5 Things to know about the Nov. 3 election
City Council candidates in Ventura’s District 7 differed on what type of housing should be a priority as they answered questions about their positions at a recent online forum held by the League of Women Voters.
The city should focus on getting houses rebuilt that burned in the Thomas Fire and worry less about bringing in additional condos or apartments, said Heather May Ellinger, one of four candidates in the district.
“I think we need to get back to what we are, which is a suburban community,” said the local real estate agent, adding that density may be an issue when it comes to COVID-19 spread.
“I think that we need to really rethink this whole process of bringing everybody together, this walking concept,” she said. “We’re a car community. We need to be focusing on our roads and making sure that the people that live here are taken care of before we start bringing in additional housing.”
Ellinger and candidates Nancy Pedersen and Joe Schroeder participated in the online forum, one of more than a dozen leading up to the Nov. 3 election. Michael James Nolan, also running in the district, was unable to attend because of a scheduling conflict, he said.
Pedersen said she would want to work on housing issues proactively, including through efforts to update the general plan.
“We have to look for creative opportunities for infill and development for all levels of housing,” said Pedersen, a small business owner.
She suggested looking at areas such as the Pacific View mall, the Thompson corridor and perhaps around Johnson Drive, she said.
Nancy Pedersen is a candidate in District 7 for the Ventura City Council. (Photo: Contributed photo/Nancy Pedersen)
Schroeder also talked about infill possibilities and said he thought the city had to offer “the whole spectrum” of housing, including affordable options.
“There’s a limited amount of land that we have,” said the recently retired CEO of the Ventura County Credit Union. “We have to leverage everything that we have right now. We have to be creative.”
Regarding affordable housing, he said not everyone would like it. Everyone says they support it, but nobody wants it in their backyard, Schroeder said.
City officials have to go through the general plan, he said, and develop some strategies to meet targets.
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Four candidates, one seat
In November, voters in three of Ventura’s seven districts will elect a council member for the first time.
Council members for the city’s other four districts were elected in 2018, the first time Ventura held district elections. Previously, voters elected council members at large.
While those in District 7 will have the opportunity to vote for Ellinger, Nolan, Pedersen or Schroeder, residents outside of the area may want to listen to their positions, forum moderator David Maron said.
Once they are on the council, they will represent the entire city, he said.
Joe Schroeder is a candidate in District 7 for the Ventura City Council. (Photo: Contributed photo/Joe Schroeder)
Support for short-term rentals
When asked about their positions on short-term vacation rentals, all three candidates said they support the practice at least to some degree.
“I think that there’s a compromise here,” said Schroeder, who said he has heard about one lane in the Pierpont area with nine short-term rentals on it.
He thinks that is too much and that most people would agree with that, he said.
The Coastal Commission will make the final call on policies, he said, but he thinks there is a way to manage the practice and set some limits.
Heather May Ellinger is a candidate in District 7 for the Ventura City Council. (Photo: Contributed photo/Heather May Ellinger)
Ellinger said she personally prefers short-term rentals as opposed to going to a hotel when she travels and is generally in favor of them.
She thinks city officials need to address any problem properties directly.
“But I don’t think you get rid of everything entirely for a handful of problems,” she said.
Pedersen said she has heard from people on all sides of the issue since she decided to run. The rentals add to the tourism market, she said, and bring dollars into the community.
“I am generally not opposed to short-term vacation rentals,” she said.
But she is in favor of a well written ordinance. While the city has an ordinance, she said it has a lot of ambiguity and needs to be more clear.
“We also need to really, really need to work on enforcement,” she said. “We don’t do a very good job in that department.”
To see the entire forum, go to https://my.lwv.org/california/ventura-county/candidate-forums.
Cheri Carlson covers the environment for the Ventura County Star. Reach her at [email protected] or 805-437-0260.
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