In Brief

In Brief


Details of Ventura’s strip club “urgency ordinance” released
Strict rules passed by the Ventura City Council last week in regard to a proposed strip club have led the proprietor to consider taking legal action.

The “urgency ordinance” for current and future adult businesses passed by a 6-0 vote on Monday, Sept. 14, which included lighting regulations and that employees must be licensed to work in such adult-related businesses. Agassi Halajyan, owner of the property for the proposed no-alcohol, full-nude strip club, expressed his concern over the tough parameters, saying he just purchased the building for $1.8 million on Market Street and that the regulations unfairly restricted potential income. Though First Amendment rights allow for the opening of such businesses, cities can heavily regulate them. He also said that the ordinance had been created in secret, violating the Brown Act, which governs public meetings. Ventura City Attorney Gregory Diaz disagreed, saying Halajyan and his attorney were properly notified.

Details of the ordinance include:

At least a 6-foot separation between patrons and performers (no lap dances)

No private performance areas and no doors on any booth

Security guards must be present at the businesses in line with requirements for establishments serving alcohol with entertainment.

The business must close from 2 to 9 a.m. every day.

No direct tipping of performers

$7,500 worth of tools stolen from Habitat for Humanity
Thieves have made off with several thousand dollars’ worth of tools from a Simi Valley Habitat for Humanity build site, causing the program to delay move-in dates for two families and extending the finish date on an eight-home development.

The tools were taken from a locked shed over the Labor Day weekend, the crime discovered by workers early Tuesday, Sept. 8. Workers were midway through houses three and four of the eight-house project.

Multiple saws, drills and drivers made up the lot of stolen equipment.

Executive Director of Ventura County Habitat for Humanity Steve Dwyer calls the theft a “huge hit,” adding, “The nonprofit does not keep a large reserve for tools” in a statement.

Habitat relies on in-kind donations and funding to purchase tools needed to build homes. To donate to Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County’s Tool Fund, which will be used to replace the stolen tools, please contact Rachel McIver at or 805-485-6065, ext. 200.

Ventura County Farm Day shines light on local food growers
This Saturday, farmers and ranchers will open their doors, uncovering the mysteries about farming in Ventura County at the annual Ventura County Farm Day celebration.

Mary Maranville, founder and executive director of Students for Eco Education and Agriculture, says that Farm Day is a chance for residents to “know what we are putting in our mouths.”

Over 20 farms will take part in Farm Day, opening their doors to visitors. Guests will get a chance to see 30-foot-high tomato plants at a hydroponic farm, sustainability efforts to recapture energy at another and more of what Maranville calls “21st century farming techniques.”

The day will conclude with a barbecue dinner in Santa Paula, with food provided by Whole Foods Market Oxnard from locally sourced ranchers, prepared by the Young Farmers and Ranchers youth group and Chef Jason Collis.

Farm Day tours are free between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The barbecue will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. at Limoneira Ranch, 133 N. 10th St., Santa Paula. Adult tickets are $35, kids 12 and younger $15.

For more information and a list of participating farms, visit

In Brief

In Brief

Fundraiser for affordable housing for veterans

The Ventura County Housing Trust Fund will host its annual benefit in support of affordable housing, this time with a focus on raising awareness for the military community. The WELCOME HOME! social event will be held Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Camarillo Ranch and will feature keynote speaker Darryl Vincent, a veteran’s advocate for affordable housing and a former Marine himself.

Funds raised at the benefit will support projects that create new and affordable housing in Ventura County. The Housing Trust Fund was developed to support and finance low-income housing tailored toward veterans, farm-workers, transitional-aged foster youth, homeless and very-low-income individuals and families.

All funds raised at the event will be matched by a grant from the state of California, which organizers say will “double the value” to the program.

The award-winning New Directions Veterans Choir, compromising of military veterans, will provide entertainment.

Karen Fraser, administrative assistant with the Housing Trust Fund, says that many veterans who make use of the so-called VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers have difficulty finding housing because there are few landlords who will accept them as payment.

“There are a lot of veterans that have these vouchers but still can’t find the housing because of a significant lack of housing,” said Fraser. According to the 2015 Ventura County homeless count, there are 87 veterans without any form of housing residing in the county. This number, however, doesn’t account for the number of veterans who share housing and are in search of a permanent home by themselves or with their families, according to Fraser.

Fraser says that she hopes the WELCOME HOME! event will raise awareness of veterans’ housing needs and bring about options for the Housing Trust Fund to support before the June 2016 deadline, when a matching grant from the state of California will expire.

“We would love to get the word out that we have this money and then see if there are any projects out there that we can help out with,” said Fraser.

The WELCOME HOME! fundraiser will be held on Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Camarillo Ranch, 201 Camarillo Ranch Road, Camarillo. Tickets are $55-100. For more information, visit

Camarillo walk to focus on suicide prevention

An annual walk to raise awareness of the nation’s 10th leading cause of death will take place next week in support of dropping the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.

Over 300 walkers will take to the streets in the Out of the Darkness walk, just one of the 350 events occurring simultaneously nationwide, at Camarillo’s Constitution Park on Saturday, in support of the nonprofit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s local and national programs. More than 150,000 people are expected to walk nationwide.

“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia in a statement. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight, the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health, and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.”

According to the foundation, one person living in the U.S. dies of suicide every 15 minutes. More than 38,000 die of suicide yearly, though nearly 1 million attempt suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens in the country, and adults aged 65 and older account for 16 percent of the deaths.

Regina Poynter, peer survivor specialist and chair of the Ventura County Out of the Darkness walk, says that those who suffer from suicidal thoughts and those who are either survivors of an attempt or family members who have lost a loved one need understanding the most.

“These people are not being cowards. It’s just that the pain is so debilitating — it’s like having a ball and chain on your leg,” said Poynter. Reaching 20 percent reduction by 2025 is an important goal, she adds.

“With the suicide rate increasing over the past 10 years, the reduction will be a challenge, but with tens of thousands of lives at stake it’s a challenge worth taking.”

The local chapter of the Foundation is seeking sponsors and donations for raffle prizes during the walk. The seventh Annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 7:30 a.m. at Camarillo’s Constitution Park, 1287 Paseo Camarillo, Camarillo. For more information on how to donate, email, and to register for the walk, visit

Local workshop to update gas, oil regulations

The California Department of Conservation will conduct three workshops this month to receive public input on plans to update oil and gas regulations, particularly in regard to underground injections, otherwise known as fracking.

The underground injection control workshops will be held in Los Angeles, Ventura and Bakersfield on Sept. 9, 10 and 15, respectively. The Ventura workshop will take place at the Ventura Beach Marriott, 2055 Harbor Blvd., from 9 a.m. to noon today.

“We are making a concerted effort to bring our UIC Program into full compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure public health and safety and environmental protection,” State Oil and Gas Supervisor Steve Bohlen said in a statement. “These workshops are part of an informal, pre-rulemaking process to update the regulations.”

If you are unable to attend in person, comments can be mailed to the Department of Conservation, Attention: UIC Workshop, 801 K St. MS 24-02, Sacramento, CA 95814.

For more information on the workshops and to join the mailing list for further details, visit

Ocean-friendly workshops in Ventura

With no end in sight for California’s historic drought, county residents are turning their attention to conservation, specifically in the yard and garden. For those of us who, say, aren’t as green thumbed as others, help has arrived in the form of a series of workshops designed to educate amateur gardeners on the best methods by which to conserve.

The five-part Ocean-Friendly Workshop, hosted by the Ventura County Public Works Agency’s Watershed Protection District and led by Green Gardens Group, will educate at-home landscapers on how to design, mulch, grade and plant for optimal and efficient use of rain and groundwater, with the eventual goal of eliminating the use of long-term irrigation.

Workshop 1 will cover gardening basics, and the fifth and final workshop will discuss planting and irrigating. Students will also have the opportunity to create a water-friendly garden on the government center yard as a final project.

Local homeowners have taken to drought-tolerant landscapes in droves, ripping up water-guzzling grass and flowers for native succulents and ornamentals. David Laak, water-quality planner for the County of Ventura, says that residents will learn at the workshop about native and ocean-friendly plants such as the island snap dragon and canyon prince rye.

“Sixty [percent] or seventy percent of water usage is outdoor use for watering lawns and plants, and we really want to reduce that,” said Laak. “As you can tell by everyone’s brown lawns around here, it’s on the forefront of minds.”

The Ocean-Friendly Workshop will be held every other Saturday in September and October, beginning on Sept. 12 and ending on Oct. 24, at the Ventura County Government Center’s Pacific Conference Room, located next to the Hall of Justice Cafeteria at 800 S. Victoria Ave., in Ventura. Registration is required and space is limited. For more information and to register, visit

In Brief

In Brief


Oxnard opens new fire station
The city of Oxnard has opened a new fire station funded by a half-cent tax increase approved in 2008.

Station 8, located at 3000 S. Rose Ave., cost roughly $12 million to construct and will cost $3 million annually to maintain. Funds required for the construction came from the passage of Measure O, also known as the vital city services transactions (sales) and use tax.

Twenty-one new firefighters will staff the station and maintain a new ladder truck, fire engine and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) truck.

The addition of a new ladder truck brings the city’s total to two and increases the total number of fire engines from seven to eight.

The station itself is equipped with the latest technology, too. Inside are high-tech vents that will help to remove emissions, making the air cleaner for stationed firefighters. The engine room is equipped with a GPS location device that identifies the closest unit to a call for service and determines whether the call came from within the city or from the county, which will help to determine what resources are needed.

The GPS device also sends location information directly to a map for quicker response.

“This is exactly what that tax was for, to create a fire station in an area in which it was very highly needed in the community,” said Battalion Chief Sergio Martinez in a video released to introduce the station.

Measure O is expected to raise up to $200 million over the next 20 years.

To watch a short video on Fire Station 8, visit

Water District awarded $750,000 for conservation plan
The planning phase of the United Water Conservation District Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, or HCP, is off to a good start with the announcement of $750,000 acquired via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, said Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village.

The HCP covers portions of the Santa Clara River watershed upstream and downstream of the Vern Freeman Diversion in Ventura County, which 11 endangered species call home.

The plan includes construction of a fish passage facility for southern California steelhead and Pacific lamprey, while balancing the need of continual usage of United’s Freeman Diversion facility to benefit regional groundwater resources and agricultural and municipal customers that rely on Santa Clara River water.

“I am very pleased that United Water Conservation District will receive these critical funds to protect endangered species and ensure that local groundwater resources are maintained, which benefit agricultural and municipal entities,” said Brownley in a statement. “It is also important that Congress reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps local communities protect their natural areas and resources at no cost to the taxpayers.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which, according to Brownley’s office, is “responsible for more than 40,000 state and local outdoor recreation projects,” is set to expire on Sept. 30. Brownley has co-sponsored H.R. 1814, which would permanently reauthorize it.

California Condor nests streaming on webcam
If you’ve ever been curious about the life of a California condor, now’s your chance to get up close and personal.

Two live-streaming webcams have been installed at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County and at the Ventana Wildlife Society’s Condor Sanctuary in Big Sur, allowing viewers a chance to see condors in their natural environment – chicks and all.

In fall of 2014, Ventura County condor pair #111 (a 21-year-old female) and #509 (a six-year-old male) were first observed in the wild, and in April of 2015, their first chick was hatched. There are currently 11 nests active in California, including the pair in Big Sur, #167 and #190, that hatched a chick in May.

Biologists and staff from the Santa Barbara Zoo and Ventana Wildlife Society hiked into the wilderness along steep cliffs and deep canyons to install the equipment.

“Seeing these huge birds raise their young in the wild is unforgettable,” said Charles Eldermire, Bird Cams project leader with Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which hosts the livestream webcam of the nest in Ventura County. “Their success in raising their chicks is critical in the effort to bring the species back from the brink of extinction.”

Ventana Wildlife Society Executive Director Kelly Sorenson says that there are roughly 400 condors left on the planet, with about half of those in zoos. The others live in the wild in California, Arizona and recently in Utah. By far the biggest threat to the condors is lead ammunition.

“We’ve had over 50 condors die of lead poisoning,” said Sorenson. “That may not sound like a big number but we’re looking at only 400 some birds alive today. There’s no other mortality factor that comes close.”

The webcams will allow Sorenson and others to monitor the health of the species, too. Sorenson says that he’s not pointing a finger at hunters and ranchers who have, in fact, taken to switching out lead ammunition for a non-toxic alternative.

“We need the hunters and ranchers because their activities provide food for condors,” said Sorenson. Condors are scavengers and feed on remains of other animals. Sorenson expects a statewide ban on leaded ammunition by 2019.

Sorenson says that the condor is a very resilient bird.

“Here’ a bird that’s extremely tough and can survive if we just give it a chance.”

To view the Hopper Mountain camera, visit To view the Big Sur camera, visit






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