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What is Civic Engagement?
Civic engagement is the process by which our citizens' concerns, needs, and values are identified prior to decisions being made. It allows our residents the opportunity to contribute to and become involved with the City's decision-making process. Two-way communication and problem solving from the onset result in better decision-making by the City, supported by our residents.
The heart of a healthy democracy is a citizenry actively engaged in civic responsibility for building communities, solving community problems and participating in the electoral and political process. This is what we strive for.
What does the Civic Engagement Division do?
The Civic Engagement Specialist leads the City's efforts in transforming Ventura into a community truly committed to Civic Engagement. We strive to involve more people, strengthen the links between dialogue, decision-making, and actions and increase community capacity for collaboration. The Civic Engagement Specialist works with the various City departments, schools, community groups, businesses and residents to foster collaborative partnerships that will lead to strong community relationships and a more engaged community.
2009 Civic Engagement Models
We will partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and identification of the preferred solution.
Potential Sales Tax Measure: City Clerk's Office
In February 2009, the City Council created a Citizen Blue Ribbon Budget Committee, a fifteen person working group to dialogue with the community regarding the submission of a revenue measure to the voters.
Interested community members were asked to participate by attending four community meetings held by the committee during the month of March for the purpose of taking public testimony and making a recommendation to the Ventura City Council as to whether or not a sales tax measure should be placed on the ballot, when the measure should be placed on the ballot if it is pursued, and how the revenue generated by the measure should be spent.
The committee presented their report to the City Council in April 2009 and recommended that a measure to increase sales tax by 1/2 subject to a 4 year sunset provision should be placed on the ballot.
The City Council complied with the recommendation from the committee, and voted to add the 1/2 cent sales tax, Meaure A, to the November ballot and place the final decision-making in the hands of the public.
Economic Summit: Community Development Department
On May 2, 2009, the City of Ventura and the Ventura Chamber of Commerce hosted an Economic Summit that was attended by more than 150 business owners and members of the community. Small group discussions focused on: Improving the City's Bottom Line and Fiscal Health; Fostering Smart Growth; Greening Ventura's Economy; Retaining/Expanding Jobs and Businesses; and Enhancing our Business Climate.
The break out groups made consensus driven recommendations to council in a 90 day, 1 year and 5 year timeframe. A Community Action Plan was created from these recommendations, which charts a course for City staff, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, in pursuing economic development on Ventura's behalf.
We will collect public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions from our community.
Golf Course Management: Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships Department
In April 2009, the course management contract for Ventura's two public golf courses, Olivas Links and Buenaventura, was up for bid for the first time in years. The awarded contractor would be responsible for overseeing the two municipal courses on a day-to-day basis, including golf operations, course maintenance and client services.
More than 100 local golfers attended a "meet and greet" hosted by the City to vet nine prospective firms. The companies spoke directly to local golfers and informed players how they planned to improve the courses. Later, a city-appointed panel that included representatives of local golf clubs interviewed each firm to narrow the list to a top choice that went before the City Council.
National golf management firm Kemper Sports entered into negotiations with the City in August 2009 to manage its two municipal golf courses.
Long-term Library Plans: Parks, Recreation & Community Partnerships Department
In January 2009, the Ventura County Library Commission announced a proposal to consolidate libraries in the city by closing Wright Library to help reduce a $650,000 countywide library budget deficit. Ventura has two public libraries; E.P. Foster and the small, grant-funded Avenue Library.
A collaborative effort among longtime patrons, supporters and volunteers, and the nonprofit San Buenaventura Friends of the Library lead to a series of fundraisers to help keep the 40-year old institution open.
In addition, the City Council appointed a steering committee, tasked with exploring long-term library issues within the City of Ventura. Six themes were identified by the group: on-going long-term funding, collections and programming, the location of libraries, the role of libraries in the community, public awareness of library issues and the diversification of local libraries. In September, the community was invited to a facilitated public meeting to provide the steering committee with feedback received from library proponents and users.
We will work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered.
Massage Therapy Regulations: City Attorney's Office
The City invited massage therapy professionals, property owners and other interested members to a four-part series of public meetings where rules were crafted to promote professional massage therapy; discourage unlawful, sexually oriented massage parlors; and bring current city regulations into conformance with a new state law, SB 731.
Extensive input from legitimate massage therapists was received and submitted to the City Council who unanimously adopted new rules for massage establishments and therapist permits. Among the changes, the city now requires massage therapists to obtain state certification under a new comprehensive statewide program that took effect Sept. 1, 2009.
Safe Sleep Program: Community Development Department
In July, the City Council unanimously voted to modify an ordinance banning sleeping in a car for more than four hours, by allowing selected churches and nonprofit groups to open their properties for homeless people to safely sleep in their cars overnight. The council also earmarked $22,000 for a nonprofit agency to supervise the pilot program.
Community members were invited to weigh in on this project modeled after successful programs in Eugene, Oregon and Santa Barbara. The initiative is designed for working and newly homeless people looking to get back on track, and will likely be limited to 15 to 20 homeless people who will complete a screening process.
Input from property owners, merchants, faith based groups and interested citizens were used to write a request for proposal to implement a successful program unique to the needs of the Ventura community.
We will provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding a problem, alternatives, opportunities and/or solutions.
Resident Survey Results
- 3CMA Savvy Awards - Honoring Creative Marketing & Communications - Best Citizen Participation Program for "What's Under the Manhole?" 4th Grade Curriculum - October 25, 2007
- 3CMA Savvy Awards - Honoring Creative Marketing & Communications - Best Printed Publication/Recreation Catalog for "My Ventura" Magazine - October 25, 2007
- 3CMA Savvy Awards - Honoring Creative Marketing & Communications - Best Promotional Video for "Budget 101" - October 25, 2007
- 3CMA Silver Circle Award - Citizen Participation - August 25, 2005
- 3CMA Silver Circle Award - Printed Publications - Internal Newsletter, August 25, 2005
- CAPS - 2004 Cappie Award - Educational & Governmental Television Best News/Magazine Program - City Connection, March 2004
- 3CMA Susan B. Farmer Memorial Award - Honoring the Most Outstanding Environmental Video to Harbor Wetlands Video, City of Ventura, 2004
- 3CMA Award of Excellence - Best Publication - Other, September 2, 2004
- 3CMA Silver Circle Award - Best TV & Video - One Time Programming September 2, 2004
- 3CMA Silver Circle Award - Best Newsletter - Electronic Internal - September 4, 2003
- 3CMA Award of Excellence - Best Newsletter - Residents September 7, 2001
- 3CMA Savvy Awards - Honoring Creative Marketing & Communications Best Publication - Recreation, September 8, 2000
- 3CMA Savvy Awards - Honoring Creative Marketing & Communications Best Community Visioning Process, September 8, 2000
- 3CMA Award of Excellence - Best Community Visioning Process, September 24, 1999
- 3CMA Savvy Awards - Honoring Creative Marketing & Communications - Best Video - One Time - September 24, 1999