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VENTURA : Fee Increased for Keys Homeowners

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Owners of the waterfront homes in the Ventura Keys will have to pay more this year for the city to dredge their back-yard canals, under a proposal approved by the Ventura City Council.

The proposal, approved Monday night, raises the annual assessment to $2,000, a $300 increase over the 1993-94 charge.

In past years, notice of a fee hike has drawn floods of Keys residents to City Hall to protest.

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However, with settlement possible later this summer of a lawsuit brought by Keys homeowners against the city, there were only a few protests Monday.

Counting on the settlement to end their fiscal frustrations, many residents this year were content to send letters of protest to the council rather than showing up in person.

Under terms of the proposed settlement, stemming from a lawsuit filed by nearly one-third of the 300 homeowners in the assessment district, Keys residents would each pay $685 for last year and $749 for this year’s dredging assessments, with an increase of no more than $64 per year thereafter in perpetuity.

This year’s engineer’s report on the channels states that the fees should go up to pay for repairs to the walls of the channels, future dredging costs and possible installation of a plastic liner at the site where the city dumps silt.

Although the council did agree to minor changes in the engineer’s report, following protests by those homeowners who did show up at the hearing, some residents said afterward that they still found the process trying.

“It’s very, very frustrating,” said Karen Hoffberg, who lives on Sailor Avenue. “Year after year, they don’t really listen.”

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Even the concessions the council did make this year, she said, “are too little, too late.”

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