Court denies CPO appeal
by C.A. Gilman
On Oct. 15, Ventura County Judge Melinda Johnson rejected
the Citizens to Preserve the Ojai's case challenging the city's
five-year housing plan, and their demand requiring an EIR on
the proposed Housing Element.
She ruled that the Ojai City Council complied with the law when
it adopted its state-mandated Housing Element, which had been
approved by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
The CPO had sued the city in February over its 2000-2005 Housing
Element which shows how the city intends to meet its housing
needs over that five-year period.
The major issue was whether Ojai should agree to meet the state's
estimate of being able to provide land, utilities, and services
for 209 additional housing units within the city limits over
the next five years. The state does not require that these units
be built, only that they may be built. City officials have long
insisted that such growth would not happen. The CPO wanted the
city to oppose the state's estimate.
The court held that the Housing Element is consistent with other
elements of the city's General Plan. It also maintained that
that a full Environmental Impact Report was not required. All
relief requested by the CPO was denied by the judge.
Ivor Benci-Woodward, president of the CPO, said, "What is
most upsetting is that the city is very vulnerable to a developer
now proposing large projects of anything over 25 units because
there is no Growth Management Ordinance to stop it." According
to Benci-Woodward, the Growth Management Ordinance, which is
part of the Housing Element, reflects the number of units that
can be built each year.
Mayor Steve Olsen said, "This is an important decision for
the city in that it reinforces the premise that the City Council
is the body elected by the citizens to make long-term planning
decisions for our community. It is unfortunate that the city
continues to be held hostage by special interest groups wanting
to control the city's destiny, instead of working in concert
with the city toward common community goals."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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