URGENT: Voice Our Need for a Santa Clara River Trail

Ventura County Watershed Protection District (VCWPD) is taking comments on SCR-1 Project that will rehabilitate 2.8 miles of levee near River Park in Oxnard.  COMMENTS ARE DUE JULY 27!

The project is one of the largest river investments, BUT, AS CURRENTLY SCOPED, IT WILL NOT INCLUDE A BIKEWAY or ENVIRONMENTAL ENHANCEMENTS along the river!

Watch FSCR’s SCR-1 video about the project and what can be done.

The project is needed to provide flood protection as the levee does not meet current standards.  However, the project hardens the sides of one of southern California’s most natural rivers by turning the rock-lined slope into soil cement.  This is the first “concrete” to be added to the lower river.  Project impacts could be mitigated and softened with enhancements, such as soil cover with vegetation and a bikeway.  Most large river projects in other communities typically include such enhancements.  Now is the time to voice our concerns and community needs.

Project will result in urban blight of soil cement and no amenities.

VCWPD formed a series of committees to review potential enhancements in 2018.  Although many of the suggested enhancements from the committees were deemed acceptable, they will not become a reality without County government including them and insisting they are part of the project.  Below are some renderings resulting from the committee work:

Education features that should extend along the entire project length.

According to VCWPD, all enhancements will need to be funded by cities, schools and others even though their project is impacting the river and local environment and the property is owned by the County, not cities.  Most people agree there is a county-wide need for bikeways and river education, and that the county should not pass the buck.  Legislation that formed VCWPD allows the District to fund such enhancements as a percentage of the project cost. 

The levee project funding sought by VCWPD is from the State Department of Water Resources.  State funds, which include bond funds and Local Levee Assistance projects often allow recreation to be funded as part of the project.  Also, many funds for construction of trails are available to the County related to Alternative Transportation, Clean Air and Climate Change.  Other County Departments, such as County Parks and Recreation could be funded to maintain such trails.  Regional or County leadership on a bikeway system is needed!

Support River Trails Now!

We need your help to persuade County leaders to include a bikeway and enhancements along the river for the 2.8 mi project length.  The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires agencies to allow the public to provide comments.  Here are the documents released: 

1) project description provided in the detailed Notice of Preparation (NOP) [click here to review]

2) comments on the proposed Project and environmental issues [click here for the entire document]. En Español

You have several options to participate, starting with the easiest… 

1.  Copy this Sample Letter, however, it is best if you modify it into your own style.

2.  Send your own letter using the information below in the next section. 

3.  Read the 15 page document and provide other comments that will help protect the environment.

Sample Letter

“I urge VCWPD to include a bikeway/walking trail systems with areas of native vegetation and trees along the full length of the rehabilitated levee.  The project is a large investment in our community and should provide additional benefits to the community and enhance the river corridor. 

By including the trail in the proposed project, a critical link will be provided in a trail system that is sorely needed in Ventura County.  The trail would provide safe riding for nearby disadvantaged communities, provide health and recreation to citizens, mitigate climate change and pollution, and would be a platform for education about our river.  Additionally, the river embankment should be covered with soil and native vegetation and provide shade where possible.  Therefore, many of the project impacts can be mitigated on site with such enhancements.”


VCWPD Email:  scr1info@ventura.org 

VC Board of Supervisors:
District 1 – Matt LaVere

800 S. Victoria Ave., L#1900, Ventura, CA 93009
Phone: (805) 654-2703  | Fax: (805) 654-2226
Email: Matt.LaVere@ventura.org
Communities Represented by Supervisor LaVere:
Ventura, Montalvo, Saticoy, Ojai Valley, City of Ojai, Upper Ojai Valley, Riverpark, Northwest Oxnard, and North Coast.

District 2 – Supervisor Linda Parks

625 West Hillcrest Drive Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Phone: (805) 214-2510 | Fax: (805) 480-0585
Toll Free Number: (800) 660-5474
Email: Linda.Parks@ventura.org
Communities Represented by Supervisor Parks:
Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Oak Park, Bell Canyon, Hidden Valley, Lake Sherwood, Somis, Las Posas Valley, California State University Channel Islands, Portions of the Oxnard Plain, Santa Rosa Valley, Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, California Air National Guard, and South Coast.

District 3 – Supervisor Kelly Long

1203 Flynn Road, Suite 220, Camarillo, CA 93012
Phone: (805) 654-2276 | Fax: (805) 654-2226
Email: kelly.long@ventura.org
Communities Represented by Supervisor Long:
Camarillo, Port Hueneme, Southeast Oxnard, East Oxnard Plain, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, East Lockwood Valley, and Eastern Portion of Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme.

District 4 – Supervisor Bob Huber

980 Enchanted Way #203, Simi Valley, California 93065
Phone: (805) 955-2300 | Fax: (805) 578-1822
Email: supervisor.huber@ventura.org
Communities Represented by Supervisor Huber:
Simi Valley, Moorpark, Santa Susana Knolls, Box Canyon, Chatsworth Peak, Home Acres, Sinaloa Lake, Tierra Rejada Valley, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and Moorpark College

District 5 – Supervisor Carmen Ramirez

800 S. Victoria Ave., L#1860, Ventura, CA 93009
Phone: (805) 654-2613
Email: Carmen.Ramirez@ventura.org
Communities Represented by Supervisor Ramirez:
Oxnard, Oxnard Shores, Mandalay Bay, Silver Strand, Hollywood Beach, Hollywood By the Sea, Channel Islands Harbor, El Rio, Nyeland Acres, Del Norte Area, Oxnard College, Oxnard Plain, Strickland and Portion of Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme.

Write Your Own Letter

Here are facts to consider in your letter:

  • Ventura County has the fewest river trails of any coastal county in southern California, and is lower than most other cities in offering safe and fun recreation along our river.
  • VCWPD convened stakeholders for several months to investigate project enhancements.  The County is not funding any of the enhancements discussed.  The District will allow Rio Schools to have a short path and education features on a small segment.  The most feasible enhancements not included currently in the SCR-1 project include:
  • Paved bikeway/walking path for most of the project length
  • Soil cover and vegetation to hide the soil cement and help restore nature and improve aesthetics
  • River trail for education in the river for use by schools and education groups
  • Education features such as exhibits and on-levee bird blind for wildlife observation

More facts:

  • The levee is on County Property and a bikeway would meet a regional need.  Why should the County push their responsibility to the cities?
  • Including it in the scope now ensures environmental approval under CEQA
  • Include the river trail in initial construction to save on additional construction management and mobilization costs.
  • Blight!  Without enhancements, the project turns a rocky side slope into a soil concrete making it an unsightly and hot place, with no mitigation, and a great graffiti pallet.
  • Project impacts habitat, but does not currently include mitigation.  The new levee should have soil backfill and native plants to green up the project and provide shade for where possible.
  • City of Oxnard does not have the financial means to construct and maintain a trail.  Trails are a regional need.
  • FSCR and our partners have attempted to persuade VCWPD to include a bikeway and enhancements such as soil cover.  After 4 years and a series of committees to make the project a better community project, the agency remains stubbornly against including enhancement in the project.

Most Other Communities Include Enhancements and Have Great Trails

Did you know that the beautiful mountain and coastal county of Ventura has the least trails of almost every other County.  As shown below, one trail is shown on the Ventura River from Ojai to Ventura.

A great example is Tucson, Pima County Regional Flood Control District (RFCD) which funded and built the Loop within the river park system as a recreational amenity that extends over 150 miles!

Example of a great river trail in Tucson, Arizona.

It shouldn’t be an ‘accident’ for SCR1 have the same principles. Indeed, funding a flood-only project is a poor strategy. State grants require multi-benefit projects, such as WITH elements of water conservation and community amenities. SCR1 WITH construction of a bike path is likely to win more state grant funds.