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Public comments for the Jan. 12 Ojai Unified school board meeting: proposed development and COVID-19

 

12/15/2021 (after 4 p.m.) - Carly Ford (General Public Comment): Please do not develop the historic district downtown property.

12/29/2021 Tim Fields (General Public Comment): Save Ojai! After all, who wouldn’t want to Save Ojai?

This deceptive, emotionally charged and manipulative name for a "movement" against development is actually led by an attorney that supports replacing the selected developer with his hand-picked developer. He is working against this OUSD effort to fund students while trying to make the Board look inept. ... OUSD is facing a downturn in enrollment — something not new to many districts. This plan would add $700k+ annually in lease payments per the latest valuation. The initial proposal was based on a competitive RFP that was to then undergo public input to provide OUSD funding, community benefits, save the historic Chaparral School — and rebuild the bell tower, restoring part of Ojai’s lost history. Following the first round of community feedback, the developer is now working to revise the plan to much down-scale the hotel to boutique size as a financial anchor for years to come to fund the development, and work with the community. The developer welcomes public input to refine the plan to provide both stable income — avoiding a failed project — and provide maximum community benefit. Who won’t work with them? The very group that wants to not only develop the site but is demanding OUSD remove the selected developer contract so they can put in a different developer. All led by an attorney who fails to mention numerous things in his deceptive website gathering support. Even to the point of the "leader" attorney publicly telling people to not attend the developer workshop, disparaging the developer and trying to stop positive progress for his own agenda. This is "Save Ojai." What "Save Ojai" fails to state is that the development includes adding an activity center and rock wall for children adjacent to the skate park — activities desperately needed. It saves and restores the Community Center. It has proposed a retail area focused on local artists and galleries. Adding Community gardens. Encouraging foot traffic by its locations, not more cars. Adds needed housing. All built to City of Ojai Planning Department design aesthetics and community continuity. No building was ever to exceed the height of the buildings across Montgomery street. And traffic and water studies to support it. And asking for donations? For what? OUSD meetings are free. Interesting. OUSD has a choice: sell or lease. I and many other voters in the valley that don’t want to be attacked by jumping into a public forum, support the TownSquare project. Don’t let the OUSD Board and students be bullied by a small but vocal group.

01/04/2022 - Cynthia Grant (General Public Comment): No to new hotel. Yes to affordable housing for people who work full time at restaurants, shops, and other service businesses in Ojai.

01/04/2022 - Gloria Valladolid (General Public Comment): January 6, 2022 School Board Ojai Unified School District RE PUBLIC COMMENT OUSD ­­—Development at District Offices — Because we have limited water supplies in Ojai that promise to become more restricted with California’s ongoing drought and climate crisis, we cannot consider new development that aims to increase our population who will intensify water needs. For that reason and additional compelling reasons presented by the concerned community, I propose that you consider the suggestion raised by the community at the Planning Commission meeting on November 17, 2021: repurpose the existing property with its present buildings as an Ojai Community Center. Please research and consider following suit as our Oak View neighbors who took a community-oriented direction in a similar situation. Instead of selling their surplus school for condominiums, they repurposed the property with its existing buildings to use as the Oak View Park and Resource Center. Funding was accomplished through a parcel tax which was voted on and passed by the affected community. For your information find the following contact information for Barbara Kennedy, the person who lead the successful repurposing of the surplus school. Barbara A Kennedy / P O BOX 1337 Oak View, CA 93022. ... Gloria Valladolid

01/04/2022 - Bobbi Corbin (General Public Comment): Please vote no on the extension of ERN with SVS Dev LLC. Please vote no on the proposed development project for Ojai Historic Town Square on the school property. This site is the key parcel for the future of Ojai. Development of this parcel is critically important, but the proposed scheme is lacking in depth and seriously outdated in every way. We don’t need another hotel in town with transient guests overloading that already trafficked intersection and draining our resources. We do need reasonably priced housing, rental units for local workers, gathering spaces, and perhaps the attraction of a business which offers well-paid jobs for educated people who will have a stake in Ojai and send their children to public school here while having low impact on resources. We don’t need more commercial space as it’s already too competitive for existing businesses with the small amount of business in this town. We do need a community pool which is a great gathering space for young and old. OUSD needs a qualified planner with experience in directing town development not a for-profit developer to reimagine this parcel. OUSD needs a qualified planner to partner the school board with companies already successfully doing these types of projects. Please spend your money wisely for the long term good of the school board and the town.

 

01/05/2022 - Carrie Harmon (General Public Comment): VOTE NO.

01/08/2022 - Bill Miley (7.2.1): 1/8/22 To: OUSD trustees, Superintendent Subject: SVs Dev. Contract? From: Bill Miley: Hello: Below are two emails. Second one to Trustees and first one to SVS Dev prior to the 1/6/22 Zoom meeting. My opinion on Agenda item 7.2. After reading the ERN, I do not believe the ERN contract with SYS Dev should be renewed. Since 2019 they have had one physical community Planning Commission concept presentation event which was widely contested and for me non-constructive. A second event 1/6/22 on ZOOM weakly promoted, which should have been the initial event but was held 2 1/2 years later. Several excuses where stated blaming others. I thought that was not transparent and responsible....they were given authority to operate and failed to take open responsibility. In my opinion they are not representing the school district fairly and openly. I urge you consider a new RFP with more emphasis on community involvement and continued public ownership of the parent and built environment. I do not support a private contract for management and revenue generation for years and years. Let the developers plan with guidelines, build with supervision and when finish turn the entire project back to the “public.” They go on to the next plan, build and finish project knowing they left a positive experience in Ojai, thank you for considering my thoughts. Bill Miley, MPH Ojai since 1968.

First email....1/6/22 5:43 am. sent to SVS Dev. Hello. Except for a friend who found out about the online meeting 1/6/22 at 5:30 pm, I would not know about this. Your outreachvneeds help. I sent an email to the school board and supt. when I initially learned about your meeting last week. It is below. I think your effort to relate to ojai Is lacking a lot. I question your continued effort for a hotel...which in the overhead “map” you do not mark clearly even though there are multiple buildings. Bill Miley

Second email.... 1/4/22 To: OUSD Trustees and Superintendent Cc. Ojai city council and Administration, others

From: Bill Miley Subject: School site developer (SVS Dev) community meeting proposed for 1/6/21.

I watched the first meeting by SVS Dev by Zoom. Having sent a email to your board and administration. It did not go well as I assume you concluded.

2. My points at this time continue with the need for teacher and support staff affordable housing. I assume no one except principals and superintendent can afford to buy a house in Ojai, unless they have other financial resources. And Ojai rents take much money from annual incomes...building no equity.

3. I do believe there are funding option for such developments...such as a parcel tax.

4. A hotel... like proposed, even smaller, is probably not suitable for our small town. It would devastate our current motel and hotel businesses bringing expensive room rates to town. With the El Roblar hotel development occurring now, there is no need for this type of competition.

5. Retail shops must add to and not replace those within the arcade structure. New and unique are fine but not to pull attention from the arcade. The front landmarked buildings should be structured as continuing the arcade... adding to not replacing it.

6. Income-producing structures for the district could include the affordable housing if the costs were paid for by a parcel tax.

7. The suggestion by SVS DEV for an artist area is good. This was also suggested prior to the first meeting by others. An atelier type development possibility. A development including live...work designs...with gallery space for artists not residing there. This would support one of the pillars of Ojai values.

8. Having a educational/ conference structure would be grand for Ojai. Local programs, a venue for groups, businesses, schools, etc. Ojai lacks such a resource.

9. Special structures for the District to implement future type educational teaching programs to enrich the school districts offerings,

10. And of course parking for all the above. Multi-level so as to avoid a large one level parking lot. Maximize parking with a smaller footprint. Plant trees all around it.

And then the bigger question. Does the district continue with SVS Dev and renew their contract. My opinion...they did not do well in the first public event through the City Planning Commission. They appeared to be novice and very business commercial. And not especially small-town oriented.

I suggest the District consider reopening the RFP anew for new offerings. Thank you for considering my thoughts. Bill Miley, MPH, since 1968

01/08/2022 - Jennifer Niles (General Public Comment): Please terminate the ERN with this company. Their plans do not comport with the needs of our town. Please consider a plan provided by architect Marc Whitman in the Ojai Valkey News that would beautifully build on the existing property and provide educational opportunities for adult learners.

01/08/2022 - Robert Craig Rigsby (General Public Comment): Bad idea! - where will you get the water? The lake is at 34%. Traffic is already a becoming huge factor. I waited through 3 stop light cycles last week. What will this do to traffic? You're plan will ruin Ojai for all who live here.

01/08/2022 - Alasdair Coyne (General Public Comment): Please VOTE NO to any proposal that has ANY quantity of hotel rooms. Thank you.

01/09/2022 - Carol Farrar (General Public Comment): I’m addressing the OUSD contract for downtown project. Please don’t do this! It will ruin this town. Traffic is hideous now. It took me 25 mins to go from Soule Park to Mira Monte at Baldwin rd on a tues afternoon at 3:00!

01/09/2022 - Hillary Benton (7.2.1): We are 100% against the development of Chaparral school into a hotel, parking structure, homes, etc.. it will ruin the small-town feel, increase traffic to an insane amount, and not serve the community. Do not do this to Ojai. A community of affordable tiny homes, with gardens & and extension of the skate park would be much better. A space dedicated entirely to the youth of Ojai would be even better!!

01/09/2022 - Nita Reid Tracy (General Public Comment): Terminate exclusive right to negotiate.

01/10/2022 - Micah Sittig (7.2.1): Hi my name is Micah Sittig, I live in the East End and have three daughters in the Ojai Unified School District, and I'm a teacher at one of the local private schools. I've been a resident of Ojai for seven short but eventful years. I support the school district following the recommendation of the 7-11 committees and leasing the school district property to a developer in order to generate more income for the school district. However, I have serious doubts about the ability of SVS Dev LLC to deliver a project that meets the unique needs of the Ojai community. This is based off of (1) the presentation of a widely panned development proposal to the school board after months without getting community feedback during a time when many organizations and companies, including OUSD itself, were using Zoom to meet with groups of people for various purposes, and (2) their ham-handed attempts at communication when they *have* tried to talk with people, including the debacle at the last OUSD board meeting and the lack of professionalism by their people in interacting with the community both on Facebook and at the community meeting held on Google Meet on January 6th. They have been evasive about their plan for collecting community feedback, taken personal offense to criticism of their work process, and accused community members of communicating in bad faith. I do not questions their credentials as developers and I'm sure they've done many fine projects before in other contexts; but I have little faith in their ability to take community input, which I think is essential for a project of such magnitude in the downtown of Ojai, on a property with so many connections to the city's history and to the lives of long-term residents. It seems like they really need to hire a project manager with more expertise and experience in community relations before being allowed to continue with this project, or be taken off the project completely.

01/10/2022 - Micah Sittig (General Public Comment): Hi my name is Micah Sittig, I've lived in the East End for seven years, and I have three daughters in OUSD schools. (1) I think Dr Morse is doing a great job as superintendent and I hope the board will do everything they can to support her to stay in Ojai for as long as possible. She is an asset to our school district and a great example of someone who has absorbed the community's values and put them into action, while also bringing fresh relevant ideas to the school district. Go Dr Morse!

(2) I support the school district to continue to follow the state's health mandates, including requiring students, teachers and staff to wear masks indoors. I feel safe sending my daughters to San Antonio, Matilija and Nordhoff because of these measures. Thank you board members, principals and teachers for all you have done to protect our kids. I see a lot of misinformed anti-maskers and anti-vaccine speakers at the meetings when I watch them on Youtube, but I'm pretty confident that the silent majority of parents in the district (including me) still supports taking the measures recommended by the state to fight the spread of the Covid-19.

1/10/2022 - Craig Walker (7.2.1): To the OUSD School Board I do not believe that SVS is the right developer for the OUSD District Office property. This property is the site of an important historic landmark and is an extension of the larger Downtown Ojai Historic District; development of the site will require a developer with specialized knowledge and skills in the area of historic preservation and rehabilitation. Any project on the property will need to follow the City of Ojai Historic Preservation Ordinance and the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Historic Preservation. Although the historical significance of the property is thoroughly documented in its Historic Resources Report, SVS appears to have ignored the standards, guidelines, and laws governing the rehabilitation of landmarked properties. This is evident from the drawings they submitted to the Ojai Planning Commission:

1. Large, modern display windows are shown cut into the original stucco cladding along the landmark’s south elevation, fronting Ojai Avenue. This will negatively impact the historic character of the buildings and destroy their architectural integrity.

2. The entire north wing of the historic school appears to be slated for demolition. This wing is part of the historic structure identified in the Historic Resources Report and was nominated for landmark status by the Historic Preservation Commission. Even if not yet landmarked, this wing must still be protected because it contributes to the historic significance of the landmarked buildings. Demolition is not an option. 3. The historic courtyard/playground, which is listed in the Historic Resources Report as a character-defining feature of the property, has been eliminated in the SVS proposal and replaced with a new, 3-story building. The purpose of landmarking is to protect a historic building and its site; the courtyard/playground was approved as an essential element of this landmark.

4. Several large, multi-story buildings are shown right next to the landmark, which violates the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation. New construction must be compatible in size and massing with the historic buildings. SVS’s proposed new buildings on the property not only overshadow the historic school, they could even diminish the significance of the Arcade, Pergola, Park, and Post Office—which should remain the commercial and civic center of downtown Ojai, as envisioned by Edward Drummond Libbey and his architects.

5. SVS has presented nothing to show that they are qualified to work on historic landmarks, or have any experience working with historic properties. They are proposing to restore the original tower, which is commendable, but they have not shown that they are qualified to do the actual restoration work. Most Federal and State historic preservation incentives—and the City of Ojai’s own historic preservation regulations--require that historic rehabilitation work conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. The drawings submitted by SVS show that they are not qualified to preserve and repurpose this important landmark. Ojai’s historic downtown is an important community asset, not just commercially and architecturally, but educationally. Our children can learn a lot about history just by taking one of the docent-led walking tours offered by the Ojai Valley Museum. I would hope that one portion of the historic building would become an interpretive center that teaches children about the history of education in the Ojai Valley.

6. SVS does not appear to be aware of the significant tax credits available for rehabilitating historic properties. Both the Federal Government and State of California offer substantial tax credits to developers who rehabilitate historic properties and use them for affordable housing and other adaptive reuse projects. Has SVS ever mentioned these tax credits which will bring additional revenues to the district?

7. The public seems to favor uses that keep the existing P-L zoning. Changing to commercial or VMU zoning will be a heavy lift...given current public sentiment. I doubt the city will allow the requested VMU zoning but, even if they do, the citizens could easily run a referendum on the zoning change, which might end the whole project after years of work and expense.

The OUSD should consider using a bond measure to rehabilitate the buildings, create affordable housing for its teachers and staff, and build other structures for community use. Please read the following article on the EdSource website: https://edsource.org/2020/four- california-school-districts-ask-voters-to-pay-for-teacher-and-staff-housing/624455? fbclid=IwAR1Bd-6vE8b4YI7KU4wkXb9ks6Qk7mmId32WE_nAMtPnD5ipE9aL3b_x_hY) (February 28, 2020

The article describes how 4 California school districts created apartments on school district property using bond measures, then rented them out at affordable rates to school staff and other public workers in the area. AB 3308, signed last year by Governor Newsom, also allows the district to use affordable housing credits for staff housing, allowing more bang for the buck. Other kinds of rentals—for non-profit groups, artist studios, recreation facilities, etc.—could also be created. Like some of the other districts, OUSD could bring in over $1 million a year in extra income...much more than that offered by SVS. Thank you, Craig Walker

1/10/2022 - Cece Bloom (General Public Comment): I live on E Oak street.We as a community need to not discount a small (less than 50 room) hotel. An adult art school sounds cool, but in order to make money I see that type of school promising people job opportunities with the degrees it offers, and never delivering. This either caters to the elite who don't care about wasting money or it is predatory if a student has to take out loans.The other ideas proposed by the community — mainly affordable housing and a swimming pool — will not generate revenue. Generating revenue for our school district is literally the point of this business. Let's just speak plainly about the tradeoff — the business that goes on this lot can either be primarily focused on catering to the community (affordable, public access, high density) or responsibly focused on making money for the school (low density, expensive). The best case scenario here is a small hotel that is very expensive (as in pay up if you are going to be a tourist here), with ample community resources.

1/10/2022 - Karen Bialobreski (General Public Comment): Unfair burden on residence of Ojai, Police Dept., Emergency, evacuation problems in case of wild fires which hit Ventura County, several which have burned several sides of the town and evacuation routes, latest, the Thomas fire which burnt through Old Creek Road and almost took out Casitas Springs, burnt both sides of the 33, the main route out of the valley. This is a nightmare I will never forget. The school board could cut their wages and make it strictly volunteer if they are getting paid to save money. Have a volunteer committee made up of parents only for ways to cut expenses. What is your total revenues for the schools including bond issues, property tax, state funding, or any other revenue that is received.

1/10/2022 - Maryann Cord (General Public Comment): Please scrap the plan proposed by the out of town developers, allow the “exclusive” agreement to expire and start at the beginning to find a plan consistent with what the local Ojai community wants and needs. Please listen to the community and find a win-win solution that does not involve tourist dollars but instead allows for the use and or development of the property in a thoughtful manner inline with keeping Ojai Ojai. The last thing we need is another hotel especially at that location. That’s a hard no, not happening on my watch. The concept of squeezing a 200 room hotel for more tourists onto that location is absurd. The Ojai Valley Inn on all the acres of land they have has a bit over 300 rooms just to put the insanity of the proposal in perspective. Please allow the exclusive agreement to expire and begin again with the community. Thank you. Ojai native and resident Maryann Cord.

(3) Could you add poles and/or nets to the Matilija outdoor volleyball courts? That's all, thank you!"

1/10/2022 - Gabriel Arquilevich (General Public Comment): Hello. I have lived in the Ojai Valley for 32 years. My kids went to Nordhoff. As so many in the community have expressed, the proposed hotel development is strikingly unsuited to the long-term needs of downtown, the highway, and the greater city. The financial problems OUSD faces are real, but the solution needs to be better, as this development as proposed (and even minimized some) is a very long-term decision. Quite simply, my hunch is the 90% of local residents do not want more traffic, more tourists, less water. With thanks for your time. Gabriel Arquilevich.

1/10/2022 - Karen S. Wilson, Ph.D. (7.2.1): I urge the board to NOT extend the ERN and to terminate its agreement with SVS Dev LLC. The company does not seem capable of incorporating community input, customs, and standards into its process. With an already extended time period, it has produced only a concept that is disrespectful of the Ojai Valley community and the OUSD. Further, the unpopular concept is about as mundane and uncreative as can be imagined. This company is not the right fit for this project and community. Please vote to terminate!

1/10/2022 - John Brooks (General Public Comment): The exclusive negotiation lease agreement should be cancelled for failure to fulfill the terms of the agreement. The current draft has to be dropped anyway since it fails to meet the desires of the community. Various alternative solutions are being offered (Marc Whitman’s is a good place to start) that would retain the character of the historic buildings and provide either money or increased student attendance . Another RFP please and consider a local design team that understands Ojai.

1/10/2022 - Romy Bianchi (General Public Comment): Please scrap the plans for this hotel. It will ruin our town." 1/10/2022 - Liz Vernand (7.2.1): "Please vote no on the extension of the ERN.

1/10/2022 - Bonnie Brown (7.2.1): REQUEST - a VOTE to terminate the exclusive right to negotiate with the current developer.

1/10/2022 - Karen Banfield (General Public Comment): I am voting NO to the proposed development at OUSD.

1/10/2022 - Pete LaFollete (General Public Comment): KEEP OJAI LAME KEEP OJAI THE SAME

Don't Change Ojai- Let Ojai Change YOU.

1/10/2022 - Darris Lange (General Public Comment): One of the key differences between standard vaccines and gene therapy (as listed with FDA) vaccines is gene therapeutics require gene-toxicity and fertility tests, and vaccines like the flu do not. The FDA suggested Pfizer should conduct gene-toxicity and fertility test but did not require these test for FDA approval. As everyone knows Pfizer Comirnaty is FDA approved but not available in the US. The FDA approved an Emergency Use version are the same, with a legal difference, one of those differences is the labeling requirements, which I will go over in a moment. There are signs that the nanolipids in the vaccine congregate around the ovaries in a case study out of Japan using ferrets. In addition there are warnings of adverse effects in monthly cycles in women on the label fact sheets. These two combined items are signals that should require further investigation in reproduction studies. From the updated label on 12/21 it's good to know Pfizer tested the reproduction cycle on female rats before approving the drug as safe for women. Below is a link of the document from the FDA, 8.1 Risk Summary, 13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility, with Full prescribing information contents on page 1. https://www.fda.gov/media/151707/download Highlights

8.1 Risk summary included "A developmental toxicity study has been performed in female rats administered the equivalent of a single human dose of COMIRNATY on 4 occasions; twice prior to mating and twice during gestation. These studies revealed no evidence of harm to the fetus due to the vaccine (see Animal Data)." (Skips the actual fertility test, and focuses on pregnancy in 4 rats) 13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility COMIRNATY has not been evaluated for the potential to cause carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, or impairment of male fertility. In a developmental toxicity study in rats with COMIRNATY there were no vaccine-related effects on female fertility [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)]. " In short, there is no data other than Rats available to determine fertility among other test. I believe as a father of a daughter It would be reckless for me to allow an experimental injection that could potentially cause long-term fertility issues, full stop. Thanks for listening.

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