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4 to Run for Council as a Slow-Growth Slate

Thousand Oaks: They vow to limit campaign spending and not take money from developers.

July 17, 2002|GREGORY W. GRIGGS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An ousted planning commissioner and three fellow slow-growth advocates announced plans Tuesday to campaign jointly to win seats on the Thousand Oaks City Council in November.

Former commissioner Michael Farris, marketing manager for a Camarillo high tech company; Laura Lee Custodio, a lawyer and teacher; and restaurateur Bill Wilson Sr. gathered at City Hall to collect nomination papers for the coming election. Planning Commission President Claudia Bill-de la Pena said she has an appointment to collect her paperwork today.

This is the first week that candidates can begin to gather the 20 signatures needed to place their names on the ballot. So far, incumbents Dan Del Campo, Andy Fox and Dennis Gillette are seeking reelection to four-year terms.

The other open seat is being vacated by Linda Parks, who recently was elected to the county Board of Supervisors.

Planning Commissioner Randy Hoffman, who lost a bid for the Board of Supervisors in March, is also running for council, as is Donald H. Morris, a retired engineering consultant.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday July 18, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 9 inches; 331 words Type of Material: Correction
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Council candidate--A story in Wednesday's California section misidentified a slow-growth candidate running for the Thousand Oaks City Council. Bob Wilson is seeking a council seat in the November general election.
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"We believe we have a strong team that can represent the residents of this city," said Farris, 33, who has a doctorate in space physics from UCLA.

Details of the grass-roots effort are being worked out, he said, but the slow-growth council hopefuls would refuse campaign donations from developers, adhere to a voluntary $250 contribution limit and a $25,000 spending limit, fight to preserve the city's quality of life and favor the rights of homeowners over those of special interests.

"I'm here on behalf of the slow-growth movement and we have unfinished business," said Custodio, 50, who ran with Del Campo for City Council in 1998 but now wants his seat. "It's time to give government back to the people."

She said every council candidate will likely support managed growth, but that only this team is endorsed by Parks and Mayor Ed Masry, who both won two years ago on a slow-growth platform.

Wilson, who owns Cisco's Mexican restaurant in Westlake, said Parks asked him to campaign to serve out the remaining two years of her term. Parks beat Hoffman for the Board of Supervisors seat, which she will assume in January.

Bill-de la Pena, a producer for KCBS-TV, said she wants to further push initiatives she has supported during her 18 months on the Planning Commission, such as adding an air-quality element to the city's general plan, requiring builders to use less toxic materials and environmentally friendly construction methods, and forcing developers of affordable housing units to keep prices or rents lower indefinitely.

Farris was one of two planning commissioners removed in February amid accusations of violating the state's open-meeting laws by conferring with Parks to postpone a vote on a land-swap plan to prevent development of 191 acres known as the Western Plateau. Parks' critics suggested she wanted a delay to avoid having to vote on the issue before the March election.

In exchange for giving the land to the city, three developers were permitted to build more expensive condos and apartments rather than 225 senior and affordable units in the Dos Vientos area.

Of particular concern for Farris, then commission chairman, and Commissioner Nora Aidukas, was a plan to build three luxury homes on an 8.7-acre portion of the property that had once been considered for parkland. Along with Parks, the commissioners--plus Bill-de la Pena--questioned whether building on this site required a public vote and asked for more time to study the issue. But city officials insisted a vote wasn't needed because the site was never approved as parkland.

The council voted 3 to 2 to censure Parks, oust Farris and Aidukas and request an investigation. The district attorney's office later determined that the accusations were without merit.

Farris has since sued the city, with the help of slow-growth attorney Richard Francis, to force a public vote on whether luxury homes should be permitted on the 8.7 acres. A trial is scheduled in October.

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