The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission has indefinitely postponed a vote on whether to allow the developer of Ahmanson Ranch to cut down 10 oak trees along Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Calabasas to make way for the project.
"The commission wants to study the issue some more," said Richard Frazier, a regional planner for the county. "There are some additional legal issues that need to be looked at."
Ahmanson Land Co., the developer, wants to widen the road and extend it from Calabasas north into Ventura County. The road would be a major artery to Ahmanson's planned mini-city in the Simi Hills.
Los Angeles County officials need to study, among other issues, whether the rulings would be impacted by the proposed annexation of Mountain Gate, an exclusive, unincorporated community, to the city of Calabasas, Frazier said. The widened road would go through an area near Mountain Gate.
The Planning Commission, which was to have voted on the oak tree matter Wednesday, asked county counsel to study the legal issues and report back, Frazier said.
Ahmanson Land wants to build 3,050 homes, two golf courses and 400,000 square feet of commercial space in a hilly area southeast of Simi Valley near the border of Los Angeles County. The project has met fierce resistance from area residents, who say it would disrupt their neighborhoods. Several communities have filed lawsuits to stop it.
The developers say they have minimized the impact of the project on neighbors. The development, Ahmanson officials add, will benefit the environment by preserving open space, and will help the economy of the area by bringing in $1 million a year in sales taxes.
Many residents of Mountain Gate want their community to be annexed to Calabasas, believing that would help protect them from encroachment from the Ahmanson development. There will be a hearing on the matter at Calabasas City Hall at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4.
In a related matter, the city has begun to process Ahmanson Land's application to extend Las Virgenes Road north 15 feet to the Ventura County line.
"We are in the process of reviewing their application," said Steve Quintanilla, an attorney representing Calabasas.
It is the second time that the developer has had to apply for permits to extend the road. The city ruled that the company's first application for an encroachment permit was incomplete because Ahmanson did not also apply for a conditional-use permit.
A conditional-use permit is required because the proposed extension would run through the Las Virgenes Road Scenic Corridor, according to city officials. The city has informed Ahmanson Land that it must conduct another study to determine what impact the extension would have on the environment, Quintanilla said.