Barely two days after slow-growth advocates kicked off a campaign to qualify two initiatives for the Simi Valley municipal ballot, the effort ran into trouble from two City Council members.
Councilwomen Ann Rock and Vicky Howard, at a City Hall press conference Monday, claimed that the two measures contained several factual errors and are misleading.
Both Howard and Rock said they agree with the concepts of the growth-limiting initiatives but believe that the measures are too severe and would end up discouraging what they called desirable projects, such as a regional shopping center or business park.
The initiatives would greatly restrict hillside development and residential construction throughout the city. The drive to garner enough signatures to get the initiatives on the November ballot was launched Saturday by a citizens group, Citizens for Managed Growth and Hillside Protection.
One initiative would order the city to restrict residential, industrial and commercial construction in hillside and rural areas, and to prevent the grading of slopes of 10% or more. The other initiative calls for year-to-year controls on the rate, distribution, quality and type of housing development to avoid traffic congestion, prevent the deterioration of air quality and "preserve the character of the community."
The group has five weeks to collect 4,000 signatures to qualify the measures.
Rock and Howard said they found contradictory dates on the measures with regard to when a developer with an already-approved project could file for a building permit and start construction without being affected by the initiatives' proposed zoning changes.
On one initiative, which seeks to limit the number of residential building permits issued throughout the city, the deadline is listed as the date of the first publication of the Notice of Intention to Circulate, which would be April 10. On the other initiative, which proposes to ban hillside construction on slopes of 10% or more, the date is listed as 21 days after publication of the notice, which would be May 1.
Confusion Over Dates
The council members said the proposals did not make clear which date would take precedence; nor were developers adequately notified in advance of the deadlines. If the initiatives are passed, projects already approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council would have to be abandoned if developers do not agree to alter them to meet the initiatives' conditions, Howard said.
Rock and Howard pointed up as "misleading" other parts of the initiatives, such as their projections of population and air pollution and a claim that the city has done nothing to soften the effect of increased traffic.
But they also do not like the idea of such a broad-ranging measure being drafted by a relatively small group.
"Most important is the fact that these initiatives have been put together by a group of individuals who do not answer to the people," Howard said. "They have met privately and without benefit of public notice and involvement to totally reclassify every property in Simi Valley with their proposed overlays," Howard said.
'Rational and Reasonable'
But David Penner, spokesman for the citizens group, termed both initiatives "rational and reasonable." He said, "I think we have a document that can meet the various challenges both legally and the problems within the city."
The two council members said they hoped that residents will await the outcome of the city's public hearings on other growth-controlling measures before deciding whether to lend their signatures to the petition drive.