In Brief

In Brief

The Ventura City Council has extended the deadline for homeowners looking for amnesty under a program that would bring illegally constructed home additions up to code.

The original deadline of Dec. 24 was met with criticism at previous City Council meetings when members of the community complained that the cost to upgrade the units is excessive with the combination of both building and energy code requirements.

The program, which requires that additions to homes be brought up to modern code, will affect hundreds of homeowners and could cost upward of $16,000 after complying with both safety and energy codes.

Camille Harris, advocate for safe housing, has fought to extend the amnesty program — which would significantly lower the cost of permits for area residents — and to make changes to the requirements that would allow homes built prior to the enforcement to ben grandfathered in.

Harris argued that access to information is lacking. Currently, only the application for the amnesty program is in Spanish and English, while literature pertaining to the requirements is difficult to come by.

“The public must be included in the whole process of safe housing,” said Harris, “and communication is a key factor.”

Chief Building Inspector Andrew Stuffler has long held that the energy code requirements are mandated for all residents, while Harris urged the Council to consider portions of Section 25402 of the Public Resources Code, which states that only new residential and nonresidential construction is required to meet the energy code standards.

“Clearly there has been some confusion and different people feel like it says different things,” said Mayor Cheryl Heitmann. “What we asked is for staff to bring back some definite clarification from the state, because the energy codes are state-mandated and not something we’re doing at the local level”

The new deadline will be Dec. 31, 2014.


The city of Ventura will join neighboring communities and cities across the state in banning single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores.

With a vote of 6-1, the City Council directed staff to draft the ordinance that would not only ban plastic, but also apply a fee of 10 cents to paper bags provided in stores.

Councilman Neal Andrews, the only dissenting vote, asked that the ordinance drop the fee for paper bags. The motion failed by a vote of 4-3.

“I have a personal bane against plastic bags,” said Councilman Carl Morehouse to the VCReporter back in August when the ordinance was introduced for policy consideration. “The visual impact on my short walk between Loma Vista and Telegraph, the amount of trash is immense.”

Morehouse and former Councilman Brian Brennan first attempted to set in motion the bag ban in 2010 but found opposition from local Tea Party members, resulting in the consideration’s failure with a vote of 4-3. Carpinteria’s bag ban faced a lawsuit regarding the use of single-use bags in restaurants, resulting in the city’s acceptance of plastic bags for prepared food and at takeout counters.

The ordinance, drafted by Brennan and Morehouse, will cost $5,000 to draft and use 80 hours of staff time.
The ordinance should be returned to the Council within six months.

In Brief

In Brief

Ronald Reagan Library vandalized

Vandals hit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library last Friday, tagging the entryway sign with anti-capitalist slogans and profane phrases about the former president.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 7, security responded to the entrance sign located on Presidential Drive in Simi Valley, which was found blanketed in graffiti.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library Director of Communications Melissa Giller said that the graffiti can’t be traced to any particular group or individuals.

“Unfortunately, graffiti is a problem everywhere,” said Giller. “I can’t say either way if it really was an attack against President Reagan or not. It could easily have been some people who were looking for a place to graffiti and saw an easy target. We may never know.”

Some of the phrases used — “Death to Capitalism” and “F*** Reagan” — may give the impression that the vandals might have been politically motivated, but Cmdr. Roy Jones of the Simi Valley Police Department disagrees, saying that politically charged vandalism isn’t a problem in the area.

“I’m not even sure if that graffiti was politically motivated,” said Jones. “I think it was an isolated incident.”

By Sunday morning, the graffiti had been removed.

Freezing temperatures damage local crops

Old Man Winter is bearing down a little hard on Ventura County this month, most noticeably in Ojai, where ranchers have been forced to take emergency measures to protect their crops.

Avocados and citrus were in dire straights this past weekend when a cold front threatened to destroy or damage the crops. The cold weather, which has wreaked havoc on most of the country, brought blizzards to the Midwest and elsewhere while driving local temperatures down to below freezing overnight Sunday and Monday.

Emily Ayala of Friends Ranch in Ojai isn’t certain how much damage was done to their crop of Pixie tangerines and other citrus just yet, but is taking measures to prevent further harm.

“We burn gallons of propane every night and the wind machines are on,” said Ayala. “It’s a little bit early to know how much damage we’ve got, but we probably have damage.”

On Monday night, the temperatures dipped down to 26 degrees, a temperature at which the citrus can freeze, destroying the fruit’s membrane, making it dry when thawed.

At Friends Ranch, fans draw warmer air down into the crop while pipes pump in warm water in an attempt to rescue the crops. The temperature, however, may have been a bit too cold.

“I’m thinking, especially on my younger trees with exposed fruit, we’re going to have losses. I don’t know how much yet.”

Frost season continues through the month and into January.






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  1. Conejo Valley Quilters Monthly Meeting

    June 17 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

    June 19 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
  3. The Longest Day – Poker Night Benefitting the Alzheimer’s Association!

    June 21 @ 6:00 pm - 11:30 pm
  4. The Elite Theatre Company Presents: VANITIES

    June 21 @ 8:00 pm - 10:30 pm
  5. The Elite Theatre Company Presents: VANITIES

    June 22 @ 8:00 pm - 10:30 pm
  6. Summer Solstice Nature Hike on Pine Mountain

    June 23 @ 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
  7. The Elite Theatre Company Presents: VANITIES

    June 23 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm
  8. Pop Up Art Gallery

    June 28 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  9. The Elite Theatre Company Presents: VANITIES

    June 28 @ 8:00 pm - 10:30 pm
  10. Obi Kaufmann & The State of Water

    June 29 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

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