Open Letter to the Ojai City Council on the Maricopa Demonstration Project

By Jeffrey Weinstein

Please see below the three (3) Questions asked to the Ojai City Council following Tuesday evening’s hearing. The start date for Maricopa Hwy Demonstration Project is now December 2020 (please see left-hand 3. Administrative Report for 11/10/20 Council meeting re: ATP Maricopa Hwy Demonstration Project), and may last through Fall 2021.  The 3 questions are indicative of the failures of the current plan.  33230- Non-ADA DED 10.12.20 Brochure_SR33TIMF 3._Active_Transportation_Program_ATP_Project_-_Maricopa_Highway_Demonstration_Project__

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StreetPlans.org consultant Tony comments that “90%” of Maricopa Hwy was represented by a road section showing multiple traffic lanes was biased and misleading, because the multiple lanes shown were turning lanes occurring only in front of Nordhoff High School at Church Lane (going south only), Pirie Street (going south only), and N. Carrillo Road (both directions). StreetPlans.org has been retained by the City to market and “sell” the project to the Public via the Demonstration Project, is not objective or truthful in their “interpretation” of the plans, which is complicated by the fact that the plans presented on-line were too small and unintelligible to see clearly, a major obstacle to the Public’s understanding of the Project’s impact, hence the Demonstration Project.
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My first question to the City Council relates to the right-hand attachment above which is a professional and well-presented  229-page report prepared by Caltrans titled “Initial Study” for Hwy 33 approximately 8 miles north of Ojai that seeks approval for widening the roadway to 11′ wide with “concrete barrier aesthetic treatment”, “elevation architectural surface treatment” and multiple “conceptual details” for Lane Widening, along a .16 mile (900 feet) stretch of Hwy 33 north of Ojai.  The Report addresses “Purpose and Need”, “Alternatives Considered”, “Land Use and Planning”, “Utilities/Emergency Services”, “Traffic and Transportation”, “Visual/Aesthetics”, “Cultural Resources”, and a wide range of “Environmental Issues”, none of which are even mentioned in the City of Ojai’s planning and design documents, all available on the City’s website.
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Please compare this 229-page “Initial Study” by Caltrans versus what we have received to date from the City of Ojai, and answer question #1: Why is the Ojai City Council allowed to prepare a single biased unworkable plan (there are no alternatives or design options, architectural treatment, etc.) for Lane Reduction on Hwy 33 in Ojai, while Caltrans is required to present an “Initial Study” for Lane Widening complete with multiple alternatives?
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The 2nd question to the City Council relates to the middle attachment above, titled “Brochure State Route (SR) 33 Traffic Impact Analysis”, dated 3/20/2018, which concludes the Level of Service (LOS) on SR 33 in the Ojai Valley between the 33 Freeway and Ojai City Limits is classified ‘F’, “heavily congested traffic”.  The Ventura County Public Works’ Report states that “a Traffic Impact Study” (TIS) is required to establish the anticipated traffic impacts from “new development” close to the SR 33 impact area.  In other works, the Department of Public Works in Ventura Couty requires a TIS to study the impacts of eliminating travel lanes on Maricopa Hwy, which may result in increased traffic congestion, along with impacts to the Public’s safety and security, as well as environmental impacts.  So, question #2 is: Has the City of Ojai taken into consideration Ventura County Public Works’ 3/20/2018 State Route (SR) 33 Traffic Impact Analysis in their proposed plan for Lane Reduction on Maricopa Hwy?  
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Lastly, question #3 relates to those “Complete Streets Outreach Meetings” held privately between December 18, 2014 and April 16, 2015, continuing through 2017.  Public Records show the same 10-12 persons attending these meetings, generally held at 2:30pm on Wednesday afternoons, when working people, commuters, parents with children in school, etc. are not available to attend.  It was during these not well-publicized meetings that the Lane Reduction Plan was first developed and promoted by bicycle advocates and those able to meet in the middle of the workday (retirees).  Question #3 is: Why did the City establish the Lane Reduction Plan privately in the middle of the afternoon with the same group of people unrepresentative of Ojai at Large, why not invite commuters, working people, contractors, people who drive for a living, and parents with school-age children to offer a different point of view from those same persons always in attendance?
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Jeffery Weinstein is a Ventura County resident and architect
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The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

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