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West Ventura County Focus

VENTURA : Public Responds to Mall Expansion Plan

September 10, 1993|PEGGY Y. LEE

About 35 residents attended a public hearing Thursday to comment on a preliminary environmental impact report for the proposed expansion of the Buenaventura Fashion Center, which is expected to cause traffic problems but create new jobs.

Plans call for doubling the mall's size, drawing about 14,000 additional cars to the area every day. The report also addresses a proposed expansion of the adjacent Montgomery Ward property, which is owned by Santa Monica-based mall developer MaceRich Co.

The mall, bordered by Main Street, Mills Road and Telegraph Road, is now anchored by a J.C. Penney store on the north and a Broadway department store on the south.

The expansion would mean adding three department stores to the two stores already at the site, and adding a second floor of shops. Two multilevel parking structures would also be built.

Some residents complained that the expansion would cause more traffic congestion and smog problems. Others said they were worried that there is not a sufficient economic base to support the facility.

"To consider expansion with the direction of the economy . . . this seems to me a big gamble," said Hugh Oliver, 65, a retired civil engineer. "If this is a failure you have a potential blight."

But according to the report, the project would create as many as 637 temporary construction jobs and as many as 1,500 more jobs--most of them low- to moderate-income retail positions.

City planners will take residents' comments and include them in the final EIR, Senior Planner Mark Stephens said. The report was released last month and residents have a 45-day period to make comments, he said. The review period ends Sept. 27.

After the final EIR is released, public hearings will be scheduled for design review, the Planning Commission and the City Council.

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