FEWER TANKS: Ventura County prizes its rural...

FEWER TANKS: Ventura County prizes its rural heritage, but most residents want city comforts, like sewers. Only 6.4% of the county’s homes rely on septic tanks. . . . That figure will probably drop: Under county rules, new homes within 200 feet of a sewer line must hook up. . . . Septic tanks are fine in the country, said Robert Gallagher of the county’s Environmental Health Department. But in dense areas like El Rio, they have contributed to ground-water contamination.

STOP & GO: Motorists in the county who shudder at the thought of becoming more like Los Angeles have been able to point to one thing L. A. has that we don’t: traffic meters--those on-ramp stoplights that regulate cars entering freeways. . . . But that new connector between the Simi Valley and Moorpark freeways has increased traffic so much that Caltrans may install meters (Street Smart, B1). . . . First step: counting cars, which will take up to two years.

FIXING WELFARE: We’ve had five presidents in the 18 years since James E. Isom became Ventura County’s welfare director, and they’ve all tried to revise the system. “Nothing productive has come out of it yet,” Isom said. . . . President Clinton is right to talk about work, he said. “But there has to be training, and that costs money.” . . . Most recipients want to work, he said. “But not at McDonald’s for minimum wage. Yet others work there. Should we treat welfare clients differently?” About 65,000 county residents get welfare.

BUSY MONTH: February is the shortest month, but it has been an eventful one in Ventura County. . . . On Feb. 18, 1850, the Legislature established Santa Barbara County, which included Ventura County. On Feb. 7, 1900, Thomas Bard was elected to the U. S. Senate, the only county resident to serve there. . . . And many devastating floods have come in February--including one on Feb. 17, 1884, that moved Santa Paula Creek from west of the city to the east side. . . . Some February events are predictable (The Month Ahead, B2).


Tank Towns

Communities with highest percentage of septic tanks: El Rio: 79.6% Meiners Oaks: 10.5% Piru: 7.6% Mira Monte: 7.2% Ojai: 6.7% Oak View: 5.9% Source: U.S. Census