Looking over the past 150 years of Ventura’s history doesn’t exactly sum up its true identity, given that the Chumash have been in the region for over 10,000 years and Mexicans well before the city’s establishment. Since its founding, however, historical documentation shows a dynamic and robust heritage that proves Ventura’s eclectic nature made it a place worth visiting and moving to over the century and a half that followed. This fact is something our lawmakers should not forget as they plan for the next 150 years — or perhaps just the next 20.
As Ventura celebrates its sesquicentennial this weekend, we feel it’s important that those in office strive to maintain a diverse population. While Ventura may be one of the last beach communities that hasn’t been overdeveloped and, because of that, maintains some of its small-town charm, there also has to be some balance. It has been said ad nauseam that locals don’t want Ventura to turn into the San Fernando Valley or even Santa Barbara. But at the pace it’s going, we are seeing only the upper class thriving here while lower-income residents struggle to keep up with ever-increasing housing prices. History proves that such polarity wasn’t always the case.
In our special pullout issue, it’s clear to see that diverse economic opportunities and housing options were the main reasons immigrants came to Ventura. Today, our local lawmakers are more focused on what they don’t want rather than allowing the market to dictate what we need to provide a chance at a good-quality life for all. While it wasn’t always good times for everyone since Ventura’s founding, constricting housing construction and engaging potential employers that seem to fit some sort of utopian ideal for only the high-income earners isn’t what Ventura has been all about. Why do Venturans love this place? Because it’s for the blue-collar workers as well as the white-collar CEOs. It’s for sporty outdoors people and those who just love to view it from the comfort of their homes. Ventura is a place that should cater to everyone.
As we look ahead, we hope that Ventura maintains its charm by creating a warm environment for all to live and share in its luster, with its proximity to the ocean and great climate. Our population will continue to grow and it’s clear that we haven’t kept up with that growth — statistics show we are not seeing an influx of people moving here for jobs, housing or otherwise. Reasonable growth with infill and a variety housing options are a must. Ventura’s population diversity is its charm. It should be something our politicians prioritize, lest we become what we worked so hard to separate ourselves from 150 years ago.