Ojai: Parcels, Permits, and the Planning Commission, More About Less Water and the Constitution makes a Comeback

Ojai City Council Meeting- Sep. 12

By Jay Murphy

Ojai’s City Council held a marathon five hour meeting Tues evening at City Hall with all Council members as well as a full house of citizens.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, a joint meeting between the City Council and the Planning Commission. A variety of “process” issues were discussed, a topic of previous meetings. Members of the Commission were concerned with the quality of information they review in their approval process as apparently code updates and guidelines are out of date. Some members expressed concern that the board that reviews code appeals has too much power and a general discussion followed with a bit of tension between the Planning Commission members themselves. The Council seemed to feel that the Commission might do a better job of policing the information and procedures that define their process. They suggested more due diligence.

A Commission suggestion was also presented that Ojai.  It addressed hat there are too many licensed liquor establishments in town and that a limit on the numbers should be discussed. The Council, save for Ms. Francina, seemed to think this was a delicate, if not dangerous idea to pursue, if not legally, at least from a fairness point of view. The Council wondered if other business models might be affected by such a change in policy.  Clearly, there is a bit of tension between members of the Council and certain members of the Commission on this issue.

The joint hour long meeting closed after a discussion about the status of a permanent Development Director and how it would facilitate the process of moving requests on to the Council. All were in agreement that the sooner a permanent Director was chosen the better.

The formal City Council meeting started promptly at seven and after a bit of routine business moved on to the first item on the agenda, the Dave Mason Tribute ceremony and selection of a plaque and location in commemoration of “Mr Ojai”. Donations can be sent to “the David Fund” at P.O. Box 1223, Ojai, CA 93024.

The Council then visited property adjustment approvals.  A two parcel lot on Drown Ave. was discussed for for subdivision into three parcels but was moved forward until more info could be collected about drainage runoff. A revision to a project at 611 Pearl St. from a rental unit to an eight condominium unit was discussed but the Council was concerned since condos were  available but rental units are currently in great demand. To the property owner’s was dismayed at the decision was postponed until the November schedule.

The much discussed sign ordinance was finally brought to a vote by my Mayor Pro Tem Weirick and the vote was unanimous. The ordinance fixes sizes and locations of business signs in Ojai. On water the presentation offered a bleak future for Ojai’s supply unless something is done very soon. He indicated that if the drought continues Ojai will be out of water in four years, but also offered some potential solutions. His presentation showed where a couple of water “fracking” wells are being developed in the upper Ojai and this along with other solutions like desalinization would help postpone or prevent the crisis on Ojai’s doorstep.

The issue of Trolley Fares and service modifications was reviewed in detail as alternatives were discussed to cover an approximate $80,000 shortfall. The plan seems to be to up prices and reduce service as well as explore advertising on the Trolleys themselves. A idea to create Trolley passes and sell them to both riders and city businesses will be explored.

The Council approved their support of the League of California Cities position at the 2017 Conference as well as approval of the Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency Reorganization.

Finally, hats off to Deborah Baber Savalla, representing the POINT OF VIEW group for her new, but remarkably successful, campaign to promote Constitution Week. Ojai and a number of local communities have taken Point Of View’s lead and are highlighting the importance of what is arguably our most important government document. Mayor Johnston enthusiastically illustrated that the very Council meeting we were attending  had its roots based in the Constitution. You can reach Ms. Baber Savalla for more information at [email protected]

You can review a video of the actual Council meeting as well as see the Council agenda at ojaicity.org. Each item on the agenda is interactive so click on the item for more information


Jay Murphy is retired and living in Ojai

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One Response to Ojai: Parcels, Permits, and the Planning Commission, More About Less Water and the Constitution makes a Comeback

  1. Deborah Baber-Savalla September 17, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Thank you, Jay for the shout out for Constitution Week! I’ve been humbled at the experience of talking to many fellow Ventura County residents and collected over 700 symbolic signatures from them in support of elected bodies proclaiming “Constitution Week 2017!” This is the start and I’m thrilled Ojai wanted to be part of this initiative!

    Thanks too for an excellent recap of the meeting. Well done.


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