So long, farewell
City Councilman Brian Brennan on his legacy with the city of Ventura
By Chris O'Neal 12/05/2013
When City Councilman Brian Brennan first joined the council in 1997, his desire to affect the handling of environmental issues came with him.
Over his 16 years on the Council and his two years as mayor, Brennan became known as the champion of the green movement while working alongside his peers to adopt environmentally friendly ordinances and by sitting on several committees, such as the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District and with the state at the California Coastal Commission.
With assistance from fellow Councilman Carl Morehouse, Brennan proposed a plastic-bag ban this year that would have the city follow in the footsteps of neighboring Ojai and Santa Barbara.
At his final city council meeting, Brennan accepted plaques, awards and various trinkets in recognition of his service – and became an honorary member of Cub Scout pack 3143 after receiving the community service patch.
Brennan’s final day with the Council was Monday, Dec. 2, and he spoke with the VCReporter prior to his departure.
VC Reporter: Congratulations on a long tenure with the Council. What issues are still concerns for you as you leave office?
Brian Brennan: I was just a little disappointed that the plastic-bag initiative didn’t come to the Council while I was sitting on the Council. It’s scheduled to come Dec. 16. I’m still working hard on that and still working on sustainability issues.
Am I ready to go? I see things that I could continue to work on. The city’s really greened itself up internally, not because of me but just because I think the Council has come to the realization that we’re a green community. That’s always made it enjoyable to be on the Council, knowing that you have a forward lean.
Where do you see the Council moving in regard to environmental issues?
For the Council as a whole, it’s probably not the No. 1 thing. Some of the things don’t require money, though; some of them just require attention. I do hope the new Council continues on in the footsteps with what the other Councils have done. It’s been a part of the Council’s mandate and I hope they continue in that direction.
The plastic-bag ban, you’re pretty certain it’ll pass at this point?
No, I’m not. I don’t mean to be flippant — I would be excited if it did, but I think it’s something the city as a whole needs. The amount of money and energy the city spends cleaning up plastic bags in the rivers and creeks and on the beaches and parks is a fair amount of money. I would just hope the Council would recognize that.
Can you influence change better from within or out?
The reason I ran for Council was that I figured I needed more than three minutes at the podium on some issues, but I think I know how government works now. I’m more interested in working on solutions for climate change and coastal resiliency in terms of sea level rise. Those are things that are important to me and I want to make sure I keep working in that direction.
Would it be fair to say that you’re trying to be more global rather than focused solely on the city?
Well, I’m not so sure. For instance, the project at Surfer’s Point: that’s a model we use now in a number of areas up and down the coast; and back in Texas and in Florida and in North Carolina, they’re using what we’re doing here. Act locally, think globally. Acting locally, can be a model for thinking globally?
While I do focus on those, I’m really more focused on what we can do here and in so doing, being able to prove that other areas can do the same thing.
What will your lasting legacy be?
My waterless urinal. I’m kidding. I had a waterless urinal installed in the Council chambers maybe eight years ago and we’ve saved 40,000 gallons a year, nearly half a million gallons saved. That being said, I wouldn’t say that it was just me but being able to help steer the Council and the city in a direction to embrace its waterfront, to embrace its water line. There is a good thing about having good water quality. It’s important to the residents, it’s important to the tourists who come out, and it’s important to the eco-system.
I think the Brownfields grant that I got from the EPA to look at the contaminated areas around the Avenue and downtown were vital. The visioning the Council went through 13 years ago and the award-winning general plan. The inclusionary housing ordinance that I brought forward, along with — there’s so many things I can’t even remember.
Mainly it’s just a mindset that a city, even with limited resources, can do good things. The reason why it can do that is because of the strength and commitment of the employees of the city of Ventura. The water department, the parks department — they’re out there every day being of service. It has been an honor for me to be a leader in a community that has that kind of commitment by their employees to the residents.