Two issues grabbed my attention this week.
The first one is an oldie but could live on beyond our own lifetimes. Tom Barber’s Golf Center is about to get rarified treatment from the county, a lease on public land up to the year 2037.
If this is approved, Tom Barber, who lives in another county, would be gifted with 40 years of commercial opportunities that are unavailable to everyone else.
What on earth? The land where Barber was questionably allowed to plant his business, golf all day and half the night, belongs to you and me. It is not only county land, but part of the green belt reserved for open space unsullied by, say, brightly lit golf places.
Barber was granted private commercial use of the land back in 1997 with a 20-year lease. He took advantage of this largess and placed obtrusive and dangerous bright lights on the property that are distracting to drivers on the 23 Freeway.
The location was no accident: Barber is using land just a few hundred feet outside the Moorpark city limits. It simplified things for Barber.
After a few previous minor adjustments in his obnoxious lighting, Barber is now demanding an additional 20 years on county land. The county Planning Commission had quietly given Barber the green light until the surrounding cities, Moorpark, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks, got wind of it. Moorpark filed an appeal and was joined by the other cities.
But Barber has reframed the issue as one merely of lighting. So Barber hired an outside lighting firm which will make it all just fine.
Why rush? Barber has until 2017 before he has to consider packing his bags. I suspect something else is going on and unless our elected representatives dig into the reasons for the extension before signing it away, it will be too late when the truth does surface
Meanwhile, I expect that Barber will get precisely what he wants; a lifetime of possession of public land - that being a full 40 years.
The other issue currently is the lack of funding to keep the East County Courthouse open. Supervisor Pete Foy came up with a good temporary plan by asking the county and the largest cities to pitch in some dough.
It is not a lot that is being asked of the West County cities. Nevertheless, those closest to the West County Courthouse in Ventura are not interested in helping out. Camarillo has already refused to pay a lousy $15,000. Oxnard and Ventura have not even bothered to reply.
The reason that Camarillo refused to participate was not based on financial issues. Camarillo Mayor Jan McDonald explained to the Camarillo City Council in early July that the state should not be unloading the cost of providing access to justice. “It’s just the beginning of a long list. Where do we draw the line?”
I know exactly where the line will be drawn. It will be visible daily at the overcrowded Ventura courthouse and will create longer delays for court dates. The line will be nonchalantly cleaving the county in two by those whose jingoistic and insular politics take precedence over common sense.
Mayor, is making a political point more important than providing equal access to justice for half of the county? Really? Isn’t that just a petty way of saying that the rest of us should eat cake?
Yes, Mayor, the line you just drew speaks volumes about your personal culpability in this mess. It could have worked out so easily.