Ventura’s paid parking makes it on the ballot, legality still in question
The Ventura City Council voted 4-3 to place the paid parking initiative on the ballot. The Council also directed the city attorney “at once in the appropriate court of law … to determine if the initiative was valid under law.” The motion was offered by Deputy Mayor Mike Tracy and seconded by Mayor Bill Fulton.  

The initiative, if passed, would require that the city remove the parking meters (which cost the city more than $1 million to install) as well as two-thirds voter approval for any new parking fees.

City Attorney Ariel Calonne last week released a 72-page report scrutinizing the paid parking initiative. In particular, the report outlined that the state and city councils have the power to regulate parking, not the voters, the courts having ruled that “the regulation of traffic, including parking meters, is too dynamic to be administered by the voters given the ‘cumbersome delay and heavy expense’ of election processes.”

A group of citizens opposed to the parking meters collected more than 10,000 signatures and submitted petitions in May to have the paid parking initiative added to the ballot for the November election. The legality of the initiative is in question. Thus, if the initiative is passed by the voters, the courts could decide it is illegal, halting indefinitely the enforcement of the ballot measure.

— Michael Sullivan

Ventura River gets a clean break
The Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center sent Multi-Chem Group LLC a 60-day notice of intent to sue on April 1, alleging that Multi-Chem’s facility on the lower Ventura River was violating the Clean Water Act and discharging polluted storm water into the river.  

This past Monday, however, the two reached a settlement. Multi-Chem has agreed to improve its storm water management practices as well as provide $35,000 for the establishment of the Lower Ventura River Watershed Fund.  

Storm water is generated when precipitation flows over land, accumulating sediment, chemicals, debris and other pollutants. Discharges from municipal storm drains, construction and industrial sites are one of California’s most significant sources of water pollution. Multi-Chem’s improved processes will greatly decrease the amount of storm water discharged from its facility, reducing pollutants to the water.

EDC staff attorney Brian Segee points out that the lower Ventura River is an environmentally important area, both “as a habitat for a number of species, such as steelhead trout, and from a human health standpoint.”

According to the terms of the settlement, Multi-Chem has agreed to improve its storm water pollution control measures at its facility, “meet and confer” with EDC to manage storm water levels, and provide funding for independent water quality monitoring for the next three years.

— Rachel Wisuri