Livable Communities Newsletter
Vol. 13, No. 49
February 2019
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Welcome to Our Winter 2019 Livable Communities Newsletter! 
In this edition of our Livable Communities Newsletter we offer three updates that share visions of livable communities with 3 levels of focus from the very high statewide level through the countywide level to the very personal level.

In the first article, Vanessa Rausschenberger starts by describing the potential huge changes driven by Governor Newsom that could redefine how California builds affordable housing.
The second article by Albert de la Rocha focuses on the strong housing, education, and employment support available to the large Ventura County active military and veteran populations.

In our final article, we focus on Mary Anne Rooney's report of the excellent success of the Summer at City Hall programs that have benefitted an increasing number of local students over the last 3 years.

Enjoy the articles and let us know what you think by contacting us at:

Stacy Roscoe
Getting Out of the Waiting Place

By Vanessa Rauschenberger

In California, lawmakers are done waiting. Done waiting for local jurisdictions to make decisions about where to build housing and done waiting for cities to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through connected land-use and transportation planning.

The sense of urgency stems from a few factors, such as skyrocketing homeless populations, exorbitant housing prices, and the realization that a fundamental change in the way we live is going to be required if we want to have any impact on climate change. As more people "connect the dots" that living in places farther and farther from jobs and transportation leads to overall poor community health, Californians are increasingly supporting leaders who bring bold ideas to "disrupt" the status quo.

Below is a short summary of two bold ideas to connected to housing and transportation that will be interesting to see evolve this year.  Keep in mind, these are just proposals and still have several months of negotiating to become final.

The Governor's proposed budget for next year includes $1.3 Billion in one-time funds for affordable housing through grants and loans , including $500 million for cities to build housing and shelters for the homeless and relaxation of CEQA rules to streamline construction. The budget also proposes to tie SB1 transportation dollars to those cities who build more housing (although it's not yet clear what it would mean for those who don't).

Governor Newsom is also sending a clear message that he intends to do more than just prod local jurisdictions along with funding to build housing. While the state has always had the power to enforce housing rules, AB 72 passed in 2017, which now allows the state to take legal action if cities are out of compliance with housing goals. So far, the first city in the crosshairs is Huntington Beach, where lawsuits are now pending over lack of enough housing being "planned." At the same time, local residents are vying to maintain "local flavor and culture" though counter lawsuits which could possibly curtail the Governor's plans.

As a sign that cities are gearing up to respond to the housing pressure, The League of California Cities has made the goal "Provide Cities Additional Funding and Tools and Preserve Local Authority to Address Housing Production, Affordability and Homelessness Challenges" as its #1 strategic goal for 2019.

Another bold proposal back on the table this year is Senator Scott Wiener's (D-San Francisco) bill SB 50, called More H.O.M.E.S. (Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, Equity, and Stability) . This is a revival of last year's failed SB 827 bill that would allow (not require) higher density near major transit stops and jobs rich areas. The bill, which now has 11 co-sponsors, is an acknowledgment that places around rail and major bus lines (i.e. Metrolink stations, Downtown areas) are the ideal places to focus development. SB 50 supporters "seek to ensure that every Californian has a place to live -- and that the homes we provide help us address the growing climate crisis by reducing the pollution caused by the endless traffic we suffer through every day..."

Some critics of SB 50 argue that this is just another attempt at "social engineering" and that there is no need to plan around transit since in the future "autonomous cars" will eliminate our congestion woes. This line of thinking is repeated by tech and auto companies convincingly to wealthy people who likely envision they will be the first to adopt such technology. This line of thinking unfortunately may actually discourage people from investing in today's transportation needs, which ultimately will hurt those with lower incomes, people of color and older people who would likely be the last to see the benefit of those technologies if they come to fruition.

SB 50 is backed by "Yes In My Back Yard" (YIMBY) groups who are working hard to assuage fears of density by providing a more pleasant picture of the type of density it is hoping to encourage. While last year's effort to pass a similar bill (SB 827) failed fast, the new SB 50 bill now includes more input from local cities, as well as low income housing advocates. SB 50 seems like it's heading toward passage, further boosted by Senate President Toni Atkins who named Senator Weiner as the new Chair of the Senate Housing Committee, likely ensuring the bill will at least get to the floor for a vote.

Strengthening Our Veteran Community

by Albert de la Rocha

Ventura County has an established history of supporting our nation's military. We have numerous installations, military personnel from various branches of our armed forces, and a diverse population of veterans that call Ventura County home. With such a strong active military and veteran population, it's our responsibility as a community to support these heroes. As a collective, we continue to come together to ensure that when a servicemember is transitioning out of the military, or is moving to Ventura County, we have resources and support for them.

Housing is a "hot topic" here in Ventura County and it is one that impacts veterans greatly. Mike McManus, the County's Veteran Services Officer, states the County of Ventura has been addressing housing concerns for veterans by working to strengthen the HUD-VASH program and reaching out to landlords to establish more housing opportunities. An issue that we have continued to experience is that there is a lack of available housing for veterans. So, what are we doing as a county to support this demand? Organizations like Many Mansions, have stepped up and are now developing specific housing for veterans. The Ormond Beach Villas are currently under construction and will house 40+ units that are specifically for veterans. On the horizon, the City of Ventura, under Prop 40 funding, has moved to approve a 120 unit veteran housing complex. Though recent talks have slowed, the meter for veteran housing is moving in the right direction.

In regard to higher education for veterans, we have some great local schools that veterans can choose from that will allow them to reach their academic goals. Ideal schools include National University, California Lutheran University, The University of La Verne, California State University Channel Islands, and three Community Colleges. These are recognized and accredited military-friendly institutions that work to ensure our veterans are maximizing their time and effort while utilizing their GI Bill to fund their education. Ventura County has something that most other don't have:  our schools are either non-profit or state schools. In higher education there are many predatory schools that are looking to enroll veteran students, take their GI Benefits, and issue them a degree that has no longer term benefit or local recognition. Our local universities are vetted, have Veteran Success Centers and support staff, and work with each other to ensure that students are attending a school that is a good match and gives them the ability to persist to their degree.

In comparison to California's current unemployment rate (4.2%), Ventura County is below that average, hovering around 3.1%. As of November 2018, the veteran employment rate is at 6.7%. This is a concern and the goal is to create more employment opportunities for our veterans. The County of Ventura has put substantial effort into developing training and assistance programs for veteran workforce development. Programs such as VEAP (Veterans Employment and Training Program) and EDD (CalJOBS program) are addressing the needs of employers and training veterans to match that need. Organizations such as Goodwill have also stepped up and created programs such as Operation Good Jobs to support veteran career development. Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, in partnership with the Ventura County Veterans Collaborative, holds a veteran's resource and job fair annually (August 2019). Naval Base Ventura County has also addressed the demand to hire more veterans and has moved its annual job and resources fair off base, holding it at the American Job and Career Center located in Oxnard.

For more information about county resources and opportunities to support our veterans, please contact our County of Ventura Veteran Services Office at 805/477-5155 or go to You can also get involved by joining the Ventura County Veterans Collaborative which meets every 2nd Thursday of each month from 9am-11am at National University Oxnard, located at 1000 Town Center Drive, Oxnard, CA 93036. 
Summer at City Hall Programs in Ventura County

By Mary Anne Rooney

The Ventura County Civic Alliance (Civic Alliance) is part of a collaborative that brings together the Oxnard Union High School District (OUHSD), local governments and business leaders to prepare students for post-graduation by offering school-based and work-based learning focused on career exploration. The Civic Alliance led the collaborative partners through the development and implementation of Summer at City Hall programs in the City of Oxnard (2016), County of Ventura (2017), and City of Camarillo (2018).
The Summer at City Hall program started in collaboration with the Institute for Local Government out of Sacramento and their Government Engaging Youth program. Summer at City Hall combines civics education with local government internships to teach youth about public service careers, community issues, and the importance of being civically engaged. The Oxnard Union High School District provides internship bootcamps during the year to prepare the students in advance of an internship and provides them with instruction on skills needed to enter the world of work.
These programs:
  • Benefit youth
  • Benefit school districts
  • Benefit local governments
The Ventura County Civic Alliance has seen significant program growth with this program. This program began in year one with the City of Oxnard, then grew to the County of Ventura in year two, and the City of Camarillo in year three. Year over year, we see the investment each of the local government agencies make in the future workforce.
All students in the 2018 program earned compensation of $11/hour or higher.
SACH Program
# of students
# of students
# of students
City of Oxnard
County of Ventura
City of Camarillo
From one Oxnard student participant:
"This internship is perfect for youth to gain experience... I feel that it made me more mature. I had a key to the department which made me more responsible. My training was awesome. I love the meetings and learned so much. The city jobs here are really awesome."
Some of the projects the student interns worked on during their internships were:
  • Development of a parklet project;
  • Review of tax areas;
  • Development of social media pages;
  • Redesign of websites;
  • Digitization of archived records;
  • Review and organization of project files;
  • Creation of public service announcements;
  • Code compliance reviews;
  • Hardware cataloguing; and
  • Creation of an asset list for city.
The Civic Alliance is committed to providing work-based learning opportunities for youth through enhancing the existing three Summer at City Hall programs, expanding the SACH model to the other cities, and providing internship opportunities with the 35 special districts in Ventura County. See the link below to view a summary of program strengths that propel this work forward.
The Ventura County Workforce Development Board recently announced that the Ventura County Civic Alliance was chosen for the Youth Opportunity Award to recognize the Summer at City Hall programs in Ventura County.

A Special Thank You Goes to Our State of the Region Report Sponsors:

Research Sponsor - 
Ventura County Community Foundation

Presenting Sponsor - 
Ventura County Community College District

Domain Sponsors - 

Aera Energy
California Lutheran University
California State University Channel Islands
County of Ventura
Gene Haas Foundation
Montecito Bank & Trust
Southern California Edison
United Staffing Associates
VCDSA - Ventura County Deputy Sheriff's Association

Supporting Sponsors -

The Port of Hueneme
Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors
Ventura County Office of Education

Contributing Sponsors -

City of Ventura Community Development Department
Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP
Gold Coast Transit
Maron Computer Services
Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company
Stacy and Kerry Roscoe
Ventura County Transportation Commission

Friend Sponsors -

California Lutheran University Center for Nonprofit Leadership
Dyer Sheehan Group, Inc.
Friends of the Santa Clara River
Kate McLean
Sherie and Joe Gibson
Slover Memorial Fund
United Way of Ventura County
Ventura College Foundation

Media Sponsor -

Pacific Coast Business Times