Innovation Exchange

Westside Community Innovation Exchange

“Housing! Water! Parking! – Oh My!” 

Join neighbors and experts to imagine and discuss solutions to community challenges in this FREE and bilingual forum series held on Zoom. Each session will feature a number of short presentations followed by community discussion.

The Big Idea

It is difficult for many Ventura County residents to find housing at a price that allows them to build a life here. The Avenue is experiencing added pressures– our desirability attracts both investors and new residents whose purchasing power keeps housing prices elevated and out of reach for many local families.

We know that the more housing could provide missing rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity. But the natural inclination to avoid change in our neighborhoods has forged resistance against addressing housing supply. We need change, but we fear change. How might we move past this impasse?

The WCDC believes that bringing people together to hear each other’s concerns, to activate imaginations, and to stimulate excitement over possible solutions is the first step. The Westside Community Innovation Exchange invites local residents and community development professionals to participate as citizen experts. Residents are our experts on living in and loving the Westside. Local professionals have favorite design or policy solutions to share. And local planners will help us understand how these ideas interact with regulations and how we can best craft recommendations for the city’s General Plan update – all in a language we can understand and use.

Event Dates
Fix the Flow: Traffic, Parking, Biking 
Tuesday, May 25th 
7:00 – 8:30pm

Visualize better streets and transit.
Presentations include:

  •  Building Transit Supportive Communities – Matt Miller
  • A Bike Lane on the Avenue: The Risk and RewardsJoey Juhasz-Lukomski & Derek Towers
  • Imagining and Inspiring Inclusion – Tina Sanchez
  • Parking: Reimagining Our Relationship to the Automobile – Jeff Mitchem
  • Connecting People with Transit: Potential Pedestrian Improvements – Caitlin Brooks & Claire Grasty
Is Density Our Destiny? 
Tuesday, June 1st 
7:00 – 8:30pm

Envision housing options for a thriving community

Presentations include:

  • How Historic Patterns Can Inform Our Future Strategy – Nick Dietch
  • The Housing Authority’s Westside Projects –  Karen Flock 
  • Striking a Balance: Home Types Do Mix – Claudia Armann
  • Let’s Do It Ourselves: Local Small-Scale Housing –  Roy Prince & Clay Downing
Mission Possible: Affordable Housing
Tuesday, June 8th 
7:00 – 8:30pm

Create stability and opportunity for our community.

Presentations include:

  • Staying Home: Strategies to Counter Displacement – Veronica Garcia
  • Creative Strategies to Become a Homeowner – Chantelle Limón
  • Housing is a Human Right: Strengthening Renter Protections – Lucas Zucker

ADUs For All: Design & Policy Ideas – Vina Lustado & Jeff Mitchem design & policy

Caitlin BrooksAICP | Program Manager
Transportation Planning, Ventura County Transportation Commission
Co-presenting: Connecting People with Transit-
Potential Pedestrian Improvements
Caitlin Brooks is the Program Manager of Transportation Planning for the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC). In this capacity, she oversees several major long-range transportation planning studies that will inform future transportation investments in Ventura County for years to come. Prior to joining VCTC, she gained knowledge and expertise working as a Planner for an environmental consulting firm in Ventura, California. Caitlin received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Chantelle Limón | former First Time Home Buyer
Presenting: Creative Strategies to Become a Homeowner
Thinking outside-the-box, Chantelle implemented creative strategies to purchase her first home in 2015. She was able to leverage the equity from the sale of that property to purchase her second home in 2019. Last year, after managing her family’s real estate business in Camarillo for 12 years, she made a career change and presently works as an Administrative Analyst for the City of Hidden Hills. Chantelle holds an MPPA from California Lutheran University as well as a California Real Estate Broker License.
Claire Grasty, VCTC | Program Manager, VCTC
Co-presenting: Connecting People with Transit- Potential Pedestrian Improvements
Transit professional with 10 years in the transit field. Past Ventura Ave resident and lifelong Ventura County resident.
Claudia Armann | Executive Director of McCune Foundation and founding member of Homes for All
Facilitator and Presenting: Striking a Balance: Home Types Do Mix Claudia Armann is the Executive Director of the McCune Foundation in Ventura. In this role she helps provide financial support to community organizing groups that mobilize residents for social justice campaigns. Claudia is Board Chair of the Foundation Roundtable of Santa Barbara County and on the Behavioral Health Advisory Board. In 2020, she was named Fundraiser of the Year for her work in helping to raise $6 million for the 805 UndocuFund, which provides financial support to undocumented workers during the pandemic. Claudia lived in multi-family housing as a child and young adult, and she’s a founding member of Homes for All.
Clay Downing | Associate Planner, County of Ventura Resource Management Agency
Planner, Session #2 Clay Downing is a land use planner with experience in both long-range planning and permit administration in the County of Ventura’s Planning Division. He serves as the Ventura County Sub-Section Director for the American Planning Association’s Central Coast Section which includes membership throughout Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties. His professional experiences and interests include long-range land use planning, local policy development, civic engagement, healthy and active communities, and cross-sector collaboration. In addition to his experience in the planning sector, Clay believes that active and engaged citizens are an essential part of creating vibrant communities. Connect at
Derek Towers | Active Transportation Specialist for the City of Ventura
Co-presenting: A Bike Lane on the Avenue – The Risk and Rewards Derek Towers has been part of the City of Ventura’s Public Works Department and Transportation Division for nearly 20 years. His job is not only designing bicycle and pedestrian facilities and events, he also collaborates with various stakeholders sharing the benefits of these efforts with businesses, the city, and its people. A goal Derek’s work is to help people more clearly see the connection between our built and natural environment,the ways in which we can move around within it, and the consequent effects on our health and the planet’s health.
Jeff Mitchem, Community & Economic Development Manager, City of Santa Paula
Presenting: Parking – Reimagining Our Relationship to the Automobile Co-presenting: ADUs For All- Design & Policy Ideas I am a municipal city planner fascinated by the notion of urban vitality. A nomad at heart, I have spent my life investigating the nuances of form, scale and human activity within urban spaces. With a background in architecture and urban design, I have participated with communities throughout the U.S. for decades to articulate and resolve what makes places thrive. I emphasize a values-driven inquiry into identifying community uniqueness by exploring that which celebrates humanity – accessibility, comfort, activity and joy.
Joey Juhasz-Lukomski, pronouns he/him/his, Executive Director, BikeVentura
Co-presenting: A Bike Lane on the Avenue – The Risk and Rewards Joey has been the Executive Director Of BikeVentura since December 2017. Previously he was the Operations Manager at the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, and before that he was a professional cook for several years working (and riding bikes) in Washington DC, Berlin, and New York City. He is from Arlington, VA, which boasts miles and miles of protected bike paths. He lives in Fillmore. Resources:,
Karen Flock | Deputy Director – Real Estate Development at Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura
Presenting: The Housing Authority’s Westside Projects
Lucas Zucker | Policy and Communications Director, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)
Presenting: Housing is a Human Right: Strengthening Renter Protections Lucas Zucker is Policy and Communications Director at CAUSE. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in Political Economy. Lucas joined the CAUSE staff in 2012 as a youth organizer and researcher. At CAUSE he has worked on community organizing campaigns and policy advocacy around voting rights, healthy food access, public transit, environmental justice, education, immigrants’ rights, affordable housing, and workers’ rights. Lucas serves on the board of the National Partnership for Working Families, the Planning Commission of the City of Ventura, and the Community Advisory Committee for Clean Power Alliance.
Nick Dietch, A.l.A. | Principal, RRM Design Group, Inc.
Presenting: How Historic Patterns Can Inform Our Future Strategy Nick has over thirty-five years of experience in architecture and urban design, with a wide variety of public and private projects, including community planning, historic restoration, adaptive re-use, and mixed-use residential in-fill. Nick has been a strong proponent for thoughtful planning, preservation, and revitalization of communities throughout Ventura County and California.A former President of the non-profit Turning Point Foundation, Nick is an advocate for care and housing of the homeless, for affordable housing and innovation. He often serves as a panelist and speaker at planning and design events, on topics of architecture and urban design. He has served on the faculty at Ventura Community College, teaching courses in Architecture since 1996.
Roy Prince | Principal, Roy Prince Architecture Urbanism Design
Presenting: Let’s Do It Ourselves – Local Small-Scale Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Roy Prince is an architect and urbanist focusing on walkable urbanism in our neighborhoods & communities. He is a founding member of the website and the Oxnard Urban Explorations Guild, a new group of local, young, and diverse people interested in improving and visioning Oxnard development policy. Working to incentivize walkable community development alongside existing but restrictive auto-centric policy.Roy believes it is up to us to recreate our neighborhoods via small-scale incremental local housing production. Only people living in the neighborhood can properly address our local housing issues. The big housing developers might hit and run. Locals build to improve their properties and neighborhoods. Resources:
Tina Sanchez | Self-Advocate with the ARC Foundation of Ventura County
Presenting: Imagining and Inspiring Inclusion I attend The Arc of Ventura County, Ojai Enrichment Center in Ojai California. In my 27 years as a participant with the Arc I have served as a board member, president of the advocacy group in my day program and as a member of Project R. I strongly believe in inclusion and acceptance for all people with disabilities. I know what it’s like to be different, and I want to use my voice to help advocate for those who may not have one.
Veronica Garcia | Director of Business Development, People’s Self Help Housing
Presenting: Staying Home: Strategies to Counter Displacement – Veronica Zimmerman Garcia is an experienced affordable housing and community development practitioner working to bring housing opportunity to the Central Coast. Currently she is a Director of Business Development for People’s Self-Help Housing. Previously, she served as Deputy Director of Real Estate Development for the Housing Authority of the City of Ventura. Ms. Garcia serves as a County Planning Commissioner representing District 5 and is a Board Member for the California Coalition for Rural Housing. She is a CORO fellow alumnus and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Vina Lustado | Founder/Owner, Sol Haus Design
Co-presenting: ADUs For All- Design & Policy Ideas Vina Lustado is the founder/owner Sol Haus Design, a boutique firm with a focus on sustainable design. With a professional degree and more than 20 years in high-end corporate architecture, Vina decided to focus her career on smaller-scale projects that could make a positive difference. Staying true to her core values, Vina completed the design and construction of her Tiny House. Since 2013, Vina manifested her dream home in 140 square feet. Vina’s home has been featured in media publications, books and television. Since living tiny for more than 8 years, Vina has been a passionate advocate for alternative housing solutions. Resources: