Update From Ventura County Community Foundation Regarding Distribution of Funds

Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) President Vanessa Bechtel has provided an update regarding distribution of funds thus far in connection with the recent tragedies in our area.

Conejo Valley Victims Fund

The first two rounds of support to the victims and survivors of the Borderline shooting have been distributed. VCCF awarded an immediate $70,000 in $500 pre-paid Visa cash cards so immediate basic needs could be met through the Thousand Oaks Victims Assistance Center.

VCCF also awarded a total of $240,000 to help cover memorial costs to families who lost loved ones. Chief of Police Tim Hagel personally delivered the funds to the families during this devastating time.

Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire Sudden & Urgent Needs Effort

Over $500,000 in funds have been distributed thus far in connection with relief from the recent wildfires in the area:

  • $150,000 to the Pacific Coast and Ventura County Chapter of the American Red Cross for an Emergency Response Vehicle

  • $115,000 to the Red Cross for Ventura County Recovery Coordination

  • $146,250 to the Red Cross for General Operations Support

  • $5,000 to 805 Help to support their immediate response to bring online access to our community during the fires

  • $15,000 to Senior Concerns for adult daycare, meals and support for our community’s seniors who were evacuated and need care

  • $5,350 to Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association to help cover costs associated with evacuations of those on hospice

  • $7,000 to the Camarillo Boys & Girls Club to cover costs associated with emergency childcare needs due to school closures

  • $9,500 to the Southeast Ventura YMCA to cover costs associated with emergency childcare needs due to school closures

  • $1,827 to Mark Watring Stables for the evacuation of 43 horses, hauling of feed and water supplies and overtime

  • $25,000 to the Economic Development Collaborative for General Operations Support as they serve business owners impacted by the fires

  • $21,500 to Cal State Channel Islands Foundation to feed and house students evacuated by the fires

  • $500 to Cal Lutheran University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership to sponsor a free webinar entitled “Fundraising in Response to a Community Crisis” (contact nonprofit@callutheran.edu for details)

VCCF is working to award funds as quickly as possible to nonprofit organizations serving those in need during this challenging time. The organization is particularly interested in supporting organizations who are assisting in housing and basic needs, animal welfare, business and resiliency support for our community and medical needs of individuals as a result of the fires. The application is very short and should take no more than 15 minutes to submit at www.vccf.org.

805 Undocufund

This is a collective effort to ensure undocumented individuals and families impacted by natural disasters have the support they need. Please join us in helping support our neighbors during this challenging time at www.vccf.org.

VCCF Scholarship Program

VCCF has launched its 2019 Application for College Scholarships and thanks to local generosity will be awarding $1.147 million in scholarships to local students this year – more than ever before! The deadline for applications is January 30, 2019 at 10 p.m. PST.

How You Can Make A Difference

Applications for Support: Massive wildfires that cause severe displacement make connecting and supporting fire victims challenging. While VCCF has received some organizational applications for support, FEMA has received a modest number of applications for direct fire victim support. Please encourage those impacted by the fires to apply with FEMA as soon as possible and to also open a case with 2-1-1 who can help connect resources to those in need.

Fundraising for the Conejo Valley Victims Fund: VCCF is in the final stages of raising funds to support the families of victims and survivors of the Borderline shooting. We are working with Ken Feinberg, Special Master of the US Government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, who has volunteered to help advise us during this time. Please encourage all you know to donate now and offer support to those impacted by this tragic event at www.vccf.org.

Support Services: Please help spread the word that Kaiser Permanente is offering free support groups in Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Ventura for the Borderline tragedy and fires. Please contact them directly at (805) 449-3442.

City of Camarillo Provides Free Trolley Bus Service Seven Days a Week


The City of Camarillo provides free trolley bus service Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.

The service provides convenient, air-conditioned, nostalgic transportation to Camarillo retail and dining destinations. Accommodations for persons with disabilities are provided.

The trolley bus route starts at the Metrolink train station, runs west on Daily Drive, south down Las Posas Road, and then east on Ventura Boulevard back to the Metrolink station. Here are the stops and the minutes the trolley reaches each stop after each hour and half hour:

  • Metrolink (Camarillo Train Station) (0 min)

  • Ponderosa Center (next to 99 Cent Store) (4 min)

  • Camarillo Plaza (Daily Dr west of Murray Ave) (7 min)

  • Carmen Plaza (Daily and Carmen) (9 min)

  • Las Posas Plaza (Daily and Calle La Roda) (11 min)

  • Camarillo Town Center (between Ross and Walmart) (17 min)

  • Premium Outlets Promenade (Ventura Blvd) (20 min)

  • Premium Outlets Main Court (Ventura Blvd and Camarillo Center Dr) (22 min)

  • Old Town (Ventura Blvd and Fir St) (27 min)

  • Dizdar Park and Camarillo Chamber (29 min)

  • Metrolink (30 min)

The trolley stops at shopping centers all along the route on a 30 minute schedule. Riders can also flag down the trolley to board anywhere along the route.

Where IS the trolley at any given point in time!? Well you can get that answer on the Trolley Tracker at www.camarillotrolley.com. How cool is that?

Call 805.988-4CAT for more information.


SIP Malibu Grapes and Kristy's Roadhouse Malibu in Agoura Hills Destroyed by Woolsey Fire

Among so much other devastation from the Woolsey Fire, SIP Malibu Grapes and Kristy’s Roadhouse Malibu at the corner of Kanan Road and Sierra Creek Road in Agoura Hills were destroyed.

The owner of SIP has announced that they will be exploring different options to rebuild and recover. To hear about what’s going on and how you can help, sign up for updates at www.sipmalibugrapes.com.

No word at this time regarding future plans, if any, for Kristy’s Roadhouse.

Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Trails Re-Opened to the Public Today

Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Trails in the Santa Monica Mountains Re-Open to the Public Today

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All trails in the Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons have been re-opened to the public today, Friday, November 21, 2018. Please note, however, that the Chesebro Road Bridge is currently inaccessible due to heavy fire damage. There is a barricade and signage at the bridge indicating that passage is not possible. Use alternative routes.

While the trails in Cheeseboro have been cleared of hazards, there may be additional hazards in recently burned areas off trail. For your safety, stay on trails!

The Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch is also open today until 1:30 p.m. It will be closed through Sunday. Satwiwa Native American Culture Center in Newbury Park will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9-5.

Rancho Sierra Vista in the Santa Monica Mountains is Open Again November 16th

As of Friday morning, November 16th, the entire Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was closed to public use because of the Woolsey Fire, with the exception of Rancho Sierra Vista, which became publicly accessible at 10 am. However, the entrance to Point Mugu State Park remains close.

For updates on the Santa Monica Mountains, visit www.nps.gov/samo/index.htm.

For updates on Point Mugu State Park, visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=630.

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Update From Woolsey Fire Unified Commanders on November 15, 2018

Unified command is working with local utility companies to ensure that critical infrastructure is repaired and restored. Burned out power poles, burned and damaged homes, debris filled roadways, broken gas lines, and burned guardrails pose serious safety hazards to residents attempting to return to the area.

The safety of both residents and first responders is the primary focus of our mission. Fire crews and heavy equipment are busy working to mitigate safety concerns to ensure that residents can return home safely.

The Woolsey Fire is unlike any previous fire in the Santa Monica Mountains due to the vast destruction and devastation to homes and critical infrastructure. A reminder to residents returning to the area, please stay vigilant on current fire conditions, and heed to the warning of emergency personnel. Please continue to adhere to road closures and any evacuation zones. All residents returning to the area are asked to drive slowly and yield to emergency personnel. If at any time you feel unsafe, call 911.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for FEMA aid now. Register online at www.disasterassistance.gov.

Safety information for those returning home can be found at: www.readyforwildfire.org/After-a-Wildfire.

Although the fire has not directly impacted the communities of Monte Nido and Topanga, the threat of a wildfire due to wind reversal after the Santa Ana’s subside remains a concern. The wind reversal will test our fire lines and validate our fire behavior prediction to declare the area safe. Unified Commanders are constantly evaluating the Malibu Fire area and while smoke is no longer visible we need to ensure infrastructure is safe for you to return.

Santa Barbara Zoo's Asian Elephant Sujatha Died Yesterday, October 16th

 Sujatha pictured here on the right (Photo Credit: SB Zoo)

Sujatha pictured here on the right (Photo Credit: SB Zoo)

It is with immense sadness that the Santa Barbara Zoo announces the death of 47 year old Asian elephant Sujatha (pronounced sue-JAW-tha) on Tuesday night, October 16th. She was humanely euthanized in the upper yard of her exhibit, surrounded by her keepers, veterinary personnel and support staff.  Immediately following, the Zoo’s other Asian elephant, Little Mac, was given access to Sujatha to grieve her companion of 46 years. Elephants grieving for fellow herd members has been observed both in the wild and under human care.

“Sujatha and Little Mac have been ambassadors for Asian elephants in Santa Barbara for 46 years,” said Zoo CEO Rich Block. “Children who first met them in the 1970s have brought their own children, and some even their grandchildren, to meet these wonderful creatures. They have been loved and cared for by numerous keepers and staff over the years. We are grateful to Sujatha and Little Mac for how they have enriched all our lives.”

The public can make a gift in Sujatha’s memory either to the International Elephant Foundation or the Zoo’s “Greens and Trimmings” fund. Information is at www.sbzoo/sujatha.

Elephants Considered Geriatric at Age 40; Sujatha was 47

The 47-year-old female elephant had been experiencing many challenges related to old age, particularly arthritis and its associated pain. She was able to live comfortably for three years with the aid of treatments with treatment with stem cells, laser, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, and pain medication. But recently, Sujatha’s health began to decline. Keepers closely monitored her and performed regular quality of life assessments. In the last two weeks, she was observed sleeping less, using her trunk to support her weight while walking, and showing less interest in regular activities. She began to refuse food and her medications over the weekend, with subsequent weight loss. 

“We have been concerned about Sujatha, and invited an elephant welfare expert from the Santa Diego Zoo to visit here to give an independent assessment,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, the Zoo’s director of animal care and health. “But Sujatha began to go downhill rapidly. Though it was a difficult decision, her behavior and condition told us that it was time to say goodbye. ”

According to data from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the median life expectancy in Asian elephants in U.S. zoos is 46.9 years. That means that half the animals live less than that age, and half live longer. At age 47, Sujatha was very close to the median. An Asian elephant is considered geriatric around age 40.

Sujatha’s body was removed by crane to a truck for transport to a necropsy performed at the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory in San Bernardino which is run by U.C. Davis. “Performing a necropsy is important because it contributes to our knowledge and understanding of geriatric medical conditions in elephants,” said Dr. Barnes.

Future for Little Mac

Little Mac could live at the Santa Barbara Zoo or be moved, depending on the results of welfare assessments by staff and outside elephant experts. No decision about her future will be made until these assessments are complete.

At the very least, Little Mac will remain at the Zoo until she is trained to comfortably enter a transport crate for relocation to join a herd elsewhere. She was last transported when she and Sujatha were moved to and from the Fresno Zoo during their exhibit’s 2004 renovation.

The Two Elephants Arrived from India in July 1972

Sujatha and Little Mac arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo in July 1972, at the age of 1½ years. They stood less than four feet high. Sujatha was born to a working mother in an Indian logging camp, and Little Mac was discovered nearby in the forest, apparently orphaned.  The Zoo received them from the city of Mysore, India, in exchange for six California sea lions. 

The elephants’ first home at the Zoo was in a former barnyard area, now the restaurant courtyard.  Their first barn was located where the public restrooms are now.  But as they grew, so did their need for space. The current exhibit was constructed in the late 1970s, and the height of the barn was raised twice as the elephants grew to maturity. 

Over the years, various exhibit improvements were made, such as a heated floor installed in 2000, for example, partially paid for with the proceeds from that year’s Zoo-B-Que and the Zoofari Ball.

In 2004, a major renovation increased the animals’ space, enlarged the pool, improved sight lines for guest viewing, and brought the surrounding pathways into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. During construction, Sujatha and Little Mac were boarded at the Fresno Zoo. 

A 30-foot tall permanent umbrella was installed in 2009 to encourage the elephants to reach up with their trunks to large bundles of “browse” (leaves or hay) or enrichment items high above their heads, a behavior commonly seen in the wild. A digital scale was also installed just outside their barnyard door, which allowed keepers to weigh them daily instead of yearly.

In 2009, the elephants were put on a special diet to promote weight loss, as they were aging and developing geriatric medical conditions, particularly their aging joints. Each elephant lost approximately 2500 pounds over the past six years.

The two elephants lived together at the Santa Barbara Zoo virtually their entire lives. Neither cow was bred or produced offspring.

About Asian Elephants

Asian elephants are found in densely forested regions, hilly and mountainous areas of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, and Sumatra, and are widely used as work animals in India and Southeast Asia. They are smaller than African elephants, and only male Asian elephants have large tusks.    

Asian elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their main threat is the disappearance of natural habitat due to human development and agriculture. Male Asian elephants have also been reduced in number due to ivory poaching.   

The Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of botanic gardens and is home to nearly 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care, and participates in AZA endangered species programs for Asian elephant, California condor, Channel Island fox, and Western lowland gorilla, among others. A private 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, the Santa Barbara Zoo depends on community support, not tax dollars, for operations and improvements. Visit www.sbzoo.org.

California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks to Relocate to The Oaks in November


To accommodate its continued growth as one of Conejo Valley’s premier art museumsthe California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks (CMATO) has entered into a strategic partnership with The Oaks – a Macerich property. The museum will vacate its current location on Thousand Oaks Blvd. and move into a new 5,500 square-foot facility at The Oaks, located at 350 West Hillcrest Drive. The new location will feature expanded exhibit space, new resources for educational programming and special event space. The museum will be located on the second floor between Nordstrom and Macy’s, across from JCPenney, and will be easily accessible from the parking structure.

The grand opening of the museum will coincide with the exhibition of Kevin Sloan: A Collection of Rarities on November 8, 2018. Sloan, a Denver-based painter whose work is characterized by a deep reverence for the natural world, will take visitors on a surreal journey examining the precarious position facing wildlife today. The museum anticipates 15,000 visitors during the exhibition run and has developed accessible educational materials and public programs to complement the exhibition.

Since 2015, CMATO has exhibited acclaimed artists at the City’s property; welcomed thousands of visitors from throughout Southern California; and seen its membership, donors, and volunteer contributions steadily increase. During this time, CMATO received two substantial gifts: Shawn and Letal Skelton ($100,000) and Larry Janss ($100,000). Both donors are committed to providing the means for CMATO to be a cultural gathering place for generations to come and fully support the move to the Oaks.

As part of CMATO’s mission to be a place for authentic and meaningful engagement with art, the museum’s new location will accommodate larger exhibitions, provide more robust programming and feature dedicated areas for participatory and interpretive experiences. The space will also provide greater exposure opportunities for museum sponsors. Plans are currently underway for CMATO to collaborate with Macerich on major events throughout the year, including its School Cents program.

About CMATO:

The California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks (CMATO) is a cultural institution dedicated to engaging, educating and uplifting the human spirit through the palette of art. Established in 2008, the museum showcases established and emerging contemporary artists, with a unique focus on participatory art. As part of its mission to connect people to creativity, ideas and to each other, CMATO features rotating temporary exhibitions, artist lectures and educational programs that foster discussion, participation and an appreciation for the visual arts. To learn more or to become a museum member, visit www.cmato.org

About Macerich:

Macerich, an S&P 500 company, is a fully integrated self-managed and self-administered real estate investment trust, which focuses on the acquisition, leasing, management, development and redevelopment of regional malls throughout the United States.

Macerich currently owns 52 million square feet of real estate consisting primarily of interests in 48 regional shopping centers. Macerich specializes in successful retail properties in many of the country’s most attractive, densely populated markets with significant presence in the Pacific Rim, Arizona, Chicago and the Metro New York to Washington, DC corridor.

A recognized leader in sustainability, Macerich has earned NAREIT’s prestigious “Leader in the Light” award every year from 2014-2017. For the third straight year in 2017 Macerich achieved the #1 GRESB ranking in the North American Retail Sector, among many other environmental accomplishments. Additional information about Macerich can be obtained from the Company's website at www.macerich.com.