While Diamond Rock gravel trucks slowed down for time being, new threats looming
By Nao Braverman
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting the council agreed to give financial support to the Stop the Trucks Coalition, after the a semi-victory for the citizens’ group in August.
“After this agreement has been worked out, keeping the Diamond Rock Mine’s trucks out of Ojai, it has been pretty clear to me that whatever this group did, they did it successfully,” said Mayor Sue Horgan.
The recent legal settlement granted to the coalition, preventing the Diamond Rock Mine from sending gravel trucks through Ojai until 2012, has given the Stop the Truck’s Coalition some respite.
But the Ozena Valley Ranch Mine’s expansion looms ahead, with many potential consequences endangering Ojai’s safety, tourist economy and quality of life, said Scott Eicher, a member of the Stop the Trucks Coalition and CEO of the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The coalition members pleaded for some financial backing from the city to help them battle increased truck traffic from the Ozena Valley Ranch which is looking to expand.
So far the coalition has spent about $60,000, with $41,000 toward the settlement agreement with the owners of the Diamond Rock Mine, coalition representative Howard Smith told the council.
Council members were eager to support the committee.
“I think the Stop the Trucks Coalition has done all this work and the city has benefitted from it,” said Councilman Steve Olsen. “I think a financial thank-you would be appropriate.”
But since the city is not legally in the position to give a gift of public funds, council members have to come up with findings that demonstrate that the money will go to a legitimate public purpose. They would also have to do some work to come up with a specific amount to give the coalition, they decided.
“The coalition has spent $60,000, $41,000 on the agreement with the Diamond Rock Mine which was hugely successful,” she said. “I think giving anything up to $41,000 can be justified.”
But council members agreed that it would be wise to wait and meet again with members of Stop the Trucks to come up with a methodology for finding the exact amount the city should give the coalition, and a way to keep track of how the money is spent.
A motion was made for city staff to return to the council with a resolution to give financial support to the coalition, leaving the amount blank.
The motion passed unanimously.
In other council news, Public Works director Mike Culver announced that the department has $500,000 available to repave Ojai’s roads, $400,000 of which come from state funds and $100,000 allocated from the city’s general fund.
Vallerio Avenue was prioritized as the highest on the list of 12 out of Ojai’s 48 streets which are identified in a computerized pavement management system as the most in need of repairs.
The estimated cost to repair all the damage to Ojai’s 39 miles of paved roads would cost $8 million, according to the computer system, said Culver. The $500,000 should give them a start.