T.O. City Council Approves New Assisted Care Facility & Begins First Phase of Downtown Revitalization Tuesday Night

By Kevin Harris

The Thousand Oaks City Council removed technical barriers to approve the building of a new assisted living facility, and authorized public outreach for the first phase of the Downtown Revitalization Plan, during Tuesday’s City Council Meeting. Other meeting business included approving an addition parking lot at “The Reserve” Senior Living Community, and approving money transfers needed to facilitate the city’s major Pavement Overlay & Slurry Program. 

More Assisted Living is Approved

After three and a half years of community outreach, satisfying neighbor’s concerns and getting the approval of the local Planning Commission, and finally, the City Council, “West Oaks at Westlake Hills” was authorized Tuesday night, after the Council green lighted a zone change, general plan amendment, special use permit, and even an oak tree permit. 

The Applicant, Griffin Fine Living, has been represented by Richard Niec, the company’s General Manager of Real Estate Development, who bought his group of project consultants with him to the Tuesday night meeting. After briefly introducing them, the public had a chance to speak on the issue. 

Richard Niece

The audience was packed with not only “industry” representatives and project consultants, but also with local residents, about a handful wanting to speak during the Public Comment period. Every speaker was in favor of the project. 

Linda Spencer:  President, Property Owners Association for Westlake Hills (neighborhood immediately adjacent to facility). She spoke on behalf of herself and her Board not only in support of the project, but also in support of the roadway roundabout that Griffin agreed to build at the intersection of Deusenberg Drive and Clearwater Street to help slow traffic down near an elementary school. 

Nancy Heeley:  A long time resident who also spoke in support of the project, Ms. Heeley had the audience laughing with her good natured, facetious comments. She said she still supports the assisted care facility even though she’s never going to move into it, or any place like it, because “nothing bad is ever going to happen to me. I’m never going to have a stroke that I didn’t anticipate. I’m never going to have a fall, like tonight, when I leave this building…”

She explained how ending up in an assisted care facility can happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and when it does, we all want to live where we have friends. 

Nancy Heeley

Tony Gid:  Lives next to facility, spoke in support of project. Requested that the reverse beepers on the delivery trucks be muted during the day so residents don’t have to hear them all the time. (Mr. Niec responded by saying the trucks are required to have those beepers, but they will be using the lowest volume beepers allowed by law). 

Mayor’s High Praise for Riec

During the City Council’s time for comment, all Council Members had positive remarks about the project, but Mayor Andrew Fox in particular gushed praise on Mr. Riec’s work with the community to get everyone onboard with building the facility. 

“This is a classic case study of how to do it right,” Fox said. “So I want to congratulate you, I want to congratulate the neighborhood for your good faith discussions with this applicant. It is possible to do that in this community… This is a superior project. It is well suited, and it’s certainly needed in our community. I want to congratulate you for your community outreach. That’s how you do it,” Mayor Fox concluded, to audience applause. 

Downtown Core Master Plan

Also during Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Council received an update on the complex Downtown Core Master Plan, which includes both city-owned and privately-owned properties, and is headed up by an Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Mayor Fox and Council Member Adam. 

The general concept of the plan is to make downtown Thousand Oaks much more pedestrian friendly, while making it a popular retail and entertainment destination for all ages. Some of the ways the city plans on achieving those goals is by redesigning the frontage of the Civic Arts Plaza; making shopping or entertainment available on the city-owned westside parcel; improving the pedestrian environment along Thousand Oaks Boulevard (narrower streets and wider sidewalks); and expanding the cultural and arts entertainment programming. 

The Council also authorized a public outreach schedule, along with meetings, to engage the public and get feedback for the plan.  This includes a website and online survey (currently up), event and location pop-ups, drafting the Master Plan at an Open House on April 26, followed by Planning Commission and City Council meetings in April and May. It was acknowledged by the Council to be an ambitious timeline, considering the complexity and importance of the project, and Mayor Fox suggested that “we only have one opportunity to get it right.” 

Parking Lot & Pavement Overlay

Other business conducted during the lengthy council meeting included the City Council approving an extra parking lot for “The Reserve” senior living community. The parking lot, located at the corner of Moorpark and Olsen Roads, already received Planning Commission approval in February. The applicant is WSL Castle Hill Retirement, LLC. 

The Council also finalized the bidding and contractual awarding process for the city’s 2018 Pavement Overlay & Slurry Program, a large street maintenance project begun in mid 2016. With a total budget of more than $18 million, Thousand Oaks made a general fund contribution of nearly $11 million, while California’s SB1 gas tax provided another $3 million, with the remainder coming from local gas taxes, grants and water and wastewater fees. 

Construction and pavement is now set to begin in piecemeal starting in April, 2018, with public information and outreach continuing throughout the implementation period. Construction information and street closure lists can be found at www.toaks.org/streets.

The next Thousand Oaks City Council Meeting will be on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 6:00 pm. To access the meeting agenda, or to watch the video of the meeting, please go to the following URL, then scroll down and click on “City Council:” http://www.toaks.org/departments/city-manager-s-office/watch-totv/past-meeting-videos.


Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists having worked for the LA Times and Newhall Signal. He is now also a Realtor and videographer, and lives with his two children in Thousand Oaks. 

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