Filed under: Cañada Larga. Tagged as: annexation, westside.
Ventura drops annexation efforts due to costs
By Christopher Stolz, Special to The Star, Ventura County Star
After receiving a discouraging report on the costs of annexing unincorporated areas along Ventura Avenue and in the Cañada Larga area north of the city, the Ventura City Council dropped all efforts to further pursue the proposal Tuesday.
The report, from consultant Michael Wright, found that if the city annexed the unincorporated north Ventura Avenue area, and encourage development at the adjoining Brooks Institute and Petrochem sites, it would cost the city $314,000 at the time of annexation and about $233,000 by 2020, but generate more than $700,000 for the city by 2030.
If the city chose to annex the rural Cañada Larga canyon north of the city and allow landowner Shull “Buzz” Bonsall to build about 90 pricey equestrian estates in what is now pasture land, it would cost the city about $767,000 by 2020, while generating an additional $200,000 in revenue by 2030.
By contrast, if the city went ahead with an existing community plan to develop the Westside area already within city boundaries, it would generate a surplus of $184,000 for the city by 2020 and $392,000 by 2030.
“Even if you look at the best possible interpretation of annexation, which is annexing only the North Ventura Avenue area,” said Mayor Bill Fulton, “we would still be in the hole for a long time.”
Nearly 40 speakers addressed the City Council on the issue, including county Supervisor Steve Bennett. Nearly all the speakers, including Bennett, opposed annexation on environmental grounds, but many spoke in favor of going forward with the Westside plan.
Even Bonsall, who represents the family who owns the Cañada Larga property, ultimately told the council that they should forego annexation and development at this time in favor of the long-promised plan.
“I recommend to the council that you proceed with the Westside community plan as it’s agendized this evening, and return to the other items in the future, in order that you not hold the Westside community plan hostage to these other considerations,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.
After hearing speakers for more than three hours, the council spent 30 minutes debating the details of the Westside plan. On a motion from Councilman Karl Morehouse, the council directed Community Development Director Jeff Lambert to work with the planning and design committees to include community comments to prioritize parks, housing for active seniors and local shopping.
The next step in the Westside plan is the preparation of an environmental impact report, estimated to cost $186,000. The council voted unanimously to order the report prepared, agreeing to pay for it out of the city’s contingency funds instead of from money set aside for development of the neighborhood, including a long-delayed community pool.
“For clarity, for momentum, and to keep the Westside moving forward we need a plan to be adopted,” said Fulton. “I remember sitting in a Westside planning workshop with my daughter when she was in third grade. I think my goal now is to see that this plan is adopted before she graduates from college, and I want you to know that’s going to be really soon.”