2010: A look ahead

December 31, 2009

What's in store for Ventura County in 2010? A mystery, to be sure.

We closed out 2009 in Ventura County on a reasonably finite note for some important local issues. Five ballot measures all failed at the polls in November. We retained three incumbents on the Ventura School Board, and three more on the Ventura City Council, with a brand new member appointed deputy mayor under a cloud of controversy over his qualifications.

H.P. Wright Library shut its doors, as did several businesses in Downtown Ventura. And, of course, it’s not directly Ventura County related, but how can we forget the death of Michael Jackson and other noteworthy people in the world?

Yet just as several issues are a done deal here, we have so many more open-ended problems and scenarios facing an uncertain future in 2010. What do I predict will happen this year?

-A member of the Flynn family in Oxnard will announce their candidacy for either mayor or the county board of supervisors;

-Opening of the perpetually “coming soon” Collection development off Highway 101 will be delayed, yet again, until 2011, with no signs of significant progress to show;

-And on that note, the Collection’s residential/faux suburban neighbor, the Riverpark complex, will start foreclosing on itself faster than it can expand;

-However, it’s likely that the Wagon Wheel across the street will indeed be torn down in 2010, and the development planned for that site, which has always appeared to stand on more stable financial legs, will make big leaps this year.

-We’ll see a Trader Joe’s open at the south end of the Pacific View Mall; Will it be the knight in a shining … er, grocery cart to save Ventura’s Midtown?

-We’ll see the Victoria Trader Joe’s close, not because the new Trader Joe’s has opened,  but …

-Because the new (and dreaded by some) Wal-Mart will finally set up shop at the Victoria Avenue location it’s held a lease on for some time. And it’ll be the superstore that’s been promised, and it’ll bring the city mucho tax dollars, sans the crime and filth and disarray that’s been wrongly feared as the end of Ventura.

-Will Oxnard get rechristened under a new name? I doubt it, but considering the heat its local officials gets from some residents, they may think of changing the motto from “The City that Cares” to … “The City that Doesn’t”?

-Will Ventura get some changes to its rusty old charter? Unlikely. The requests — elect a mayor, divide the city into “Districts” — is a great idea, but would fly better in a city 10 times the size of Ventura (and one more progressive in its thinking).

-Speaking of which, with the arrival of a new police chief in V-Town, will we see the  departure of a prominent city official or two? Rumor has it that it may be so …

And to ruminate on stuff I can’t even begin to predict …

-How successful will the WAV project turn out? People are moving in like gangbusters; is it the first step in classing up Ventura’s east/downtown end, or is it bound to fail with evictions?

-Is Halaco really, honestly coming down? The EPA says so … but the EPA says a lot of things, and the environmentalists won’t be happy until every radioactive rock in that slag pile is gone …

-In line with the renaming of Oxnard: will Thousand Oaks snub its nose at Ventura County and secede into Los Angeles? I call a civil war!

And lastly:

-It’s realistic to acknowledge that homelessness isn’t going away anytime soon in Ventura County. Neither is this recession, which has been a cause of many a person losing a roof over their head. It’s doubtful that a year-round homeless shelter will arrive in 2010, though it’s very likely the faith-based Kingdom Center will see the light of day. And that, I think, could be the biggest, and most welcome change, that this city and county needs.

Comments and predictions are welcome if I’ve neglected to list anything here.

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