For any reasonable person, stagnation can cause the ultimate frustration, especially when it is up to others to achieve progress. And so it goes with the city of Ventura.
It’s nothing new that the motto of the city of Ventura is slow growth over rapid or, apparently even moderate growth, and several outspoken residents approve of this approach to just about everything when it has to do with Ventura. Over the last decade, the evidence has been clear. With really only one major market-rate housing development coming to completion — The Cannery on Ventura Avenue — in the last five years and just a few smaller projects in the last 10 years, while several significant projects remain in limbo, it’s seems obvious that pushing projects through isn’t a priority for city leaders, whether in times of economic growth or decline.
The last City Council meeting on Monday, July 21, revealed that being indecisive is pretty much the norm. First, one of the agenda items was to discuss the expansion of Olivas Park Drive. This project has been on the books for over two decades. Why? It’s seems preposterous that such a plan wouldn’t move forward sooner. But so it goes with the city of Ventura.
Another agenda item on Monday was moving forward with the pilot program of summer concert series, 12 in total, on the hill behind City Hall. Proposed two years ago in March 2012, the organizers (Ventura resident and business owner Mark Hartley and Nederlander Productions) have hit various setbacks, including environmental and safety issues, concerns about noise levels and increased traffic, and too many drunk people flowing into downtown. So studies have been conducted and reports have been written, offering compromises to appease everyone. And further, the proposed series would feature the likes of Tony Bennett, Sarah McLachlan, Willie Nelson and The Cult, booking acts similar to Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego and attracting more mature audiences rather than a younger, less careful crowd. The reality is, downtown needs the influx of people coming to such concerts; businesses can only do so well doing business with only two-day weekend crowds. But here we are, three attempts later to get this series moving with no concrete start date in sight. And as usual, it’s the way of the city of Ventura.
The fact of the matter is that the city of Ventura isn’t a rural town, though some wish it were. It is a small city filled with business owners trying to survive. It is a tourist destination along the California coast. It is a town full of potential and our city leaders are just waiting … for something that isn’t quite clear. It’s time for the City Council to make a decision. It’s time to move forward, it’s time to progress, or it’s time for our leaders to be replaced.