Our problem: growth

The following article was first seen in the Thursday, May 24, 1962 edition of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on the “OPINION PAGE” (Page A-2). It is reprinted here with their permission. It was an “EDITORIAL”, and the author is unknown.

Our problem: growth

A recent population analysis issued by the Ventura county planning staff revealed that the “Ojai planning area,” comprising Ojai, Meiners Oaks and Oak View, was growing slightly faster in the period April 1, 1961 – April 1, 1962, than the county average and about twice the rate of growth of the State of California.

Figures showed the county rate of growth as just over seven percent. This compares with an average of six percent the previous year. This is in line with recently-released statistics which told that Ventura had become the second-fastest growing county in the Los Angeles complex, second only to Orange. Its jump of over one percent in a year presages an increase year by year.

In the Ojai planning area the trend was slightly higher than the county average. We inched upwards to an eight-plus population increase this year. With plenty of land and water available, no slackening in this trend is in sight. No impenetrable barricades will be stretched across Highway 399 on the Arnaz grad or across other access, the Upper Ojai. Employees of the industries moving into the Tri-Cities, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks area will drive here some Sunday afternoon, fall in love with the valley and buy a home. Father will join the roughly 50 percent of the present commuters who live here and work elsewhere.

Another pertinent statistic came to light in the county survey. The highest rate of growth in the county was in the Simi planning area — a remarkable 27 percent increase. Second was Camarillo with 15 percent. Ojai was third at eight-plus.

A look at a county map at this point is revealing. Growth, which has been coming in the past from commuters who work in the Ventura area, will soon make a pincer movement into the valley via the Upper Ojai. Planners count on the development of the large ranches of the Casitas lake perimeter, but the Upper Ojai and even East Ojai’s proximity to the 27 percent increase of the planning area is even more startling. This is where growth is spilling over from the San Fernando valley coming this way along a Santa Susana-Simi-Moorpark — Santa Paula line.

Incidentally, great efforts are being made in Santa Paula to obtain industries. And, down the road a few miles in the Tri-Cities of El Rio, Montalvo and Saticoy, vast acreages are zoned industrial. Recently a 133 acre piece was sold to heavy industry.

Far from Ojai? Not really. From the Tri-Cities it is just as close to Ojai via Santa Paula as it is through Ventura. The same goes for Fillmore, which is due for San Fernando growth.

So here is our problem: proximity to growth. And, to a certain extent the cause of our present problems, for the valley has been growing steadily for a number of years. But the rate is accelerating — probably never to runaway proportions — but nevertheless as consistent as the rising sun. The population should inexorably double in ten years.

So, the future is already upon us. What to do about it?

The obvious answer: plan. The not-so-obvious answer: make decisions.

And, we mean make decisions now. Every decision deferred now means time that cannot be retrieved . . . . more pressure on the day when action is overdue, when action will be forced under pressure, perhaps under controversy, and always under haste, and extra expense.

Honestly now, wouldn’t our valley be a better place to live — a better planned community, if governmental bodies had been ready for growth, such as subdivisions, then years ago.

Only fast, massive, intelligent action on Ojai’s master plan, and by the county on the unincorporated sections of the valley (which are exceptionally vulnerable) can save the valley from a fate it does not want — or deserve.

4 Replies to “Our problem: growth”

  1. This is exactly true today and a big concern. The last few city councils were heading for more growth so it has gotten out of hand. We need to do something about it now. Work with the city council, mayor and others who wish to save some parts of our Ojai Valley for the future as well as the surrounding areas. In my opinion, it’s too late for Ventura.
    I know we all are busy with family, work, and activities but look around you, where do you want to live? In nature or in a overcrowded city with billionaires moving in and buying up land, for what? Think of the present and our future and plan accordingly.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Ms. Olsen:

    Thank you for your comments. They make a lot of sense to me.

    — T. Drew Mashburn
    (“Ojai Valley Museum” volunteer)

  3. Ok here is my most recent idea for combatting rampant growth in Ojai..and I’ll have to admit I got the idea from Krishnamurti! In one interview he said the only way to save Ojai is to make it a national park. At first I thought well THAT will never happen, but then I started researching to see if other cities had done something similar. Check out Old Town San Diego. They pronounced the entire community a historical treasure and declared it a State Park! They implemented strict controls on growth and historical preservation of culturally important buildings. I haven’t read the entire history of Old Town, but there were a number of steps they had to take to accomplish this. It reminded me of efforts by Craig Walker (and others ) to name downtown Ojai a historical district. This , of course, was unpopular with downtown business owners who don’t want to give up any of their power. I don’t think community members realize how important this is to the look of Ojai, the “feel”. of Ojai, and the preservation of its historical buildings. This would be but one step in effort to control rampant growth and would require a great deal of support from the community to implement.

  4. Ms. Nelson,

    Some of downtown Ojai has been designated a State “Ojai Downtown Historic District”, and there are other buildings of that are considered to be significant enough that they are recognized as State historical resources. At present, the City of Ojai’s “Historic Preservation Commission” is in the process of creating their own Ojai Downtown Historic District. It will be larger than the State’s. To my knowledge Craig Walker is part of the team that is conducting the research. He’s working with the Chairman (Brian Aikens) on this project.

    Thank you for your comment,
    — T. Drew Mashburn
    (“Ojai Valley Musuem” volunteer)

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