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Plans for Festival Site to Be Discussed : Development: Project on the 67-acre lot would force Simi Valley Days organizers to find a new home for the event.

March 23, 1994|MATTHEW MOSK | SPECIAL TO TIMES

Simi Valley officials tonight will discuss plans to move ahead with development on the 67-acre lot where Simi Valley Days, the city's annual carnival, is held.

If the Planning Commission approves a series of suggested changes to the city's General Plan, the land at Los Angeles Avenue and Madera Road could become the site of a project that could include both residential and commercial buildings.

Development of the site would force Simi Valley Days organizers to find a new home for the event, which usually takes place in mid-September.

Officials from Simi Valley Days said they have long expected the land would be developed, but hope for the chance to use the property until a permanent home for the festival can be found.

"We have been looking, so far without success, for a place to locate the event for good," said David Yasman, last year's Simi Valley Days chairman. "It has become very difficult because of the buildup of the city."

City officials, who have been working with festival organizers to find another location for the event, said it is unclear how soon a development at the site would displace the festival.

Because many of the city's large parcels of vacant land have been developed, officials said it has been difficult to find a site as suitable for the festival as the present location.

"It's going to be tough for them to find something," said Laura Kuhn, deputy director of advanced planning. "There are other vacant parcels in the city, but not ones that are as large and as flat as the one they've got now."

But Yasman said he does not expect Simi Valley Days officials to oppose a development because the festival has been able to use the expansive lot for free for the past five years.

"I still think it will be a few years before anything gets going there, but they were very generous to let us use the land in the first place," he said. "I don't see us getting in the way of their plans now."

Tonight's debate will focus on dividing the land into four parcels, one for each of the three landowners and the fourth for a proposed post office.

Several attempts to build on the property before 1988 fell through, Kuhn said.

Since 1988, the parcels have been bound together by a long-range planning guideline for use of the entire 67 acres, but the owners have been unable to agree on a plan to develop the land together, Kuhn said.

Longtime Planning Commissioner Michael Piper said that despite the failures, the city is not opposed to a project going up on the site.

"I'm not sure why there hasn't been successful development of that piece of land," Piper said. "I can think of several occasions in which the city has granted the developers just about everything they wanted and still it didn't work out."

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A spokesman for Great Western Bank, one of the three property owners, said he did not know why development has failed in the past.

"I'm not sure, but I know we have not had any real opposition," said John Tomakin, the Great Western spokesman. "Right now we're slating the land for a residential development, but it's still in its earliest stages."

The other landowners, Simi Valley Partners and Plaza International, could not be reached for comment.

Tonight's public hearing on plans for the property is scheduled for 7 p.m. in City Hall, 2929 Tapo Canyon Road.

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