Ojai Valley Inn wall waiver
by Chris Wilson
Just across Country Club Road from the Ojai Valley Inn's tennis
courts, a newly built garden wall borders a yard from the burden
of pedestrian and motor traffic coming to and from the luxury
hotel. The stucco wall stands, at its maximum height, 6 feet,
6 inches tall and well inside the city's 40-foot setback requirements.
In a previous meeting, the Ojai Planning Commission approved
a waiver that allowed the property owners, Garrett and Anne Clifford,
to construct the wall - granting them an exception to the Ojai
laws for this residential zone.
Wednesday the Cliffords were back in front of the commission
asking for a second waiver. This time it was for a set of arches
built over two gateways leading through the fence. The problem
is that the archways, one 8 feet high and the other 8 feet, 6
inches in height, never appeared
on plans approved by the city.
Interim Community Development Director Doug Hooper shared his
findings with the commission at their Wednesday evening meeting.
Hooper recommended the commission deny the Clifford's their requested
waiver because city staff could find no special circumstances
applicable to the property that would neccessitate a variation
from the City's laws.
According to the staff report, the Cliffords said the arches
were in keeping with the architectural style of their new home
and the neighboring Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.
At the meeting, Clifford said he erred because he thought the
6 foot, 6 inch established height of the 300 foot long wall,
was to be an average of that height. Even with the taller arches,
it still fell well below that average.
Clifford argued there were special circumstances, including the
Inn's tennis courts that have 12 foot high fences and sit less
than 35 feet from the road, and the Inn's plans to redo the courts
in a hacienda style, he said.
Planning Commissioner Joe McAllister said he was troubled that
the plans weren't followed as specified, but said the arches
looked pretty nice.
Commissioner John Mirk agreed.
"They look nice," Mirk said. "But this puts us
in a bind."
After discussing arches with Clifford and conferring with Hooper,
the commission appeared to come to a happy conclusion. Clifford
suggested that landscaping could be mounded up against the edges
of the arches, in effect lowering the height of the arch from
the ground. This alternative met with approval from the commission
and a motion was entertained to approve the waiver. Before it
was seconded, Hooper interjected that he would prepare findings
and conditions for approval that they could vote upon at their
next meeting. Done.
In other news, Paul Robie of Ojai Chevron came before the commission
with representative Ryan Garcia of RJS Construction, Orange,
Calif., to engage in a concept review to remodel the existing
service station into a convenience market.
Garcia presented preliminary plans to the commission that includes
removing the service bays, a 535-square-foot storage and walk-in
cooler addition, and a second story tower for offices and employee
changing area. Garcia asked the commission for their guidance
and suggestions. He told them plans included mirroring the Mission
Revival architecture style of the Fitzgerald Plaza across Ojai
Avenue which houses the Ojai Brew Pub and other businesses. He
said he had to be sensitive to both Chevron's requirements for
construction and the City's wishes to keep the business aesthetically
in line when considering design for the remodel.
After discussing the item amongst themselves, the public and
Garcia, the commission gave the following suggestions: the more
landscaping, the better; forget the tower idea and keep the building
one story. Minimize, if not eliminate the use of primary colors
blue and red and keep signage unobtrusive and subtle.
Garcia thanked the commission for all the time and suggestions
"We've gotten much more feedback than we ever would have
expected," he said.
The next Ojai Planning Commission meeting has been scheduled
for April 3 at 7:30 p.m. Chairman Paul Blatz adjourned the meeting
at about 8:50 p.m.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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