Not so very long ago, Ventura County was defined by its differences.
Oxnard and Ventura came to legal blows over the future of some large retail shops that abandoned the Esplanade Mall for new digs across the Santa Clara River.
Agricultural and environmental interests teamed up to pass SOAR, dealing a blow to urban interests and also to property rights. The Conejo Grade separating Thousand Oaks and Camarillo loomed larger as a geopolitical divide.
Among other things, the changing demographics meant a bigger separation between largely Caucasian communities on the border of Los Angeles and cities such as Oxnard with fast-growing Latino populations.
But slowly, Ventura County has stitched itself back together. As its leadership begins to chart a post-recession course for this sprawling area of roughly 800,000 people, it’s got a much better idea of where it’s come from and where it might be headed.
That’s due in part to the work of the Ventura County Civic Alliance, a largely volunteer group that’s brought together the 10 cities and unincorporated areas to discuss any number of issues and found private foundation money to support its efforts. The alliance’s newest endeavor is something called the Compact for Sustainable Ventura County.
The compact proposes working on grassroots solutions to address growth, housing, transportation, open space and, yes, even shopping,as Ventura County heads into the 21st century. The goal is to produce some scenarios that will give ordinary citizens, business owners and government leaders an idea of what the county will look like in 2035 — roughly 25 years from now.
The next session will be from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 21 at Ventura County Government Center.
There’s a lot that can be learned from this process — including the fact that it has tended to eliminate the background noise from extremists and focus on solutions and not whining. We’ll be keeping an eye on the compact to see how it progresses and what bubbles up to the surface in the way of restoring property rights, creating jobs and building new businesses.
Meanwhile, perhaps a few folks from Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo counties might stop in and take a few notes.