Wildlife Corridor - After receiving a disappointing ruling from the Ventura County Superior Court, CoLAB filed an appeal with the 2nd District Court of Appeal. We anticipate a hearing in Spring 2023.
County General Plan – WIN! - In late 2022, CoLAB and the Ventura County Agricultural Association entered settlement discussions with the County over the policies and programs in the VC 2040 General Plan that harm local agriculture. Discussions are ongoing – but we are pleased to report that efforts have been constructive.
Protecting Water Supplies - CoLAB led the local agricultural industry's fight to preserve agricultural water supplies and took a stand against the California Fish and Game Commission emergency listing of the Southern California steelhead and rainbow trout.
AND (WIN!) we stood up to fight to preserve local control over groundwater supplies – our OpEd in CalMatters against AB2201 (Bennett) helped sway the California Legislature's decision not to proceed with this harmful and excessive bill.
CoLAB WHEEL Meetings - Our monthly member meetings continue to be the ONLY regularly scheduled, open-discussion format events where you can learn the latest about upcoming issues, regulations, and economic trends related to water, housing, energy, environment, and land use. In 2022, our members learned about water conservation policy, the shifting real estate market, government attacks on local energy production, and more!
More WINS! for Farmworker Housing and ADUs - In 2022, the Board of Supervisors approved two separate housing-related County Zoning Ordinance Amendments for which CoLAB had advocated: streamlining the permitting requirements for farmworker housing throughout the unincorporated areas and updating the permitting requirements for constructing ADUs to align with new state laws.
Circle the Wagons Educational Events – WIN! - CoLAB co-hosted three SOLD OUT!, in-person "Circle the Wagons" educational events with VC Taxpayers Association – covering issues as diverse as the California economy and reliance on foreign trade, to California tax regulations, and the November 2022 ballot measures impacting your property and business.
Protecting Local Industries and Jobs – WIN! - CoLAB fought alongside our members in the energy industry to successfully oppose Measures A&B in the June 2022 election. Measures A&B would have destroyed good-paying local jobs and increased regulatory red tape for the local energy industry, ultimately leading to less energy security for California.
"Meet the Candidates" Forum at the VC Fair – WIN! - CoLAB proudly co-hosted the "Meet the Candidates Forum" at the VC Fair with the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, VC Cattlemen's Association, VC Agricultural Association, and California Women for Agriculture, Ventura County Chapter. The bipartisan event included candidates for local and state elected office speaking about issues that matter to local agriculture and business and was attended by a standing-room-only crowd!
Wildlife Corridor - While we ultimately failed to overturn the Wildlife Corridor Ordinance in our CEQA litigation, the final hearing in Ventura Superior Court was held in November 2021.
CoLAB WHEEL Meetings - We introduced our members to a diverse array of stakeholders and influencers – from the latest in water supply issues – to a discussion with Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez – to a forecast on the California economy. We introduced a new newsletter – the WHEEL News – to provide all our members with a synopsis of our monthly meeting.
Farmworker Housing –WIN! - Somis Ranch Farmworker Housing Project – the first large-scale farmworker housing project effort in over a decade AND the first farmworker housing project to use local permitting streamlining efforts designed to ease the regulatory burden of SOAR – was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Relief for COVID-impacted businesses – WIN! - Since March 2020, CoLAB has been advocating for a reduction in County fees for businesses that have been most impacted by COVID-related restrictions and shutdowns. In May, the Board of Supervisors championed a temporary County fee waiver for several types of businesses, including farm stands, food sales, and restaurants, as part of efforts to assist with COVID economic recovery
Proposed amendment to General Plan for traffic-related issues – WIN! - The Board of Supervisors directed staff to allow a proposed amendment to the General Plan for traffic policies and restrictions that prevent new businesses from opening in existing commercial zones, resulting in areas of economic depression and urban blight in the County.
Circle the Wagons Event - CoLAB co-hosted a “Circle the Wagons” educational event with VC Taxpayers Association on the impacts of Prop 19. This educational event was attended by more than 500 “virtual attendees” and had over 3,800 views on social media.
Ventura County General Plan – Through extensive outreach and education, CoLAB coordinated efforts of business, labor, agricultural, and community organizations to submit thousands of public comments/letters on the inconsistencies, wildfire and health hazards, lack of outreach to Latino community, and economically harmful policies in the General Plan. Despite the overwhelming public outcry, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to adopt the General Plan, even though the Chair of the Planning Commission stated that the EIR was flawed and incorrect. VC CoLAB filed a lawsuit against the County of Ventura in October 2020 which is currently in process.
Public comments at BOS hearings during COVID - WIN! Convinced the County to allow for “real time” Zoom and phone in comments at public hearings held while the public was barred from attending public hearings because of government-mandated COVID shutdown restrictions.
On-going advocacy for local agriculture – Supported partners throughout the state with public comments and information to advocate for Delta Conveyance, economic support for COVID related impacts, and farmworker housing and workforce sustainability.
Permanent Hemp Ordinance - WIN! Working with VC Farm Bureau and VC Agricultural Association, VC CoLAB pushed the BOS to adopt reasonable set back measures that would still allow for the commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in Ventura County and preserve protections under the Right to Farm Ordinance.
2016 – 2019 Advocacy for agriculture at the monthly Fox Canyon GMA Technical Advisory Group - WIN: Support for the technical experts on the TAG held the County accountable for scientific analysis during the sustainable groundwater management plan process.
2018-2019 Permits for local petroleum producers - WIN: Testimony to support an objective permit process for local oil producers facilitated several critical votes at the Board of Supervisors.
Hemp Moratorium in Ventura County - WIN: VC CoLAB advocated for hemp growers after a tough first harvest season, providing GIS maps, organizing testimony and working with the Agricultural Commissioner to ease unnecessary restrictions.
New Wildlife Corridor Ordinance - WIN: Worked with County Planning to change unreasonable restrictions in this ordinance that would severely challenge private property owners in the urban interface and increase fire danger. Organized testimony and gained significant changes at the Planning Commission, some that were overturned by the Board of Supervisors. Frustrated with the scientific basis and unworkable rules in the ordinance, VC CoLAB filed a lawsuit against the County of Ventura in June of 2019 which is currently in process.
Glyphosate Restrictions - WIN: Provided testimony at the Board of Supervisors to support reasonable restrictions on glyphosate, supporting the County Public Works Agency’s goal of protecting public health and economic feasibility.
Education campaign on fire risk in areas without vegetation management - WIN: Raised the awareness of the importance of vegetation management and controlled burns in reducing wildfires. VC CoLAB analyzed County Wildfire Protection Plans, showing a lack implementation before the Thomas Fire and predicting the devastation of the Woolsey Fire.
Advocacy for agriculture and economics in the General Plan Update process - WIN: Beneficial changes to the General Plan Vision Statement and Guiding Principles were adopted by the Board of Supervisors where businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers were well represented.
Advocacy for changes to the Dark Sky Ordinance - WIN: VC CoLAB secured significant improvements to this ordinance that restricts outdoor lighting on private properties (based on poorly controlled studies) ultimately securing some exemptions for farmers and ranchers.
County Counsel revision of the Ventura County Event Ordinance (post-lawsuit) - WIN: VC CoLAB worked with County Counsel on revisions that were accepted by the Planning Commission. Member testimony at the Board of Supervisors gained important exceptions to support charitable events and improve the ordinance.
Key Meeting with senior administration officials of NOAA Fisheries, United Water Conservation District and a diverse group of water users - WIN: VC CoLAB organized this groundbreaking meeting, seeking to expedite the permit process and resolve issues with operating the Freeman Diversion to allow for fish passage while ensuring sufficient water to manage groundwater aquifers. VC CoLAB received the United Water Conservation District “RICHARD V. LAUBACHER WATER AWARD” from the Association of Water Agencies in 2019 for our efforts.
Advocacy for an ombudsman position in the County CEO’s office to assist project proponents in permit processing - WIN: County CEO hired Dr. Rachel Linares as a Continuous Process Improvement Manager in May of 2017.
General Plan Update Process - WIN: VC CoLAB members and Board members were invited to participate in each of the General Plan Focus Groups to represent our members.
Pre-approved building plans for Farmworker and Accessory Dwellings - WIN: County Building and safety created building plans for 700, 900 and 1200 SF units that are currently being revised per VC CoLAB comments.
VC CoLAB negotiations with the SOAR Organization - WIN: VC CoLAB negotiated key beneficial economic language into the final SOAR 2050 Initiative to benefit agriculture in Ventura County.
Sustain VC alternative ballot measure to SOAR - WIN: Ran a competing ballot Measure F to educate the community on the challenges faced by local farmers and ranchers. The ballot measure won a majority of votes in the cities/communities of Oxnard, Santa Paula, Fillmore and Piru.
Pressured Ventura LAFCO to begin recording public meetings - WIN: VC CoLAB, as sole testimony at the January 2016 LAFCO hearing, gained a 7-0 vote to record all regular and special meetings with recordings saved for a minimum of 7 years.
Ventura LAFCO agricultural mitigation project - WIN: Ventura LAFCO adopted reasonable agricultural mitigation requirements per VC CoLAB recommendations, defending private property in the urban interface.
Quarterly meetings with the County CEO’s Office - WIN: Quarterly meetings include County CEO and Directors of the Resource Management and Public Works Agencies. Meetings gained improvements in the County Survey Department permit processing time and better communication of process issues.
2014 Public education campaign on endangered Steelhead in the Santa Clara River - WIN: Educated our members and the community on the millions of steelhead that were stocked into the Santa Clara and Ventura Rivers from 1887 to 1939 (research provided by United Water Conservation District and National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration).
Defeat of the Piru Recreational Trail through prime farmland - WIN: VC CoLAB analyzed construction plans, environmental documents and organized testimony, successfully defeating this bike path to nowhere, heading east from Piru for 1 mile and ending in the middle of a farm field.
Agricultural Grading Ordinance - WIN: VC CoLAB led 18 months of meetings with the County and agricultural stakeholders, successfully eliminating new proposed agricultural grading standards that would have subjected routine agricultural projects to environmental review by the Public Works Agency.
Second Dwelling Unit size increase - WIN: Agricultural interests advocated for larger second dwelling units on 40-acre parcels resulting in an increase from 1200 to 1800 square feet.
Support for Rangeland Management - WIN: VC CoLAB members’ testimony at the Planning Commission facilitated a 4-1 vote for an appeal of a violation for alleged grading in a Scenic Resource Protection zone.
County Biology Guidelines - WIN: Hired a prominent consulting biologist and successfully resolved 22 of the 25 issues in a proposed complicated set of Biological Guidelines that threatened the Agricultural Industry.
South Coast Missing Linkages mapping - WIN: Pushed back on the science of SCML, changing the language in the Biological Guidelines to add a warning on using such mapping for biological analysis.
Locally Important Species - WIN: Successful in convincing the County to revise the Locally Important Species listing and de-listing process to be reviewed annually and be open to the public.