The Nature Conservancy, which would house the position at their offices, “is a nonprofit” that Cook said he would have “trouble” partnering with.
Cook also mentioned the status of steelhead trout the fish ladder was constructed for, and noted, “I have some really serious questions right now.”
“What I see here is another layer of bureaucratic red tape, I see another obstacle, another reason not to put people to work,” and the “Continued strangulation of the economy,” said Councilman Jim Tovias.
Mayor Ralph Fernandez said he agreed with other councilmen that an issue is “Who is the boss?” as the list of coalition members is not confined to municipalities but also includes public and private agencies and environmental advocacy groups.
“I think,” he added, “this would be a political nightmare.”
Among other duties, the coordinator would plan and implement projects and make sure all coalition members are informed on a timely basis of issues regarding the Santa Clara River.
The river is one of the largest river systems in the state known as the last wild river in Southern California that flows about 84 miles from its headwaters in Acton in Los Angeles County west through its namesake Santa Clara River Valley. The river empties into the Pacific Ocean between Oxnard and Ventura.
Planning Director Janna Minsk told the council entities that have or will join the coalition include Oxnard, Ventura, Limoneira Co., Castaic Lake, the Ventura County Watershed District and county Waterworks District 16 Piru, United Water Conservation District, Fox Canyon Ground Water, Ventura County Farm Bureau, Friends of Santa Clara River and others; those not yet signed up include Fillmore and Port Hueneme.
A goal of the coalition is to have a place at the table with other regional watershed districts, “Work in concert,” with local members on needs and issues while not creating more legislation.
Minsk added that The Nature Conservancy would only provide office space for the position, as others in the coalition did not want it housed in a governmental entity.
Hernandez said three separate watersheds have garnered $60 million in grant funding in about six years and “Created a lot of jobs with that success.... “
He added that the state Department of Water Resources has designated Santa Paula a needy community that would be able to forego providing traditional matching grants, a potential savings of millions on local projects.
“At this time in the life of the city of Santa Paula I can’t support this,” said Gonzales, although he noted he might consider it in the future.
For now, he added, the issue is “kind of abstract to me.... “