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Ventura County Perspective

Greenbelt Agreements Serve Potent Symbolic Purpose

The hypocrisy of Measure K, put forth by the Fillmore City Council in violation of the

September 10, 2000|DWIGHT MOORE | Dwight Moore is a Fillmore citrus farmer. and city's own proposed ordinance, underscores the value of the device

For more than a decade, the city of Fillmore, Ventura County and residents of the area have struggled over the value of establishing a greenbelt agreement to cover the land that stretches from Fillmore east to the Los Angeles County line.

I own and farm property in the Santa Paula / Fillmore Greenbelt. This greenbelt has existed for more than 20 years. It is important to realize that greenbelt agreements themselves provide no permanent protection for agriculture or open space.

Until the passage of the countywide Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative in 1998, agricultural and open space in Ventura County could be developed through the county planning process whereby zoning and the county General Plan are amended without a vote of the people. SOAR has changed that, almost.

Through their own planning processes and with approval of the Local Agency Formation Commission, cities can still annex property--even property under the "protection" of a greenbelt--and zone it however they see fit without a vote of the people. Last year Fillmore did this with land in the Santa Clara River area to facilitate the proposed Riverwalk housing development. Santa Paula has also removed property from the Santa Paula / Fillmore greenbelt.

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As things stand now, greenbelt agreements are largely symbolic agreements subject to the whims of whatever city council is in charge.

This symbolism, however, has been the real value of greenbelt agreements. It's a warning flag to developers, a way of saying, "If you want to mess here, watch out!" This is why I have supported greenbelt agreements.

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In an attempt to undercut Measure J (the Fillmore SOAR initiative placed on the Nov. 7 ballot by a residents' petition drive), the City Council unanimously adopted a countermeasure, Measure K, and titled it "Fillmore Vision 2020--Greenbelt Plan / Fillmore City Urban Growth Boundary.

The council apparently didn't realize that its proposed growth boundary violated its own proposed city of Fillmore greenbelt ordinance. Or maybe it felt it didn't matter because its proposed greenbelt ordinance only had symbolic value.

It is that symbolic value, however, that exposes the hypocrisy of the City Council's Measure K, which would allow the urbanization of Goodenough Road and the destruction of valuable farmland and open space east of the fish hatchery without a vote of the people.

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