Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ventura River Parkway event

Perhaps 200 people came out to the Picnic at the Ventura River event today.  Interested residents learned about the history, ecology, and current state of the river in our backyard, just steps away from the beach and downtown.  An almost forgotten part of Ventura culture that deserves our attention... and a vision for the future that everyone can agree upon.

Cynthia shows off her table-sized map of the
Lower Ventura River Parkway planning area

the current reality

Andre demonstrates the Stream Team water quality monitoring program

The future parkway...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ocean Friendly Gardens video

The Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has been actively working to solve the urban runoff problem.  Starting at home, Ocean Friendly Gardens demonstrates how to transform the urban environment from one that pollutes the ocean thru a 'Pave it, Pipe it, Drain it' mentality, into an landscape that 'Slows it, Spreads it, and Sinks it.'

The Chapter is proud to present a new video about Ocean Friendly Gardens, now viewable online at the City of Ventura's 'Water Take 1' website:

The Surfrider Foundation’s spring Ocean Friendly Garden series was a huge sucess. The series started with a Watershed Basics Class on March 10,  where participants learned the fundamentals of OFG and their garden’s relationship to our watershed.  The next event, a Hands-On Workshop (HOW) was held April 15 from 9 am to Noon on-site at a local resident’s home where participants conducted a site evaluation and design a garden.   And on May 12, over 30 volunteers came out for the Garden Workday which dramatically changed one residential landscape from a flat impervious lawn into a 'sponge' garden that will not only conserve water, but also capture and infiltrate runoff that would otherwise contribute to the urban runoff problem in Ventura.

Watch the video:

Water Take 1:

In the News:

More info:




Friday, June 1, 2012

Ventura Beach+Town

The City of Ventura has built a coalition to support the idea of capping the 101 freeway to reconnect downtown with the beach.  A consultant team was hired with a grant to develop this concept, marketed under Ventura Beach+Town.  The results were presented last week at City Hall.

According to the city website,  The idea of covering or ‘capping’ the freeway is only justifiable if there is something worth connecting to. ... the design team has studied the possibilities of extending the current city grid all the way to the beach, thus taking the ‘urban experience’ from the foothills to the shore... 

Commentary:  Although there is no doubt that freeways have disconnected the City from our beaches and rivers, this plan calls for an urban density that would shock most Ventura residents.  The narrative that completely ignores the value of the BEACH to residents and visitors is disturbing.  There is already another large hotel approved for the beachfront, and State Parks had deeded the property by the pier to the City to hold in the public trust, not for development.  And opening up the promenade to car traffic would seem contrary to the stated goals of developing a walkable community.  Any plans to develop the waterfront should be integrated within a comprehensive regional shoreline management plan that addresses current water quality and coastal erosion concerns. Capping the freeway in itself would greatly enhance the connection between downtown and the beach, but at what cost?

Watershed education

This year I participated in the Ojai Valley School 6th grade integrated curriculum based on the Ventura River watershed.  Teachers Ryan Lang and Sherri Usher teamed up to provide a hands-on experiential learning opportunity for this small class of 6th graders.

The field experiences included trips to Pine Mountain, Matilija Creek and Matilija Dam, Ventura River, Ojai Sanitary Plant, and the estuary and Surfers' Point.  The field trips are described here:

This week the class visited Surfers' Point where they helped clean up some of the iceplant and debris that was imported with the sand from Pierpont:

Quarry appeal denied

On Thursday May 23 the Ventura County Planning Commission denied an appeal by Stop the Trucks! 

The question was whether the April 17 decision to approve the Ojai Quarry's Reclamation Plan and expanded operations was made without adequate environmental review.  

The commission heard several hours of testimony reasoning that "a significant change" had occurred since the quarry's original Conditional Use Permit was approved in 1995.  Evidence presented included the ChannelKeeper video illustrating the impact of fine sediment discharge from the quarry on steelhead spawning 'redds' directly downstream of the quarry.  In 1997 the Southern Steelhead was listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Ojai Stop the Trucks also provided an independent review of the quarry's amended Reclamation Plan, stating that the plan is flawed and inaccurate.

The hearing ran from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm, at which time the County Planning Commissioners voted 4-1 that  the evidence submitted did not convince them that these impacts are "SIGNIFICANT" under CEQA law.

More info: 

Ventura County Planning Commission:

Blog archive:  Ojai Quarry