Los Arboles gets judge's go-ahead
By Jesse Phelps
Retired Superior Court Judge Melinda Johnson
has handed down her ruling on the Los Arboles Housing development
on South Montgomery Street.
The ruling states: "The court hereby dissolves all restraints
on the Los Arboles project, and construction may proceed. A written
decision with further explication will follow."
While the details, the why and the what-for, will follow, City
Manager Dan Singer characterized the ruling as "allowing
the city to authorize permits and allowing the project to move
ahead. It looks like a victory for the developers."
While City Council members and developers might be smiling today,
members of the environmental organizations that have fought the
development are troubled.
Ivor Benci-Woodward, of the Citizens to Preserve the Ojai, said,
"We're not happy with it but we don't know the details of
it. It's clearly is a loss but not just to the CPO. The CPO's
suit, from the beginning, was always based on defending the city's
general plan. In order to approve the project as it is, the city
has lost a lot of important environmental mileposts that have
been established over the years.
"The growth management plan is no
more. That had to be thrown out to manage the thing. The levels
of traffic on the city streets, established in '87, have been
over-ridden. The building separation in the downtown area now
allows greater density of building because it's gone from 44
to 24 feet. All the CPO has been trying to do is make the city
adhere to its own general plan. What the city has done is change
the general plan to comply with the project. The developer and
his influential friends in the city have changed the general
Benci-Woodward said the CPO will wait for
something a little more detailed before deciding on a course
of action. "Sometimes the judges will let you know what
you did wrong, if you did something wrong and that will help
you develop a stronger position if you decide to appeal,"
he explained, adding that he believes Judge Johnson to be very
detailed and accurate in her rulings.
Benci-Woodward finished with one last caveat.
"I think that this decision, if the construction proceeds,
facilitates a project that's going to change the city forever."
The Ojai Valley News
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