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Moorpark Panel Urges Increase in Housing Limit


Moorpark should nearly double the number of houses the city allows to be built annually under its growth-control ordinance, a committee impaneled to study a possible extension of the law has decided.

In a move that drew criticism from slow-growth advocates, the City Council-appointed committee has agreed that the city should increase the number of available building permits each year from 270 to 456.

Committee members said the proposed increase is in line with the current level of growth in the city, because developer Urban West Communities was exempted from the growth-control ordinance and has been operating outside the restrictions.

Considering the 270 houses allowed annually under the present ordinance, as well as construction by Urban West, the city has actually allowed an average of 425 houses to be built annually in recent years, said Councilman John Wozniak, who serves on the committee.

But slow-growth advocates said the possible expansion conflicts with the original intent of the ordinance, called Measure F, which was adopted by city voters in 1986.

"I'd say it's ludicrously high and it certainly is not managed growth," said Clint Harper, a school board member and former councilman who helped spearhead the adoption of Measure F. "It's probably going to require another citizens' action of some type to bring renewed growth control to the city."

Because Urban West is nearing completion of its Moorpark project, the committee felt justified in increasing the number of allowable permits to equal what has already been occurring in the city, Wozniak said. "If we were building 425 a year and it didn't have any major consequences on the city, then what's the problem?" Wozniak asked. "To me, it makes no sense to stay at 270. That means you haven't gone anywhere in eight years and that's not true."

Measure F is scheduled to expire in December, 1995. The eight-member committee, composed of council members, planning commissioners and residents, has been meeting since March and is set to make a formal recommendation to the City Council in September.

Jim Aguilera, the city's director of community development and the staff liaison to the committee, said the group agreed last week that the addition of up to 456 houses each year would coincide with the city's General Plan and anticipated build-out by 2010.

But Councilman Bernardo Perez, who also serves on the committee, said all of the elements of the group's recommendation are still open for discussion.

Perez said he could envision the committee deciding on 456 houses per year if that level of development assured the city of the infrastructural improvements necessary to serve its residents.

But Harper rejected that rationale. "It's a very shortsighted, very poor trade-off to ruin the nature of your city just to get another couple of roads," Harper said. "I'd rather go without them than turn Moorpark into another Simi Valley."

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