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Articles

Council Funds Chamber Plan

By Sondra Murphy
The spirit of good will and hope for the future was overflowing in the City Council chambers this week as Councilman Steve Olsen replaced the retiring Joe DeVito as mayor. In addition to expressions of gratitude abounding for Mayor Joe DeVito’s retirement from politics on Tuesday, the Ojai City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement between the city and Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce with the aim of marketing Ojai as a tourist destination.
The agreement is that the city will provide $160,000 to the chamber for that purpose.
Staff and council liaisons had been meeting with the business community for more than a year to discuss options related to marketing Ojai as a tourist destination. Meetings included hoteliers, retailers, commercial property owners and the Chamber of Commerce and this group eventually came to be known as the Ojai Village Association.
Several of the association members, as well as Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Eicher addressed the council in November to request that the city take a more proactive role in bringing tourists to Ojai. The council agreed to hold a special meeting Dec. 1, where an organized proposal was submitted and informal discussions occurred.
City staff and OVA met again to refine the proposal, which was brought to a special joint meeting of the City Council and Redevelopment Agency, the council’s alter ego, this week. City manager Jere Kersnar submitted a recommendation to approve a marketing element, including funding for half the fiscal year for a total of $87,500. Kersnar asked for direction on whether the funds were to come from city or Redevelopment Agency funds, if approved.
“If you were to provide for it annually, it would be $160,000,” said Kersnar. “The other question is, where’s the money come from? And that is why this is a joint City Council and Redevelopment Agency meeting, so you have the options. We do have RDA money this fiscal year, but beyond that, it’s problematic. I don’t think RDA is sustainable at this point.”
Technicalities, such as contracting with the chamber, instead of the unofficial entity OVA, were worked out in the new proposal. Tentatively titled the Ojai Visitor’s Bureau, funds would be under the control of that subcommittee, according to Kersnar. Reports will be submitted twice a year to the council account for activities, accomplishments and finances.
Requested funds are to

The spirit of good will and hope for the future was overflowing in the City Council chambers this week as Councilman Steve Olsen replaced the retiring Joe DeVito as mayor. In addition to expressions of gratitude abounding for Mayor Joe DeVito’s retirement from politics on Tuesday, the Ojai City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement between the city and Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce with the aim of marketing Ojai as a tourist destination. The agreement is that the city will

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