City Council ponders Thousand Oaks future

By Michael Hernandez 

THOUSAND OAKS—The City Council conducted a General Plan Update Study Session in which they pondered three options for seeking a vision about how the community will change as residents shape the city’s future for the next 15 years.  The last time this process was done in a similar fashion was 1970.  Topics within the General Plan have been adopted periodically with a housing plan updated eight times since 1970 when the city’s population was 34,500 vs. 132,365 (current population).  Back in 1970, some 79 percent of the city was vacant; today that figure is five percent.  Residential land comprised 10 percent of the city; today residential land is 45 percent. 

The General Plan update is set to engage the community and determine what is important today in planning the future of the city.   The community is asked:  How do you want to grow?  Where do you want to grow?  How do you want growth to look like?  A side benefit is the development of new leaders; hearing new voices; and empowering community residents since the General Plan concerns the “next generation.”

The presentation by Community Director Mark Towne and by recently approved (Jan. 8th) consultant Raimi and Associates of Los Angeles (a firm that has completed a couple dozen updates and 11 in the past 12 years) presented the City three options:  1) a housing and land use update (which would cost $800,000 and take 1.5 years); 2) a focused update (costing $1.3 million taking 2.5 years to complete); and 3) a comprehensive update over all eight required state topics (or elements) that would require 2.5 years to complete (costing $1.5 million).  The city could receive $250,000 from passage of SB 2 or enact a development (building fee) that generates the additional required revenue for the General Plan expenses.  Approximately half the projected budget would go to pay for the Environmental Impact Report.

Raimi and Associates gave four examples of General Plans they recently have completed for the cities of:  Hermosa Beach, Mountain View, East Palo Alto, and West Hollywood.  The General Plan would require the city to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) established by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) for affordable housing.  The State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) would review the housing report and neighboring cities could give feedback. 

“We can’t let Sacramento dictate what we do (in regards to affordable housing) in our community, ” said Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Pena.   “Our Measure E (growth control measure) is a problem (with the state).  Mayor Pro Tem Al Adam said, “We want to build where we want to build…How should we respond to the state?”

Currently, the city has a Regional Housing Needs Allocation of 120 units with 10 affordable housing units built.  In recent years, Sacramento has passed 13 new housing laws, seven new general laws, and four new California Environmental Quality Act laws which usually require an Environmental Impact Report (not included in the 1970 General Plan).

Thousand Oaks reports on general and enterprise funds for last fiscal year

The City of Thousand Oaks ended its last fiscal year (June 30, 2018) with $900,000 in the general fund with total revenues of $86 million and total expenditures of $85.1 million according to the fiscal report presented to the City Council by Finance Director Jaime Boscarino.

The fiscal report met City Council Goal B:  “Operate City government in a fiscally and managerially responsible and prudent manner to ensure that the City of Thousand Oaks remains one of California’s most desirable places to live, work, visit, recreate, and raise a family” and prepared by Accounting Manager Elisa Q Magana with Thousand Oaks audit and financial statements presented by Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott (RAMS) certified public accountants who included a 2015 system peer review report from Grant Bennett Associates.

Sales tax of $30.7 million (36 percent) was the largest revenue source followed by a $21.5 million for a combined property tax revenue (25 percent).   The two largest general fund expenditures were $29.7 million for public safety (35 percent) and $20.4 million for general government (24 percent). 

Revenues for enterprise funds (not included in general funds) added up to an additional $67.8 million in revenues and a 61.7 million in expenditures leaving approximately 6.1 million in the 2017-18 enterprise funds account.   The two largest enterprise funds were for water:  $29.5 million in revenues and $24.4 million in expenses and for wastewater $20.7 million in revenues and $19.3 million in expenses.

Other Reports:

The Thousand Oaks Council on Aging (COA) presented their annual report of yearly activities which included:

  • Outreach to the senior community;
  • Service as liaisons to the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA), Goebel Adult Community Center (GACC), and Conejo Senior Volunteer Program (CSVP);
  • Hosting knowledgeable speakers at televised and workshop meetings;
  • Maintaining the Conejo Connections Senior Services Directory; and
  • Senior of the Year Awards Banquet.

Council on Aging Chair Dr. Karen Gorback and Commissioner Tony Gitt were elected through the VCAAA to serve as California Senor Legislators representing Ventura County—this is the first time that Thousand Oaks has had two representatives at this level.  Dr. Gorback will serve as a California Senior Senator and Commissioner Gitt as a California Senior Assembly member.  Their terms are four years.  The COA meets Thousand Oaks City Council Goal F.   The older adult population is the fastest growing demographic in Thousand Oaks.

Other Action:

The Thousand Oaks City Council adopted with a 5-0 vote (motion by Councilmember Al Adam) a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and the Friends of the Thousand Oaks Library outlining the roles and responsibilities of both parties.

The Friends of the Thousand Oaks Library were first incorporated in 1967 as the Conejo Valley Friends of the Library.  In 1988, the group changed their name to the Friends of the Thousand Oaks Library.  The group has supported both the Newbury Park and Grant R. Brimhall Libraries with their fundraising efforts as well as assist in reading and literacy programs run by the library.   “The aquarium at the library is amazing,” said Mayor Rob McCoy.

The staff report was presented by Thousand Oaks Library Services Director Heather J. Cousin with no additional funding requested for inclusion in the Adopted 2018-19 Library Fund Budget.

 

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, 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 24 years as a middle school teacher.   Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].


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One Response to City Council ponders Thousand Oaks future

  1. William Hicks January 25, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Thousand Oaks City Council is caught between Newsom’s requirement for affordable housing and an unreasonable edict for excessive open space.

    Unless “affordable housing” becomes nothing more than section 8 housing, thousand oaks city council is in a conundrum between “open space” and affordable housing.

    I LEFT THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, NOT FOR OPEN SPACE BUT FOR AN AFFORDABLE HOUSE IN THE 1970’S. I’m sure i’m not alone in that.

    I’m glad I’m not a City Council Member that has to make adult decisions; that is if they’re capable of making an adult decision.

    Reply

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