The Tri-County Chamber Alliance has voiced its support for a movement to see Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties become their own region for COVID-19 regulation.

The organization has sent a letter and petition from with more than 5,400 signatures to Gov. Gavin Newsom.


Currently, the counties are part of the Southern California region, which includes Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego and other counties. The new region would be called the Central Coast.


Officials from Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties announced the Central Coast plan earlier this month, irate over the fact that they have been lumped together with much more populous counties and forced to implement the same business restrictions when the Central Coast pandemic figures have been much lower. The issue came to a head this week when the owner of Nick the Greek, a restaurant in Ventura, was filmed confronting a pair of health inspectors prepared to fine him for operating take-out pick up outside his restaurant. The news gathered increased attention after President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, tweeted about it.


In the petition sent to Newsom, the Tri-County Alliance wrote: “The Central Coast is a contiguous area that is distinct from the rest of Southern California. Our population is smaller and not densely populated like many of our neighboring urban counties. In fact, a strong part of our identity is that we are 'not Los Angeles.' Taken together – and separately as a distinct region – Central Coast hospitals continue to report ICU capacity well over the 15 percent standard. We are confident that, as we reach the other side of the current COVID-19 case surge, we will continue to have ICU capacity in excess of that standard. Frankly, we believe that requiring us to wait for the rest of the Southern California region to meet that standard will cause undue harm. Our businesses, and the employees and communities they sustain, will needlessly spend extra weeks of being shut down, when the local hospital capacity does not necessitate it.”


The letter asks state public health officials to evaluate Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties based on data to set up the split-off region.


One of the signatories, Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Danielle Borja, told the Business Journal in an email, “The Greater Conejo Valley Chamber strongly believes that the Central Coast region of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties is distinct from the rest of the Southern California Region and is not comparable to many of the urban counties in this region. The state has recognized the important role that local counties have played navigating this pandemic to date and lumping Ventura County into this massive region will cause undue harm to our businesses that have already suffered tremendous economic loss.”