On April 10, 2018, the city of Ojai, California adopted a resolution declaring the city the first nuclear-free zone in decades. Against the backdrop of events over the past year, and recognizing the catastrophic human consequences of any use of nuclear weapons plus the exorbitant costs of nuclear weapons production and maintenance, the City Council adopted the resolution unanimously.
The background for our Resolution began last November when I approached one of our city council members about the proposal. He was supportive and encouraging of the process. On November 18th, during public comments, I challenged the City Council to take a stand on behalf of the citizens of Ojai regarding the greatest public health threat we face, that of nuclear war, and declare our city a nuclear-free zone. I encouraged them to consider a future response when our children’s children ask us: “What did you do when the planet was threatened?” We will be able to say we took a stand for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The Council that night agreed to put the Resolution on a future agenda.
One week later, the California Thomas fire started with Ojai at the epicenter. I requested our efforts be postponed until the city could return to some semblance of normalcy. On February 13, the Council Resolution was introduced by Councilmembers Francina and Weirick. Speaking on behalf of the Resolution, I advised the Council that as city leaders and first responders—just as in our recent fire—they had a responsibility to protect the citizens of Ojai. I stated—as a physician—that there was no adequate response to a nuclear attack and that prevention by abolition of these weapons was the only response. After discussion, the Council unanimously voted to consider the Resolution.
At their April 10th meeting, the Council announced that the Resolution was adopted unanimously!
This bold Resolution has three main components.
First, it adopts the five point “Back From The Brink” resolution that many PSR chapters are championing. “The city council, on behalf of the residents of Ojai, call on the United States and our elected officials to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war” via:
- Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first.
- End the president’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack.
- Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.
- Cancel the plan to replace the entire U.S. arsenal with enhanced weapons.
- Actively pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
Secondly, the City Council declares Ojai a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone by prohibiting a variety of nuclear weapons-related activities within the city.
The third section, titled “Nuclear Free Contracts and Investments,” includes guidelines for city contracting and investment of funds. The resolution calls for divestment from institutions and companies that are involved in the financing, manufacture, development, stockpiling and testing of nuclear weapons.
Recognizing that Ojai is but one small Southern California community, the resolution concludes with this appeal to other communities:
“Conscious of the magnitude of destructive capacity of modern nuclear weapons, we recognize that our proposal would have little meaning on its own. We therefore appeal to our neighboring counties and cities to make similar statements on the half of the citizens they represent”.
This appeal has already had an effect on neighboring communities. A group of middle school students from R.J. Frank Academy of Marine Science and Engineering, aware of the Ojai action, just challenged the city of Oxnard to protect their future and adopt a similar resolution. California State Assembly member Monique Limón has introduced California Joint Resolution 33 calling on the state to adopt the “Back From the Brink” resolution. Ultimately, we all have an opportunity and role to play in bringing forth a future free of nuclear weapons.