News

News

League of Women Voters forum: Ojai mayor

Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter
The two candidates for mayor of Ojai — William Weirick and Betsy Stix — squared off at a virtual League of Women Voters’ candidates forum Oct. 6.
On the issue of water and the low level of Lake Casitas:
Stix said: “I will advocate to accelerate efforts to slow, capture and sink rainwater, thereby raising water levels in the valley, expand on successful conservation efforts by continuing to encourage installation of more water-saving plumbing fixtures, strongly encourage and fund more landscape irrigation with gray water diverted from residential laundry, sinks and showers, restore the natural function of the Ventura River Watershed.”
Weirick said: We have to find ways of, as Betsy just said, slow, store and capture. The city, for example, and I worked very closely promoting the CMWD (Casitas Municipal Water District) to accelerate their efforts to allow debris removal and better diversion when high water does occur in order to put storage into the river. We’ve come off our bottom in terms of storage in Lake Casitas.”
The candidates were asked to describe their plans to provide housing in Ojai.
Stix said: “I think that’s really, really important to maintain our middle class here in Ojai, and therefore I will push hard to create more ADUs (accessory dwelling units) and also to encourage people to be more creative in their living spaces. Because we have a lot of resources, we just need to share them.”
Weirick said: “I feel it’s very important that we enforce our ordinances that say that we need to preserve what we have. I led the effort to change kind of looking the other way when we were not enforcing the ordinance of not allowing development to reduce our existing affordable housing supply. I also think that it’s very important that we can make a use of existing tools to partner with other agencies like the housing authority in terms of the piece of land that the city owns on the corner of Franklin and Montgomery to see about affordable housing units.”
In regard to climate change, and specifically whether Ojai should ban natural gas use by 2030, Weirick said: “When it comes to electrification, we want to make sure that we do the right thing in terms of promoting, without having a problem with affordability. For example, we do not want someone with 100 amp service that needs a permit to replace their hot water heater to also have to upgrade their electric service. That would be counterproductive. But when you’re talking about new construction and certain types of adaptations, it makes all the sense in the world.”
Stix said: “Natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, therefore, I support the committee’s recommendation that Ojai join other cities in disallowing natural gas hookups to newly constructed buildings. As mayor, I will work to help Ojai plant more trees to cool our town and offset our carbon footprint, establish policies that transition us away from single-use plastics in our food, product delivery and waster management … and upgrade city buildings to operate carbon neutral.”
The two were asked what they would do to ensure the town has an economic recovery from the pandemic.
Stix said: “I will continue to meet with (business owners) and listen to them so that I can keep a pulse on their needs and concerns. I will also work with business development experts and organizations in the county and the state to support our local business owners so that they can find the help that they need.”
Weirick said: “Working with Councilman Blatz, I have really championed that we have a mutually constructive relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, again, in the Ojai way. So, there are specific tasks, including working as an ombudsman for businesses in terms of problems with the city or the county.”
One of the final questions was about traffic control and the Active Transportation Program Project along Maricopa Highway and Ojai Avenue.
Stix said: “I know that there are going to be tests that will be run to see how it flows. It does seem like four lanes is quite a lot. Of course, the proof is in the pudding. So once the tests have been finished, we can talk to people at the hospital, all the doctors and nurses and workers who are along the right side, on the left side, talk to the people at the high school to see what makes the most sense.”
Weirick said: “I think we also need to look at alternatives to cars. That’s what we’re doing with the overall ATP grant, of which Maricopa Highway is only a part. It’s important to study that very carefully, understand its history. Besides really pushing for the demonstration project grant that we successfully got, because we can learn by doing and get more data, I also made sure that we collect data in the front end so we have good comparatives between before and after. I know it may be flawed because school is not in session, but you know, you take what you can get.”

Not a subscriber?  choose your subscription plan.