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Dos Vientos Residents Assail Land Pact Proposal

Housing: Homeowners object to deal between city and builders to preserve open space in exchange for more development in their subdivision.


THOUSAND OAKS — A proposed agreement between the city and three developers that would block construction on 180 acres desired for open space angered more than 100 Dos Vientos residents, who told city leaders Tuesday the deal would hurt their neighborhood.

Dos Vientos homeowners came out in force to the City Council meeting Tuesday night, most of them opposing the plan because it would allow more development within their subdivision as part of the deal.

The agreement, proposed by Councilman Andy Fox, would prevent the Western Plateau, a huge swath of open space overlooking Hill Canyon, from being developed with 147 homes.

In exchange for giving the property to the city, developers Miller Bros. Investments and Operating Engineers Trust would get the right to build more marketable and lucrative condominiums within Dos Vientos instead of apartments designated for seniors and low-income families.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday October 27, 2000 Ventura County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Zones Desk 1 inches; 19 words Type of Material: Correction
Planning director--The name of the Thousand Oaks planning director was incorrectly spelled in a story Wednesday. His name is Phil Gatch.

By 10 p.m. Tuesday, council members were still debating the conceptual deal. City officials said if the council moved forward, the proposed housing changes would have to go through environmental review and the city's public hearing process.

Fox, the developers and others touted the plan as a unique "win-win" proposal. The public, they said, would get the environmentally sensitive land--which Fox said is worth $150 million--at no cost, and the overall number of residential units approved in the project would be reduced by 100.

Another benefit of the deal would be to provide a more desirable spot for a new YMCA facility, which was previously planned for a residential area in Newbury Park.

But the problems are in the details, some residents said. Under the Fox proposal, Operating Engineers Trust would get to build 72 homes on plots between 8,000 and 12,000 square feet as opposed to 12 large, expensive homes on one-acre lots.

Miller Bros. and landowner Shapell Industries would get to build 300 market-rate condominiums and apartments in place of those previously planned with lower rents.

About 50 other Dos Vientos residents--who apparently came on a bus chartered by Miller Bros.--said they supported the plan, as did several open-space advocates.

Dos Vientos resident Joel Saltzman said he believes removing the affordable- and senior-housing designations on the apartments would lead to more people living in the neighborhood, particularly "noisy" college students attracted by the area's proximity to the emerging Cal State Channel Islands.

"We were sold by developers on a semirural environment, and now the space they are building on is becoming more dense," Saltzman said. "We're in favor of saving the Western Plateau, but there's an unexamined or ignored cost in which Dos Vientos will be harmed."

Ken Bower, a Newbury Park resident, said he remembered when the Dos Vientos plan was originally approved. "This last-minute change is an absolute slap in the face to every one of us who spent our blood, sweat and tears on this project."

Arlen Miller, a principal of Miller Bros., said despite fears of some residents, the overall density of the apartments as measured by the total number of units would not increase. He also said the developers would contribute $500,000 to the city to subsidize housing for seniors and would build more units elsewhere in the city.

"I believe it's a good deal for the residents there," he said.

Irv Gold, president of the Dos Vientos Homeowners Assn., agreed.

"The residents who understand what you're doing are supporting you," he told the council.

The Western Plateau, situated west of the Rancho Conejo Open Space, was selected earlier this year by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency as its top priority for acquisition. The land is home to several species of plants and wildlife, including mountain lions, deer and bobcats.

City officials said the proposed deal to protect the plateau was similar to the one that spared Wildwood Mesa from development 10 years ago. Fox and planning officials strongly urged the council to back the concept.

"We're going to lose a valuable asset if we don't act now," Planning Director Phil Jatch said.

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