By Jeffrey Weinstein
Dear Ojai City Council, recently I received a digital copy of the Midtown Ventura’s Community Council Newsletter. During an evening workshop dedicated to identifying the most important issues in Midtown and the Ventura area, in preparation for the upcoming General Plan, the meeting identified Ventura’s priorities as follows:
1. Planning–housing and affordability a big challenge; underserved communities.
2. Main Street, not pedestrian friendly, (southside of mall at Emma Avenue), no sidewalks. (Currently MVCC received a grant to beautify the corner of Emma Avenue and Main Street. and we have also been planning to renovate the southside of Main Street from Five Points to the Auto Center near Mills.)
3. Foothill corridor closed through Ventura High School; study overpasses so street doesn’t have to be closed.
4. Lighting–Shouldn’t be so bright, should be more comfortable and shielded lights to be dark sky compliant.
5. Separated bike lanes.
a. Climate action plan.
b. Trees–Protect and increase; better street tree master plan, right type of trees planted.
Tied at the BOTTOM of Ventura’s List were Separated Bike Lanes-Climate Change-Trees. Lets compare Ventura’s priorities with the Ojai City Council’s list of priorities based on discussion during the ATP plan of Lane Reduction on Maricopa Hwy. The 3 highest priorities identified by the Ojai City Council and supporters of Lane Reduction on Maricopa Hwy are Separated Bike Lanes, Climate Change and Trees, the exact opposite of Midtown Ventura!
What could account for the reverse priorities just 15 miles inland from Ventura? We acknowledge (and admire) that Ojai is more progressive and “green” than our neighbors and other Ventura County cities, but the composition or makeup of our leadership makes a difference in what’s viewed as important.
Whether you are retired, a volunteer, are independently wealthy or teach yoga, what we do and our status in life affects our approach to civic engagement and “worldview”. Ojai City Council’s focus on Separated Bike Lanes distracts from the real needs of Ojai, which are housing and economic opportunity. The City Council’s priorities putting Separated Bike Lanes-Climate Change-Trees at the top of the “to do” list is foolish, “inspirational”, and insulting.