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Ventura County Perspective

Lang Ranch Dam

March 04, 2001

* Re "Dam Project a Lesson in Input, Deceit," Ventura County Perspective, Feb. 25.

If Dr. Seuss had lived here, Sam-I-Am might not have offered green eggs and ham to the residents of Lang Ranch. A far more unappetizing dish is being served up to them by the city of Thousand Oaks and the Ventura County Flood Control District.

"That Lang Ranch dam, that Lang Ranch dam, we do not like that Lang Ranch dam."

The Flood Control District could build the dam in a creek that runs through an ancient oak grove--and kill it. Or it could use Councilwoman Linda Parks' alternative plan, located in a flat field next to the creek. Absurdly, a city-paid consultant, arguing that the alternative site would be in a known landslide area instead of the field, asks:

"Would you want it on a slide? Would you want your homes to glide?"

Another consulting firm hired by the city conceded that Parks' alternative is feasible in concept but inexplicably said the basin would need to be 100 feet deep. Even though the Parks plan had never proposed this, this consultant asks:

"Do you want it 100 feet deep? Do you want it tall and steep?"

The flat field is roughly 10 acres, and the Parks plan basin could be engineered to safely handle peak flows during periods of intense rainfall. The rest of the time, it could do double duty as ball fields. But a city-paid consultant says it would be too small and only a 66-foot-high dam will work:

"Do you want it much too small? Our design is nice and tall!"

When it was pointed out that the dam project was too big and would dig up Chumash bones, the Flood Control District redesigned part of the facility. Even after the debris basin was reduced from 47 acre-feet to 18 acre-feet, a city-paid consultant persists:

"There is no archeology. There's none at all, you must trust me."

The Flood Control District has millions of dollars to build the dam at the expense of Lang Ranch residents, who are still paying a special assessment. Parks is asking the county to end those payments and is asking the city to give her alternative plan a fair and scientific review. Residents say:

"We do not want it on the slide. We do not want our homes to glide. We do not want it much too small. We do not want it much too tall. Not too deep, not too steep; let those Chumash elders sleep. After all, it is our dime. You've had our dime a long, long time. We do not like the Lang Ranch dam. Redesign it, (Uncle) Sam-I-Am!"

JAN OSTERHAVEN

Thousand Oaks

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