Thursday, March 27, 2008

Council Hears New Vision For Ojai

Talk of annexation, moving skate park draw concerns

By Nao Braverman
The 30 Ojai Valley residents who make up Citizens for a New Vision for Ojai have ideas about the future of the community that they shared with their elected officials at Tuesday night’s Ojai City Council meeting.
They want to make sure that Ojai continues to prosper, they want to see more housing for the local work force and to stop the declining enrollment in local schools, they want Ojai to remain a viable, living community, and much more, as actor Peter Strauss explained.
But while many local residents share the same “vision”and hopes as the citizens group, not all of them agree on their proposal of how to keep Ojai’s economy thriving.
Strauss, as a spokesperson for the group, though he was attacked and bitten by a pit bull dog Sunday, stated several ways that the city could begin to realize this new vision. Among them was to build the proposed Ojai Valley Performing Arts Theater complex, with the help of the city, at the site of the Ojai Unified School District offices, along with housing for artists, and retail space. But the sight is currently leased to the Ojai Skate Park, and slated to be the location of the soon-to be-built permanent park.
“Skate Ojai wishes to make it clear that we do not agree with the part of tonight’s proposal which requires a change in location for the new, concrete, in-ground skate park,” said Skate Ojai member Wendy Hilgers. “Tonight’s proposal is contrary to agreements made between the city, the school board and the citizens of Ojai. It seeks to halt progress on the current skate park plan which is so close to realization ... It is Skate Ojai’s sincere hope that the City Council and the school board will honor agreements reached and commitments made.”
At a May 2007 council meeting, Mayor Sue Horgan told proposers of the Performing Arts Theater, then considered for the Nordhoff High School campus, that it would be dangerous for the city to get involved in a construction project that, located on school district property, would be exempt from a number of city regulations and requirements. The Ojai Unified School District offices are, however still on school district property.
Other complaints from council attendants referred to the Citizens with a New Vision’s call for lightening up on Ojai’s traffic policy, to allow for some commercial activity and local entertainment.
Local citizen and Housing Element Task Force member Rod Greene cited a Los Angeles Times article that said the reason Ojai thrived as a tourist hot spot was that it is the anti-Los Angeles and has successfully stayed that way.
“We are a small village,” said local resident and former council candidate, Leonard Klaif. “That’s why most of us came here and that’s how we want it to remain.”
As to pleas from the citizens group to incorporate members of the unincorporated areas of the Ojai Valley, Council Member Carol Smith said that it had been considered before but wasn’t economically feasible.
Though other commissions include valley-wide representatives, according to Horgan, the city, could not afford to incorporate the unincorporated areas.
“What in Meiners Oaks would give us the same income as the Ojai Valley Inn?” asked Smith.
In other council news, Public Works director Mike Culver said that the landscaping and lighting districts for maintenance districts No. 1 and No. 3 are functioning at a deficit but assessments will remain the same until Public Works staff meets with property owners and tenants of the district.
Also, the city accepted an offer of a $7,500 settlement from Scott Baugher regarding the removal of a city-owned liquidambar tree provided that a formal agreement of settlement is approved by the city attorney and signed by Baugher, his wife, Melissa, and Mayor Horgan.


steve wren said...

Thank you Mr. Stauss and Citizens for a New Vision for providing a productive discourse. I am with you!!

Anonymous said...

Please reference "Definition of an Ojai elitist" from previous New Visiom Group Blog for one of the more lucid explanations of what's really going on. Also, Ojai Post, Easter Edition.

Anonymous said...

where do I find this? Ojai is not what it used to be.

Chris said...

I searched for "Definition of an Ojai elitist" in the Search fields of both the Ojai Post and the Ojai Blog. Nothing came up. Can you post a URL or other pointer? BTW, what defines an "elitist"? Someone who prefers to attend a concert in a nice setting in a comfortable seat rather than on a wooden plank?

Anonymous said...

Ojai Post 3/20/08

"City Council To Hear New Vision Group" and no that is not an
accurate definition, but then
$30 million is a bit steep for
a seat inside?

Anonymous said...

Definition of an Ojai elitist:

Someone who champions construction of a $30 million performing arts center at school district headquarters while the School Board considers closing 2 or 3 of our neighborhood elementary schools because of a $450,000 shortfall from the state.

If folks like Strauss and Kemper really want to help Ojai, they could lend their considerable wealth and wisdom to a non-profit such as the Ojai Education Foundation, an all-volunteer group desperately in need of organizational and financial support.

With that same $30 million proposed for the performing arts center, OEF would have endowment paying $1,000,000 a year to our public schools. Not only could we keep our neighborhood schools open, but we could return to the days of fully funding libraries, computer labs, field trips, etc. Talk about an investment in Ojai's future!

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 be 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 it for the dying one that came here with money from L.A. still looking to get the pat on the back from the hellhole sixty miles to the south.

What this group needs to do is move back to Santa Monica. Fixate on that vision, see it through, and Ojai will be a better place.

The answer to your question, Carol Smith about what Meiners Oaks has to offer Ojai: How about a picture of the character Ojai once had before being taken over by wealthy, wannabe artists.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous March 30, 2008 7:30 PM, you said it all. Bravo, and amen.

Anonymous said...

what Meiners Oaks has to offer Ojai
March 30, 2008 8:22 PM

Meth addicts, illegals living 10 to a 2-bedroom, and domestic violence.

Anonymous said...

what Meiners Oaks has to offer Ojai

Snotty yuppies who work in Santa Barbara who couldn't afford to buy a home in Santa Barbara and who HATE HATE HATE the Ojai Valley and everything about it.

Anonymous said...

man, no love for M.O.! What about Coffee Connection? Great people. Cardinali Music, and orange groves. Although the drunks at The House of Uneducated Twits are to be avoided.

Vera, Gus and Andre said...

Meiner's Oaks has given me the first taste of a "neighborhood"- a beautiful walkable community that is wealthy from the good spirit of its warm, talented and diverse people, with lazy tree lined streets that are surrounded by an always inspiring mountain view. I am proud to call M.O. my home. When asked by cool and worthy visitors, "Where to get a taste of Ojai, something they can only find here"- I tell them to checkout Jonathan McCuewen performing at Farmer & the Cook on weekend nights, outside, under twinkling lights, with an organic locally grown menu. I cannot stop raving about the Coffee Connection where the delicious fair trade organic coffee is just the icing on the cake- I hob knob with directors of my favorite movies, writers, fellow artists, parents, engaging in the lost art of a brilliant inspired conversation- not to mention live international music on Friday nights, there! Walking my son to and from Meiner's Oaks Elementary is heaven- my kids pick me flowers and we talk about life, make jokes or just contentedly absorb our surroundings. This is the gold that Meiner's Oaks streets are paved with - and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Anonymous said...

what Meiners Oaks has to offer Ojai

Wannabe bohemians, who look down their nose at Oak View and Ojai.

Anonymous said...

Have always enjoyed the good people
and feel of MO, but perhaps they are
guilty of looking up there noses
at folks like New Vision Citizens
who want public welfare for $30 million
Performing Art's place while not in the
slightest concerned about 2-3 schools
closing down for lack of funds (?) PL