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THOUSAND OAKS : Stronger Controls Over Day Care Urged


The city of Thousand Oaks should take stronger control over day-care centers with six to 12 children that operate in private residences, the Planning Commission urged this week.

The strictest provision of a new ordinance approved late Monday would keep day-care homes with six to 12 children at least 300 feet apart from each other to keep neighborhood noise levels low. The ordinance would also ensure that day-care facilities do not surround private residences.

But the Planning Commission also recommended a grandfather clause, which would allow existing side-by-side day care homes to continue operating.

Also, the commission suggested an amnesty period to encourage non-licensed day care facilities to apply for state licenses and city permits simultaneously.

Although there are 30 state-licensed day care facilities in Thousand Oaks, none hold city permits, which cost $390 every three years. To bring more facilities under city purview, the Planning Commission recommended slashing the fee to $75 every three years and streamlining the application process.

Before granting a permit, the city would notify homeowners within 100 yards of the proposed day-care center.

If the new ordinance is enacted, the city would more strictly enforce its permit requirement, fining or even closing those without city permits, officials said.

Some day-care providers complained that the ordinance was too vague, and said the city was unfairly cracking down on an entire industry.

"I have a neighbor who does amateur carpentry in his garage, and I have to listen to his saw probably more than he has to listen to my kids," said Michelle Cope, who runs a day-care center licensed for 12 kids. "That's just part of being a neighbor."

But the commissioners unanimously agreed that Thousand Oaks residents should be able to demand mitigation measures if their lifestyles were disrupted by a nearby day-care center.

"The commission is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the entire community, including children, including parents and including nearby residents," Commissioner Irv Wasserman said.

The Planning Commission's vote is advisory. The matter is expected to go before the City Council in the fall. The council has the authority to enact the proposed regulations.

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