VENTURA : Council to Apply for Grant to Study River
The Ventura City Council decided Monday night to apply for a $100,000 state grant for a controversial study of the Ventura River bottom.
The council voted 4 to 2 to seek the matching grant, which some homeless residents of the riverbed fear is the first step in a scheme to push them out.
However, City Manager John Baker said, “That was not our intent when we did this. It is not in any way intended to remove the homeless.”
The study would help biologists for the city, state and California Coastal Conservancy decide how best to return the usually dry Ventura River to its natural state. Such work could include removing trash left by the homeless, installing hiking trails and increasing the fish and bird population of the 120-acre area.
Mayor Greg Carson said he plans to meet this week with Red Cross officials to discuss the homeless residents of Ventura, dozens of whom live in makeshift camps in the riverbed.
Voting against the grant application were Councilmen Jack Tingstrom and Jim Monahan, who said the city’s $100,000 matching contribution should be spent instead on city services or public facilities.
Councilwoman Cathy Bean said, “I think it’s a very good use for this money . . . in the long run, if we don’t manage that area, and set up something to improve it and use it properly, it’s going to be lost.”