Planning Commission rejects general plan due to concerns over “Borchard property”

On Monday, Nov. 13, the Thousand Oaks City Planning Commission was set to vote on recommending the adoption of the Thousand Oaks 2045 general plan to the city council. The resolution was not passed in a 2-2 vote, with committee members Justin Link and Mic Farris dissenting. The opposition was due, in part, to the two commission members’ shared concerns over the upzoning of the Borchard property. The Borchard property is a 36.5-acre property surrounding both Borchard and Wendy Roads and is directly off of the 101. According to the General Plan zoning map, the Borchard property would be changed from residential to a mixed-use-low zone change. This upzoning change would allow the property owner, Shawn Moradian, the owner of Mason Partners LLC, to develop and build commercial and residential properties on the same premise.

The commission’s vice-chair Justin Link and Commissioner Mic Farris opposed the resolution, saying they would have approved the general plan if the land use designation for the Borchard property was changed. “I was never a fan of the mixed-use designation of this property. We can’t ignore all the efforts that have been made up to this point. What’s left for me is to go through the process or have an understanding of what the process would be to potentially make an amendment to keep the land use designation that was previously assigned,” Link said.

Patrick Hehir, Chief Assistant City Attorney, stepped in and responded to Link’s statement. “My recommendation would be not to do that; it could have tremendous effects on all the work that’s been done so far,” Hehir said. “We have the housing element; it’s already been brought to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, [HCD], for review. It hasn’t been certified, but that’s for the next step, which is the general plan adoption, and then we do the zoning to allow that to be certified,” Hehir said, referring to (Gov. Code § 65583 subd. (c)(8)), which states, “Description of the means by which consistency with the general plan will be achieved and maintained.”

In May of 2021, the city council voted for the final approval and endorsement of the general plan zoning map. This map was the basis for the Thousand Oaks 2021-2029 housing element, which was approved by the council in January of 2022. The Housing element, already in the application process, must be consistent with the general plan, which hasn’t been approved. Suppose the Borchard property’s mixed-use designation is taken off the zoning map. In that case, the city will then fail to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation, [RHNA], which is a state-mandated housing requirement for a city. This will make the city need to reallocate more residential space in other parts of the map, causing the entire process to restart.

“Again, the Borchard property has been part of the analysis from the very beginning, and that analysis based upon the land use map was part of the housing element that was done. [Commissioner Link’s] concept, I would just give the concern that it would have a rippling effect not just to the general plan but to the housing element,” Hehir said.

Despite the failed motion, Planning Commission Chair Sharon McMahon expressed the decision’s gravity, stating, “It will be going to the city council without our recommendation,” McMahon said. The city council is set for December 5th, where the fate of the Thousand Oaks 2045 general plan will ultimately rest in their hands.