What we accomplished together to get SOAR approved and in place until 2050 is nothing short of amazing.
Hundreds of people stepped up in so many significant ways to make it happen. Yet all of our work hinged on the efforts of just one person – SOAR co-founder and board member Richard Francis – who took on the extraordinary job of writing not one, not two, but nine separate SOAR initiatives at once.
Surely if there were contests for such a thing, Richard would be in the Guinness World Book of Records. Richard’s legal expertise, land use knowledge and familiarity with our county gave him the ability to draft eight customized city SOAR initiatives and one unincorporated county SOAR initiative. And while his skills gave him the technical know how, it was his giving spirit and love for his community that led him to take it on, giving thousands of hours to this herculean effort, all pro bono.
Richard is the father of SOAR, having conceived of the concept when he wrote the original countywide SOAR in 1998. His approach for saving county open space and farmland by vote of the people coupled with voter approved city urban restriction boundaries (CURBs) has made Ventura County a national model for open space protection.
Richard’s work didn’t end with writing nine separate initiatives. He also successfully defended legal challenges by the County of Ventura over City of Simi Valley signatures, by the City of Thousand Oaks Clerk over the location of the words on a petition page, and by developers trying to stop the voter-approved City of Camarillo SOAR, all work that he again took on pro bono.
He also defended the rights of SOAR signature gatherers, spoke at community gatherings, before councils, and at debates, collected signatures, and on top of that he was one of the top financial contributors to the SOAR campaign.
So while not yet entered into the Guinness World Book of Records, Mr. Richard Francis is certainly entered in our book of legends.