The city of Camarillo this week asked county officials to change their policy on development in the rapidly growing Santa Rosa Valley to ensure that money for roads, schools and parks is available before builders put up homes.
The request comes in the wake of the refusal by Camarillo, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks to pay a combined $12 million assessed by the county to help widen major roads through the valley's unincorporated areas.
"We're asking the county to take a look at this established policy and evaluate whether the area can support more development," Camarillo Mayor Sandi Bush said.
The actions were sparked by the Caston Trust's proposal to build 280 homes on 334 acres now zoned for agricultural uses. The proposal is expected to reach the supervisors next spring.
County supervisors Tuesday took no action on Camarillo's request. Staff members are negotiating with the three cities over their refusal to pay the levies for Santa Rosa and Moorpark roads.
Supervisor Maggie Erickson, whose district includes Camarillo, said approval of the development could help pay to widen the high-speed two-lane roads.
"The infrastructure in the Santa Rosa Valley needs an infusion of money, and some of it could come from this development," she said.
But Bush objected, saying that the proposed development would add too many people to an already straining Santa Rosa Valley.
"We have a greenbelt agreement with the county, and this plan is in violation," she said.
At issue is the question of just how much money developers should be expected to pay for roads, parks, schools and other public facilities. The county already charges developers about $3,500 per lot for road improvements, such as striping and turn lanes, according to County Planner Daniel Price.
But such fees do not go toward such major improvements as widening roads, he said.
To widen seven miles of road to four lanes, the county has asked the Caston Trust to pay $4 million of the $24-million total cost. The county intends to contribute $5.1 million, and it has asked Camarillo for $5.2 million, Moorpark for $6.2 million and Thousand Oaks for $474,420.
But the city of Camarillo says the request is unfair. Development outside its boundaries in the Santa Rosa Valley increases traffic on city streets, ultimately costing the city money, Bush said.
"We could tell the county we would like it to contribute $4.5 million toward that," she said.
Moorpark Mayor Paul Lawrason said the assessment on the city was out of line with its residents' use of the roads. The city also objects to the Caston Trust development and its aggravation of traffic problems, he said.