A protest by homeowners took an unexpected turn Thursday when residents of Calabasas and Agoura appeared before Los Angeles County supervisors to oppose a new housing project in their neighborhood.
Instead of arguing that single-family houses should be built near them rather than condominiums--the usual position of homeowner groups--these residents came out for condos.
Residents said they would prefer to see 358 town houses built in a scenic valley at the border of Calabasas and Agoura Hills, which a developer originally proposed, instead of 327 single-family homes, which the developer now wants.
The surprise testimony came as the developer, Santa Monica-based Watt Pacific Inc., appealed the county planning commission's denial of a conditional-use permit for the tract of single-family dwellings next to Las Virgenes Road.
The company wants to build three- and four-bedroom homes on narrower-than-normal, 40-foot-wide lots. The small lot size would mean the homes would sell for about $150,000 each, contrasted with the $300,000 cost of a typical Agoura and Calabasas home, company president Ted Cox said.
Cox was accompanied by about a dozen potential home buyers who told supervisors that reasonably priced single-family homes are badly needed in the two areas.
"We don't need any more condos," said would-be buyer Steve Hawkins of North Hollywood. The town-house market is so "glutted" that he may not be able to easily sell his own condo if he buys one of Cox's homes, Hawkins said.
But a group of the area's residents told the supervisors that a cluster of condominiums would leave more open space.
Data Called Misleading
Tom Yacavone, an Agoura Hills homeowner, also alleged that Cox's company has submitted misleading information to the county on the number of children the project would send to area schools.
And realty agent Dorna Larkin, who also lives near the project site, disputed Cox's home sales figures. She said the average price of a house in her Liberty Canyon neighborhood is $142,986.
"My computer doesn't lie," Larkin told supervisors as she waved a printout of real estate listings.
Other homeowners complained that Cox's houses would be crammed so closely together that there would be no room between their driveways for street parking.
One of them, Pat Uebersax of Agoura Hills, acknowledged that Cox's project "sounds on the surface like an improvement" over condominiums. But she said its density would be double that of most single-family tracts, which have four houses to the acre.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Antonovich ordered a vote on Cox's appeal postponed until Feb. 12 to give the county time to investigate the two sides' claims.