Adams Canyon vote leads to
Santa Paula suit
by Kelly Feser Eells
It is beginning to look a lot like Ojai in Santa Paula; litigation-wise,
The Pinnacle Group, an Arizona-based developer looking to build
some 2,000 homes and an as-yet-to-be determined number of commercial
properties in Adams Canyon, is threatening the city with a lawsuit.
County elections officials called Santa Paula City Council's
refusal to place an initiative asking voters to overturn their
city's S.O.A.R. boundaries on the upcoming November ballot illegal.
Despite certifying that the petition, the Santa Paula Revitalization
Initiative, qualified for the November ballot, the council voted
2-2 (one member declared a conflict of interest) last Monday
night to keep the measure councilwoman Laura Espinosa said "did
not meet minimum standards" out of voters' hands.
"They (the council) could've adopted the petition as an
ordinance, placed it on the ballot for voters to decide, or voted
to send it out for a 30-day study," said Ventura County
Assistant Registrar of Voters Bruce Bradley. Mayor Ray Luna felt
so strongly about voting to approve the measure he left his sick
bed, where he's been recovering from an operation, to attend
the meeting rather than vote by phone. Still, the council's two-two
vote translates to a "no."
Pinnacle Group spokesperson Greg Boyd's response to the deadlock
was, "We're going to have to ask a judge to make a decision."
Although Supervisor Kathy Long, whose district includes Santa
Paula, opposed developing Adams Canyon two years ago in a LAFCO
(Local Agency Formation Commission) vote, the question of development
has since become a matter for the city itself to decide. At present,
residents are almost evenly divided as to whether increasing
their city's "sphere of influence" by more than 5,400
developed acres will lead to a more vibrant, economically sound
community or destroy the existing small-town flavor.
Supervisor Steve Bennett has recently gone on record as opposing
the development, noting that Ojai is just as, if not more so,
affected by the proposal as any other of the county's 10 cities.
"We (the countywide S.O.A.R. committee) are just now sending
a fundraising letter out, which Ojai citizens should be receiving
by next week," said Bennett. "We hope people will identify
their willingness to contribute and volunteer; then, from that
(response), we'll figure out what our resources are and what
kind of campaign strategy to run in the fall."
While Ojai residents like Alice Matzkin are "horrified"
about the potential ramifications development of what amounts
to portions of the upper Ojai Valley would have locally, a lately
litigious civic climate is keeping many community leaders mum
on the subject.
Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce President Todd Beguelin notes
that, while "the Chamber hasn't come out with an official
position yet," Adams Canyon will be one of the agenda items
"at our Board meeting on the ninth (of July)."
Bennett urges residents to look for more information in the mail.
"Again, the two key things we have to accomplish this summer,
are identifying volunteers and resources."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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