Ventura County, California

Updates from Ventura County Chapter—Protecting our local ocean and beaches from source to surf
June 5, 2014

OFG Project at Loma Vista School


The June schedule is to have garden areas rototilled and then on Saturday, June 7th have a half-day workday to hand remove the weeds and kikuyu grass.  The following Saturday, June 14th, we will have a heavy equipment day to complete rough grading, place boulders, and to sculpt the two retention basins for rain gardens.  A skip loader is needed to delivery boulders prior to the 14th . Morning refreshments and midday pizza will be provided on both dates.

June 7 tasks:

  • Remove weeds and kikuyu grass from tilled soil (rake clumps out of the soil).
  • Consolidate mulch from pine tree into one pile (shovels & rakes).
  • Remove 1-2 shrubs in the butterfly garden that are closest to the walkway (loppers & handsaw).
  • Install grey concrete border, scalloped side down, around the butterfly garden (shovels & mattock).

June 14 tasks:

  • Complete rough grading (bobcat/mini excavator).
  • Sculpt rain and dry stream gardens (primarily hand dig).
  • Move and set boulders into place (bobcat/mini excavator).
  • Locate existing storm drains/downspouts that are to be directed into the dry stream garden (mini excavator).
  • Locate irrigation stub-outs for hose bibs (hand dig).


Apply CPR – Conservation, Permeability and Retention © - to your garden to revive our watersheds and ocean.

5 Steps – taught at OFG events and described on OFG’s & G3’s websites:

-Evaluate Your Site/Understand Your Potable Water Use
-Encourage a Soil Party to Restore Good Soil
-Create Permeable Surfaces And Retention of Rain Water
-Select Climate-appropriate Plants and Plant With Confidence
-Irrigate Efficiently and Achieve Zero Dry Weather Runoff

Read The OFG Guidelines at

Visit an OFG demonstration garden near you by checking on this map:

Plant Information

Check the website of the local Chapter or of the California Native Plant Society Channel Islands Native Plant Society

A great source for water saving plant info is available at

Put On A Neighborhood Workday – Learning By Doing

Ocean Friendly Gardens start with a host, who can hire a pro to provide all or some the pro services (listed above), plus lead the workday. The host encourages neighbors to get involved, and neighbors then help another house at the next workday. Groups like Surfrider Foundation can put the call out for volunteers. Read about the Garden Assistance Party at

Contact the Ventura County Surfrider Chapter OFG Chair at for more information.


May 28, 2014

Ocean Friendly Gardens Update

Ocean Friendly Gardens May Update


Loma Vista School Project

On May 17th, OFG volunteers, Midtown Community Council, and Loma Vista School worked on demolition and removal of sod, hedges and bushes and major grading at the school.  VCMC workers brought equipment and worked hard all day with other volunteers so much progress was made.
Next kid friendly and all hands on deck half workday is Saturday, June 7 from 8 a.m. to Noon.  We will be hand digging where the sod was in order to remove grass and weed tubers. Many hands are needed to make quick work to get ready for the following work day on June 14.  Any time you can help whether an hour or all morning will be helpful. Surfrider Ocean Friendly Gardens committee members will be there for anyone who has questions about the OFG Program and on how to convert their own landscapes into OFGs!
Refreshments will be served and pizza at noon for all participants.
Dos Caminos Project
On May 10th, homeowners Betsy and Scott Manninen began their OFG retrofit when family and friends dug out the turf. It was left to be watered for two weeks to see if any grass re-sprouted. On May 24th, any grass that came back was ripped out and the yard received the sheet mulching treatment, to then be put to bed until September for an OFG garden installation.
Stay tuned for information on upcoming Lawn Patrol in July and OFG workday in September.

For more information about how to get involved with OFG and to get on the OFG newsletter, please email


May 21, 2014

Council Fails to Come Through on the Reusable Bag Ordinance (5/19)

Monday night, Ventura City Council made the decision to take no action on the proposed reusable bag ordinance. Despite the negative effects that disposable plastics have on the environment and the aesthetics of Ventura, despite overwhelming community support on the issue, and despite the hours of staff time that have been spent on editing and amending the ordinance and on outreach, Andrews, Tracy, and Monahan voted no on the proposed ordinance.

As most of us have heard time and again, single-use plastics have no place in our society because of their negative environmental impact, especially on our oceans. Plastics do not biodegrade. In the ocean, they photodegrade, meaning they break down into smaller and smaller pieces but never fully break down. These small particles of plastic are mistaken for food and work their way up the food chain.  This is not only a problem with digestion and suffocation, but also with bioaccumulation. Plastics attract toxins in the environment, some of which have been banned on land but still remain in the wild (i.e. DDT). These toxins work their way up the food chain with the synthetic particles. At the top of the food chain, toxins are concentrated and can cause health problems to those who ingest them. Doesn’t that make you want some sushi?

In addition, plastic bags and other plastic litter are an eye sore to residents and visitors in Ventura. Bags float along in the wind (see link for funny mockumentary) and stick in trees and against fences. Even bags that are thrown in the trash (bags are not recyclable) can sometimes fly out and end up in the environment. A source reduction such as a bag ordinance would help to eliminate this waste and litter.

Moreover, there is a large community support for the bag ordinance. Over the past couple of years, Surfrider has gathered petition signatures in support of the bag ordinance. We have collected over 1,000 signatures at community events and meetings! Also, we flooded the council room Monday night with over 45 supporters wearing blue (or bags). (This Many) supporters filled out speaker cards and addressed council and many others submitted comment cards. Opposition consisted of only 3 individuals (and 3 council members).  Supporters included Surfrider members, the Sierra Club, the CA Grocers Association, 4th grade students from ATLAS elementary, a middle schooler from Cabrillo, a teen from a YMCA leadership organization (representing 300 “likes” from teens throughout the country), teachers, a local business owner, a former mayor, outdoor enthusiasts, and community members from all walks of life.

City staff has spent many hours on modifying the ordinance for Ventura and outreaching to the community and businesses. In only a couple of months, they were able to speak with over 60 smaller businesses that would be affected by the ban. If council members are worried about city spending, staff time should be taken into account.

So why did they vote no?

Neal Andrews: He did not feel that it was right to have a 10 cent charge for paper bags. This money would go to the grocery stores and they would profit off the ordinance.

Surfrider’s take: The point of the charge on paper is to create a disincentive for shoppers. If you have to pay 10 cents per bag, you will remember to bring your own bags. In other jurisdictions with ordinances, there was a large reduction in the use of both plastic AND paper bags.

Mike Tracy: He has “come full circle on the issue”. He believes that the cost of the ordinance is worth waiting to see what will happen at the statewide level.

Surfrider’s take:  We cannot rely on the state to take action on the issue. A statewide bag ban has failed four times so far. Even if it were to pass, it would still take more time for implementation than if we were to pass in it Ventura now. Each month that we wait, about 3.6 million bags are used in Ventura. This is not acceptable. As for the money that will be spent for the ordinance: City staff estimated that the ordinance would cost about $1,000/ month for the first two years for outreach and implementation and then $1,000/year after that. However, this money would be spent whether there was a bag ordinance or not. Here’s a couple quotes from a former city council member and a knowledgeable Surfrider member to further explain it:

“Now about the money the $24,000, that is not “new money” but money that is spent now for staff to go out and educate the community on waste and recycling.  All that would happen if the ordinance was enacted is that outreach would shift from focusing on the schools where the program has been going on for years to outreach to the retail sector of our community. No cost saving by not passing ordinance, in fact, completely the opposite as the City is now still susceptible to TMDL scrutiny which means fines, etc. ”

” As for the $24,000, it all would come out of “AB939” funds. This is non-general fund monies already collected on residential and commercial trash bills. It would result in the 2 year deferral of long term upgrades and maintenance to Gold Coast. Bottom line is that it would not involve the expenditure of new funds. I am not sure if Tracy did not understand this or if he was using it to justify his reluctance to move forward.”

Jim Monahan: He piggybacked off Tracy’s response. He also wants to wait to see what the state will do instead of “spending the money” on the ordinance.

To watch the entire video of the council meeting, check out the city website.

Despite the disappointment of Monday night’s decision, we must stay positive and push forward. Here’s what we can do as we move forward:

Support the statewide ban!

Please support the statewide bill Sb27o here!

Contact your Ventura City Council members to let them know how you feel about their decision Monday night:

and Stay tuned! Sign up on our newsletter or contact us directly to learn more:

May 13, 2014

Ventura Reusable Bag Ordinance Hearing on Monday!

We need your help to convince the Ventura City Council to finalize the Reusable Bag Ordinance for the City of Ventura! The proposed ordinance would ban plastic checkout bags at food retailers along with a small fee on paper bags as the incentive to remember your reusable bags. On Monday May 19th City Council will vote on the specific ordinance language and implementation dates. You can view the meeting agenda and staff report in advance. It’s been a long process and the end is near so your support now is critical!

  1. Attend the hearing on Monday May 19th at Ventura City Hall and wear blue to show your support. The item will likely be heard between 7 and 9pm. Please Email to RSVP if you can attend. Check out these tips on attending a city council meeting.
  2. Email all City Councilmembers at to let them know you ‘SUPPORT a Reusable Bag Ordinance for Ventura’ and include some of your personal reasons.

pierpont.cormorantVentura is a beautiful city but plastic bag litter is the most visible scar on our community.  Plastic bags don’t biodegrade in our lifetimes and can impact marine life through ingestion or entanglement when littered.  Check out this narrated slideshow which documents local plastic bag litter and discusses the issue in more detail.

Plastic checkout bags are typically made from non-renewable resources such as natural gas.  Plastic bags do not biodegrade in our lifetimes and can impact wildlife when littered – in addition to being an eyesore, costing taxpayer dollars to pick up, potentially clogging drains and possibly creating mosquito breeding grounds in warmer months.  While plastic bags are recyclable, recent reports show a dismal 5% recycling rate from the 115 billion bags used nationwide.  Here are some FAQ’s based on model ordinance language provided in the Environmental Impact Report:

BYOB Bag_VenturaQ: What kind of plastic bag is banned?
Plastic carryout bags include any bag made of plastic (from any source), which is provided to the customer at the point of sale.

Q: What kind of plastic bag is NOT banned?
Produce bags and Product bags are bags without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other food items to the point of sale or to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items.

Q: Why should the City of Ventura consider a checkout bag ordinance?
The intent of the Checkout Bag Ordinance is to significantly reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use plastic and paper carry out bags and promote a major shift towards the use of reusable bags.

Q: How are single-use plastic carryout bags harmful to the environment?
They are consumed in extremely high volumes
They are typically produced from non-renewable resources
They are designed to be disposable (rather than reusable)
Difficult to recycle. Less than 5% of plastic bags used annually are actually recycled.  Plastic bags and film processed by Gold Coast Recycling in Ventura is likely shipped overseas, not truly recycled  locally.
Plastic bags are a significant and visible component of litter and do not biodegrade. They remain in the environment as marine, storm drain, and beach pollution for decades
Plastic bags are a significant hazard to animals and birds, which can be impacted by ingestion or entanglement

Q: Is there any exception to this ban?
The Ordinance does NOT prohibit the distribution of plastic “product bags” such as those distributed within a grocery store for bagging produce or meat.

Q: What stores are required to charge 10 cents for each recycled paper bag?
All grocery stores, convenience stores, minimarts, liquor stores, drug stores and pharmacies are prohibited from providing free distribution of single-use paper and plastic carryout bags. If these stores decide to make paper carryout bags available for their customers, they are required to sell recycled paper carryout bags made from 100% total recycled content with 40% post-consumer recycled content for not less than 10 cents per bag.

Q: Why is there a $0.10 fee on recycled paper carryout bags?
The fee of $0.10 on recycled paper carryout bags encourages the use of reusable bags. This cost pass-through reimburses retailers for the costs of providing recycled paper carry out bags to their customers. All of the revenue from the cost pass-through remains with the store.

Q: How do I avoid paying 10 cents for each recycled paper bag?
It’s easy! Remember to bring your own reusable bags to the store. Some stores will even offer you a credit for bringing your own bag!

May 6, 2014

More OFG-type classes!

FREE Graywater Workshops!
The Ventura County Building and Safety Division will be hosting a series of “how to” workshops for homeowners wanting to convert their clothes washers to simple irrigation systems. Gray water from single-family residential clothes washing machines can now be used to irrigate shrubs, flowers and trees, with little else except some valves, piping and good maintenance practices.

During these workshops, homeowners will learn the steps necessary to successfully install the piping and drainage systems needed for irrigation with laundry gray water. Also, materials will be provided at these workshops for homeowners to take with them which will include:

  • A parts and materials list, including estimated retail prices, necessary to
  • install a basic LGDS.
  • List of tools needed to install a basic LGDS.
  • Details, guidelines and instructions for a basic LGDS.

The workshops will also feature a hands-on demonstration of what a
completed LGDS should look like.

The workshops are scheduled to be held at 800 South Victoria Ave, Ventura,
California in Room 311 at the Ventura County Hall of Administration (Enter
off of Telephone road and park in Lot G).

All Workshops will be held in room 311 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on the
following dates:

May 8, 2014
May 22 2014
June 5, 2014
June 19, 2014

Additional dates will be added soon.  To register, e-mail or call (805) 654-2795, 7:15 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

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