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News

Letters to the Editor Oct. 9

What is a Reach Code and why does Ojai need one?
— Ojai Climate Emergency Mobilization Committee:
MICHELLE ELLISON, BRIAN HOLLY, JIM SELMAN, STEVE COLOME, PHIL WHITE
On next week’s agenda for the Ojai City Council is consideration of changes to the city’s building
code requiring new buildings to be all-electric, with no natural gas. This “Reach Code” change
addresses climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning natural gas. The
change would not affect existing buildings.
Ojai has been a leader in combating climate change. Ojai was the first city in the county to
declare a climate emergency, and has led with programs such as 100% renewable Clean Power Alliance
electricity and electrification of landscape equipment.
Because the electrical grid is rapidly heading toward zero carbon emissions, there is a strong
climate argument to be made for electrifying everything, including motor vehicles and buildings.
While the emissions reductions resulting from an electrification code change would be modest
(because Ojai is expected to have only modest new construction), adopting an electrification
code would enable Ojai to again lead by example.
What are the benefits of all-electric buildings?
— Cost savings. For new buildings, all-electric buildings cost less to build since there is no natural
gas infrastructure. New highly efficient electric appliances have similar costs compared with
natural gas appliances. Operating (utility bill) costs are also lower. Lower costs improve
housing affordability.
— Reduced indoor air pollution. Unvented natural gas cooking increases indoor air pollution,
that disproportionately impacts low-income households. Occupants of residences with natural
gas cooking have increased risk of developing asthma and other respiratory diseases. Electric
ovens and induction cooktops eliminate indoor combustion-related emissions.
— Reduced outdoor air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas combustion from
buildings is a major source of ozone and ultrafine particulate outdoor air pollution, and a
significant source of carbon dioxide and methane greenhouse gas emissions. All-electric
buildings eliminate these emissions.
— Improved safety and resiliency. During earthquakes, fires and explosions have been started by
natural gas leaks from broken pipes. All-electric building construction reduces this risk, while
also being faster to repair and bring services online after an outage.
The Ojai Climate Emergency Mobilization Committee supports adoption of the all-electric
Reach Code for new buildings.

Starkweather for OUSD
LESLIE FAUSSET, Ojai
I have known Jeffrey Starkweather most of my life. We attended Ojai Unified elementary, middle, and high school together. Jeffrey has spent his adult life dedicated to fairness, equality, and dignity. I know him to be open, informed and passionate.
After 40 years in public education and as a former teacher and school superintendent who served as chief deputy superintendent for the California Department of Education, I know what it takes to be a constructive, contributing school board member. 
One must be a good listener, be able to hear conflicting and opposing views, do thorough research, and be ready to make difficult decisions. The most important quality is to consistently and always put students first. I have every confidence that Jeffrey will do that and will be an excellent steward for the Ojai public schools.
I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy for school board!
(The writer is a graduate of the Nordhoff High School Class of 1965.)

OUSD needs Starkweather
REX MEACH, Meiners Oaks
Having grown up in Meiners Oaks next door to Jeff Starkweather and having closely followed his activities for the last 50 years, I can  hardly imagine a more broadly qualified individual to sit on the Ojai school board. 
As the editor of a community newspaper, he has covered school issues with the insights uniquely available to a journalist who knows nearly everyone in town.
As a lawyer who has represented parents, teachers, and administrators, he understands the need to balance the sometimes conflicting interests of the various stakeholders.
As an active citizen, he successfully organized the campaigns of others for local office where education was a primary concern and closely advised them throughout their terms in office.
As one-time aide to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, he understands the reciprocal effects of local and national decisions. 
Finally, as a parent, he shared the responsibility of shepherding his own two children through public school. 
With this candidacy, Jeff offers our community an entire lifetime of relevant experience. I suggest that Area 2 voters accept his offer on Nov.  3. 

Vote for Griffen for OUSD
KATE SPIVA, Oak View
One of the most important positions you can vote on is that of your local school board. 
As an educator and lifelong Ojai resident, I value Shelly Griffen. She leads by example, continuously working to grow in her own understanding of the needs of our students. She listens to students, families and educators as she shapes her opinions and actions. She has a strong focus on equity and works collaboratively with fellow board members to effect positive change.
Shelly gives her whole self to her work on the board from countless hours problem solving, innovating and even finishing her master’s degree in education to support our students.
I further value her voice on the board. She brings balance, asks tough questions and never loses sight of student interest. 
I look forward to casting my ballot for Shelly Griffen for Ojai Unified School District Board of Education, Area 4.

Re-elect Suza Francina
DALE HANSON, Ojai
We have an opportunity to re-elect Suza Francina to the Ojai City Council. I met Suza when I moved to Ojai 32 years ago. We have been friends ever since.
As a person, I admire her for her honesty, her cheerfulness and her ability to always see the best in a person.
As a council member, I cherish her desire and willingness to uphold the small-town flavor of Ojai. She grew up in Ojai and has seen many changes so she knows just how important it is to preserve what we have.
I appreciate her tenacity as a council member and the only woman on the council  to stand up to the views of others who do not always share her vision. She persists in asking questions that clarify what may not be clear to the rest of us.
As a council member I appreciate that she is an environmentalist, an advocate for safe streets, a voice for the homeless, elderly, and animals.  
As one of her supporters said, “She is a very important voice for all of us in Ojai.”
We must re-elect Suza!

 

Vote for Francina for council
PEGGY LaCERRA, Ojai
I have known Suza Francina for more than 20 years as an Ojai City Council member, a committed member of the Ojai community, and a fierce advocate for a healthful natural environment in the Ojai Valley and beyond. Suza is motivated by core values that are intrinsic to her being. She works endlessly to make Ojai a better place to live for all of us and future generations. There is no one more competent, capable, or committed to the Ojai Valley.  
A vote for Suza is a vote for a sustainable, vital Ojai.

 

Becker for Ojai City Council 
BRENNA FURNESS, Ojai
As a second-generation Ojai native, small-business owner, community volunteer and lover of all things Ojai, I urge you to vote Jeri Becker for Ojai City Council District 4. Why? Jeri acknowledges and understands the key issues our community is facing. Jeri will not close her eyes to possible solutions, she is open-minded and considers all possibilities and opinions. 
We have housing issues, climate issues and budget issues… the same old issues. We need new solutions; we need someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to the voice of the echo chamber created by small groups of the elite in this town. For example, they suggest that Jeri has special interests with developers because she is related to one. 
Recently, Jeri did a podcast where she conversed about third story dwellings — does that mean she is going to build three-story houses? No. But is she willing to discuss alternative solutions to our housing crisis with young people? Yes. Jeri is a real estate broker, does that mean she supports short-term rentals? No. But does she understand the complicated issue of property rights? Yes. However, Jeri has no plans to revise the ban on STRs! Simply put, she is not obligated to any agenda simply because of her association. 
When a young family in this town moves away because they cannot afford $3,000 in rent and their only option is an accessory dwelling unit in someone’s garage; not only does that family lose, we ALL lose. The city’s current solution is to get more people to rent out rooms in their homes. That’s it. And I’ve seen no progress on affordable housing as a result of this thinking, creating hardships for those who struggle to make a home here. These issues demand creative solutions! We must choose a candidate who sees these issues from all angles and who offers sound, creative solutions for all. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Weirick for mayor
ULRICH BRUGGER, Ojai
Experience is key !
Bill Weirick has not only a deep understanding of Ojai's core values and Ojai's great challenges, he has the skills and experience to defend Ojai's uniqueness and find creative solutions to Ojai's actual problems.and threats (fire, water, traffic, etc.).
In addition, Bill Weirick — a doctor in economics — understands the needs of the Ojai businesses very well and can come up with positive solutions in our difficult times. In addition, he is a fervent advocate for green solutions which is very important for Ojai's economic future.
Last but not least, it is crucial that Ojai's future Mayor has a long time experience as City Council member, otherwise he cannot efficiently create and implement new laws that benefit the city and its citizens.
With Bill Weirick as Ojai's future mayor, Ojai can look into its future with confidence. He will be an excellent successor to the actual mayor, Johnny Johnston. 

 

Vote Weirick for mayor
MICHAEL ESTWANIK, Ojai
I am endorsing Bill Weirick for mayor. I have observed him in City Council meetings and this is a person who doesn’t just “talk the talk” but truly “walks the walk.” For example, I asked him recently why he doesn’t have any signs around town while the opposing mayoral candidate, Betsy Stix, has her yellow signs all over the place. Bill explained to me: “Michael it wasn’t for lack of campaign funds at all. One of the City Council’s major concerns for Ojai for many years has been the environment. A few years ago, I put up a lot of campaign signs and as I was disposing them after the election I thought, ‘This is such a waste of paper and metal.’ I promised myself that I won’t ever make this mistake again. It just doesn’t make sense and violates my own personal values.” 
He has been a very active member of City Council for years. I like his proven leadership abilities. He knows how the city works and how to get things done. He hates and is committed to eliminating the well-known, unnecessary, tedious red tape that stymies so many Ojai citizens in their efforts to accomplish worthwhile improvements here. He definitely has my vote.

Gerber for OVSD
STEPHANIE O’NEILL, Ojai 
I'd like to offer this letter on behalf of Robin Gerber, Sanitary 
District candidate. 
I urge Ojai residents to vote for Robin for the Ojai Valley Sanitary 
District Board seat in District 5. Robin is a committed environmentalist who 
understands the importance of maintaining and improving our processes for 
cleaning sewage so that much-needed clean water can be safely returned to 
the river. Robin is the former Board President of Climate First: Replacing 
Oil & Gas (CFROG). She's also an attorney who can bring rigorous analysis 
and oversight to OVSD. 
Sewer issues are about water, our health and well-being and a vote for Robin 
is a vote for those important issues that are key to life here in Ojai. 
The Sanitary board race is the last one listed on our ballot, so please make 
sure to make your way to that spot and cast your vote for Robin Gerber.

Yes on Prop. 15
PAT ESSICK, Ojai
I’ve seen several letters encouraging people to vote against Proposition 15. They say things like: it’s a first step toward repealing all of Proposition 13; it’s a giant tax increase for small businesses; these tax increases will be passed on to consumers and raise prices. All these claims are untrue. They are fictions designed by rich corporate opponents to scare you.
Proposition 15 was put on the ballot by a broad coalition of community, faith and labor organizations that joined together to restore funding to schools and critical services.
This bill explicitly protects Proposition 13 on residential (including rental) and agricultural properties. For small businesses, it creates an exemption from personal property tax and for other businesses it provides a $500,000 exemption.
We passed Proposition 13 in 1978 to prevent retirees on fixed incomes from losing their homes due to rising property taxes. We did not know that Howard Jarvis and his tax-cutting friends owned many commercial properties that would also benefit handsomely.
And since people move and die, and corporations can live forever, residential property tax has skyrocketed from 55% to 72% of total property tax.
Residential and commercial properties are fundamentally different. Commercial property is intended for business, which is governed by market forces. Having Proposition 13 protections on commercial property is anti-competitive and anti-entrepreneurial; it gives unfair advantage to older businesses and puts an extra burden on newer businesses. Consumer prices are based on the market, not on property tax. Other states realize this. After California passed Proposition 13, many other states copied us, but none of them included commercial property. We are the only one.
Please join the League of Women Voters, the ACLU, California teachers, and other mostly volunteer organizations that want to make our tax system fair. Vote YES on Prop. 15.

 

Voting Yes on Measure K
KARA HOOPER, Ojai
Ojai’s schools are cornerstones of our community. They speak to the history of our valley, with Matilija celebrating 100 years, while schools like Meiners Oaks and San Antonio offer critical outdoor space to the neighborhoods around them. 
Recreational programs for our children are built around access to these sites, with Ojai Eagles games at the stadium on Saturday alongside AYSO soccer while Ojai Rec basketball takes place in the Matilija gym. Additionally, our actors and actresses grace the stage at Matilija each year, putting on a lively musical that regularly sells out. As pivotal as these facilities and fields are to our young athletes and performing artists, the reality is that they are in vast need of critical repairs.
Ask any child or adult who has coached or played on the fields at Nordhoff, and they will describe the hours spent filling or dodging gopher holes. Check in with a member of the high school swim team or water polo team, and you will learn that the jets in the Nordhoff pool are not properly functioning.
Longtime residents of Ojai will remember when this pool was open to the community over the summer; sadly, that disappeared years ago due to the pool’s deterioration. We are blessed to have the infrastructure from Measure J in place to continue its momentum in correcting these problems with the passage of Measure K. For this reason and many more, I ask you to join me in voting Yes on Measure K for Ojai kids and our community. 

Measure K is needed
GLENN FOUT, Ojai
I am voting yes on Measure K. After volunteering in Ojai’s public schools for 13 years, I know firsthand that our schools both need and deserve our continued support.
Measure K will build on the good work that is happening right now in Ojai Unified. You’ve likely seen some of the work at your neighborhood school campus, but much more needs to be done. As a community, we should support Measure K to keep the momentum going.
Measure K will take advantage of historically low interest rates to continue with critical upgrades in basics like plumbing, air conditioning, replacement of 60-year-old windows, as well as improving student access to technology and making safety and security improvements.
There was a time not that long ago when the Nordhoff pool was open for community swim lessons and pool time during the hot summer months. We’ve lost this valuable resource to the community; indeed, we are one of the few communities in Ventura County without a public pool. Measure K is our best chance to fix this. 
Measure K a local bond measure, administered by locals for the benefit of locals. It will improve the quality of education in our schools and the quality of life in our community. Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure K.

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