Thursday, March 20, 2008

City Council To Hear New Vision Group

Integrating valley with city, promotion of Ojai arts center among plans to be presented

By Bret Bradigan
A new group with a mix of old and new ideas will have its coming out party at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
First conceived during informal meetings at actor Peter Strauss’ home, the organizing principle of the assortment of 30 Ojai Valley activists and organization representatives is to “revigorate the community’s potential while protecting and respecting its unique character and history,” according to the Citizens for a New Vision for Ojai’s mission statement.
Strauss said another consideration was to create alliances rather than adversarial confrontations between the public, council, planners and other government agencies. “The council is clearly fearful of the tyranny of the minority — who often threaten recalls and lawsuits. And it has been made clear by council members that the ‘good guys’ are rarely there to stand up against that vocal disparaging minority. We intend to change that and be accountable,” Strauss wrote in a statement.
One key concern of the effort is to make sure that people who live outside Ojai’s city limits are heard about decisions made inside the city that are bound to have an impact — whether it be development, water use, traffic and affordable housing. “The unincorporated areas are just not represented, period. This is a huge undertaking and needs much advisement. We’re not sure where to begin ... but it needs to be looked at!” he said.
This vision is also expanding to include a performing arts complex, centered around a 400-seat auditorium, at the site of the Ojai Unified School District offices on Ojai Avenue, either leased or purchased, with the skate park, affordable housing for artists and retail space.
While acknowledging that this project is bold, expensive and likely to be controversial, Strauss said that such a regional attraction would crystallize Ojai’s image, and prosperity, as an arts and culture center. “Socially, economically and educationally, it would be incomparable,” he said.
Already anticipating objections, another of the organizers, Joan Kemper, said that traffic impacts can easily be mitigated. “We can have attractive, dynamic ingress and egress,” she said.
For every person you ask about their vision of Ojai, Strauss said, you will receive that many answers. But the current stagnant, reactive stance is unsustainable. “It would seem to be the consensus that we do need to involve ourselves, that to embrace Ojai’s traditional ‘laissez-faire, kickback, mellowness’ only promotes indifference ... it is a dangerous assumption to believe things will work themselves out.”
Citizens for a New Vision for Ojai can be reached at


Anonymous said...

The City of Ojai should annex all unincorporated County areas, Oak View included.

Anonymous said...

An interesting idea that needs discussion- especially by those outside the city council special interests. Most of the adversary comes from monied interests who
assume to speak for the majority of residents. The “ tyranny of the minority” are in fact the same citizens groups that have been cosistently weighing in for
a good while, as it should be, resulting in a community that intergrates into the decision making process. The threats and lawsuits have been filed by the city and are on public record- check the chain store and affordable housing inniated by citizens that were fist opposed by the city. It would seem that proposals of an over-scale art center with traffic issues “easily mitigated" which means ignored, is coming from a minority of proponents who would like to have their cake and eat it too. You cannot ignore traffic congestion the valley now sees during peak hours and resulting from the ill-conceived Bryant Street Industrial Plan. Peter Strauss and company can conceive large commercial projects and enjoy building them, and then escape back to their estates and quiet lanes to pretend the traffic and small town ambiance is not disappearing because of over-building, big buildout and special interest projects not supported by the majority community.The current “stagnant reactive stance” is the best grass-roots civic response citizens can muster. Would a new art center complex be replacing the Ojai Art Center? How about expanding or enhancing what already exists? More inclusive community dialogue please,like the FLOW water citizen meeting response to Golden State Water billing campaign.Keeping Ojai a small town tourist destination compared to a roadside attraction is wisest use of a finite valley. And incorporation of outlying areas into the city open them up to exponential growth further impacting limited natural resources.PL

Anonymous said...

"..Most of the adversary comes from monied interests who assume to speak for the majority of residents..."

An interesting comment coming from you, Pete, given that a few of you who ran for City Council claimed to speak for the majority, yet remain unelected by the registered voters of Ojai.

I wonder, how one qualifies to speak for the majority?

It's time for business to take a hand in putting Ojai on track for a prosperous future. Pete, your blogs always contain some reference to "..Keeping Ojai a small town tourist destination ..", yet you ignore a few inconvenient facts, namely that while TOT has risen the sales tax has not. That means locals are shopping locally only on a very selective basis and tourists who do come are not leaving much in the way of dollars outside of lodging and food.

What about our small businesses? How do YOU propose to support the independents without providing a fresh influx of visitors/return visitors?

In addition, it is my hope that this group will help avoid more legislation by referendum! When small groups of people grab ahold of emotional strings and play upon them to force a narrowly focused agenda on the City Council (threatening the Council, by the way with recall petitions if they don't come around) it forces elected officials to speedily craft ordinances that may not be well thought out. We will have to see how the Formula Ordinance plays out over time.

The people who are involved in this Vision group are all deeply involved with Ojai (many for some years) and have no cause to do anything that would harm the charm and history of Ojai. I say let's give a listen and see what they have to say.

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

james hatch + "the progressives" = trianny of the minority

James Hatch said...

James Hatch has no affiliation with this group. Let's face it, "revigorating the community's potential" is nothing but a vision of elitism catering to the wealthy.

The "Vision" is a voting bloc to ensure development in favor of the wealthy and aimed to attract more out-of-town elitists: "Crystallize Ojai's image" as an "arts and culture center." I always assumed Ojai already had an image of being a small, safe town, where a family could live on a middle class income.

I would suggest that this group is in the minority and represents those that sip lattes at the coffee shop before heading off to yoga or art class. Quite frankly, if this is now the majority, L.A. bought us out long ago.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your misguided response.Every civic disagreement like this you have a way of playing personal politics with it-a sign of your insecurity and a perceived threat to Ojai commerce (?) which by the way is also contributed by local dollars,not only the courted LA shopper. I stated it merits community wide input and discussion outside of New Vision group and city council.Perhaps B you can make a run for city council next time and get almost 50% and get kicked for trying. I suggest you take a proactive stance instead of reactive evertime someone voices civic concerns you don't like.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:11:

Why is it that when anyone complains about the Council or individuals that want to bring business to Ojai, they are justified in their comments and represent the majority. When someone raises facts that disagree with those critics, they are making it personal and are offering misguided comments? Ah the smell of double standards in the morning!

You advise me to get proactive? You need to check your facts about what I have done in the years I've called Ojai home. The Vision group IS being proactive, yet they earn your disdain. Hmmmm, interesting little paradox wouldn't you say?

You want community wide input outside the Vision group & City Council? Council meetings are public and easy to attend. The Vision group represents over 30 different organizations and individuals here in town. If that's not public enough for you, YOU get proactive. Organize a meeting to discuss it, rent a hall and go for it. Finding solutions is a tough prospect, though and requires thinking minds to sign up for the long haul.

FYI: I don't live in the City limits, hence I can't run for Council. Oh those darn pesky facts again!

My original comment still stands - this Vision group deserves a listen. Let's see what they have to offer. Only then can real judgements as to their agenda be made. See you at the Council meeting!

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

A vision, no matter how grand, is worth one point.

A demonstration of community support, needs assessment, analysis of proposed development (including environmental and traffic impacts), sound financial backing, and implementation strategies are what transform ideas into action.

Many have visions; few have the rest.

yoga queen said...

B. Dawson,
I like what you say. You are a welcome respite from James Hatch, Pete L. and all the other earth-muffins....I wish you could run for elected office!!!

James Hatch said...

Let's face it, this new "vision" is more of the same. There is nothing new about some residents' insecurities about not meeting the expectations of L.A. There is nothing new about wanting to turn Ojai into Santa Barbara.

As far as judgments on their agenda already being rendered, just read the Mission Statement.

Anonymous said...

I prefer earth muffins with my
organic coffee beans still to be
found at Ojai Roaster instead
of McStarbucks. I endorse
James Hatch vision statement
and discernment over New Vision
Group L.A. Paveaway on the installment plan.

for the people said...

i'd vote for a james hatch and pete lefollete city-council ticket in a heart-beat!!

Anonymous said...

This is why I (and many others) have chosen to leave Ojai. The backbiting reminds me of the election...and I've gotten more than enough of that...I used to believe this town could change for the better, but I've completely lost faith in ALL OF YOU. I work 3 jobs in order to afford "Ojai Living" but I'm afraid I deserve better than this. C'ya.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps B you can make a run for city council next time and get almost 50% and get kicked for trying.

Pete, you got less than 10% and came in last place in the election (and nobody is kicking you). You would have had to combine your votes with Dennis Leary's just to get to third place.

Pete, B can speak very well for herself, but you have a way of attempting to marginalize those who may disagree with you on some issues ("monied interests", "newcomers", "corrupt", etc.) That is not leadership, that is ad hominem. Calling them names doesn't speak to their positions. Try listening instead of self-righteousness, the results can't be any worse than what you are reaping now.

Anonymous said...

The final returns combination of the progressive candidates vote totaled that figure- you can revisit the numbers yourself to live and learn. This thread has
burned out. Try agreeing to disagree and practicing non-violent communication techniques, persuation affirmed with effective dialogue,citing your facts, and logical arguement without marginalizing the messenger.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Don't be like that, Pete, this thread is not burned out, and here are those facts you cite from the 2006 election, which we can ALL revisit:

6/6 100.00%
Vote Count Percent
NP - STEVE OLSEN 1,789 25.40%
NP - CAROL B. SMITH 1,404 19.93%
NP - JOE DE VITO 1,259 17.87%
NP - LEONARD J. KLAIF 1,183 16.79%
NP - DENNIS LEARY 713 10.12%
WRITE-IN 23 0.33%
Total 7,042 99.97%

If by 'progressive' you mean the bottom three, it adds to 37%. You came in last with less than 10%. You didn't "get almost 50% and get kicked for trying." You are getting reminded that it is not nice to inflate yourself in the attempt to claim a higher moral purpose.

Everybody has a point of view, and I wish this new group well in their attempt to make Ojai a better place ot live.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous March 26, 2008 11:10 AM:

I actually found this discourse quite civil and stimulating, not "back biting" at all.

We should be able to express ourselves and disagree, pointing out inaccuracies and flawed statistics, without offense being taken. Please remember, too, that the written word sometimes seems harsher because of the lack of vocal inflection.

I'm sorry that you have to work so hard just to live in Ojai. Some of us are actively engaged in finding ways to bring businesses to Ojai that would offer so called living wages. This would allow our citizens to avoid costly (in money and pollution) commutes, lower traffic and help the local economy. Of course, some new development must take place to make that happen.

As Sue Horgan remarked at the Council meeting (I paraphrase here): vision and dreams are great, but they must be rooted in practicality.

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

Quoting "Math Safari,Math Anxiety," Todd
Miller's guest editorial posted on
Ojai Post, November 15&16, 2006:

“We do know, however, the size of the so-called “fringe element” in Ojai, which gave upstart candidates Dennis Leary and Pete LaFollette 501 and 483 votes, respectively." I double checked the numbers which came out to 43% of returns-7% less than I implied and 33% more than you deduced. Thank you for asking for clarification!

Anonymous said...

Furthermore anonymous,
If I were to "inflate yourself
in the attempt to claim a higher moral purpose" I would've sign in has an alias, not prone to cheapshots from you spineless wonders. Have the courage to
sign on and stand for something would you? I must say it is predictable seeing you blue
bloods getting your rear in an uproar over this. PL

lars libbey said...

Pete, I thought you were moving????

Betty Bolvine said...

Jesus, Pete, you got 9.5% of total vote (671/7042 x 100). It's not rocket-science...

Mahatma Coate said...

I double checked the numbers which came out to 43%
Pete, did you really double-check the numbers? Or did you just take Todd Miller's number? Because his analysis comes out to 107%. btw, the numbers in the March 26, 2008 4:58 PM post are the final numbers, whereas yours don't include mail-in ballots. ("bluebloods" must vote absentee)

And "bluebloods"? More ad hominem, instead of dealing with public facts presented. I'm far from a blueblood, but do respect their right to an opinion.

Not to bring anyone else into this, but you seem to be associating yourself with others in the same way that Joe Piscopo always mentioned that his 'best friend' was Eddie Murphy.

You finished #6 at 9.5%, and #5 got 10.1%. And you got just 57% of the vote received by #4. Not in the same league. Facts are inconvenient things, Pete.

Brian W. said...

Who replace Pete and Dennis Leary on the next ballet now that they're gone? The progressive ticket in Ojai is in disarray. Who will step in and carry the mantle??? Suza Francina? Cathy E. Jones?

Anonymous said...

Cathy Jones? She's running for City Council?

Anonymous said...

The origin of blue blood is a person of nobility or aristocratic breeding. Also,
not only a member of wealthy family, but a member of an established one (old moneyed) both of which I personally qualify for,
but place less emphasis on since
my political background is as
a populist. To me, blue blood
is akin to ice water in the
veins, and I'd like to believe
local valley residents lean towards red-blooded defenders of the natural origin, which is where I attempt to place my efforts.PL

Anonymous said...

Definition of an Ojai elitist:

Someone who champions a $30 million performing arts center on school district grounds while our School Board is contemplating closing two or three neighborhood elementary schools because of a $450,000 shortfall in state funding.

If these folks really have a compassionate and forward-thinking vision for Ojai, let's see them put their considerable wealth and wisdom to work for the Ojai Education Foundation, a non-profit run completely by volunteers that desperately needs organizational and financial assistance. Helping our schools helps our entire community.

Imagine a $30 million endowment for the Education Foundation. That could benefit all the valley's kids to the tune of $1 million + a year, ensuring that school arts, libraries, etc are available to all. Heck, we could probably improve the school lunch program at that point.

Pete n' 08 said...

well crap PL!!
if i'd have known you of BOTH a member of a wealthy family & an established one (old moneyed), i would have voted for ya!

is your (old moneyed) family famous too??

Anonymous said...

It's amazing, isn't it? So many other threads to visit, but this particular little off-topic pissing contest continues to be the big draw.

James Hatch said...

How could they get the recognition of L.A. that they desparately crave if they just gave away the money to a group for a worthy cause?

How would the egos by stroked?

Who else needs a newspaper article about their agenda before it is even presented? Only those full of themselves.

James Hatch does not require news headlines to get his point across. James Hatch even turns down attempts by writers at OVN offering front page stories about him, because he knows this:

It is not about him, it is about preserving Ojai for the next generation, not destroy for the dying one that came here with money from L.A.

Skupperrnong said...

They were burning a likeness (an oleo bust) of you at the anti-immigration rally on Saturday. I was going to try and stop them, but the angels of my better nature prevailed..
Corral Gables Babe

James Hatch said...

Dear Scutterbug,

What could that possibly mean? As I have learned, and my blogs prove, a clear, concise message is always better than subterfuge.