Ventura's Mayor Weir passes the baton
By Christy Weir 12/10/2009
It has been my honor and privilege to serve our city as mayor for the past two years. We live in dynamic, challenging times — times of economic instability and declining revenues for local businesses and for the city of Ventura. Yet I have seen opportunities for positive change and a community that works together for the greater good, in the midst of financial challenges.
The City Council’s job is to make fiscally responsible decisions in the context of what matters most for the long-term future of Ventura — for our children and grandchildren. With the economy in turmoil and our city budget shrinking, these choices can be unpleasant and are seldom popular. Approving the closure of Wright Library, the reduction of police patrols, sidewalk repairs, tree trimming and litter removal throughout the city, plus many more cuts, was painful but necessary to not burden current and future generations with unsustainable rising costs. Next year will hold more difficult debates on staff compensation policies, pension reform and additional service cuts because we have made a commitment to decrease our costs in proportion to our revenues.
When city government alone cannot afford to sustain a program or make neighborhood improvements, we will need to increasingly rely on collaboration. Public-private partnerships will prove to be even more crucial for enhancing our quality of life because we cannot continue to count on growing sales tax revenues, with consumer spending on the decline.
One partnership that I’m particularly proud of has resulted in the revitalization of Downtown Ventura. Visionary, motivated property and business owners (the Downtown Ventura Organization) working with city government have been responsible for exciting improvements we can all enjoy in the historic heart of our city. In spite of the recession, our downtown is becoming more vibrant and has seen dozens of unique new businesses open over the past two years.
The Community Park and Aquatic Center is another example of citizens working with the city to accomplish an ambitious goal. Through the dedication and drive of many community activists and city staff, funds were raised to complete three swimming pools and much-needed ball fields in east Ventura.
The city recently partnered with two nonprofits (PLACE and Project Understanding) to build more than 50 units of affordable housing downtown. This WAV (Working Artists Ventura) project will be our first certified “green” housing development.
The Chamber of Commerce collaborated with the city this year to create a high-tech business incubator behind City Hall, which has already attracted nine start-up companies. New jobs are being grown here to help build high-wage employment in Ventura.
The Pierpont Community Council is actively working with the city on permanent solutions for sand buildup and problems with debris on our beaches.
There are opportunities all around us for individuals to participate in improving our community. The Botanic Garden board has received conceptual approval from the City Council to lease part of Grant Park to create world-class landscaping on our most geographically spectacular site. Your involvement is welcome.
A consortium of churches is renovating an old motel to create a transitional living center for the homeless called the Kingdom Center. You can help.
We will be collaborating with the Friends of the Library to upgrade Foster Library to ensure that our citizens have the best library services possible within our funding limits.
Volunteers are needed weekly for litter removal, beach cleanup, serving at our senior centers and at our youth and homeless programs. Donations of toys and food and clothing will help children in need. This holiday season, we can all give gifts to make someone’s life better. To find out more about ways you can help, log on to www.cityofventura.net/volunteer_opportunities.
Ventura is blessed with active, caring citizens. We are fortunate to have an abundance of outstanding service clubs, small businesses, cultural and environmental and educational organizations, community councils and city staff. When you combine those assets with our deep historical roots and our gorgeous setting between two rivers, the ocean and the hills, what better place could there be to call home? Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your mayor and work together with so many talented, dedicated people who make a difference in our beautiful city every day.
Christy Weir is the outgoing mayor of the City of Ventura.