by C.A. Gilman
More than 70 people came to hear the six candidates running
for Ojai City Council at Wednesday night's forums at the Ojai
Valley Inn & Spa.
The League of Women Voters hosted the panel of candidates while
the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce invited Craig Walker of the
Citizens to Preserve the Ojai , proponents of Measure C or the
Traffic Initiative; and Tim Dewar of the Citizens Against Measure
C to speak on their opposing views. Dr. Marty Babayco moderated
the discussion and took questions from the audience.
Walker maintained that Measure C is not a moratorium on development,
but will ensure that those who develop adhere to the traffic
guidelines of the General Plan. He said, "Because of reciprocal
agreement with the county, when Measure C passes, the county
will institute valley-wide approval so that the county will have
to mitigate traffic on Ojai streets for their projects. As for
Sycamore homes; Measure C doesn't prevent affordable housing
but feels that affordable housing has to provide traffic mitigation
as does any developer.
Since the city helps subsidize affordable housing today, it will
still be able to subsidize their traffic mitigation."
Dewar said, "This is the initiative of unintended consequences.
Those without enough money won't be able to expand, and developers
won't be interested in proposing affordable housing projects
in Ojai because of Measure C. They will therefore look elsewhere,
and the affordable housing that they might have built in the
city will be replaced with large expensive developments that
lower and middle-income people won't be able to afford."
David Maron of the League of Women Voters moderated the subsequent
candidates forum and also took questions from the audience.
Candidates Leonard Klaif, Joe DeVito, Bruce Roland, Carol Smith,
Paul Blatz and David Bury answered the following:
Q: What are the problems facing the City Council today?
DeVito: "Working together for affordable housing; being
proactive on traffic."
Roland: "City Council has a public relations problem. It's
done a lot of things right; but doesn't represent the majority
of people living here."
Smith: "Lack of adherence to our General Plan."
Blatz: "Traffic, affordable housing, the divisiveness that
our government is facing."
Bury: "Multiple issues, not just one: affordable housing;
congestion issues besides traffic; problems caused by all of
Klaif: "Willingness to work together, building a permanent
Q: If Measure C is approved by voters, would you spend taxpayer
money to appeal it?
Smith: "No, if it passes there is still more to be determined."
Blatz: "No. But it will be challenged by the state on affordable
housing and the taxpayers will have to pay for those suits anyway."
Bury: "No. As an elected official, I would have to support
Klaif: "No, I'm for Measure C."
DeVito: "I would definitely spend city's money to oppose
it. All the litigation is in response to suits against us."
Q: Have you received any money from CPO to fund your campaigns?
All candidates answered no.
Q: How would you resolve the Los Arboles conflict?
Blatz: "The ambiguity needs to be resolved, but I think
it's a good project."
Bury: "Immediately for the developers to address the judge's
requirements. Just because these condominiums are market rate,
we shouldn't discriminate against them."
Klaif: "Require developers to adhere to the General Plan.
If we're going to build housing, it should be for affordable
or middle income."
DeVito: "The judge approved seven out of nine of the Los
Smith: "(I) want to see the parties sit down and adhere
to the General Plan."
Q: Do you believe traffic could be alleviated with pedestrian
Bury: "Yes, it would be helped with pedestrian controlled
Klaif: "No. Common sense and caution are much more likely."
DeVito: "No, they will create even more hindrance. I prefer
to see all lights go red at the same time."
Roland: "Yes. I brought up the idea before Fox Street (lights)
Smith: "Crosswalks should be eliminated at Fox Street and
make it a right hand turn only. People should have to cross at
the light at the intersection."
Blatz: "There is a general concept that lighted crosswalks
Q: Did you come to this forum on foot, bike, or trolley?
All candidates admitted to coming via car. They all agreed that
the city needed to come up with some creative solutions for alternatives
to driving which would also include more frequent trolleys and
buses, carpooling, and working with the school department. DeVito
said, "If we reduce our dependence on autos by 10 percent,
we can reduce our oil consumption by 30 percent."
Q: Should Nordhoff have a closed campus?
All candidates agreed that students would need to be involved
in that decision. Roland said, "Businesses would be pretty
irate if we did."
Q: What can the city do to provide affordable housing, and what
other forms of public transportation can they offer besides the
All candidates were in consensus about the need for affordable
Blatz and DeVito commented on what the city has done to date
with Sycamore Homes, working with the area housing authority
and their recent purchase of two apartment buildings.
Blatz said, "We could look at second dwellings as well
as illegal units being used for affordable housing. The City
Council needs to look at amnesty for the illegal units. As for
alternative transportation, make electric cars and vehicles available
at central parking areas."
Other suggestions for transportation included more frequent SCAT
buses (DeVito), vans (Smith), trolleys every 20 minutes (Klaif),
In summing up, all candidates reflected on their commitments
to the city, its sustainability, and quality of life. Smith said,
"Ojai is the last best place in Southern California. Together
we can keep our town the way we love it."
On Nov. 5, voters will choose three of these candidates to represent
them on the City Council for the next four years.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news
MARON, right, the League of Women Voters moderator, addresses
the six candidates for Ojai City Council at Wednesday's forum
at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa sponsored by the league and
the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce. About 70 people were in