Oakmont Senior Living Considered by Camarillo City Council-

By Manuela Walter

Oakmont Senior Living Retirement Communities

CITY OF CAMARILLO 2016 WATER QUALITY REPORT AVAILABLE

CLICK HERE to access the City of Camarillo’s Annual Water Quality Report covering the period between January 1 and December 31, 2016.  In 2016, City of Camarillo water customers received approximately 42% local ground water pumped from the Fox Canyon Aquifer via four city wells, blended with approximately 58% imported water from Calleguas Municipal Water District (Calleguas). The Camarillo wells have the ability to pump up to 8.6 million gallons per day. Calleguas provides imported water from the northern California State Water Project and from the Colorado River. Just over half of the water we receive originates in northern California and travels over 500 miles through the State Water Project’s network of reservoirs, aqueducts, and pump stations. After treatment at the Metropolitan Water District Jensen Filtration Plant in the northern San Fernando Valley, the water is carried by pipeline to Ventura County where it is distributed by Calleguas to its Ventura County water purveyors. Additional supplies of the imported water are stored in Lake Bard, the Calleguas reservoir in Thousand Oaks.

Camarillo City Council

If you are unable to attend the City Council meetings or watch them live on Public Access TV, you can CLICK HERE to access the City Council Agendas, Videos & Minutes.

This Camarillo City Council update is dedicated to the proposed 87,000 square foot, two-story Oakmont Senior Living (assisted living facility) project at Village at the Park in Camarillo, to be built on a 3.12 acre lot that is currently vacant. This project appears to have received more opposition from Camarillo residents than any other development project this year.

The Village at the Park Specific Plan designates the property for “quasi-public” (institutional) use, which are private in nature but serve a public need. This may include private educational institutions, religious institutions and other similar uses and is consistent with the General Plan. The property zoning permits rest homes, convalescent homes, nursing homes and homes for the aged with a Residential Planned Development (RPD) permit. Other permitted uses include churches, commercial recreation centers including associated restaurants, fire stations, government facilities, and philanthropic or charitable organizations (e.g. lodges, fraternal orders, social clubs, etc.).

MAY 24, 2017 CITY COUNCIL MEETING

During the Public Comments portion of the meeting, 14 Village at the Park residents spoke in opposition to the proposed Oakmont Assisted Living Facility citing concerns regarding the location, increased traffic and noise, emergency response vehicles, safety of the children and residents crossing streets and walking to Rancho Rosal Elementary School, the age of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR, dated 2001), and decrease in property values.

Oakmont Senior Living would be an 85-unit, 93-bed facility to be built on a current vacant lot in Camarillo’s Village at the Park neighborhood across from the Rancho Rosal Elementary School, which is currently attended by 688 K-5 students, and is projected to be over 800 next year. The project was unanimously approved by the Camarillo Planning Commission on May 16, 2017. The fact that the number of students at the school will soon be doubled (since inception) did not factor in to the Planning Commission’s decision. Village at the Park residents raised the $2,168, needed to file an appeal with the City of Camarillo, which had to be filed by 5pm May 26th. In the meantime, Mayor McDonald scheduled a special meeting of the City Council May 26th at 11am, to decide whether the Council will review the project or let it stand as approved by the Planning Commission.

The project has support from the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Department of Community Development director Joe Vacca, who said the project “exceeds the minimum standards” for a project of this type, and “there are a limited amount of assisted living facilities in the city.”

MAY 26, 2017 CITY COUNCIL 

SPECIAL MEETING

The purpose of this special City Council Meeting was to consider an “Order of Review” of the Planning Commission’s Decision to approve the Oakmont Senior Living facility. If so ordered, the project would be added to the agenda of an upcoming City Council meeting. Mayor McDonald stated that the Council appoints the Planning Commission, and sometimes the public disagrees with a decision rendered. Since the Council represents the citizens on all matters of the City, Planning Commission decisions can be appealed to the City Council. The fee to appeal a decision is considered an “incentive” to ensure that the appellants are “sincere” in their appeal and if they prevail in their request the fee is refunded.  Due to the number of residents who made their opposition to this project known, Mayor McDonald decided that the City Council should get involved and hold this meeting at 11am to consider an Order of Review to hear from residents, and if approved by a minimum 3 Council member vote, will give the City Council an opportunity to weigh in on this project and make the decision on whether it moves forward. If the Order of Review is not approved by the Council, the appellant would still have time to file their appeal before 5pm on this date.

Bill Mabry with Oakmont Senior Living addressed the Council and audience members stating that his company, a family-owned business, selected this site as the zoning and location are ideal. As this site is considered an “infill” location, the facility residents would feel like they are still part of the community that they may have worked in or retired in. Mr. Mabry showed exterior and interior computer renderings of what the 2-story facility would look like. He said most residents would be in their mid-80s and would use transportation provided by the facility.

Village at the Park residents spoke next and pointed out incorrect information on the 2001 Environmental Impact Report (which was actually done in 1999) and the Negative Impact Report. Residents are asking for a new study to be done to accurately gauge traffic impacts, etc. One of the residents who has worked 26 years with the Fire Service, said that for every response to an emergency, on average three units are dispatched including an engine and paramedics. The Village at the Park community is already inundated with homes, the busy sports park, and the elementary school. Parking and traffic are already an issue as there is insufficient parking for the current environment.  Several residents also mentioned that the Rancho Rosal Elementary School has an outstanding program for Special Needs children, drawing many families with Special Needs kids to the school. Many of these children have sensory issues where noise is of extreme concern. They stated that sirens in close proximity will be a major issue for these children. Another resident who attended the May 16th Planning Commission meeting where this project was approved, said that only Planning Commissioner Valenzano actually asked any questions of the applicant, Oakmont. Fifteen of the sixteen residents who spoke at the May 26th meeting were in opposition to the facility. One resident spoke in favor of the project. Seven additional residents submitted comment cards in opposition.

Mayor McDonald asked for the average monthly cost per resident. Oakmont’s Operations Director responded that it depends on the market. The Oakmont Whittier facility has a starting cost of about $4,000 per month, which includes meals, laundry, and housekeeping. Additional services will cause the cost to increase.

Comments from the Council:

Councilmember Kildee feels that the applicant has followed all the procedures and issues have been addressed, and he does not feel an Order of Review is necessary.

Vice-Mayor Craven agreed with Kildee. This is a use that is allowed in the General Plan. We are an aging population and more of these facilities are needed. Mrs. Craven does not feel an Order of Review is necessary.

Councilmember Trembley said he does not support an Order of Review, but the appeal remedy is still possible [until 5pm]. If the project comes to the City Council for review, he will have questions regarding the merits of the project at that time.

Councilmember Morgan was not present at the meeting.

Mayor McDonald felt that when an item comes before the City Council that has upset as many of the neighbors as this project has, the Council has an obligation to hear it. A lot has changed in the community since the EIR and it is worth taking another look. The Municipal Code allows for this to occur. It is not setting a new precedent. Personally, Mrs. McDonald has a lot of questions and it is worth looking at. Mayor McDonald’s motion to issue the Order of Review and set it for the next City Council Meeting failed due to lack of a second. She reminded residents that they have until 5pm to file their appeal.

Later that day, the appeal was filed, effectively forcing the Council to review the proposal. If the Council overturns the project’s approval, the $2,168 appeal fee will be refunded. If the Council’s decision is to deny the appeal, litigation is an option.

JUNE 21, 2017 CITY COUNCIL 

SPECIAL MEETING

The Camarillo City Council held a special meeting June 21, 2017 to address the appeal filed by Village at the Park residents in opposition to the May 16th Camarillo Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of the Oakmont Senior Living project across from the Rancho Rosal Elementary School at Village at the Park. The City Council would consider the appeal and make a decision to either uphold the Planning Commission’s May 16th action which would deny the appeal, or approve the appeal and deny the project.

200+ residents attended the 7:30pm meeting held in the council chambers, some carrying signs that read “STOP THE OAKMONT PROJECT.” The vast majority were in opposition to the project. They were adamant that they were not opposed to such a facility and agreed that these types of facilities are needed, just not at this location. Their concerns and objections echoed those expressed at the May 26th Special Council Meeting, including the age of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), accuracy of the traffic studies, the effect on property values, concerns regarding noise, parking and additional traffic in an already impacted neighborhood, and safety concerns with emergency vehicles that would be coming to the facility during school hours, especially during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up times.

The hearing began with a City Staff report providing an overview of the project and asking the Council to uphold the Planning Commission’s May 16th action. The appellant (Village at the Park resident) and applicant (Oakmont) each had 15 minutes for their presentations, anyone wishing to speak was allowed 3 minutes during the public comments, then the applicant and appellant each had 5 minutes for their rebuttals. Finally, the City Council would provide their comments then vote on the appeal.

The meeting ran until 3:30am, Thursday morning. Once the councilmembers began speaking and the audience saw the direction the meeting was taking, opponents of the project began walking out, some not too quietly. Some of the councilmember’s comments follow.

Councilmember Kildee:  The applicant (Oakmont) has met all 190 conditions of approval, has met all criteria and has the proper zoning. Mr. Kildee said he has lived in the city for 50 years and is not aware of anything that has been approved that has been a detriment to anyone’s property values, other than a specific recession or economic downturn that the City cannot control. He also said that if the appeal is denied, the applicant has a lot of PR to do. A lot of work has been done and there is still a lot of work to do. He could not find anything in the findings that would preclude him from approving the project.

Vice-Mayor Craven: Agrees with what Mr. Kildee said. Regarding parking, she does not believe the facility will create a great parking problem. The surrounding area creates the parking problem, and others will most likely fill up the facility parking lot. Regarding noise and sirens, this lot was designated for quasi-public use. One option was a hospital, another a fraternal organization’s lodge with a bar that could serve alcohol and have parties late at night on weekends. The point was that other uses of the property may be much more objectionable than this facility. Mrs. Craven does not believe that noise will be as bothersome as the residents think. Fire Department Engineers have discretion not to use their sirens if not absolutely necessary. Regarding perceived decrease in property values, 31 years ago the City Council listened to the project to develop Spanish Hills. Residents on Ramona Drive told the Council that the million dollar lots would lower their property values. It took about 10 years for Spanish Hills to be built, and it did not lower the property values on Ramona Drive or anywhere else. She does not believe the project will increase anyone’s property values, but truly does not believe that the Oakmont facility will lower anyone’s property values. Mrs. Craven noted that all studies show that our population is growing and aging. People are living longer. Facilities like this are needed and she does not believe that it will negatively impact the neighborhood. She believes that in time the residents will agree that this facility is a good fit for the neighborhood.

Councilmember Trembley: Has lived in Camarillo for 34 years, and elected as City Councilmember 7 months ago. His guiding criteria for decision making is what is in the best interest of the City of Camarillo. The people are the city and he takes this responsibility seriously. There are many and obvious benefits of the project and the project appears appropriately zoned for the purpose. Mr. Trembley stated four disclosures: 1) He received many communications from residents about the project, and has not spoken to the developer about the project. He has heard both opposition and support from residents at Village at the Park. 2) He spent many hours reviewing all written materials in the administrative record (over 400 pages). 3) He personally visited Rancho Rosal Elementary School during drop off and pick-up times on different days from different vantage points. There appears to be less traffic in the afternoons due to the split let-out times. 4) He gave City Staff lengthy, detailed questions prior to today’s meeting, specifically about traffic and emergency response. Based on his review of the materials and testimony, the City has work to do at Village at the Park regarding the issues of traffic, parking, and emergency response. Mr. Trembley stated that for the purposes of this hearing, he suggests that this is not the issue nor is the age of the prior EIR. The City needs to work together with the Pleasant Valley Recreation & Park District and the Pleasant Valley School District on these existing traffic and parking issues. In his view, the proper framing of the issue, logically, pragmatically, and legally is the impact of the proposed project within the baseline conditions that exist right now in 2017 in Village at the Park and at the Rancho Rosal school neighborhood. The question is if there is substantial evidence that this project will have a significant adverse effect on the current baseline conditions existing at Village at the Park. Mr. Trembley has personally observed the traffic conditions at Rancho Rosal School in the mornings and afternoons. There is a moderately high level of traffic, but on the days he observed it was a well ordered flow. If Oakmont were an independent living facility where many residents would drive their own vehicles, he would be concerned. He doesn’t believe the project will adversely affect the existing traffic and on-street parking conditions in the neighborhood or at Rancho Rosal School, and there is no evidence that property values will be lowered.

Councilmember Morgan: Has lived in Camarillo 55 years. He agrees with the comments by Mr. Kildee, Mrs. Craven, and Mr. Trembley. He does not believe another EIR will have different results. Mr. Morgan stated he must be consistent with the General Plan and zoning and be responsible.

Mayor McDonald: Supports taking care of our seniors as does everyone in the room. We need affordable living for seniors, not $6,000 per month facilities. She mentioned she could not afford to live in the Oakmont facility and she works every day. Personally, she does not believe that adding this facility across from Rancho Rosal School is the right use of the property, and looking at the community goals this project doesn’t necessarily fit with Village at the Park. Traffic is one of the biggest problems at any school site. It was previously discussed to build a church on this property, and that would have been a better fit as it would not be a 24 hour facility. She stated that she thinks there are a lot of places in the community that would be better suited for this project, and if they are not zoned properly could be re-zoned if you have a willing developer. No other facilities of this type, in this community, are located right in the middle of residential areas directly across from a school. Mrs. McDonald stated that a lot has changed at Village at the Park since the Specific Plan was adopted. There are more houses, the sports park, and Imation was not in the area at that time.

As can be surmised, the vote was 4-1 in favor of the project, meaning the appeal was denied. Mayor McDonald was the only vote in favor of the appeal. CLICK HERE to view the entire 7 hour 40 minute meeting video.

To voice your opinions on anything occurring in Camarillo, residents can contact the City Council members and/or come to the City Council meetings. To send an email to a specific Councilmember or all Councilmembers at once, you can go to the City website, and select “City Council” under the “Departments” tab or email [email protected]. You can also contact the City Council by phone, 805-388-5307 and Fax, 805-388-5318.

The Camarillo City Council generally meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month in the City Council chambers located at City Hall, 601 Carmen Drive. Meetings begin at 5pm. Public Comments on items not on the agenda and Public Hearings are heard at 7:30pm.

Council meeting dates, agendas, agenda reports, meeting minutes, and videos can be found on the City of Camarillo website. CLICK HERE.  You can also view the council meetings live on the community access channel (channel 10 on Time Warner/Spectrum and channel 29 on Frontier FIOS). Meetings are recorded for later viewing.

2017 Camarillo City Council

Jan McDonald, Mayor

Councilmember since 1998.

Current 4-yr term ends in 2018.

 

Charlotte Craven, Vice Mayor

Councilmember since 1986.

Current 4-yr term ends in 2018.

 

Kevin Kildee, Councilmember

Since 1996.

Re-elected in 2016.

Current 4-yr term ends in 2020.

 

Mike Morgan, Councilmember

Since 1980.

Current 4-yr term ends in 2018.

 

 

Tony Trembley, Councilmember

Elected in November 2016, first term.

Current 4-yr term ends in 2020.

 


CITY OF CAMARILLO WEBSITE   
CLICK HERE to access the City of Camarillo’s website.

Oakmont Senior Living Retirement Communities


Manuela Walter lives in Camarillo

 

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