Community opposes newbury park proposed apartments

The Thousand Oaks City Council voted unanimously to approve the proposal of building new apartment buildings on 1872 Newbury Road, the same location as the local historic Timber School. The school will not be torn down, rather the proposed apartments would coexist with the now vacant building. 

The timber school is a historical icon in the city of Thousand Oaks, having been in place since 1889, or 130 years ago. 

City council members Claudia Bill-de-la-Peña, Bob Engler, Rob McCoy, Al Adam, and Ed Jones voted unanimously to approve the proposal of building new apartments on the same location as the old school. 

The California state assembly and senate have recently passed new bills and amendments that mandate the allowance of more affordable housing. One of these bills is the Senate bill number 330, authored by CA Sen. Nancy Skinner, “prohibits a local agency from disapproving, or conditioning approval in a manner that renders infeasible, a housing development project for very low, low-, or moderate-income households or an emergency shelter unless the local agency makes specified written findings based on a preponderance of the evidence in the record.”

The bill also gives certain criteria for when a city council could disprove or substantially limit the building of affordable housing, saying, “the housing development project or emergency shelter is inconsistent with both the jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the application was deemed complete, and the jurisdiction has adopted a revised housing element in accordance with specified law.

The city council also voted unanimously to continue the planning and pre-screening process of a proposed apartment complex located on 3801 Maurice Dr. behind Albertsons.

Mark Towne, community development director, said “The very low income units would help to meet part of the city’s outstanding need in this category dictated by the state.”

The city council has been attempting to gain community input towards the project, as Rob McCoy, the mayor of Thousand Oaks, said, “We’re really lookin’ for some insight from y’all we’re glad you’re (at the council meeting) … this is a long process and it is not the final situation for the city.”

Some residents have voiced their opposition towards the building of the complex, such as Jared Freilick, “This project still doesn’t work for the neighborhood … at the end of the day the people that are going to be dealing with that traffic and that additional density in that neighborhood is us” Freilick said.

The low-income housing proposed to be located behind the Albertsons will be scaled back significantly after mounting opposition towards the projects. The area for the proposed apartment will need to be redesignated from a commercial zone to a medium density residential zone. As Towne said “(The property) is no longer proposed to be high density … and obviously that matches the adjacent land use.” The lot will also contain townhouses, a common pool, playground areas, and parking. The townhouses will range from two to three stories, and the three story houses will stand at 32 feet.

Council member Bill-de-la-Peña summed up her thoughts on the situation, “It is extremely frustrating having to plead with our state legislators to ask for a veto. We have consistently lobbied the governor and legislature to not pass certain bills such as SB 330” however Bill-de-la-Peña also noted that “We need housing for kindergarten teachers…elementary school teachers…deputies for ventura county fire department, that is the kind of housing that we need.”

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