The decision of how fast to reopen the regional economy presents difficult choices for elected officials.
Nowhere is it more complex than in Ventura County, where management of COVID-19 incidents has been commendable and, so far, the first steps toward opening have been reasonably well executed.
Moreover, Ventura County’s economy, which has labored to find a path to growth during the extended national recovery, could use a lift.
The Board of Supervisors made the right call in asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to remove some restrictions and create a path, for example, for the county to allow restaurants to operate at a diminished capacity.
Ventura County has a certification process for reopening businesses that will be a useful tool as more are allowed to move the wheels of commerce a bit faster.
It seems logical for the board to green light a request to the governor’s office to take the next step. We’re convinced that Ventura County has the resources and capacity to take whatever action is necessary should the opening process lead to a sudden rise in cases.
Santa Barbara County has made the case to Sacramento that it has contained enough of the fallout from the surge in cases at the federal prison in Lompoc to also apply for opening up. This will be tricky as the Justice Department has provided little information and a flare up in the Lompoc area is possible. But Santa Barbara County is an important destination and its internal management of cases has been commendable.
San Luis Obispo County’s path was not really in doubt given the extremely low case level, low death rate and high level of capacity available to meet a surge. The actions of its health and community leaders have put it on the road to recovery.
Reopening will not be a straight path but it must begin.
LESSONS IN DISASTER RECOVERY
The Refugio Oil Spill happened five years ago on May 19, 2015.
Reflecting back on the past five years, it’s hard to think of circumstances that can match what the region has been through.
The fact that the Refugio spill polluted beaches and the ocean meant major tourism upheaval and national headlines. Onshore, the spill shut a key oil pipeline to the Central Valley, shut platforms and contributed to the liquidation of Venoco, a major employer. To this day, no production flows from those platforms.
On May 18, 2020, attorney Barry Capello and other firms sued pipeline owner Plains All American on behalf of oil workers and oil servicing firms that lost out when the pipeline was shut.
A few years after the oil spill came the Thomas fire, which raged through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and was the proximate cause for the deadly January debris flow in Montecito. Later in 2018 came the Borderline shootings, followed immediately by the Hill and Woolsey fires, which raged through the eastern end of Ventura County.
Last year was the Conception dive boat disaster, one of the deadliest marine accidents in California’s recent history.
And now, our spring of COVID-19 shutdowns and summer of crossing our fingers and wearing our masks.
We’ve had five years to learn important lessons in resiliency.