Taking stock as new decade dawns

As the Cave Fire raced through thousands of acres this week in Santa Barbara, we are especially thankful for the rain — Mother Nature’s mega-fire hose. As we approach the two-year anniversary of the devastating Thomas Fire, we are reminded of the ongoing wildfire threats and the continuing hardship of so many still trying to rebuild.
The Nov. 25 Cave Fire in Santa Barbara, the Oct. 31 Maria Fire in Santa Paula, and the Oct. 30 Easy Fire in Simi Valley are urgent reminders of the city’s need to draft a comprehensive plan to remove and mitigate the Ojai Valley’s dangerous invasive vegetation, and remove the diseased and drought-afflicted urban forest, especially the large, dying eucalyptus in front of Ojai City Hall. To its credit, the city has had a large section of dense vegetation on the lower Libbey Park area removed within the last few weeks. We applaud those accomplishments. 
It is time to revisit a proposal by Ojai Councilman Bill Weirick to remove hazardous and invasive plants and trees on city property and the city rights-of-way. It is hoped that the proposed increase in Transient Occupancy Tax will be successful and allow for increased revenue needed to help make this a fire-safe community. The alternatives are unimaginable. 
Our fire lines and hydrants are being replaced by the Casitas Municipal Water District at a record pace, as everyone who has driven Ojai’s torn-up streets in recent weeks has noticed. These upgrades are decades past due. When they are finished, the city can get on with paving and upgrading our streets to a class “A” status. This again will depend on revenue. With the voters’ assistance for an increased Transient Occupancy Tax, there will be enough money to accomplish this goal. It won’t happen right away, but the city will be able to accelerate its current 30-year paving cycle.
In this season of Thanksgiving, we are thankful for conservation minded residents who continue to reduce their use of water. And we are relieved that CMWD was able to clear the Robles Diversion forebay in the nick of time, before the rains started. The massive bureaucratic and physical effort will allow more water to flow to Lake Casitas. It gives us hope the Ojai Valley can now capture a greater percentage of our water allocation and start to restore our reserves to an acceptable level.
As we head into the last month of 2019, we want to express our gratitude for a community that is rising to the challenges we face. Please continue to share your news tips, views and concerns with the Ojai Valley News as we all prepare to enter a new decade with resolve and hope for a safe, healthy and prospering community.