Meeting Summary: VCTC at new advocacy group

Last Wednesday, BikeVentura’s new group comprising folks interested in bicycle advocacy and policy met at the HUB, and were joined by two staff from the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC).  We heard a lot about multi-modal connectivity – bus to train, bus to bike, trail to bike, etc. and how VCTC is working on improving services to accommodate that. 

Mostly though, we talked about a grand project that could really change the landscape of cycling in the county – The Santa Paula Branch Line. This would be a trail along the rail line that runs from the VTA Metrolink Station to Piru. Some cities have built their portions of the trail, but the County and City of Ventura have not started construction on it. VCTC owns the right of along the train tracks, and studied the trail (the environmental impact report was completed in the year 2000!), but there is no path. Obstacles brought up were the farmer’s refusal to take on liability of the trail that runs through their land, and the County’s refusal to indemnify them, the difficulty of large-scale multiagency projects being coordinated, and of course, funding.

 
The Built Portion of the Trail in Santa Paula

We also heard from a Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition (Santa Clarita Spoke) representative that LA County is “ready to meet Ventura at the county line” with a bike path. The economic benefit to connecting Santa Clarita to the City of Ventura (and all points in between) with a bike path is enormous. And still there is no path. 

So what to do now? For one, stay tuned – a few folks in the group are preparing a primer on the project, as well as a course of action. It never hurts to talk about this project with people you know that might be interested, and you can always contact local officials. The VCTC commission meets the first Friday of every month, at Camarillo City Hall. You can give public comment there, too. Our group will work to map out what a campaign would look like – which is impacted by how elections turn out in March. Don’t forget to VOTE!

Other things mentioned: 

March 1st – BikeVentura’s FREE Ride Ready Course at VCBC – empower yourself as an advocate with confident riding skills – know your rights and responsibilities!

Also, an update from local climate activist James Brehm:

Ventura County is in the process of updating it’s General Plan for the next 20 years, and there is no cohesive Climate Action Plan included in the draft. Our county has warmed more than any in the lower-48 states with an average increase of 2.6°C as of December 2019. Let’s demand that this plan value the future of our children over dependence on oil. This is a matter of public safety. We need a Climate Action Plan that is ambitious, and includes specific targets and deadlines that meet or beat the states emission reduction targets of 40% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. You can email: GeneralPlanUpdate@ventura.org and Susan.Curtis@ventura.org a letter saying you demand that this plan be included. You can also use the county’s comment form here: https://vcrma.org/vc2040.org/review/comment-form 

 
 April 4th – Volunteer Cleanup at the Santa Clara River. Only accessible twice a year – this river cleanup will also provide some insight into the future of the Santa Clara River Loop Trail
 
This group – yet to be named – will meet the 3rd Wednesday of every month. Mark your calendars, the next will be March 18th, at 6:30 at the HUB.