THOUSAND OAKS — City Councilman Andy Fox wants to come to the aid of residents who complain that their children are unfairly barred from a new school in their neighborhood.
Fox wants to delay construction approval for 252 new homes in the proposed Woodridge development until the city and Conejo Valley school district officials can fully assess the project's effects on local elementary schools.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday December 9, 1997 Ventura County Edition Metro Part B Page 4 Zones Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Redistricting vote--Recent articles have given an incorrect date for the Conejo Valley Unified School District's vote on attendance boundaries for Lang Ranch Elementary School. The board will vote tonight.
Dozens of parents are outraged at the prospect of continuing to drive their children to other schools after Lang Ranch Elementary School opens within walking distance. While many existing homes are left out of the school's attendance boundaries, homes in Woodridge, although not yet built, are included.
School officials say stalling the Woodridge project would have no effect on their plans for the new school, but Fox thinks that the City Council needs to stand in support of present residents, not future ones.
"Basically, I want to stop the project in its tracks," Fox said Thursday.
The City Council was planning to consider housing allocations for the Woodridge development at its regular meeting Tuesday night. Fox said he will ask his council colleagues to withhold approvals that would enable Woodridge developers to obtain city permits to build.
In a memo faxed to his council colleagues Thursday, Fox said he initially supported the project because school officials promised to offset any harm to present residents caused by new development.
But forcing parents to continue driving their children to schools on the other side of the Moorpark Freeway when a new one sits in their own neighborhood makes no sense, Fox said, especially since parents in the new Woodridge development, which sits atop a steep hill, would have to drive their children up and down the hilly roads to the new school anyway.
The new school is set to open next fall. School officials Wednesday released a new map of attendance boundaries that still leave 420 homes in the vicinity of new school out of the boundary proposal. The homes, with about 200 children, sit in an area bordered by Sunset Hills Boulevard, Erbes Road and Avenida de los Arboles.
School officials say they drew the map according to the Lang Ranch Specific Plan of 1986, which did not include the homes.
Councilwoman Linda Parks, long an opponent of the Woodridge project, said she didn't plan to vote for the housing allocations anyway.
"Too bad he didn't consider this when he voted for it" initially, Parks said of Fox's plan. "That's precisely part of the problem. I think the city needs to start addressing the impact of public schools when it approves development projects."
Newly appointed Mayor Michael Markey said he too was convinced by school officials that the development would not neglect present residents. He said he will support Fox's proposal to delay development plans for Woodridge.
Meanwhile, the school board will hold a study session on the proposed boundaries Tuesday evening and cast a final vote Wednesday.
The boundary proposal issued by the district Wednesday was a second stab at appeasing residents. The new map added about 90 homes on Laurelwood and Parkview drives that previously had been excluded from the new school.
Even if the city blocks or slows development plans for Woodridge, it is of no concern to the school district, Assistant Supt. Gary Mortimer said.
The district does not need the $1.8 million in Woodridge development fees earmarked for schools in order to build the new school, he said.
"I don't think Fox's plan would influence us one way or another," Mortimer said. "We're not in the land development business; we're in the teaching kids business."
About 80 elementary schoolchildren are expected to live in Woodridge homes, an exclusive enclave set for a figure-eight swath of hilly land on the Simi Valley-Thousand Oaks border.
Even if those children never come, school officials say there would still not be room to accommodate the 200 children excluded in the district's boundary map.
Mortimer said there are several other developments, including the Eagle Ridge, Verdigris and Summit tracts, whose children are likely to attend the new school.
"The Woodridge kids are just one part of a larger picture," Mortimer said.