Ojai becomes first SoCal community to ban smart meters

7 Jun

Ojai residents have been extremely active in opposing smart meters, distributing informational flyers and colorful posters throughout town, like this one. Courtesy Stop Smart Meters Ojai/Ventura County.

“I think a lot of what we’re facing right now in this country is the division between the ‘common man,’ so to speak, and corporations and corporate power, and the undue powers they now have over us as citizens and our individual rights to do what we want within our own homes.”

Ojai Mayor Betsy Clapp  (OVN Blog, 5-20-2012)

Ojai, a charming small town in Ventura County about 90 miles north of Los Angeles, is where this author was raised and grew up.  So I’m very proud to report and share with you that its residents and City Council have pushed for and approved, on May 29, 2012, a moratorium against smart meters.

By doing so, the City of Ojai makes the pages of history as the first SoCal local government and community to ban smart meters.*

Ojai also joins a growing list of 55+ communities throughout California that have taken action against smart meters, and/or support residents rights to have no-cost analog meters.  This includes the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, who, on March 27, 2012, approved sending a letter to the Calif. Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) supporting a free (no-fee) opt out.

Kudos and congrats to Ojai City Council for making history as the first SoCal local government to ban smart meters. Standing, from left: Mayor Pro Tem Paul Blatz and Council Member Carlon Strobel. Seated, from left: Council Member Sue Horgan, Council Member Carol Smith and Mayor Betsy Clapp.

As Stop Smart Meters reports, we’ll have to see how the Ojai citizens and City enforce and manage the moratorium or make it work for them.

A Ventura Star story points out that adopting the moratorium may be mostly symbolic.

But it’s a grand and brave stand for a small town to take.

It also gives you faith that sometimes our elected officials do indeed stand up and do the “right” thing by taking action to protect their residents and preserve their beautiful community and quality of life.

The Ojai Valley News reports:

“What really irks me are the (opt-out) fees. How dare they?” said Councilwoman Carol Smith. “And the only way to reverse this is to go to the PUC? It’s outrageous.”

I’ve got quite a few things to say about this,” began Mayor Pro Tem Paul Blatz. “Ojai is an extremely unique community. And I can’t tell you how proud I am to be part of a community where an outcry like this, over an issue such as smart meters, this community has got together and brought this issue to us.  The apathy is not there, as it is in so many other places.” Blatz continued to say that as a lawyer, he has frequently seen large corporations trying to force consumers and cities to do things principally in the name of higher profit, but as a council member, he felt even more duty-bound to protect the health and safety of his constituents.

Mayor Betsy Clapp quoted another, perhaps slightly more famous lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, who said, “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow. And the monied power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.

(Read more of the OVN story here.)

In addition to the Mayor, City Council and Staff, a big thumbs up to the Ojai residents who worked  tirelessly to make residents and their local officials aware and informed about this very complex issue.

Concerned residents organized and crafted awesome flyers and posters for the town folk and businesses.  They patrolled their streets to keep a step ahead of the smart meter installers and alert residents to call SCE to be put on its delay-install list.  They set up a table at the Farmer’s Market on weekends to educate the public about smart meters, and spoke up and submitted documents at several City Council meetings.

The Ojai Valley News has also been performing a major public service by frequently reporting on the issue and its various facets, and publishing letters to the editor about it.

Ojai has done its residents proud by living up to its nickname of Shangri-La (a legendary Tibetan paradise), which it became associated with after film director Frank Capra used an aerial shot of Ojai to represent the Shangri-La valley in his 1937 film “Lost Horizon.”    Take a trip to Ojai one weekend to see and experience for yourself what makes this town so idyllic and special.

What actions can you take?

  • Read the Ojai City Staff Administrative Report in support of the adopted ordinance, and share it with others, including friends and family, and local officials, to encourage them to take action to protect their homes, neighborhood and community.  The report and ordinance are fine examples of how a city’s Staff can support its residents and uphold their rights.
  • Refer them to the City of Ojai’s helpful Smart Meters page on its website that offers more details, documents, and information on how to opt out, and responses from SCE and the CPUC to Ojai’s moratorium.
  • For Ojai and Ventura County residents wanting to join or support the Ojai/Ventura County Stop Smart Meter resident group, which is a party in the CPUC Smart Meter Opt-Out Proceedings, please e-mail the group via OjaiCece@yahoo.com.

* In sharp contrast, 9 days earlier, May 20, 2012 marked the City of Burbank and Burbank Water & Power’s draconian opt-out program deadline.  The City of Burbank’s smart meter program, smart meter “option,” and one-time only May 20th opt-out deadline, represent a giant leap backward in history by violating many of our civil liberties, rights, and freedom of choice.  Read our post and BWP Opt Out page about this for more details.

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