By Michael Hernandez
THOUSAND OAKS—The City Council approved by a 5-0 vote the allocation of a General Plan Amendment for a 210 residential two-story apartment complex (36 studio units, 95 one-bedroom units, and 79 two-bedroom units; with 26 of the units affordable housing) and a 120-room three story hotel on 1872 Newbury Road (southeast of Kelley) subject to submittal of a formal application within 12 months. City staff also recommended the land use designation change from Commercial to Commercial/Residential. The proposed development will maintain Timber School House and Auditorium (with original architecture done by Roy C. Wilson) which was designated a historical landmark by the City Council in 2004. The architecture would have a mission motif as well as 546 parking spaces.
The estimated rent for an affordable two-bedroom unit will be approximately $1,100 (one half the average rent for a two bedroom unit in Thousand Oaks). The criteria for qualifying for affordable rent is based on both income (80 percent of the median income in the county) and household size with the current median income for a household of four being $97,000 and for a household of one being $68,000 (which means teachers and nurses could qualify for affordable housing).
Public comments were divided between four concerned residents from Galway (the neighboring street) and four members of the community who wanted to see the project go forward because of improvements and future use of the Timber School House and Auditorium.
Mayor Pro Tem Al Adam who made the motion in favor of the project voiced support because of Thousand Oaks need for additional apartments. “We have a low supply and a huge demand.” Adam also liked how the developer was paying for the Timber School improvements and “not taxpayers.”
The City Council was told by the developer that they had initially tried to go only with a commercial development but could not attract tenants because of the 15 foot sound wall built by Cal Trans off the 101. He said that businesses wanted to have drivers see their stores and the sound wall kept that from happening.
Another benefit to the city was an estimated $500,000 in taxes that the hotel would generate annually. The general manager of the Marriott Courtyard even voiced support for the project because of the shortage of hotel rooms in Thousand Oaks.
City Council approves 2019 Wastewater Financial Plan
The City Council also approved a one percent rate adjustment for monthly residential wastewater rates for 2020 ($29.65/month) and 2021 ($29.95/month). The City of Thousand Oaks had maintained a monthly residential wastewater rate of $25.45 for 10 years (2004-2014). However, rates were adjusted by four percent in 2014 and five percent in 2015 and have been adjusted by one percent (each year since) due to increased operating, maintenance and capital expenses for aging infrastructure.
Wastewater service charges in other Ventura County cities range from a low of $27 in Moorpark to $103.36 in Fillmore. The City of Thousand Oaks is the second lowest of the Ventura County cities. The rate calculation is based on an average of three people per household and 1,300 cubic feet of water per month. The national average is $73.68/month.
The City of Thousand Oaks is one of two wastewater purveyors (38,000 customers) and one of four water purveyors (17,000 customers) serving Conejo Valley residents and businesses.
The City Council heard a staff recommendation for an 11 cents per unit (100 cubic feet or about 750 gallons) pass-through rate adjustment for 2020 and a 27 cents per unit pass-through rate adjustment for 2021. The new water meter rates depend on meter size which ranges from 5/8 or ¾ inch meter to 6 inch meters (with most residential meters being five inches). Most single family residential costs currently are $4.87 per 100 cubic feet (about 750 gallons) and will rise to $5.03 per 100 cubic feet in 2020 and to $5.24 per 100 cubic feet in 2021. This translates to a water bill of $66.07 for a low water user; $91.55 for an average water user; and $298.27 for a high water user in 2020.
A water rate comparison of Ventura County cities ranges from a low in Moorpark of a monthly cost of $62.45 to a high in Oak Park of $117.32. The average Thousand Oaks user is at $89.20 while the national average is $63.83.
Proposition 218 which was enacted in 1996 to the California Constitution requires that each property owner receive notification 45 days prior to a public hearing on a proposed water fee adjustment (which will be Dec. 10).
Thousand Oaks water supply is imported state water fully treated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and delivered throughout Ventura County by the Calleguas Municipal Water District. Thousand Oaks wholesale water supply cost is about $17 million per year.
The City Council also reviewed:
- Heard from Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub (during public comments) who said in reference to the cancelled fundraiser for Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Ron Helus (see link to Citizens Journal story by Publisher George Miller: https://www.citizensjournal.us/thousand-oaks-fundraiser-event-for-fallen-officer-a-casualty-of-politics-or-more/): “The Office of the Sheriff is nonpartisan, and non-political. We serve the entire community…to build trust. Our focus has been on recovery from the Borderline and devastating Woolsey fire with healing of all those touched by those events. Our men and women serve and work tirelessly to keep Thousand Oaks a place to work and play, particularly Chief Tim Hagel. We love this city and are grateful for the support of the Council and the City in all we do.”
- Eight of the 12 public comments made were against 5G installation in Thousand Oaks. Thousand Oaks City Manager Andrew Powers again stated that this was not a city issue (but a FCC issue) and City Attorney Tracy Noonan commented on legal matters concerning 5-G in the courts;
- Received a Public Health Goals Report on the City of Thousand Oaks 2019 Triennial Water Quality;
- Heard about the upcoming presentation of “The Music Man” starring Adam Pascal running Oct. 18-20 and Oct. 24-27 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza with tickets ranging form $46 to $464;
- Heard a presentation from the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department entitled “No Place Like Home.”
- Adjourned in memory of educational leader Albert “Bud” Marley who died on Sept. 4 and was a superintendent in both Ojai (eight years) and Las Virgenes (11 years).
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].