April 25, 2013
Tiobe Barron, OVN corrrespondent
The city of Ojai will work with the Casitas Municipal Water District to bring Ojai Trolley service to Lake Casitas this summer.
The Ojai City Council, minus absent Mayor Paul Blatz and Councilwoman Betsy Clapp, voted unanimously Tuesday to direct City Manager Rob Clark to collaborate with CMWD Park Services Manager Carol Belser on establishing a Saturday Trolley route to and from Lake Casitas.
The proposed route would run from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. each Saturday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
“Having the Trolley go to Lake Casitas has been talked about for years,” said Belser at the Council meeting. “Casitas will pay the cost of this pilot program. It is a good time for the city to work with CMWD. This would not be a special or private charter, and it has already been approved by the Ventura County Transportation Commission. It will stop at the (Ojai) Skate Park. Our youth lifeguards can use it as transportation to work. We get five to six thousand visitors each summer, and we want the Ojai Trolley seen throughout the Recreation Area. Trolley riders and city residents can get on the Trolley, pay $1, not have to pay the vehicle entry fee, and spend the day at the lake.”
“I think this is an excellent pilot program,” commented Mayor Pro Tem Carlon Strobel. “Maybe it will increase general use of the Trolley.”
“I am here to support two Chamber members: the Lake and the Trolley,” contributed Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Eicher. “Hopefully this will increase the number of locals who visit the water park, because they won’t have to pay the (vehicle) entry fee.”
“I would just like to encourage the schedule to come out sooner,” offered Councilman Severo Lara. “I would like to see the city promote this in any way possible.”
At the same meeting, Council heard two reports on statistics from the area. Ojai Police Capt. Dave Kenney updated the Council on crime statistics from 2012, and Tom Tarantino with the Ventura County Civic Alliance gave the “2013 State of the Region Report.”
Kenney compiled data from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department’s Ojai Substation records and the Sheriff’s Crime Analysis records. According to this data, crimes against persons — including rape, homicide, robbery and aggravated assault — decreased by 48 percent from 2011 to 2012 in Ojai. While theft in general decreased in 2012, shoplifting and theft from vehicles both increased.
Traffic collisions rose from 92 incidents in 2011, to 96 in 2012. There have been 21 accidents in the first three months of the current year, Kenney noted. While instances of driving under the influence have decreased, vehicle vs. bicycle accidents increased.
“Our Police Department does a fabulous job,” said Councilwoman Carol Smith. “I am glad we have you (Kenney) for another three years.”
Tarantino, with the Civic Alliance, corroborated Kenney’s data, noting that even though Ventura County “has not had an economic recovery since 2008,” overall crime statistically is decreasing, flying in the face of conventional wisdom that links crime and poverty.
“As you can see, there’s been a huge drop in crime since the early 1990s. This is true in Ventura County, it’s true pretty much everywhere in the country. The common thought that the poverty level and the crime level coincide is not necessarily true,” said Tarantino.
Tarantino pointed out that there is still a substantial divide between east and west Ventura County in terms of resources and community, and that transportation continues to be a “quality of life issue” for the majority of residents.
Visit www.civicalliance.org to read the complete report, or www.ci.ojai.ca.us for more on the Ojai City Council.