Storage facility gets
go-ahead in VMU zone
By Jesse Phelps
After nine viewings before planning
and other city bodies, a proposed self-storage facility to be
located on Bryant St. finally has the go-ahead to begin construction.
Ojai city planners didn't seem thrilled by the prospects of more
storage in the village mixed use zone but they still approved
an architectural review for the new facility, which will house
up to 64 recreational vehicles and feature over 73,000 square
feet of storage space.
The facility will inhabit land currently divided into two parcels.
Planning staffer Katrina Rice Schmidt said the lot lines will
be redrawn, enlarging one to accommodate the new facility. The
remaining two acres will be reserved for a future use.
During planning meetings earlier in the year, concerned citizens
had voiced objections to an earlier form of the plan, which would
have used the entirety of the two lots. At a June meeting, much
discussion centered on the possibility of using the land for
an extension of the adjacent Whispering Oaks senior housing project.
But at Wednesday night's meeting, Rice Schmidt said that any
such discussion is "speculative in nature." Any such
project could require a sale of the land and further review by
planning, city council and other city bodies.
While the use of the adjoining lot remains up in the air, the
storage facility has become a reality. Applicant William Kendall
said he made a stringent effort to comply with all of the demands
of the various city entities. The commission, minus absentees
Joe McAllister and Ynez Arce, unanimously agreed.
Commissioner Paul Blatz said he wasn't sure the facility embodied
the highest and best use of the land in question. But, he said,
because it complies with zoning requirements, he would vote to
approve. He also expressed a concern about increased traffic,
a topic of heated debate at earlier meetings.
Commissioner John Mirk said he agreed with Blatz, particularly
citing a lack of new job possibilities (the large lot will create
only two jobs) for his reluctance. "I wish we could come
up with something better," he said.
Commissioner Marge Fay was more positive in her assessment, saying
she thought the recreational vehicle storage would be particularly
valuable to the town.
Community development director Robert Casias said that getting
more RVs off the streets would help to solve a code enforcement
problem the city has been facing. He also said it was time the
commission respected the developer's rights. "(Kendall)
has done everything this commission and others have asked of
him," Casias said.
Like Blatz and Mirk, commission chair Tucker Adams had some reservations
but voted to approve based on the changes made over the course
of the planning process. "I appreciate the opportunity to
use the other parcel for another use and the addition of native
trees" to the landscaping, she said.
In additon to the storage facility, the commission also unanimously
approved two wall height variances for Ojai Valley Inn &
The commission adjouned the meeting in honor of long-time city
council member and respected attorney Jim Loebl, who passed away
two weeks ago.
Said Fay, "Ojai was fortunate to have Jim on the council
because he was instrumental in keeping the town vibrant ... Jim
was a great neighbor and a good friend and he will be missed."
The Ojai Valley News
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