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An 11th city for Ventura County?

Two Oxnard-area men hope to control development by creating a new municipality.

June 16, 2007|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

Growing up in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach in the 1950s and '60s, Jonathan Ziv watched as urban development swallowed the area's citrus orchards and bean fields.

As a young dentist in the Conejo Valley in the 1980s, he saw how west San Fernando Valley residents' frustrations boiled over from the inattention of Los Angeles County officials.

The result was establishment of the cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas and Westlake Village.

Now, as a resident of a Ventura County beach community, Ziv has joined forces with businessman Keith Moore to form a nonprofit group to accomplish a similar feat.

The two want to create the county's 11th city, which would be called Channel Islands Beach.

"We're not interested in cinder block and cement construction everywhere and the development that causes it," said Ziv, who, like Moore, lives in an unincorporated area of the county adjacent to Oxnard. "In the coastal communities, the region where I live, we still have open vistas."

But concern that neighboring Oxnard, largest of the county's 10 cities, continues to authorize new residential and commercial projects without sufficiently improving infrastructure to handle more traffic has spurred desire for municipal independence, Ziv said.

"I'm seeing a repeat of what I saw in Orange County," he said. "The neighborhoods that line the coast will be very negatively impacted by development, but we'll have very little input" on projects under consideration.

The solution: Take the unincorporated communities of Silver Strand, Hollywood Beach and Hollywood by the Sea, and meld them into a town with a sizable chunk of Oxnard south of 5th Street and west of Ventura Road, including the county-run Oxnard Airport and Mandalay Shores, Seabridge, Westport, River Ridge public golf course and surrounding neighborhoods.

But Ziv and Moore can expect a fight.

"There's probably not a single Oxnard council person who supports taking the most affluent sectors of the city and peeling them away," Oxnard City Councilman Tim Flynn said. "I don't fault Jon Ziv and the people who support him for wanting more political control and more autonomy, but not at the expense of the city of Oxnard."

The complicated process of establishing a new city would be overseen by the state-sanctioned Ventura Local Agency Formation Commission, which requires feasibility studies to demonstrate that a new city could be self-sustaining with existing property, sales and hotel bed taxes.

Backers of the plan must pay for such financial analysis before they could officially approach the commission for permission to circulate a petition, which must get signatures from a quarter of the new town's estimated 16,000 registered voters.

If that succeeded, commission staff would conduct additional feasibility studies before the proposal could go on a ballot. A majority of the new city's voters plus a majority of all other Oxnard voters would have to approve the plan for it to proceed.

"It's very rare to have an annexation and a detachment [from an existing city]. I can't remember the last time this has happened," said Bill Fulton, an urban planning expert who is also a city councilman in neighboring Ventura.

"It's not uncommon for an affluent part of a community to want to secede," Fulton said. "But, it's very difficult to create a new city these days, because the new city has to be fiscally viable and leave the former city fiscally neutral."

Veteran county Supervisor John Flynn, who represents the Oxnard area and whose eldest son is on the City Council, said the cityhood effort is not surprising considering Flynn's long-running battles with board colleagues regarding the area.

"People around the harbor ... have been so badly treated by a majority of the board of supervisors on just about every issue," Flynn said. "They feel ridiculed and abused. They're absolutely angry. If you're a politician, you don't make 15,000 to 20,000 voters mad at you."

Although Ziv and Moore contend that Channel Islands Beach would have at least 50% Latino and African American households, one local civil rights group intends to monitor the process.

David Rodriguez, district director-elect for the League of United Latin American Citizens of Ventura County, said his organization wants to stay informed on the plan.

"It could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing.... It could possibly lead to more Latino officials being elected," Rodriguez said. "We have to make sure we're not creating a monster for someone's political convenience."

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greg.griggs@latimes.com

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