March 22, 2023
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Economic development should be part of Ventura County’s general plan


Ventura County is embarking on an important step forward as it weighs the latest update to its general plan.

That step would be to include an economic development element to the general plan in the next approval cycle.

A letter to county officials from the Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County recommends the county include an economic strategy section and we heartily agree. As the EDC-VC letter points out, inclusion of an economic development element increasingly is part of “a best practice for forward-looking communities.”

As we’ve observed in San Luis Obispo County, having an economic development or economic vitality segment included in the general plan helps provide clarity for private sector interests and it serves as a useful guide for public-sector policymakers in key areas. We’ll name a few of them:

On land use, an economic development policy could help Ventura County chart a way toward strengthening open space while also spelling out how the county is going to develop jobs and preserve existing industry.

On infrastructure, an economic development element could help the county prioritize needs in areas ranging from roads to water to air transportation. If a possible sales tax for transportation is ever to successfully go before the voters it will be necessary to have policy lines clearly defined in this area.

On manufacturing, economic development guidelines could help incumbents make informed decisions. The departure of Fashion Forms from Ventura, the decision of Haas Automation to, at least so far, grow in Oxnard, are all happening in a bit of an ad-hoc vacuum.

On the questions of extractive technology versus renewables, a public policy directive could help Ventura County balance its historic role as a supplier of oil and gas with the emerging mandates for renewable power.

SLO County’s focus on renewables has given the county very clear direction and in fact turned the Central Coast into a solar energy powerhouse for the 21st Century.

Finally, as EDC-VC points out, having an economic development element gives businesses a way to speak up when it comes to measuring the impact of county actions on the private sector.

Having an economic development element in a county general plan doesn’t guarantee economic success. But it provides a framework for decision making that can help employers make good decisions for the future.

Plane crash response was great

Not too many of us were around in October 1959 when a DC-3 bound for San Francisco crashed into a field near Santa Maria.

But the rapid response by staff and physicians at the nearby Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospital saved lives — 19 survivors were treated within an hour and only one person died as a result of the accident.

The hospital is now known as Marian Regional Medical Center and it is part of the Dignity Health Central Coast network.

Founded in 1940, the organization is celebrating 75 years of service to our communities. The 1959 plane crash response is a shining example.