at LWV forum
by C.A. Gilman
The Ojai Valley League of Women Voters held a closed meeting
Tuesday morning at the Ojai United Methodist Church as they heard
arguments for and against Measure C - the Traffic Initiative,
which will go before the voters of Ojai on Nov. 5.
The league invited Stan Greene, administrative director of the
Citizens to Preserve the Ojai; Andrew Gustafson, author of the
initiative; City Manager Dan Singer, and City Council Member
Rae Hanstad to speak on the pros and cons of the measure. League
Vice President Beckie Fellows moderated the panel.
League member Winnie Hirsch gave an overview of the traffic initiative
before the discussion got under way. She said, "If passed,
(it) will prevent the building of anything except single-family
residences if the project will add any automobile trips on existing
roads which function below an acceptable level of service during
"This change will prevent any new multiple housing from
being built, even a small duplex, because its inhabitants would
add to traffic, quite possibly during peak hours.
"This would eliminate any type of new building in the city
of Ojai, or an expansion of an old building, if they share common
walls, such as condominiums, government housing, apartment houses,
libraries, hospitals. The initiative specifically deletes the
low-cost housing allowed in Ojai's Housing Element and required
by California state law," Hirsch said.
Gustafson, a lawyer and 25-year veteran of Ventura County government,
said, "I am here to explain the initiative, not to defend
it. I wrote it because the CPO asked me to, and in order that
it be constitutionally correct.
"State law requires the city to have a General Plan that
has a Land Use Element and a Circulation Element. The Land Use
Element pertains to the density of the area; the Circulation
Element establishes the minimum level of service (LOS) for traffic
in that area - from Level A, freeflowing, to Level F, gridlock.
"The existing city General Plan has a circulation element
of C on Highway 150, otherwise it is D. The Traffic Initiative
would adopt the existing levels of service. The current General
Plan says that each individual project will be evaluated by the
present administrative body to see if it has any effect on the
City Manager Dan Singer said, "The city has practically
made any development discretionary. Each project goes before
the Planning Commission and is given a public hearing - whether
for a carport, an addition, or a new home."
CPO Administrative Director Stan Greene said, "Ojai is doing
well but it has a major problem: traffic. There is gridlock many
hours of the day because of the light at Fox Street.
"Since 1965 the CPO has been trying to protect Ojai Valley.
We saw that the General Plan was not being followed. We felt
it was our job to get this on the ballot. We have nothing to
gain despite the letters to the editor in the Ojai Valley News.
"The city and the CPO have worked together in the past in
fighting the oil refinery, oil drilling on Black Mountain, the
Weldon Canyon Garbage dump which was a 14-year effort, and sued
the Environmental Protection Agency for not enforcing the Clean
Air Act in Ventura County.
"The city has not offered any counter-initiatives for traffic
mitigation; we still have this conflict on voting on Measure
C - if we don't vote for it we will be voting for more traffic."
League member Julie Winetour said, "I am very upset about
the position on affordable housing. You cannot expect a city
to exist if the people who live and work in the city can't have
Council member Hanstad said, "I am opposed to Measure C
and feel that the measure is inconsistent with our goals as a
community and does discriminate against affordable housing. The
CPO is asking the city to be responsible for a valleywide plan.
City records show that we have had complaints against traffic
"Nothing would please me more than an initiative that works.
The CPO's threatened that if we didn't find a solution within
90 days, they would file suit. The city was planning on moving
forward and we did with traffic calming, sidewalks on Montgomery
Street, an enhanced trolley service, bicycle plans and establishing
a city transportation commission. All this takes time.
"Measure C is not a traffic initiative ... It requires the
city to slam on its brakes. It doesn't talk about mitigation
or how much it would cost. Nonprofits such as the museum can't
even afford a transportation study. If the traffic initiative
passes we would need to deny the Farmers' Market - who could
afford the study? We couldn't approve the hospital expansion."
City Manager Dan Singer said, "The CPO is talking about
1,000 car trips per day determined by models established by engineers.The
Sycamore Homes and the Los Arboles projects are replacement projects.
The Los Arboles is 24 units replacing 29. In fact, when the Land
Use plan was updated in 1997, there was a lot of downzoning.
"Ojai has a jobs/housing imbalance. When you have that you
force people to look elsewhere for work."
Singer presented the audience with a chart of data historical
traffic count in the city between 1989 to 2001 that showed the
traffic has not increased significantly; in fact, in some areas
it has decreased. The numbers reflect traffic going and coming
per 24 hours average daily trips over two to three weeks. At
East Ojai Avenue in 1989 the number was 12,600; in 2000, 6,800;
in 2001, 7,100.
The population of the city in 1990 was 7,600; now the population
is 7,800. Singer said, "We've grown less than .3 percent
since 1990." He added, "The initiative takes away the
opportunity for the city and the community to do some creative
traffic mitigation." League member and former City Council
member Nina Shelley asked, "Have both parties gotten together
to discuss how to accommodate the growth without the lawsuits?"
Singer said, "There were open dialogues and discussion with
the city and the CPO until the CPO decided to pull back until
Los Arboles was approved and said, 'We'll see you in court.'"
Greene said, "We felt that no one was listening and nothing
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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