enroll, call 289-6058 or visit www.venturacollege.edu/careerpathways/registration.shtml.