February 6, 2023
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Scary fires fact of life in the Tri-Counties


The fires raging up and down the Central Coast remind us of the vulnerability we all face and the historical importance of the environment we pay taxes to protect.

The Chimney Fire that briefly threatened the Hearst Castle and the Rey Fire, which appeared to envelope the Santa Ynez Valley in smoke and flame when viewed from Highway 101 in the Conejo Valley, were among the scariest fires of recent years.

The Chimney Fire had burned nearly 50,000 acres at press time, forced rare evacuations around Lake Naciemento and was just 39 percent contained. The pyrocumulus cloud that rose from the Rey Fire looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings. That fire had burned 35,000 acres and was just 35 percent contained at press time.

At other times we’ve seen massive blazes burn parts of Montecito and threaten the Santa Barbara Mission. CSU Channel Islands and parts of Thousand Oaks also have come under fire threat.

Fires are a fact of life in our region and the extended drought has increased the danger. Climate change is going to increase that danger even more over the long term.

Authorities have been wise to pre-position aircraft in our region in order to fight blazes more effectively and protect neighborhoods, businesses and historic landmarks.

But it remains a fact that the best way to fight fires is to prevent them by improving the human behavior that starts the majority of blazes in the first place. In our tinder dry summer, careless fire habits, sparks from cars or machinery or other blunders can trigger millions of dollars in damage and threaten lives.

To quote Hill Street Blues: “Let’s be careful out there.”

Trade Desk IPO great for Ventura

Progress does not happen in a straight line.

Nothing underscores that fact better than the two most recent Pacific Coast Business Times headlines about the city of Ventura.

Earlier this month we were lamenting the closure of the Brooks Institute and the collapse of plans to build a downtown campus for students.

That unexpectedly dealt the city a setback in its strategy to lure more tech workers to the city core.

But the current issue of the Business Times analyzes an initial public stock offering by The Trade Desk, a digital marketing company that’s planning to raise more than $80 million in the first tech company IPO from Ventura in many, many years.

We’d argue that, of the two, the Trade Desk’s IPO is more significant because it has the potential for Ventura to finally emerge as a fourth center for innovation in the region, joining Thousand Oaks-Westlake, Santa Barbara-Goleta-Carpinteria and greater San Luis Obispo.

The Trade Desk’s management has indicated it has no desire to be anyplace else than Ventura.

That’s a good sign for the city’s long-term future.