The Ecotopia problem

A family with roots in Ojai bought the property on which the Matilija Hot Springs occur out of bankruptcy about a year ago. It subsequently formed a nonprofit company called Ecotopia with lofty goals of using the springs for health and spiritual purposes. The charter of the nonprofit was eloquently described; and its approach toward the rehabilitation of the springs, which had been badly abused during the ownerless years, was thoughtfully described. It invited the public to offer their services to help clean up the facility and, in the process, to earn a basis for their continued use of the springs once they had been restored. It made clear that such use would require continued investment in funds and/or labor to ensure proper upkeep of the springs, that lewd conduct and the use of alcohol and drugs would not be permitted, and that a charity would be created to support the use of the facilities by elderly and indigent people in need of the therapeutic treatment of the springs.

The choice of a very qualified person to manage the cleanup and public relations phase added credence to the plan, and all seemed well.

Then it became clear that Ecotopia would not own the facility, which would continue to be held independently by the family. Therein lies the rub, because all the vaulted purposes of Ecotopia notwithstanding, the whole concept could be vitiated by a decision with single-family vulnerability. Since the same family member serves as chief executive of both entities, it should be possible to rectify this single encumbrance expeditiously.

It is inevitable that skeptics will militate against the otherwise excellent plans for Ecotopia without this simple correction.

Johan Wassenaar


Left-wing hacks

Raymond Freeman, obviously, fancies himself a crack investigative journalist. He is one of those lefties who wants to blame Ronald Reagan, Republicans and deregulation for all of our current woes.  Well, I’ve got a few follow-up questions to his oh-so-clever (not) “Downton Abbey” editorial:

1. Who passes legislation and has ultimate power over regulatory agencies: Congress or the president?

2.  Who has veto power over legislation: Congress or the president?

3. During Reagan’s time in office, how often did Democrats control one or both houses of Congress (enabling them to set or block policy)?

4.  Post-Reagan, how often have Democrats controlled one or both houses of Congress, and how often has a Democrat had the presidency (and veto power)?

5.  Which regulations, specifically, were repealed during Reagan’s time and how has their repeal caused the current situation?

6.  How much, generally, of the federal tax burden has been paid by the political-minority “top 1 percent” since 1980, and how much by the remaining political majority 99 percent?

7.  How many years, if any, since 1980 have seen the total number of federal regulations decrease from the prior year?

8.  What other acts of “deregulation” were passed, by which political party, under which president, that Raymond also alleges have caused such terrible damage to the economy?

9.  So-called “progressives” have been advocating for DECADES that wealth be distributed via the political system, rather than through free trade, as a means of “helping” the poor, and they’ve had TREMENDOUS success in creating a government-controlled economy. How’s that worked out for the poor and middle class?

I am SICK of hacks like Raymond, in their utter ignorance, promoting left-wing lies. I eagerly look forward to his answers, but don’t expect any.

Harry B.

The status quo or a police state

As much as I would like to see the entire ancient Ventura City Council removed and replaced with some younger and more intelligent members, I must say my blood pressure was taken to new heights when I read that Richard Francis and  Erik Nasarenko have decided to run for a couple of seats on the Ventura City Council.

“Saints Preserve Us.”  First off, Richard Francis in collaboration with county Supervisor Steve Bennett did more in the time he was on the Ventura City Council to help destroy the economy in the city of Ventura with their S.O.A.R. (save our agricultural resources) plan than any other single item at that time. They caused the price of property to SOAR to such heights, by restricting where anything could be built, that the average citizen could no longer afford to purchase a home. If he is “re-elected” to the Ventura City Council, you can well expect more “off the wall” shenanigans, so help me Holy Hanna.

As far as Deputy District Attorney Erik Nasarenko is concerned, I really don’t know anything about the guy except that he works in what some say is a very shady district attorney office. My problem is that we already have an ex-police chief on the council, and that hasn’t worked out so well. Mr. Tracy still has a mindset that was prevalent in the 1960s.  He still thinks, as he did while police chief, that his main focus should be to “keep the citizens under control.” He has lost track of the fact that, being elected to the office of Ventura City Council, he is supposed to work for the citizens not against them.

I am very afraid that if Mr. Nasarenko were to be elected to the council and Mr. Tracy was still in his position, the city of Ventura could well become a “police state.” Plus the fact that Mr. Nasarenko would be in the position of possibly working for the citizens in the City Council, he would at the same time be in the position of working against the citizens in the district attorney’s office. (Conflict of interest?)

We already have one councilperson, Brian Brennan, who not only is on the Ventura City Council but also works for Supervisor Steve Bennett in the Ventura County Supervisors office. (Conflict of interest?)

So it looks as if we, the citizens of Ventura, have found ourselves between a rock and a hard place. If no other younger, more intelligent folks come forth to run for the council positions, it will mean a choice between the status quo and a police state.

Rellis Smith


More than just for relaxation

I read your article and this is the first time I’ve heard of such things (Slapshot, “Ventura’s vortex for progressive ideas,” 07/03)

As a venturan/ojaian massage therapist ,I have vested interest in building a clean reputable business as well as pushing for getting the benefits of massage out to the general public, far past the standard “just for relaxation” purposes.

Ventura: The New Massage City, wouldn’t that be a grand idea? Sounds like those council members could use a session or two! :)

Matt Roy


The truth about bikes and cars

After reading his letter (7/11), I can see that Rellis Smith doesn’t like bicyclists and would like them off the road. Fair enough. But it was painful to read the untruths and spurious logic he uses to justify this dislike.

He seems to be very disturbed that he has to watch for bicycles when turning right. It is true that bicycles aren’t as fast as cars and thus have to stay in the right lane to keep from slowing traffic. Cars turning right have to deal with this fact or they will kill bicyclists.

It’s an unfortunate truth that a 4,000-pound car hitting a bike will destroy the bike and possibly the rider. A 30-pound bike hitting a car will scratch a bumper and, at most, irritate the driver. About 700 cyclists per year are killed by cars in this country. I couldn’t find statistics for the number of car drivers killed by cyclists in a year, but I am certain that it’s a much lower number.

Later in his letter, Mr. Smith states that cyclists “contribute nothing to the maintenance of (streets).”

This statement is absolutely false.

I and all of the many bicyclists that I know also drive cars and pay all the relevant state and federal taxes that go into building and maintaining our roads. When I go on my Sunday bike ride, I am a fully paid-up user of the roads I ride on.

Mr. Smith ends his letter by proposing that bicyclists be licensed, registered and insured.

I am not sure how this will fix the right-hand turn problem he is so worried about, but at first glance this seems reasonable. I’d actually be OK with it.

However, it starts to get kind of comical when you visualize a 5-year-old girl filling out insurance forms and completing a written test before she can put the training wheels on her bike and get rolling. Or does Mr. Smith propose that no one shall be allowed to ride a bike until reaching the age of 18?

Bikes and cars can and do travel on the same roads. California and Federal laws allow this. At times, neither side may like it, but a little understanding and patience from both sides can make it a better and safer experience for everyone.


Alan Sailer


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I read with much interest Rellis Smith's letter on the current state of the Ventura City Council and, to a large extent, I have to agree with him.

I certainly concur that Richard Francis would be a horrible choice, given his performance when he last served on the City Council. SOAR has been an abject failure and Francis, along with Steve Bennett's hand puppet, Brian Brennan, were largely responsible for foisting this terrible piece of public policy on County residents.

I don't know much about Eric Nasarenko, but my hunch is that he's just another attorney with political ambitions (these guys are a dime a dozen). I also agree that Mike Tracy has been a bust (no pun intended). The only good thing he's done so far is to help get rid of Rick Cole.

I think we need to keep Neal Andrews (the only true fiscal conservative on the dais), but I'm not so sure about Jim Monahan. He seems to be inattentive and bored (asleep?) at most of the City Council meetings. No big surprise though. He must be pushing 100 by now, right? Brian Brennan needs to go too, if for no other reason than his undying support of SOAR and his anti-local economy/ business positions.

I would certainly welcome some new, younger faces on the Council. I was pretty impressed with Bill Knox when he ran a couple of years ago and Mike Gibson possesses much of the conservative/libertarian philosophy and keen intellect that we need represented on the Council. Not sure if Mike is interested in running again, however.

It will be interesting to see how this race develops, but I hope the early entries are not an indication of what's to come.

posted by rasta_man on 7/24/13 @ 05:26 p.m.

Sigh. It is no surprise that Rasta doesn't like Francis, who appears to be a good guy and he already knows the job shrinking the learning curve. I met him during the Street Fair. He is someone whose values are in the right place rather than the pocket of developers.

Likewise no surprise that Rasta objects to people concerned with limiting growth to prevent the destruction of our fine city by overdevelopment.

Soar has been an unqualified success winning support from folks who initially opposed it. That we have not turned entirely to LA North has been in part due to the slow growth heroes.

Worth noting that the success of Bennett's recent reelection campaign demonstrated his record in District one for integrity and intelligence. He serves the values and needs of his constituency and we know him.

I don't know why the Reporter is running so many virulent wingnuts lately and Rellis Smith more than his/her? share. Surely the editor receives letters from more coherent and more sensible writers.

posted by cassandra2 on 7/25/13 @ 09:00 a.m.

One more note--bicycles don't impede traffic; they are traffic.

A wonder that Mr. Smith did not want to license pedestrians also.

posted by cassandra2 on 7/25/13 @ 09:03 a.m.

cassandra2, bicycles may, in fact, be technically/legally part of traffic, but realistically they do not share the road equally with cars. Let's face it, a bike that is trying to make a left hand turn in the lane closest to the median (along with cars) is inevitably going to impede traffic because bicycles are smaller and slower than cars. It's just that simple.

When I see a bicyclist attempting to do this I always chuckle to myself because this person is just being wrongheadedly stubborn and is really putting his/her life in jeopardy in this situation because the driver of the car will always survive a collision with a bicycle; whereas, the bicyclist will most likely be seriously injured, if not killed.

The smarter thing for the bicyclist to do, of course, would be to cross at the crosswalk like pedestrians do, who are on more of an equal footing with bicyclists than cars are. I think it's far better to yield to the safer thing to do than asserting your legal rights as a bicycle rider, which can ultimately get you killed.

posted by rasta_man on 7/25/13 @ 10:51 a.m.

cassandra2, we don't need another Brian Brennan on the Ventura City Council. One of him is quite enough. Richard Francis has already show his stripes as a previous City Council member and Mayor (1987-1991). He is clearly anti-business and an environmental extremist who will be an obstructionist when it comes to the City's economic development efforts.

In the last few years, the City has begun to slowly shake its business-unfriendly reputation by working more closely with the business community and the Chamber of Commerce to advance quality development projects through the permit approval process more quickly and thus bringing new jobs and economic opportunity to the City, which is starving for more tax revenue to fund important services like police, fire, roads and park maintenance.

Richard Francis will be impediment to the progress made on this front due to his Steve Bennett/Brian Brennan mindset. We cannot afford to go backwards in this City. Vote for anyone but Richard Francis in November!

posted by rasta_man on 7/25/13 @ 11:11 a.m.

BTW, I love how cassandra2, the left wing extremist, continues to cast aspersions on people with opposing viewpoints. These wild-eyed liberals are all the alike. They preach tolerance, acceptance, and love of neighbor, but if someone happens to disagree with their point of view, they go medieval on them, calling them "virulent wingnuts" and all kinds of other names.

Cassandra2 needs to learn a little something about accepting other people's perspectives and viewpoints and not going straight to hateful name-calling just because someone doesn't agree with her.

posted by rasta_man on 7/25/13 @ 12:55 p.m.

What a bizarre irony to be accused of lacking civility in defense of the most crazed extremists around by another one.

Talk about hateful name-calling!

posted by cassandra2 on 7/29/13 @ 09:31 a.m.

I have to agree with Ratsa about one thing, the city takes too long to approve or decline to approve projects. One low cost and senior housing project near me was drawn out so long I would not be surprised if the developer had not died in the meantime. Meanwhile 27 acres of lemon trees sequestering CO2 were destroyed and replaced by first a weed farm and now a plowed dust trap. It's been years and it's still a soil eroding eyesore and no further action but a bulldozer rusting in the road.

Not all projects should be approved. Slow growth helps ensure the livability of our city for those who actually live here rather than those seeking a quick profit. This is good for property values and for bringing business into our area. We do not need overdevelopment to further congest our streets and strain our water supply and amenities.

We should look at what our assets are as a city and protect them--our beaches, our surf, our natural beauty. It has been the environmentalists who most work to reduce pollution and repair these tourist attractions. Come to romantic Ventura and surf and swim with ecoli just doesn't do it.

A particularly good example of what should happen is the effort of conservation and environmental NGOs conjointly with the city repairing the beach adjacent to the Ventura River estuary. It's beautiful now.

In contrast, it's the prodigious ugliness and toxic side effects of the oil industry, so cherished and protected by conservatives, that will destroy values and turn away visitors.

Rather than getting bicycles out of the roadway, we need to make the roads safer for them, as well as pedestrians. Watching Rick Steves most nights, I see European cities that ban private autos from the city centers and central marketplaces. The effect is a townscape healthier and safer for everyone, one encouraging community instead of replacing it with drive through anonymity. We could have that here in our downtown area.

It is the slow growthers, the environmentalists,the liberals who most support our special small, independent businesses. Businesses whose owners are nearby create at least a 30% more stimulus to the local economy than chains that draw profits out of the area.

We need to have City Council members whose vision looks to the long term welfare of this very special city. Brennan has that long view. Francis appears to. Gibson does not.

posted by cassandra2 on 7/29/13 @ 10:24 a.m.

The only long view that Brian Brennan has is how long he views himself serving on the City Council. Apparently, he has a very long view where this is concerned because he has been on the Council forever and apparently has no intention of relinquishing his seat to someone who can look at things with a fresh perspective and not have to run everything through his environmental extremist filter.

Ventura's beaches are (by far) the worst in Southern California. I wouldn't ever venture onto the sand without a pair of steel toe boots because of all the rocks, chunks of glass, wood chips, driftwood, cigarette butts, vegetation, and various other debris. I blame this on Brian Brennan. He is always the first to object to any kind of grooming of the sand that 99% of all the other beaches in the State do as a matter of course. If you go down to Hollywood Beach in Oxnard or Carpinteria State Beach just north of us, you will see beautifully-maintained beaches that are a pleasure to take your kids and your family to during the summer months. But, Brian Brennan and his band of Surfrider Foundation extremists won't allow beach grooming in Ventura because it might disrupt the nesting areas of a couple of ugly birds or annoying insects.

This is why we need change on the Ventura City Council this time around. Vote Brennan off the island once and for all and do not elect Richard Francis. He will be a clone of Brennan. If we're trying to get rid of Brennan, we should also prevent Francis from getting a foothold. He can be even worse than Brennan, in my opinion.

Jim Monahan needs to go as well. He stopped being effective as a City Council member many years ago. He's just too damn old to be of service to the community any longer.

I will be putting my money towards Mike Gibson, Bill Knox, and maybe Maureen O'Hara, if she decides to run again. Any of these three will be agents of change in a City that desperately needs it. Now that we finally got rid of Rick Cole, we have an opportunity to move this City forward. Let's not squander the opportunity!

posted by rasta_man on 7/29/13 @ 11:13 a.m.

On the contrary, the beach adjacent to the estuary is beautiful. Have you been there lately? I was and was blown away by the improvement, improvement that came about by actions of the city and people who live here and really care about the city, not just how they can make a profit from it by overdevelopment and exploitation. These are the organizations that are into betterment for the long haul, not the frack and run types.

Why would anyone object to grooming our beaches? That's BS.

posted by cassandra2 on 7/29/13 @ 07:27 p.m.

I beg to differ, cassandra2. It's not b.s. at all. You're living in a dream world. It's absolutely true. Ventura does not allow tractors on the beach to groom the sand. Ask the Public Works Department yourself if you don't believe me.

Brian Brennan has pitched a fit every time it has ever been mentioned. He's worried about disturbing some furry little critter's habitat and could care less about the people who want to use the beach. That's why he needs to go this time around!

posted by rasta_man on 7/30/13 @ 10:02 a.m.
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