Thousand Oaks City Council hears regional housing plan

By Michael Hernandez

THOUSAND OAKS—City Council members received a draft of 2020-2024 Regional Housing Plan (RHP) developed by the City of Thousand Oaks, the County of Ventura and nine other county cities in collaboration with Cloudburst Consulting.

The federal government requires each city that receives funding for programs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop a Five-Year Consolidated Plan which includes an assessment of the housing and community development needs in the community and strategies for implementing HUD programs. 

An expected $46 million dollars of HUD money will come to Ventura County in the next five years.  Some 800 county residents responded to a county survey.

The six 2020-2024 Ventura County Regional Goals are as follows:

  1. Create and preserve stable, safe and resilient affordable housing opportunities for homeowners and renters including special needs groups such as farmworkers, persons with disabilities, and the elderly throughout Ventura County.
  2. Enhance economic stability and prosperity by increasing economic opportunities for residents through jobs skills training and promotion of local entrepreneurship.
  3. Increase access to health and wellness series, youth activities, senior activities, and social service activities for residents.
  4. Work alongside the Ventura County Continuum of Care to end homelessness within Ventura County by providing housing emergency shelter, and social services to homeless persons or those at risk of homelessness.
  5. Enhance access to quality, resilient, and livable neighborhoods by improving publicly owned facilities and infrastructure such as parks, streets, sidewalks, and community buildings, including improving accessibility to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  6. Create and maintain effective housing and community development programs that address the priority needs listed within the Consolidated Plan, comply with all U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements, and achieve the goals and objective set out by each Ventura County jurisdiction.

Thousand Oaks receives HUD funding through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and money through the HOME Investment Partnership Act (HOME) consortium with the County of Ventura, Camarillo and Simi Valley which brings additional HUD funds to the region.

Three strategic goals established for Thousand Oaks include:

  1. Create and preserve affordable housing at a cost of $1.9 million with a five year goal to rehab 200 multi-family units and 50 single-family units;

Council member Bob Engler:  “This is the most cost effective way to spend the money we receive…Those having rentals are following the law, they have been 100 percent compliant.”

Mayor Al Adam:   “Thousand Oaks needs to explore strategies and approaches to attract younger residents.  We have an economic wall around us because of high housing costs.  All these baby boomers need someone to sell houses to.   We need to bring in the young and create jobs for young people.”

  1. Increase access to health wellness and other public services at a cost of $356,000 by providing series to 6,000 Thousand Oaks residents;
  2. Homeless prevention and public services at a cost of $89,000 by providing series to 30 Thousand Oaks residents;

Planning and administration of these goals costs $593,000 over five years of program administration with the total amount allocated coming to nearly $3 million dollars to Thousand Oaks to realize all goals.

A Thousand Oaks Priority Needs and Summary listed 15 goals (seven which were rated high, are as follows):

  1. New Rental Housing.
  2. Housing Support and Stability.
  3. Homeownership Opportunities.
  4. Rehabilitation and Preservation of Existing Housing Units.
  5. Assistance for Senior Residents.
  6. Social Services.
  7. Homelessness

Three regional focus group workshops were held throughout the County in the fall of 2019 with an additional Thousand Oaks workshop held on Sept. 25th.   The written draft of the housing report can be reviewed for comments at City Hall in the Community Development Department, the Grant R. Brimhall Library, the Newbury Park Branch Library and viewed online through the City’s website:  www.toaks.org/cdd from Jan. 21-through April 24th.

After the review period, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on May 5,2020 for adoption of the final report with the Thousand Oaks City Council adopting its official plan at its May 12 City Council meeting.

Consultant speaks to City Council on Thousand Oaks housing issues

Veronica Tam, a housing consultant to the City’s General Plan addressed the City Council giving an overview of housing conditions in Thousand Oaks; spoke on housing costs in relation to household income and housing demand; and addressed State housing regulations, including recent legislation impacting the City.  Tam has 20 years’ experience as a housing specialist and has completed nearly 60 General Plan Housing Element updates throughout California.

Some Thousand Oaks statistics:

  • The median price for home ownership is $741,000—the highest in Ventura County;
  • The median price for new construction is $1.5 to $1.6 million (which requires an income of $315,000);
  • The median rent in Thousand Oaks is $2,982—the highest in Ventura County (requiring an income of $98,000 and an income of $106,000 to afford a two-bedroom apartment) with the rent for a three-bedroom apartment costing $2,833;
  • College grads make an average of $40,000 “with no where to live unless they live with their parents. They can’t afford to rent in Thousand Oaks”;
  • The cost of homeownership is between 30-35 percent of household income with lenders giving 38-40 percent of household income for mortgages;
  • Some 78-79 percent of the city’s housing units are single family residences with the remainder being multi-family units;
  • Thousand Oaks experienced moderate growth from 2000-2010 and limited growth (1.2 percent) from 2010-2019;
  • The median income in Ventura County of $97,800 is much higher than the median income of $74,000 for Los Angeles County;
  • The median age of residents in the city is 43—the highest in Ventura County;
  • Some 20 percent of the population is over 65; and
  • Thousand Oaks has 64 residential care facilities supporting seniors—the highest in amount in Ventura County.

Looking at Thousand Oaks:

  • 50 percent of single family homes are in low density lots;
  • 45 percent of the city is open space;
  • .8 percent of the land can still be developed; and
  • Thousand Oaks extends over 55 square miles.

Housing benefits to pursue:

  • Provide housing options for young professionals;
  • Attract young families with children with affordable options;
  • Allow seniors to age in place; and
  • Allow more residents to live and work in Thousand Oaks.

Expanding housing options:

  • Accessory Dwelling Units; and
  • Support Housing for Persons with Disabilities.

Sacramento laws and policy direction:

  • Reduce fees, relax development standards;
  • Streamline Processing Procedures; and 
  • Objective Standards for Site Plan Design Views

Risk of litigation:

  • Fines of up to $100,000 per month for housing inaction (the Attorney General has a lawsuit against Huntington Beach); and
  • Pomona and San Clemente are being sued by nonprofits.

City Council comments:

Mayor Al Adam:   “We need a variety of housing for seniors and young people to get started.   We need apartments and condos.  Seniors in big homes with pools want to downsize.   We need diversity in housing…We have opportunity sites along the 101…We know what to build, how to build, where to build better than Sacramento.”

Councilmember Ed Jones:  “The logical conclusion of this (housing) process is that we are going to have to go into open space.  This will change the whole character of the city.  Open space zoning makes this a very lovely city…This dictation from Sacramento—one size fits all:  Do a few people in Sacramento know better than 500 elected city councils (in California)?”

Councilmember Bob Engler:  “The state is trying to address a statewide housing issue.  I see this is an opportunity.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Claudia de la Pena:  “We don’t have a lot of land—maybe 300 acres.  What happens once we have built this up?  What happens after that?  Do we keep building two to three story multi-family units?  I would like to see a height limit.  Can Sacramento demand height limits?  Will a 35 percent density bonus lead to three to four story buildings?”

City Manager Andrew P. Powers:  “Our regional housing assessment is to build 2,600 units over an eight year cycle—about 350 units of housing per year…You are in driver’s seat—the power to chart the community course forward.”

Upcoming Thousand Oaks events:

  • Sunday, Feb. 23: Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” Day at the Goebel Adult Community  Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks.  Event is free (starting after 12:30 p.m.) and features an essay contest for high school students.
  • Read Across America Day 2020 (Tuesday, March 3) and all week long (March 2-6) with an adult reading to “every child in every school” for 30 minutes. This program is now in its 21st year and is sponsored by the National Education Association, state and local teacher unions as well as the National Parent Teachers Association, First Book and the Public Broadcasting Service.
  • Friday, March 6: Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce 6:30-9:30 m. 2020 Blue Diamond Recognition Gala @ Hyatt Regency Westlake.  Non-Member:  $130 GALA Dinner Reservation.
  • March 12-15: Conejo Valley Interfaith Association Celebration.  March 12 @ Samuelson Chapel Cal Lutheran at 7 p.m.  March 14:  Interfaith Unity Walk at Rancho Tapo Community Park, 3700 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley @ 10 a.m.

In other City Council action:

  • The City Council designated Mayor Al Adam as the Delegate Representative for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) General Assembly on May 7-8 at JW Marriott Hotel in Palm Desert;
  • Adopted a resolution revising the City Council meeting schedule for the 2020 calendar year.
  • Adjourned in memory of Julia “Julie” Osborn-Gourley, Thousand Oaks “open space champion” and avid hiker and backpacker, who died on Jan. 23. “Julie” worked to have future generations have connections to the outdoors.  She established an “Adopt A Trail” program in 2003. Today,  53 trails have been adopted.

 

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].


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One Response to Thousand Oaks City Council hears regional housing plan

  1. William Hicks February 14, 2020 at 9:51 pm

    Sounds like just another excuse for expanding the roll of government in our daily lives under the guise that the government knows best what we should want.

    How about leaving all this up to the individual?

    Reply

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