Fresh winds of change are blowing in exciting directions

August 29, 2003
Itís another season in Santa Paula and fresh winds of change are blowing in exciting directions. However, with the recent attention given to the appointment of a single planning commissioner, I wonder on what hill we Santa Paulans will finally die. Will it be the hill of affordable housing? Mixed uses downtown? Expansion of our city boundaries? Your back yard and not mine? Enough food for every family? Equal education for every child? Clean and safe housing for everyone?Or, will it be what end of a street gets opened or closed? Who do we really want to be our neighbors? What professions should be eliminated from seeking elected position? What qualifies one to serve on Planning Commissions?Santa Paulans have nearly perfected the art of controversy. Seldom do we see a purposeful attempt at understanding before being understood.All communities face problems, and most have them have to do with issues. The problems facing Santa Paula have more to do with who supports an issue than the issue itself.Ironically, those who opposed Adams Canyon may end up getting exactly what they didnít want because there was no negotiation.Fagan is likely to prove to be as controversial, particularly when the number of homes is identified and we begin to imagine the number of trips per day up and down Ojai Road and 10th Street.The sides continue to line up. Those who casually care can simply observe who the supporters and opponents are and go from there. It is far better for a community to be issue oriented. We will then see ourselves better.
Airing the City Council meetings on Channel 10 on Monday nights is one of the best tools we have to participate in local government. The eyewitness accounts of reasoned dialogue, or lack of it, are there for all to see. This opportunity will likely make important differences in how we view grass roots politics and our participation in it. Purposeful leadership will take Santa Paulans into our new season of life together. Leadership must focus on economic prosperity and fairness for all. Without it, the people will drift further from downtown, our churches and our schools. The City will continue its free fall into economic disaster.Until we can assess the issues before us based on facts and not personalities, it will not be a hill on which we die. It will be our swords.Kay Wilson-Bolton is a former mayor of Santa Paula. She is a real estate broker serving Western Ventura County and brings a regional perspective to local issues.

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