Locals throw hats Into Council race

Five people have thrown their proverbial hats into the races for Ventura City Council’s three seats up for election this November.

Two-time City Council seat seeker Lorrie Brown, attorney Matt LaVere and Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin’s, D-Thousand Oaks, district director Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios will face incumbents Cheryl Heitmann and Christy Weir for a four-year term.

Brown, a mother from Ventura, is chairwoman of the Youth Advisory Council as a member of the Ventura County Women’s Economic Roundtable and a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Supervisor Steve Bennett, District 1, who himself was re-elected recently, appointed Brown to her position on the Roundtable (but has not officially endorsed any candidate as yet).

LaVere announced his campaign on Saturday, June 25, in downtown Ventura not far from his practice. He also serves as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner and sits as a board member of the Ventura College Foundation, Downtown Ventura Rotary and Project Understanding.

Sanchez-Palacios held the same position as district director for Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, prior to her work with Irwin. The native Guatemalan, who came to the U.S. when she was 4, also spent six years with the Service Employees International Union Local 721.

The challengers will face longtime City Councilwomen Heitmann and Weir. Heitmann, first elected in 2011, has served as mayor, with previous experience as the executive director of the Ventura Music Festival and the Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees. Weir, elected in 2003, worked in publishing as an editor and writer. She served as mayor in 2007.

The 2016 elections will take place Nov. 8.

Oil spill still under investigation

An erratic oil spill first thought to have released up to 210,000 gallons of unrefined oil into Hall Canyon and the Prince Barranca but later downgraded to 30,000 gallons is the subject of an investigation as to why and how it happened.

On Thursday, June 23, Aera Energy, who owned the oil, shut down the pipeline owned by Crimson Pipeline near Grove Street and Grove Lane. The pipeline let loose a torrent of oil, prompting a quick response from the Ventura County Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department and environmental hazard cleanup crews. The torrent was stopped before it reached the end of the barranca, where it would have evacuated onto the beach near Sanjon Road and Harbor Boulevard.

On Monday, June 27, investigators were working to determine if several wildlife creatures died as a result of the spill, including a raccoon, a gopher snake and a rabbit.

Residents local to the spill reported a strong stench and oil traversing through backyards. As of Monday afternoon, the cause of the spill was still under investigation.

Harbor Church paid to relocate from city

A battle that has raged for years has reached its conclusion: Harbor Community Church, located in a midtown residential neighborhood in Ventura, will be paid $2.3 million by the city to relocate. The church has garnered criticism from area residents who say it attracts crime and undesirable individuals into an area hosting an elementary school, which they say increases risks.

The property, located at 3100 Preble Ave., has an estimated value of around $1.6 million. At a closed-session City Council meeting on Monday, June 20, City Attorney Gregory Diaz said that the difference of $700,000 factors in the cost of the church moving its operations.

As a result of the purchase, Harbor Community Church must close down what it calls Operation Embrace and not reopen it or any similar program aimed at helping the homeless population and move out of the city.

Operation Embrace provided clothes, food and ministry services to area homeless. In 2014, the city forced the church to shut down its program, but the church appealed the decision, which has been in and out of the courtroom ever since.

As part of the agreement, the Church will lease the property for $3,000 a month as it seeks a new site, but will continue to hold its Wednesday and Sunday church services.

The city’s public liabilities fund was used to pay the church.

­— Chris O’Neal