Shangri-La is No Accident – by John Broesamle

OVDF founder John Broesamle speaks on the various threats the Ojai Valley has faced over the decades in his talk, "Shangri-La is No Accident: How Ojai Protects Itself from Environmental Threats and Unwelcome Development."

John outlines the numerous threats the Ojai Valley has faced over the last few decades — which, he points out, always come from outside the valley, not from within.

“How would you like to have a freeway off-ramp, right down there? How would you like to have a very large shopping center, with an acre store, just north of Nordhoff High School? And 250 condos called The Franciscan Project right at the base of the hill bordering Lomita? How about 10,000 homes on Lake Casitas? 10,000. A city of 25,000-35,000, or roughly 3 to 4 times the present population of the City of Ojai. And how about that city on Lake Casitas with an open pit uranium mine just above it to the northwest? How about festoons of oil rigs around Summit in the Upper Ojai? How about a Petrochem refining plant at the mouth of the valley, double the size of what’s being torn down now? How about 100s of mining trucks carrying phosphates from the Los Padres down thru the Ojai Valley, and 100s more hauling gravel along Highways 130, 150, and 33? How about a giant landfill, also at the foot of the valley  — Weldon Canyon? It was that last one that broke Cathy’s and my illusions that this valley was unthreatened. That got our attention in the 1990s. But all of these could have happened … On average, there was a massive threat to this valley twice per decade. I don’t mean, ‘my neighbor’s lights are too bright at night,’ or ‘I wish he would trim his trees.’ I mean a massive, tooth-rattling, earth-shaking threat of the magnitude that would prevent people from wanting to live here or stay here.”

Not only are we at risk from the all-too-common threat of urban sprawl, John goes on, but as a community rich in natural resources, we also face numerous environmental threats.

Watch John’s talk as he discusses these and other issues — as well as our community's dedication to preserving the treasure that is the Ojai Valley.

Recorded at the Ojai Retreat in January 2016.

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