California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    City Council to Vote on Measure Adding Housing

    At the upcoming Thousand Oaks City Council hearing April 24, council members will vote on an amendment to increase the number of residential units in the Measure E bank without exceeding the current limits.

    Councilwoman Claudia Bill-de la Peña believes the purpose of the measure is not to create additional housing, but to add housing without the vote or advisery vote from the citizens of Thousand Oaks.

    “I opposed this because when I sat on the subcommittee to interpret Measure E, we never anticipated that this formula would be used 14 years down the road to add 1,088 units,” Bill-de la Peña said. “When we came up with this interpretation that led us to the current number in the bank, we did not at all interpret that this would be used for a development to add more units to the Measure E bank.”

    According to the City of Thousand Oaks website, the Measure E ordinance was passed in 1996 by voters to require voter approval for any amendment to the Land Use Element of the City’s General Plan that increases residential land use density or increases the amount of commercial acreage beyond the City’s General Plan of Nov. 5, 1996.

    “Measure E was written in the past by voters, well before I came onto council. I was part of the going council to interpret Measure E, not develop it,” Bill-de la Peña said. “That was never the intention of our interpretation of Measure E, nor is it provided for in the actual language of Measure E.”

    Life-long Newbury Park resident and realtor Craig Burritt said he believes that if citizens were polled, a majority of them would be against the city council moving forward without voter approval.

    California Lutheran University senior and Thousand Oaks resident Hailey Costigan said that if housing was to reach 5,000, the excessive amount of residential units would sacrifice a lot of the free space that makes Thousand Oaks beautiful.

    “I would have a problem with 5,400 units and I don’t necessarily want 1,000 [units] either, but I do recognize that we need to add units,” Burritt said. “It’s not that I have a problem with units being applied… It just needs to be done the right way. The way that the city is trying to circumvent Measure E is concerning to say the least.”

    Burritt said that multiple Thousand Oaks community members have come out against the initial reports with what the general plan number was.

    “I think that we have to have another report done to make sure that it’s accurate and take it from there,” Burritt said. “There needs to be another comprehensive report towards what the original general plan had in mind. There was one that was decided upon wholly by the city council, which I’m fine with but we’ve only had one.”

    Bill-de la Peña said that’s why she is currently asking for an advisory vote, but has remained in the minority amongst her fellow council members.

    As reported by The Acorn, the City Council voted 4-1 in favor of beginning the process of adding 1,088 units to the Measure E bank Jan. 9. Bill-de la Peña was the only council member dissenting.

    “I don’t know that we will ever build the 1,088 that are before us tonight. If we do, do I think it’s going to change of the fabric of our city? The answer to that is no, I don’t,” Council Member Joel Price said in an article published by The Acorn. “I think we’ll be a better city, a more vibrant city, one that will be welcoming to young people and new businesses and allow our existing businesses to thrive.”

    Costigan said that she believes at this point a small number of city housing would be more reasonable.

    “Some additional housing could be beneficial as a means to generate revenue,” Costigan said. “I think that residents should be the ones to decide if more housing is put into action in Thousand Oaks because the residents are the ones that will be directly impacted.”

    Burritt said he hopes that any plans for future housing will allow multiple classes of citizens to live here and enjoy the city.

    “With any additional housing built, the initial housing has to be something on the lower income level that can work into the city’s current general plan and allow us to still be able to function,” Burrit said. “I think that city does recognize that… But if we’re being honest, it all comes down to money. I think that they would be inclined to want to go towards things that will provide more tax dollars for the city. Hopefully they won’t.”

    Burritt says his biggest concern with the city council’s actions isn’t what they might build, but the way that they are trying to keep the vote out of the hands of the city.

    “The handling that the city has done to circumvent the initial spirit and idea behind Measure E…The way they’re going about this, to me, feels like they’re trying to get away with something. My concern is that if they’re allowed to get away with it… what’s next?” Burritt said.

    Burritt said that he would love to see his community rise up and have their voices heard against this upcoming vote.

    Bill-de la Peña said this amendment isn’t the only option that council members have in addressing additional residential units.

    “The [other] option is for the council not to add those units and to only add units as needed,” Bill-de la Peña said. “Say with every project that comes before us once we exhaust the number in the bank… We can look at every project on a case-by-case basis and then decide if we need to add more units to the bank. I don’t think that we need to transfer a thousand units all at once to the bank, at all.”

    Bill-de la Peña said that she thinks the vote will go through on April 24, following the current trend.

    “This is something that’s completely unanticipated. Therefore, I voted against it earlier this year when it came before the council and I will continue to oppose it on April 24,” Bill-de la Peña said.

    Brandy Alonzo-Mayland
    Reporter