News from around the Ojai Valley

Demo-graphic: Whether we like it or not, Ojai has and is changing

This is part three of a four-part series looking at tourism and its impacts on the community. In this series we look at the perceptions and realities surrounding those impacts and the community’s ability to change.
Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
As discussions about tourism in Ojai have stretched on, some have expressed anxiety that Ojai is changing.
“We are at a crossroads, folks,” said Ojai Mayor Johnny Johnston during the March 28 City Council discussion of the Ojai Tourism Improvement District (OTID) reauthorization. “There are two visions of what this community is going to be like.” 
Ojai's demographics are indeed changing.
The Ventura County 2040 General Plan Update Background Report, covering demographics and economics in Ventura County, shows that the Ojai Valley's population of young people has decreased over the past six years, while the population of those 65 and older has increased.
From 2010 to 2016, the Ojai Valley lost 390 residents younger than 18 and added 715 residents older than 65.
Ojai Unified School District (OUSD) enrollment is a stark illustration of this trend.
A 2015 enrollment study, commissioned by OUSD, shows that public school enrollment has decreased by 1,453 students since the 2000-2001 school year.
During the 2000-2001 school year, 1,325 students were enrolled at Nordhoff High School. The OUSD study projects that by the 2024-2025 school year, Nordhoff's enrollment will drop to 601 students.
While the Valley's population is changing, so is its economy.
According to Ventura County data, the Ojai Valley shed 204 management, business, science and arts positions from 2010 to 2014, while it gained 304 jobs in service occupations.
Ojai's housing stock also shows changes — with a larger portion of the population renting a place to live.
In 2015, the United States Census estimated that 64.1 percent of homes in the 93023 ZIP code are occupied by their owners. In 2000, that number was 68.1 percent.
In 2015, Census data indicates that 35.9 percent of 93023 homes were occupied by renters. In 2000, 31.9 percent of those homes were occupied by renters.
Census data indicates that in 2015, 312, or 3.6 percent, of Ojai homes were vacation homes or second residences. That number was 275, or 3 percent in 2010, and 217, or 2.5 percent, in 2000.
These numbers may be low, though, as census data only identifies “seasonal, recreational or occasional use” homes as a portion of vacant housing stock.
“Investors can afford to buy up commercial buildings, raise the rent so that it becomes out of reach of locals, and move in their own shops. I’m not saying this is happening in Ojai yet but I’m constantly told by both residents and business owners that their rent is going up,” said Councilwoman Suza Francina, 
Meanwhile, county data indicates that in 2014, the city of Ojai's poverty rate was 14.1 percent, compared to 11.1 percent countywide.
Ojai is certainly changing, but it's impossible to attribute those changes to tourism because of a lack of data quantifying the impacts of tourism locally.
To attempt to rectify that somewhat, the City Council voted March 28 to dedicate a portion of OTID's marketing budget to tourism impact studies.
“To my knowledge we've never done anything in terms of an analytic study in terms of what motivates tourists to come here, the trip origins, what the actual (hotel) occupancy profiles are,” said Councilman William Weirick. “I have asked for data like that and I have been told that it does not exist.” 
“It's a very appropriate thing to provide something that has this kind of research out of the OTID budget,” he added.
Visit http://vc2040.org to view demographic and economic data about Ventura County.

Latest sports

Soule Park has new caretaker for first time in 45 years

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ted Cotti
Soule Park’s Gary Skolnik takes in the beauty of the course on the first tee box. 
Ted Cotti, Ojai Valley News correspondent
Harry Truman, Gene Bartow, John Williams, Jay Leno, Thabo Mbeki, Paul Sunderland and, most recently, Joe Davis each had the unenviable position of replacing an “institution” — respectively: America’s only four-term president FDR, UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, Arthur Fiedler (who conducted the Boston Pops for five decades), Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, South African President Nelson Mandela, the Lakers’ Chick Hearn, and the Dodgers’ Vin Scully.
And while detractors can be found, each managed to succeed according to most. 
Gary Skolnik hopes to follow in their footsteps.
Skolnik moved from Brazil to Ojai July 17 to take over as superintendent
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Former rivals meet in summer league play

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Photo submitted
Former Tri-Valley League baseball stars Luke Boyd (right), from Nordhoff High School, and Darius Vines, from St. Bonaventure High School, are still facing off on the diamond. Boyd, a returning sophomore at Baylor University and Vines, who will attend Yavapai Junior College in Arizona this fall, played in Victoria British Columbia earlier this month. Vines plays for the Walla Walla Sweets in Washington and Boyd for the Victoria Harbour Cats in Canada in the West Coast Baseball League for collegiate summer ball. Both players now specialize as pitchers only for their respective schools. Vines was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in this year’s Major League Baseball draft, but has yet to sign. Boyd will be competing for a starting role this fall for the Baylor Bears. 

National high school tennis championship field released

Tim Tuttle, Ojai Valley News correspondent
Scout Matthews, from Weil Tennis Academy, has been seeded third for the fourth annual New Balance High School Tennis Championship, scheduled to hold its debut tournament in Ojai from July 23 through July 27.
The tournament brings together a top field of boys and girls who played for their high school teams in the past year, competing for one singles title for each gender. It will be held
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New team sits on top of Sundowner golf league standings

The Sundowner golf league reached the season three-quarter mark July 18 at Soule Park Golf Course. The leading teams stumbled a bit and the rest of the field took advantage of the opportunity to gain some ground.
The team of Parker's Putters scored 61 points on the week to further solidify their status as the top-scoring team over the second half of the season. The Putters were led by
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Ojai boys’ basketball program showing signs of life

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Nordhoff High School’s Jake Williams (right) boxes out an opponent in a game last winter. Williams is one of the seniors working hard to resurrect the struggling basketball program this summer.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
There has been a resurgence of boys’ basketball at Nordhoff High School (NHS) this summer.
According to NHS head coach Matt Murphy, he has seen an increase in players taking part in summer basketball activities.
“It has been going great. This summer we really pared down how much
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Sundowner golf league returns to action after holiday break

Jeff Sturdivan of the team Shut the Putt Up made Sundowner history July 11 at Soule Park Golf Course. Sturdivan broke a decades-old record for most points by a player during weekly play. 
The previous record of 27 points was held by a number of players, including Sean Strben and Josh Griep. Sturdivan shot a round that was 10 under his handicap to earn 28 points and place his name in the Sundowner record book. 
Sturdivan played last year to a 10 handicap but has seen his handicap balloon to a 13 this year as a result of a number of poor rounds. He finally put it all together and shot a gross 39 behind seven pars, one bogey and one double bogey. The gross 39 represented a 26-net and allowed him to stand
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Rice wins gold at Ojai Valley Inn

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Photo submitted
Lois Rice recently defended her club championship against a solid field at the 2017 Ojai Valley Inn & Spa Ladies Club Championship tournament. Rice also topped all competitors last year.

12U all-stars make it to national championships

Photo by Eric Trejo
The 12U Ojai Valley all-stars celebrate after finishing fifth place at the state tournament. By finishing in the top five, the local girls will advance to nationals in San Diego.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
For the first time in recent memory, the Ojai Valley is sending a girls’ softball team to a national championship tournament. The U12 all-stars advanced to the district tournament after a solid regular season and did well enough there to qualify for the state tournament. 
At state, the Ojai all-stars traveled to Lancaster and braved heat that stayed well above 100 degrees much of the weekend. They still managed to place fifth,  earning them a berth in the nationals in San Diego July 13 through July 16. 
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Allen returns to LPGA

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Photo courtesy of the Ladies European Tour
Ojai native Beth Allen lines up a putt in a recent tournament. Allen is currently playing on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. 
Tim Tuttle, Ojai Valley News contributor
Beth Allen returned to the LPGA, the world’s top women’s golf tour, this season with far superior shot-making ability, a high degree of confidence, maturity and a greater sense of financial stability developed in eight seasons on the Ladies European Tour (L.E.T.). It’s going to take more than missing a few cuts to rattle her.
The 35-year-old Nordhoff graduate opened the season by finishing in a tie for seventh in the ISPS Handa Australian Open. She followed that with a tie for 31st at Phoenix and a tie for 49th at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad. Allen also played in one L.E.T. tournament, the Oates Victorian Open in Australia, and finished in a tie for 36th.
She was four-for-four in the cashing paychecks department.
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Duque wins Front Niners mini-tournament

The third mini-tournament of the Soule Park's Ladies Front Nine summer session was scored as "CrissCross." After completing their rounds, players selected from each pair of crisscross holes, one or nine, two or eight, three or seven, and four or six, with all tallying the fifth hole.
After handicaps were applied, Mitnee Duque had a net-nine to win the tournament. Second place was a tie between Carole Borland, Sherry Doyle, Susan Edge, Joyce Robinson and Ruth Hemming at 10. A card-off based on the fifth hole gave the second-place prize to Hemming and third place was called a tie between Doyle and Robinson.
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Swimmers practice at Summer Camp

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Photo by Misty Hall
Third-grade swimmers at Ojai Valley School Summer Camp prepare to practice the backstroke this week. To help them remember the three-part technique, instructors taught them to fold their arms under their sides like a chicken, then put them straight out like an airplane, then put them down at their sides like a soldier.

Ojai set to host high school championships

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Photo submitted 
Ojai will play host to the High School National Championships July 24 through July 27 and will host players such as 2016 girls’ champion Allison McCann.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
Tennis in the Ojai Valley is rich in tradition and history and it is about to get even richer. New Balance recently announced the fourth annual New Balance High School Championships will be held in Ojai from July 24 through July 27.
After three years on the Harvard University campus in Boston, the world headquarters
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Ojai Little Leaguers playing in district tournament

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Photo by Rick Heidwein
The Ojai Valley Little League Junior Division All-Stars are competing in the California District 63 All-Star Tournament in Santa Paula this week. This year’s team includes (from left) Derek Mendoza, Eric Georgopoulos, Philip Heldwein, Jeremy Stout, Zac Sheets, Chris Woglom, Christian Moreno, Matt Williams, Ethan Sigsworth, Michael Weston, Ty Hilmer-Wiggins and Carlos Bautista. The coaching staff (not pictured) includes Eric Georgopoulos, Rick Heldwein and Jeff Mendoza.

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