Cohort Reflections


Shaping Tomorrow

Jay Doniaz
Financial Inclusion & Education Manager - Ventura County Credit Union

Participating in VCLA’s Housing and Transportation sessions was such an eye-opening experience that provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing Ventura County. The diverse range of speakers and topics covered throughout the day shed light on the intricate relationship between housing, transportation, and the local economy.
What resonated most was the idea of actively shaping the future of Ventura County instead of simply watching it unfold. The data from the local economy report emphasized the need for more housing, yet the constraints imposed by the Save Open Space & Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative, reserving 97% of undeveloped land for agriculture, presented a unique set of challenges.
Maruja Clensay's expertise in land use was influential in unraveling the complexities associated with housing development. Her moderation of the housing panel not only touched on the nitty-gritty of permits but also stressed the significance of collaborative efforts to streamline processes. Based on the data presented, we saw which cities in the county are facing the most housing shortages, leading to commute challenges, emphasizing the urgency of finding solutions.
Nick Deitch's conceptual and imaginative designs painted a picture of multi-use buildings and diverse income-level neighborhoods. His concepts offered a glimpse into a future where urban planning could create a more interconnected and efficient city. The focus on reducing dependence on cars and promoting alternative transportation options aligned perfectly with the goal of creating sustainable and vibrant communities.
Our afternoon visit to Gold Coast Transit provided valuable insights into the history and future trajectory of transportation in the region. Marking its 50th year in operation, the agency's unwavering commitment, with a focus on affordability and initiatives aiding access to schools, appointments, public services, and routine errands, not only highlighted its role in fostering community connections but also contributed to the well-being and autonomy of the public. The tour of their new facility featured the importance of modern infrastructure in supporting efficient transit services and future community engagement.
Learning about the City of Ventura's initiatives in active transportation, such as bicycle-friendly policies, and learning about H.O.M.E.'s housing collaborations, incorporating modular and alternative structures, offered inventive approaches to reimagine housing and transportation in Ventura County, incorporating sustainable and inclusive practices to address the region’s needs.
The overall takeaway from the speakers and sessions was a call to action: to actively participate in shaping the future of Ventura County. I’ve learned the importance of not merely waiting for developments but actively helping to contribute to the creation of a city that aligns with the community's vision and needs. The discussions encouraged a proactive mindset towards responsible and sustainable growth, stressing the need to balance housing demands with environmental preservation in hopes of creating a thriving, resilient, and welcoming Ventura County for future generations.
Huge thanks to Pattie Braga, VCLA, our speakers, everyone within the Housing and Transportation agencies, and all who contributed to making this day amazing and unforgettable.

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