June has been an exceptional month so far for area residents, officials and organizations that have been tackling tough issues and waging years-long battles with powerful entities and formidable opponents over causes that impact (or have the potential to) thousands of people in Ventura County.
First, on June 2, a Ventura County Superior Court Judge ruled that Golden State Water Company was on the hook for repairing the Ojai Playhouse movie theater after a water pipe burst and flooded it in 2014, forcing the theater to shut down.
Second, on June 6, after year of discussions and negotiations with farmworker advocates and organizations, along with various local ag companies and area farmers, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors passed the Ventura County Farmworker Resource Program (See page 7, “Win for farmworkers”). The board directed up to $200,000 to fund the initiative, which will provide outreach and education to the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 local farmworkers on a variety of critical issues impacting their community.
Third, on June 8, Golden State Water Company relinquished ownership of Ojai’s water system to Casitas Municipal Water District, as reported earlier by the VC Star. The battle has spanned over four years, which began when Golden State Water Company customers felt rate increases were unfair, which led to a voter-passed initiative to transfer ownership and raise property taxes to fund the move. The change was further complicated by a series of court hearings until finally, last week, that chapter could finally be closed with the official transfer.
Fourth, on June 9, a California Energy Commission committee approved a special study to be done on possible cleaner, greener alternatives to the controversial Puente Power project proposed in 2015 for Mandalay Beach in Oxnard. While proponents of the plan feel confident that they have already covered those bases, saying the project is the only option, opponents finally get the recognition — after years of protests and rallies — that other ways to address the region’s energy needs could be done elsewhere and with less impact on the environment.
The culmination of these wins speaks volumes of what persistence, hard work and deep convictions over perceived injustice can accomplish. In troubling times, when the status quo is to just let things go, that certain issues are not that big of a deal, that nothing can be done anyway, let these victories serve as an inspiration to press on. Though the long-term outcome of any effort to right apparent wrongs is uncertain, it’s the journey and the lessons we learn from fighting for a cause that matters.