Letters to the editor: Keep access to schools; lack of younger population in Ventura

Don’t cut off access to campuses

After decades of allowing the community to use many Ventura Unified School District campuses when school is not in session, VUSD is proposing to cut off community access by fencing the entire perimeter of the schools and locking them off to the public. This action would do a disservice to the community and the children who attend VUSD schools, and I encourage all community members and neighbors to contact VUSD and express your opposition to the change.

The closures are described as being needed to improve safety and security for students. I agree that student safety must be everyone’s top priority. However, it does not make sense to lock down school campuses when students are not present.

For years, neighborhood schools have served the community as important hubs where families can recreate and exercise, and where local youth sports teams can practice. We must keep VUSD campuses open after school hours, on weekends, on holidays and during school breaks.

Please join me and my neighbors in letting VUSD Superintendent Dr. Antonio Castro and the entire VUSD School Board know that closing off our campuses from their neighborhoods is wrong and not in the best interest of the community.

Adrienne Stephens, Ventura

Need to attract younger families

Currently, I serve on Ventura’s General Plan Advisory Committee. GPAC’s job is to make recommendations for Ventura’s revised General Plan. Last updated in 2005, our General Plan is the city’s constitution to which all local laws and zoning ordinances must adhere.

Over the past 20 years, our population between the ages of 35-54 has dropped 9%. This age demographic strongly drives our economic growth and prosperity.

If this decline continues, Ventura risks becoming nothing more than an overbuilt beach destination for tourists and retirees. While GPAC has spent considerable time exploring alternatives allowing more housing, even considering developing SOAR areas (a very bad idea in my opinion), I would like to see more focus on attracting and retaining younger families.

Ventura’s younger population has very limited affordable places to live and equally limited high-paying job opportunities.

So far, the city’s attempts to encourage affordable housing have been remarkably ineffective. If the new General Plan is to effectively address this issue, we need some fundamentally new creative thinking.

Current zoning in the Market Street light industrial area prohibits residential dwellings. My suggestion is to create a new hybrid-Industrial land use designation requiring manufacturing to be clean and non-polluting, while integrating high quality residential housing, specifically created for local residents. This would provide “non-tourist” housing, create lower traffic, live/work/play environments for working families and help to attract scarce skilled labor to grow local businesses. When some of the housing is owned by employers for the benefit of employees, there is strong overall incentive to keep rents low.

While I attempt to encourage GPAC’s action on this new land use designation, I encourage readers to provide feedback to GPAC on this idea and to propose other new ideas.

Nick Bonge, Ventura

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Letters: Keep access to schools; lack of younger population in Ventura