Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ojai Survey Centers On Youth, Greening

Make Ojai Better survey draws nearly 1,000 responses, share of criticism

By Linda Harmon
The Make Ojai Better Survey results are out and the author, Steve Velkei, has made a mark on Ojai. Velkei, a lawyer who splits his time between Ojai and Los Angeles, took out a full-page ad in this newspaper last summer and founded a web site, to get responses to his survey.
According to Velkei he did so “to begin a dialogue about how to effect positive change in Ojai” and “help the community and its leaders prioritize what is most important.”
He approached pretty much anyone who would listen and a few that didn’t.
“I wanted to make it as broad-based as possible,” said Velkei, who had responses from people age 14 to 95.
Not everyone was happy with the survey or with Velkei.
“I had people threaten me about the survey,” added Velkei, who tried not to take it to heart. “I had one guy who said, ‘If your survey says x, y, and z, then you’re my enemy.’ Now what kind of word is that to use about someone in your community?”
Undeterred, Velkei went on to gather more than 998 respondents for his survey, talking with people at churches, shopping centers, the Farmers’ Market, Little House, the Skate Park, Nordhoff High School, and even dinner parties, gathering responses.
He found the top five concerns were increasing youth activities, moving toward becoming a “green” city, increased preservation of public land, increasing affordable housing, and better maintenance of public facilities.
“Once I broke down the data I could see where different groups ranked on each issue,” said Velkei, citing the gender breakdown on the green issue ranking as an example. “Among women going green was the No. 1 issue, with men, No. 4. But on two issues, youth activities and going green, people really seemed to transcend groups and there was a really close battle between the two.”
Velkei’s survey found several trends that he found of interest and concern. According to Velkei, the No. 1 issue for people under 25 was affordable housing, followed by increasing youth activities and going green. In the over 50 and 60 age categories, going green ranked first, ahead of preservation of public land and youth activities, with affordable housing a much lower concern.
“On affordable housing, it looks like the older the respondents were, the lower it ranked,” said Velkei. He added that some older respondents indicated they were afraid of affordable housing’s impact, while data showed affordable housing outranked any other issue in the 25-and-under age category telling.
“This is an experiment in creating a larger awareness and getting people connected so that they can feel a part of the system,” said Velkei. “There are a lot of people who felt totally disconnected. That kept me going.”
Velkei addressed the City Council last week when they voted on whether to approve funding $10,000 for the Ojai Youth Employment Service.
“We do have the ability to make a difference,” said Velkei at the meeting, giving the council members copies of his results. “Given the enthusiastic support reflected in this survey for more youth activities, I am hopeful that this agenda item will pass unanimously.”
Later, after a lengthy presentation by rep-resentatives of the Youth Employment Service, including several student testimonials, the allocation did pass unanimously.
Velkei was pleased.
Velkei was hoping the survey would promote action on other issues as well, and is disappointed that he hasn’t been approached by any members of the council about the results.
“Somehow I get the sense they’re not really interested,” said Velkei. “When Jere Kersnar moved here from Carmel he had talked about doing a survey and yet one of the earlier responses from the city manager office was, ‘We have plenty of events for youth, what are they talking about? What is all this complaining about?’ I really wonder if anyone is going to pay attention.”
Velkei hopes the survey provides issues that will unite the community, bringing it together to find compromises.
“For instance, with an issue like affordable housing, it is a state-mandated issue,” said Velkei. “Let’s not waste energy fighting it. Obviously there are going to be issues with resources and water. Maybe there will be 200 units, not 400, but let’s get together and help solve some of these issues. Make those units a showcase, from a green perspective, and a model for what this community can be.”
He hopes people take the information in the survey and move forward.
“The issue of going green alone could be part of the impetus to get the city to adopt a resolution which says, we are going to be a green city by (specific date) and do the following things to meet that goal.”
Velkei says anyone interested about specific comments made by participants and more detail about the process are welcome to contact him at For now, he is just glad to get his spare time back.


Anonymous said...

Go back to L.A. and leave us alone.

Anonymous said...

Go talk to china,
see how "green" they go!
Just go ahead and take all of the life out of life.

Anonymous said...

No ill words just think your cause"the go green" and possibly you are full of it!!
My only question to you is when the poles shift how will you blame suv's for it?
:>as a concerned citizen of earth:>

Anonymous said...

Is it (finally) official? Valkei is running for City Council?Paging Len Klaif.

Anonymous said...

How can you run for city council if
you live in L.A? Do we really need
advice from this Velkei clown?

Valley watcher said...

Id really like to know your motives behind going green. Is is just a way to get your foot in the door by proposing that the youth want affordable housing. But your real goal is to be able to build and develop here.

200-400 built with the green model. We are not naive and stupid here. Your goal is to build and develop. Going Green is your smart way to try and pass this.

We do not want more houseing here. Back up what I mean to say is we want a few houses built but not 200 and not 400 this is Ojai a small town. We want it to stay that way. As for affordable housing dont worry as the housing market continues it downword spiral they will become affordable for those who have saved there money .

Anonymous said...


U.S. Economy : The Philosopher's Stone

**DEC. Alert** US to be CUT OFF from World - Baltic Dry Index Falls 93%

Ted Turner Says there's too many of us

Truthseekers on Youtube are first in line for the FEMA camps

Anonymous said...

Last poster I hope you do not get deleted. Sad by true most of the population is in denial of what is happening now. great video for those who would like to wake up

This is not a joke

Anonymous said...

I would rather be crazy than have this be true!!!

Anonymous said...

Born into slavery
I am sure its illegal something called "usury law"
Any carbon or "green tax" is more of the same.
We are suppose to be free from unfair taxation without representation "poor tax"

James Hatch said...

Let's face it. This guy's another out of town jerk looking to turn a buck by forcing out longtime citizens of Ojai.

To give you an idea of where his allegiances lie, the following is exerpted from his bio on his 700 attorney worldwide law firm web page:

Mr. Velkei’s clients currently include one of the largest owners of apartment buildings in the country, several regional developers, a number of media and entertainment-related companies, a prominent boutique hotel company and a number of individuals of high net worth.

Whose side do you think he is on? Velkei, GO BACK TO L.A.!

Valley Watcher said...

James hatch great find. This guy and his clients really smell. Go back to Los Angeles you are and will always be an outsider. Take your stinky money elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hatch,

I normally despise your comments, but have to admit that you hit the nail on the head this time. I had to make sure you were telling the truth and found the website with his biography. I attached it below:

Mr. Rogers said...

Wow, it looks like the only investigative reporting going on here is done by James Hatch!

OVN, couldn't have you figured out the conflict based on five minutes of research?

As these blogs demonstrate, Ojaians are not dumb people, so quit writing your stories for the idiocracy. This frustration seems to be a running theme in these blogs.