Monthly Archives: August 2012

Update: Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0)

If you purchased your Ventura County home before May 31, 2009, I have some bad news for you, but I also have some good news for you.

First the bad news, which is probably old news,… your house may be underwater. Your mortgage amount is now more that the value of your home. Not exactly what you hoped for when you bought your beautiful new home.

Now the good news,… the Federal government recently streamlined and relaxed some its guidelines on its Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) which it initiated in April 2009 to help homeowners, stay homeowners. HARP 2.0 is an upgrade over the original program which might provide significant relief for some of our Ventura County neighbors. Under HARP 2.0, in most cases, there are no LTV (Loan To Value) limits and no appraisal is required.

HARP 2.0 may work for you, even if your mortgage balance is higher than the present value of your home.

So, if you wanted to refinance your home, but had concerns about your property value or your credit score, your might want to click on the HARP 2.0 link on the menu bar of this blog to see if you might be eligible for a HARP refinance.

This information is accurate of the date of this post.

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Ventura County’s Favorite NFL Team

Whatever happened to baseball, hot dogs and apple pie? In Oxnard, it looks like they’ve been replaced by the Dallas Cowboys, carne asada and boba drinks. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen cars lined up on Ventura Road filled with people decked out in Silver & Blue gear proudly sporting “The Star“. It looks like “The Boys” are Ventura County’s Favorite NFL team as well as RiverPark’s. Are they really, or are these people pouring into the Dallas Training Camp mostly out-of-towners?

We’re just curious. Register your vote below and let’s see if “America’s Team” is “Ventura County’s Team”.

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Ventura County Considering Plastic Bag Ban

English: South Coast of Santa Barbara County. ...

English: South Coast of Santa Barbara County. Left to right: UC Santa Barbara, Goleta, Hope Ranch, city of Santa Barbara – and Platform Holly in foreground – Santa Ynez Mountains mid-backround & San Rafael Mountains beyond. Only the most distant mountains on the far right are in Ventura County. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite public health risks, The Ventura County Board of Supervisors are considering a ban on plastic carryout bags throughout the County.

The Ventura County Star recently reported The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, took the first step toward that goal by considering a model draft ordinance that would ban single-use plastic carryout bags from retail stores in the region.

While supervisors did not make a decision Tuesday to approve the ban, they did vote 4-1, with Supervisor Peter Foy dissenting, to move forward with an environmental review of the ordinance that could also be used as a model for other coastal counties and cities.

Supervisors also on Tuesday voted 4-1, with Foy dissenting, to endorse spending $8,000 toward a jointly funded regional environmental impact report to review the plastic bag ban.

The $8,000 will come from the county Watershed Protection District’s Storm Water Total Maximum Daily Loads Program, which monitors the amount of trash that ends up in the coastal waters.

The draft ordinance prohibits plastic carryout bags at any store that sells food or pharmacies. The ban does not include produce bags or product bags supplied by a store. Customers would be charged 10 cents for each recyclable paper carryout bag.

Restaurants, fast-food establishments and nonfood retail stores would be exempt.

The ordinance was referred to the supervisors by the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment (BEACON), a multi-jurisdictional joint-powers agency composed of both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, as well as the coastal cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Ventura, Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

BEACON is an agency responsible for protecting beaches and the coast, and the preservation, protection and enhancement of clean ocean waters.

Supervisors Steve Bennett and John Zaragoza brought the plastic bag ban to the rest of the supervisors at the request of the BEACON board, whose members believe the improper disposal of non-compostable plastic bags is a major component of pollution and is a detriment to wildlife and the environment.

BEACON staff will be overseeing the California Environment Quality Act review process.

A statewide initiative to ban single-use plastic bags failed in 2010, though the Supreme Court last year did uphold the right of cities to ban plastic bags.

Los Angeles County approved a similar environmental impact report and ordinance banning single-use plastic bags, and Los Angeles in May became the largest city in the nation to ban plastic bags.

Carpinteria also approved a ban in March, and Ojai in April became the first city in Ventura County to ban single-use plastic bags.

Bennett said coastal communities have a great interest in banning plastic bags because they get into the watershed and end up in the ocean and river bottoms.

Foy questioned whether the ordinance could waive costs for shoppers that will have to pay extra if they must buy bags to carry out a lot of groceries.

Ventura Councilman Brian Brennan, who also is the director of BEACON, said the supervisors would have the power to add language to address cost issues when the ordinance comes back for approval at a later time.

Reusable grocery bags are a proven breeding ground for dangerous food-borne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health, according to a joint food-safety research report issued June 2012 by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University in California.

“Our findings suggest a serious threat to public health, especially from coliform bacteria including E. coli, which were detected in half of the bags sampled,” said Charles Gerba, a UA professor of soil, water and environmental science and co-author of the study. “Furthermore, consumers are alarmingly unaware of these risks and the critical need to sanitize their bags on a weekly basis.”

Bacteria levels found in reusable bags were significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems and even death. They are a particular danger for young children, who are especially vulnerable to food-borne illnesses, Gerba said.

Statistics show that paper bags are harder on the environment than plastic bags.

Resources Used

  • Each year, Americans use about 10 billion paper bags, which results in the cutting down of 14 million trees.
  • Four times the amount of energy is used to manufacture paper vs. plastic bags.
  • 98 percent more energy is used to recycle paper vs. plastic bags.

Pollutants Created

  • 70 percent more air pollutants than plastic bags
  • 50 percent more water pollutants than plastic bags

Brown paper bags are recyclable, but only 10 to 15 percent are being returned to recycling plants. In addition, the manufacturing of new brown paper bags utilizes very little recyclable material.

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