“Stop The Trucks” Picks Up Speed

by Howard Smith on January 1, 2007

The “Stop the Trucks,” movement is picking up speed. All of our local newspapers have carried articles and letters about this vital issue. Letters and calls have begun to bury Gary Kaiser’s office, but we need, many more from everybody to make Santa Barbara realized what a huge mistake it would be to approve this project. The League of Women Voters is taking a stand. One of our county supervisors, John Flynn, has already made a call. Our city council and the other four supervisors need to step in. You all need to encourage them to act.
You will accomplish this by sending emails. Send them to Gary Kasier; send them to all five county supervisors; send them to all five of the Ojai City Council members; send them to the Ventura County Star, send them to the Ojai Valley News; send them to the Santa Barbara News Press; send them to the Pacific Coast Business Times; send them to all of the Supervisors in Santa Barbara County. Let everyone know how you feel. For more information or to see some of the other lettes that have already gone out, see below:


Stop the Truck: Act Now…
It is fairly obvious to those of us who live in Ojai that the review of the Troesh Ready-Mix proposal as conducted by agencies in Santa Barbara County would best be described as a joke if the consequences to our community were not so grave.
Most of you have heard or read about the pending approval of this project that would put scores of double hopper gravel trucks on Route 33 at all hours of the day and night in numbers that have the potential to snarl traffic and threaten the life and safety of citizens in our valley. Now is the time to take action by emailing your disapproval of this project to Gary Kaiser at gkaiser@co.santa-barbara.ca.us
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been here six months, ten years or were born here. If you care, the time to act is now before it is irrevocably too late. All it takes is an email or a letter.
Earlier this year, VCEDA, the Ventura County Economic Development Association, in coordination with an ad hoc Water Coalition generated upwards of a thousand individual email petitions to protest the dumping of chloride salts into the Santa Clara River by the LA Sanitation Department. Those email where an essential part of a successful campaign to have the Regional Water Board vote 6-0 to reign in LA San.
If all of your truly care about the valley half as much as you claim here on the Ojai Post, I urge you to set aside your partisan differences, act now, and encourage all of your friends and family to do the same. If we can stop LA, we can stop Santa Barbara.
First: Route 33 north of Ojai to the Santa Barbara County line is mile for mile already one of the most dangerous highways in all of California. A simple check with the California Highway Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service or the ambulance services in Ojai will inform you that during any given week there are at least one to two fatal or near fatal wrecks in the mountains.
Second: Though the EIR report appears to describe 33 as a rural highway that is completely false. Above Ojai it is Scenic Highway, but once you pass Fairview heading south it is the main and at times only traffic artery through the heart of this valley, home to some thirty thousand residents. It passes by our hospital, high school and numerous senior citizen mobile home parks.
Third: Route 33 is already surpasses its maximum traffic loads, particularly during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Adding double long gravel trucks at all hours is not going to help this situation.
Fourth: The numbers given as projections for the number of trips and the hours permitted by these trucks can also only be described as woven only from ones imagination as gravel trucks are already exceeding these limits now. Trucks currently descend into Ojai each morning at least as early as 5:00am and run late into the night. There is no oversight or enforcement of current rules. How can we expect this scenario to improve?
Fifth: Though it may be in the power of Santa Barbara to approve these permits, it is totally within the right and ability of the citizens of the Ojai Valley to protest this dangerous intrusion. Not only is protesting an art form in this valley, I don’t think it is something a public official will want to tangle with. I am encouraging everyone I know to start by immediately emailing Gary Kaiser at the Santa Barbara Planning & Development Department gkaiser@co.santa-barbara.ca.us their personal disapproval of this permit. All public comments must be received before January 19, 2007.
Send copies of your emails to the Ventura County Star: letters@venturacountystar.com and the Ojai Valley News:
bret@ojaivalleynews.com
Posted by Howard Smith on December 23, 2006 05:21 PM | Permalink | author bio
Comments
If you send a letter to Gary Kaiser, the Ventura Star or the OVN, please post it here as well under “Commments.” See Fred Rothenberg’s letter that follows as an example:
Re: Troesh Ready-Mix proposal
Dear Mr. Kaiser:
May I respectfully sugget that you spend at least 8 hours sitting in front of Vons at the corner of Hwy 33 and Hwy 150 in Ojai. Doing so may reveal the steady stream of double loaders passing that intersection.
You may also see a large number of school children going back and forth between Nordhoff High School and various shops along Hwy. 33.
You will also observe a number of people (including seniors) attempting to cross Hwy 33 at several points along the road at marked intersections. These people are generally visiting the hospital and various physician offices located along the highway. These intersections have few stop lights and crossers are forced to navigate a very wide stretch of road.
I am a volunteer bus driver for Help of Ojai and deliver senior passengers to the hospital, physician offices and Vons market located along Hwy 33. As a result I regularly see these large double vehicles traveling the same path. I shudder when trying to imagine the amount of time it would take for one of these vehicles to come to a stop in case of emergency (e.g. a disoriented senior crossing the highway.)
Increasing the number of vehicles traveling this Hwy. will only increase the possibility of a tragic accident. I suggest that you seek an alternative to the current proposal of expanding the number of gravel trucks that use this path.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Fred Rothenberg
Ojai, CA 93023
Posted by: hjs | December 24, 2006 10:20 AM
From Sanford & Christine Drucker:
Gary Kaiser,
For 20 years we owned a ranch in Rose Valley, up Hwy 33 from Ojai, and I can personally vouch that Hwy 33 is a dangerous road. Trucks come barreling down and they have little control on the myriad twists and turns. It is a nightmare.
Now, we live in Ojai near where Hwy 33 passes in front of the high school, hospital, and through residential areas. More trucks would be a disaster. It would only be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.
Furthermore, the additional traffic and air pollution cannot be ecologically sustained by this valley. The traffic increase would impair our already delicate air quality.
Economically, Ojai is positioned as a destination tourist area. Gravel trucks would tear up the roads, clog the traffic, be noxious, and destroy our tourism industry.
The current city manager of Goleta, Dan Singer, was Ojai’s city manager for years. Call him up ~ he can tell you more about the significant and injurious injury that would accrue to our community if the trucks were approved to come through here.
Vote NO on approving the gravel truck plan. It is a very bad idea.
Sincerely,
Sanford Drucker and
Christine Drucker
VP, Ojai Music Festival
Ojai Citizen of the Year 2000
Posted by: hjs | December 24, 2006 01:05 PM
Dear Mr. Kaiser:
As I walk through Ojai early in the morning I am greeted with the sound and sight of gravel trucks thundering along CA 33 in front of Nordoff High School. These trucks present a real and present danger to the numerous students who come to the school early and pass in and out of it throughout the day.
In addition, our community hospital and a myriad of physicians, physical therapists, an outreach community health clinic, and numerous other health care providers are clustered off of CA 33 across from the high school.
California Route 33 is a main street in Ojai. Meiners Oaks and the western section of the City of Ojai funnel onto it as a major transportation pathway. The number of near-miss accidents in the area bordered by Nordoff High School and the “Y” by Vons supermarket is already highly worrisome.
Additional gravel trucks moving through this sensitive area significantly raises the potential for a disastrous tragedy. I urge you to disallow the Troesh Ready-Mix proposal seeking to increase the frequency of large trucks moving through this highly traveled area.
Jonathan W. Lambert
Ojai, CA
Posted by: Jon Lambert | December 25, 2006 08:51 PM
I would like to add my voice to the many who point out the degradation of the Ojai Valley by the increased traffic of large gravel trucks through the Valley past many sensitive installations. An unbiased and thorough review is necessary.
Posted by: John Mason | December 27, 2006 10:03 AM
Deat Mr. Kaiser
It is my belief that we should be looking into ways to reduce pollution, not increase it. Less trucks not more!
Thanks for listening to your constituents.
Posted by: Michael Didj | December 27, 2006 01:37 PM
Hi Howard and all:
I will pen my missive today — but a question first:
Does it make sense for us to also be forwarding these letters (or versions of them) to the Santa Barbara papers?
The SB News Press wants letters less than 250 words, exclusive to them, and emailed to: voices@newspress.com.
SB Independent wants letters under 250 words w/a daytime phone number for verification and receives them at: letters@independent.com
Residents of Santa Barbara County have fought very hard to protect their communities; it is unreasonable for us to ask them to help us protect ours?
Thanks and best,
Leigh Melander
Posted by: Leigh Melander | December 30, 2006 09:57 AM
Yes, please send it to both Santa Barbara papers (separately addressed. However, I suggest everyone send “Open CC’s” of their letters to ALL of the following politicians and newspapers: All Five Ojai City Council members; the Ojai City Manager; All Five Ventura County Supervisors; (John Flynn has already started by calling Gary Kasier on our behalf); the Ventura County Star (letters to the editor as well as Tim Gallagher and Marianne Ratcliff; Bret and Lenny at the Ojai Valley News; and Henry Dubroff at the Pacific Coast Business Times.
It is important that EVERYONE who cares about Ojai send a letter and send copies.
Santa Barbara County will do whatever it wants unless there hear from hundreds of us loud and clear that this is unacceptable.
If the permit is approved, then the only alternative after that is to attempt to have the State (read that as CalTrans) put a weight limit on 33 through the mountains that would preclude gravel trucks. That is do-able but far more difficult than stopping this now.
Remember everything must be in before the 19th of January. Gary Kasier needs to be flooded with letters.
Even the League of Women Voters has jumped into the fray.
Everyone who has ever written anything on the Ojai Post should take at least five minutes of time to send a few emails.
Thank you…
Posted by: hjs | December 30, 2006 01:08 PM
Dear Mr. Kasier
I’m writing to you to ask you to please stop the Diamond Rock Sand and Gravel Mine and Processing Facilities. It will be a disaster for the Ojai Valley, the environment, the native habitat and the scenic Highway 33
I’m afraid for the added noise pollution and air quality that will be affected by the additional truck traffic.
I’m afraid for the students leaving Nordhoff High School
for lunch and after school. The valley suffered the loss of a Nordhoff student many years ago in the cross walk in front of the school already.
I’m afraid for all residents of the valley who shop, bank, have doctors appointments, use the hospital, go to churches
who would be subject to increased danger having to pull out onto the highway.
I’m afraid for all the Ojai Valley residents who swim and park on the side of Highway 33. It is a very narrow road. My brother suffered a serious accident on 33 and help is a long ways away. Will there be more Highway Patrol to enforce speed limits?
I spent a year and half driving the 33 between Ojai and Taft in all types of weather. It is a scenic road full of beauty that will only be destroyed by the addition of big trucks in a hurry to make their quota. The physical road will also take a beating with the heavy trucks. Who will pay for the repairs?
The traffic in and out of the valley is already hectic with out the additional trucks. Limiting the travel time in the morning won’t help the people who leave the valley at different times. It won’t help the people who walk or bike on the trail.
I’m afraid that if this passes nobody will be watching what is going on. Who will count the trucks? Who will ensure that the loads are covered? That they only travel during the approved times?
Please Mr. Kasier protect my valley that has been my home for over fifty years.
Lisa Larramendy

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

pete lafollette January 2, 2007 at 10:58 am

I suggest they pitch a tent along Hwy 33 and try to
sleep through the night, given the current Truck
traffic going to the backcountry, let alone the
increase in volume being proposed. Why have the
hearing all the
way in Cuyama? Afraid of how many people here will
show up in opposition?
Pete Lafollette
Ojai
—————
Hi everyone:
I’m glad Pete brought this up — I think that this is a true potential
nightmare for the Ojai Valley if it goes through. Close to 100 trucks
daily, traveling on 33 through Meiner’s Oaks, past the high school,
through Mira Monte, Oak View, and Casitas Springs — 24 hours a day.
(From what I’ve heard, they’ve graciously offered to slow the traffic
during rush hour, as if this would make a difference!)
My husband and I have a cabin up in Lockwood Valley and can attest to
the white-knuckle aspect of driving when the big trucks are in the
National Forest already — they take those roads very fast, and they
are really not designed for such traffic. And that’s, of course, before
they even hit the highly populated areas of the Ojai Valley.
Some random thoughts and questions:
1. The Ojai Post has more information on what’s planned and who to
contact if you were like me and read the article, clutched, but didn’t
remember to save the OVN in the swirl of the holidays. Here’s the link:
http://www.ojaipost.com/2006/12/time_for_action_stop_the_truck_1.shtml
2. I didn’t write down the the specs on the meeting date/time, etc. Can
anyone share that?
3. I know that Steve Bennett has been concerned about this — but I
don’t have a good sense of how we can make an effective ruckus. Has
anyone talked with him about what he needs from us?
4. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I don’t think that many people
in the Valley have noticed this issue yet. What can we do to help rally
people? Can we make sure that we’re telling and/or emailing everyone we
know about this and urging them to respond? The comments period ends,
according to the Ojai Post, on January 19 — so we don’t have much
time.)
Thanks and best,
Leigh
Leigh Melander
Oak View

Reply

hjs January 2, 2007 at 7:59 pm

To: Santa Barbara Planning & Development Department
Dear Gary Kaiser,
The Ojai Valley has had a moratorium on splitting parcels & acreage, and strict limits on the building permits available, in place for many years. This strict moratorium exists for one reason: Highway 33 is overcrowded, dangerous, and cannot withstand an increase in traffic! Repeated studies show that it is one of the most dangerous Highways in the State, and is exceeding capacity. Both roads “highways” going through Ojai are two lane roads that have mountains or communities on either side. There is not even room for a sidewalk along the majority of it Highway 33. For decades, developers have regularly and diligently tried to tackle the issue of Highway 33 being over-impacted, some offering creative and expensive mitigative strategies to get approval for their projects.
The Citizens of Ojai are under moratorium, yet Santa Barbara Planning is proposing to bypass the intent of this legislation, and cause a marked and even devastating increase in traffic that will effect each and every one of us personally. Not only will our commute increase, many of the 30,000 of us will personally know someone who will be in a devastating or deadly accident, as a result of this proposed traffic increase.
Routing gravel trucks down Highway 33, the trucks will pass through the communities of Meiners Oaks, Ojai, Mira Monte, Oak View, and Casitas Springs. Children, elderly, horseback riders, and bicyclists regularly cross these roads- “highways” where there are often no stop signs or lights at important crossings. Most areas lack safe crossings, including Villanova Prep School of 300 students, and Nordhoff High School of 2000 students, which are located directly on Highway 33, and the entire community of Casitas Springs. Villanova Prep School happens to be located on a blind bend, and to leave campus, students must run fast across Hwy 33 when there is a break in traffic. How fast can a loaded truck going 45 mph stop? Is it faster that a student can run? What happens if the student stumbles? I invite you to bring your tennis shoes, and try it for yourself, but only if you are feeling nimble.
No lighted crossing or stop sign exists in Casitas Springs. Walking across, or trying to merge/drive into traffic is already difficult, dangerous, and even impossible at peak commute times. I invite you to try to make a left hand turn across traffic in Casitas Springs during rush hour. The experience will speak for itself. I have waited more than ten minutes.
As a 35 year resident of Ojai, and a Doctor of Chiropractic, I have seen a dramatic increase in accidents on Highway 33, in my 20 years practicing in Ojai. I have seen the devastating effects that these accidents have on my patient’s, and on my friend’s lives. I have known children that were hit by cars while trying to cross Highway 33. There is no simple way to widen either of our highways, and stop lights further increase congestion. The mountainous borders make widening either highway cost prohibitive! It may be that mining gravel locally is cost prohibitive when you consider the cost of road maintenence, emergency & health services, and the lives of our children & elderly, in particular.
Ojai has only TWO two-lane “highways,” giving us only four possible exits. Almost every winter, Highway 33 North closes due to mud slides, often lasting weeks to months at a time. In most years, Hwy 150 closes at one of the two sides due to mud slides, or fire. Hwy 150 East has had 6-20 minute delays for the past two years, and is still missing one lane in parts. When there is significant rainfall, or fire, Ojai’s huge commuter population must exit via only one or two exits. Last year, all four exits were closed for more than a week, and when “Highway” 33 did intermittently re-open, waits were 1-3 hours to get out of the Valley, and sometimes longer. The Highway Patrol and Cal Trans were both telling Ojai citizens that Hwy 33 would be “closed indefinitely,” leaving us NO EXIT!
It already is sometimes difficult and stressful for the citizens of Ojai to maintain their employment, and be home predictably to take care of their children, much less function in times of natural disaster, which is typical here. Almost all Ojaians will be impacted negatively, as our commutes increase, accidents increase, and road repair delays increase.
I am absolutely positive that almost every Citizen in the Ojai Valley is strongly opposed to gravel trucks being routed down Highway 33.
Sincerely,
Deborah Brooks D.C.

Reply

hjs January 3, 2007 at 7:20 pm

—– Original Message —–
From: SupervisorCarbajal
To: Howard Smith
Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 9:30 PM
Subject: RE: Letter to the Santa Barbara News Press Editor: Increasing Gravel Truck Traffic on Route 33 Ignores Danger
Dear Howard,
Thanks you for sharing your views about this matter with me.
I will keep your concerns in mind if and/or when this matter comes before the Board.
I appreciate your taking the item to contact me.
Salud Carbajal
First District Supervisor, Santa Barbara County
SupervisorCarbajal@sbcbos1.org

Reply

hjs January 3, 2007 at 7:22 pm

—– Original Message —–
From: SupervisorCarbajal
To: Howard Smith
Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 9:30 PM
Subject: RE: Letter to the Santa Barbara News Press Editor: Increasing Gravel Truck Traffic on Route 33 Ignores Danger
Dear Howard,
Thanks you for sharing your views about this matter with me.
I will keep your concerns in mind if and/or when this matter comes before the Board.
I appreciate your taking the item to contact me.
Salud Carbajal
First District Supervisor, Santa Barbara County
SupervisorCarbajal@sbcbos1.org

Reply

Steve Offerman January 10, 2007 at 4:29 pm

Hello I’m Supervisor Steve Bennett’s assistant. I wanted to get the word out that Supervisor Bennett requested and received a two-week extension of the public comment period to February 2nd. Also, that in addition to providing comments to the planning staff, a letter directly to the Planning Commission at such time as the hearing is scheduled would also be advisable. You can get on the notification list for the Planning Commission hearing by writing to Gary Kaiser, Santa Barbara County Planning Department, 624 Foster Road, Suite C, Santa Maria, CA 93455 or email gkaiser@co.santa-barbara.ca.us
Supervisor Bennett has been expressing his opposition to this project since 2005. Incredibly the first draft of the EIR claimed the project would have no traffic or air impacts. His 2005 comment letter on the first draft of the EIR included the below passage which led to substantial revisions in the EIR:
“The Draft EIR accepts the applicant’s suggestion that the project has no traffic and air quality impacts because there are other sand and gravel purveyors within the Tri-County region. This impact analysis methodology has no basis in the California CEQA Guidelines or case law. Under this imaginative theory, Santa Barbara County could approve an infinite number of new gravel mines with the miraculous result of having no traffic or air quality impact whatsoever. Clearly, this scenario would defy not only the laws of physics, but those of the State of California as well.”
Now the new draft EIR acknowledges both traffic and air impacts and they list mitigation measures for them. We are working to identify areas of the EIR that are inadequate.
In addition, Supervisor Bennett has also written directly to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to object to mine traffic through the Ojai Valley and will continue to fight this unacceptable impact to Valley residents and highway users.
You can look at the second draft EIR online at: http://www.sbcountyplanning.org/projects/03CUP-00037/index.cfm Supervisor Bennett placed a copy of the EIR on disk and put it at the Ojai and Oak View libraries too.
Steve Offerman
Supervisor Bennett’s Office
Ventura

Reply

Debi Otto January 13, 2007 at 11:49 am

Dear Mr. Kaiser:
I am an Ojai Valley resident and I am writing to urge you to oppose the Troesh Ready-Mix proposal that is currently under review. This proposed project would create a dangerous traffic nightmare on the already busy Highway 33. We here in the Ojai Valley live here because we value the natural environment and the peace and serenity that the valley provides. This proposal, if approved, would add numerous loud, grinding trucks to Highway 33 daily that would disrupt the area where many reside and would create a traffic and environmental nightmare for the entire Ojai Valley.
As an avid cyclist who routinely rides up and down Highway 33, I could see added traffic creating a very dangerous situation. My husband was recently hit by a motorist while riding his bicycle and sustained serious injuries. I fear that this type of proposal would only increase these types of accidents, not just for bicyclists but for motorists as well.
It should not be up to the Santa Barbara Planning Commission or anyone else in Santa Barbara County to try to implement a project in a region outside of your geographical area. How would the citizens of Santa Barbara County like it if Ventura County tried to pass a similar project in a delicate area of Santa Barbara County? I would venture to say that this would be stopped hands down in Santa Barbara. Please do the right thing and stop this proposed project. I for one, would be very grateful.
Respectfully,
Debi Otto
Ojai, CA

Reply

Craig Smith January 24, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Dear Mr. Kaiser
I have lived in ojai for 49 years.
Over that time I have noticed extream negative changes in the quality of our air and traffic.
The added trucks that will be going through ojai will greatly increase the health and safty issues of
all of us who live here.
I live on hwy 33 and the noise of the already present trucks traveling back and forth is unbearable.
Please stop this project. PLEASE !
Sincerely
Craig Smith
Ojai, Ca.
{starship5000@hotmail.com }

Reply

mike nielsen March 22, 2007 at 8:09 pm

After reading comments about the dangers of the gravel trucks, only the gravel trucks I have one suggestion simply ban all trucks comming into Ojai and all surrounding areas. No more soda or beer trucks, nomore grocery trucks to Starr or any other store. Ban trucks to all hardware, lumberyards restaurants. But the greatest threat to all are 20+ gas trucks to Ojai, 172000 gallons +. That is all for now.

Reply

Katie Kosmala January 5, 2008 at 12:39 pm

here we are a year later and the widening of the 33 has caused mudslides onto the bike trail in Oak View making it unusable. Anyone know who to call to get the mud cleaned up and the site made better equipt to handle runoff from storms?

Reply

hjs January 5, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Clean up on 33 is also the rsponsibility of CalTrans.

Reply

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