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BREAKING: OUSD school board votes unanimously on notice to terminate exclusive right to negotiate with developers of district office property

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Ojai Unified School District trustees meet Jan. 12 to discuss whether to extend the district's exclusive right to negotiate with developer SVS Dev LLC to develop the district office property at 414 E. Ojai Ave.

 

 

Ojai Unified School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its Jan. 12 meeting to extend a 60-day notice of the board's intent to terminate the school district's "exclusive right to negotiate" with developer SVS Dev LLC, unless the board sees "the deficiences rectified in terms of the development, the ground lease, etc. ...," as stated by school board President Jane Weil.

The vote was taken at about one hour and 34 minutes into the meeting. The meeting can be viewed on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/user/adminojaiusdorg
or on Facebok at: https://www.facebook.com/ojaiusd.org

This article will be updated.

 Written public comments submitted for the Jan. 12 OUSD school board meeting agenda:

1/11/2022 - Elizabeth Scott (General Public Comment): "Please consider expelling SVS Dev LLC from our school district. Seems this developer hasn't done their homework, didn't play well with others and flunked the roll-out presentation. Rather than let them repeat and get a better grade, just have them gather their belongings and get off the playground."

1/11/2022 - Richard Laubly (7.2.1): "At the Ojai Planning Commission meeting on November 17, the developer started off by saying « We have no dog in this fight. If everyone here decides you don’t want a hotel, we are absolutely fine with that. Its really not about us ». Yet they had spent (according to them) three years developing a project that included a 200-room hotel, a three-tier parking structure, with no mention, among other things, of the Oaks Hotel eventually opening, or the fact that the vast majority of the people working in the proposed hotel would not be able to afford living in Ojai, so would add to the already difficult traffic situation. Does anyone really believe that they would have spent three years developing this project if they just planned to shelve it once they started to feel the community’s anger ? Would it have not made more sense to communicate with the public in on this BEFORE they walked in the door with such a senseless plan ? Did they really think that the Ojai community would go for it ? Further proof that they don’t get Ojai at all. In an article in the Ojai Valley News following this meeting, the developer complained that they hadn’t been given enough notice to prepare for this meeting. In the same article it states that they had been informed that all they had to do was ask to reschedule it. At the OUSD meeting on December 15, two different local businesses owners were rightly upset that the developer had, without any permission, used photos of their businesses (and in one case the business owner’s home) for a promotional brochure to try and sell their project. Again, no understanding of Ojai at all. At the same meeting, the developer, after using three minutes of the public speaking time, announced that he would be going outside and would talk to anyone who wanted to talk. As he was only about the third speaker, you would think that he might want to stay to hear what the public had to say. At the November Planning Commission meeting there might have been around 20 speakers. Only one person spoke out in favor of the project. At the OUSD meeting in December there were maybe 15 speakers. Again, one one person spoke out in favor the project, and it was the same person both times. I am one of the « admins » of an Ojai Facebook book with 5,200 members. Many members expressed their opinion on this subject, and guess how many spoke out in favor of the project ? Zero. Not a single person. Out of 5,200 people. This is not a question of giving a contract to someone to remodel the bleachers at Sarzotti Park. This is a project that will change the face of Ojai forever, and there will be no going back. It is obvious to anyone who has been following this project, or attending the various meetings, that the overwhelming majority of Ojaians are against the project and have no confidance in the developers. Not to sound overdramatic, but the future of Ojai will be decided tonight, on this vote. I am confident that, having listened to the community over the last 3 months, the school board will vote to terminate the Exclusive Right to Negotiate."

1/11/2022 - Susan R. (7.2.1): "I have been a resident of the Ojai Valley for 68 years. I was raised in the East End and moved to the West End. I've never left. I'm am so very disappointed with the school district's proposal to have a developer put a hotel in downtown Ojai. My Dad came to Ojai in 1922 and my Mom's family in 1936. My grandparents used to have a house on the corner of N Montgomery and Aliso, on the same property that the former kindergarten building is on. Seems this is coming down to money. Maybe we need to get rid of some of the administrators who make well over $100k a year? If there aren't enough children for the school district, then maybe you need to close down some of the schools. This is totally disgusting and I would request the City of Ojai deny this request. We are in a drought, lacking water and this would only add to the lake being drained. Traffic would become an absolute horror story. It's already bad due to all the tourists in town. NO to this project or anything that resembles it. Thank you."

1/11/2022 - Samantha Zahringer (7.2.1): "I would like to state my strong opposition to the OUSD’s continued partnership with the development firm proposing a 200-bed hotel in the heart of our town. It is clear, even before The Oaks is up and running, that Ojai simply cannot absorb all the traffic that such a project would necessarily attract, and we simply cannot afford the water. I understand that Ojai depends heavily on tourism but we are essentially a village. It seems to me all the character of our village would be stamped out by this development, decreasing not only the quality of life of our citizens, but also, ironically, our very attractiveness to the tourists this project purports to attract. Thank you for your time."

1/12/2022 - Emily Fleck (7.2.1): "As a member of the Ojai community, I oppose the downtown project to build another hotel in our small community. This is a project that will change the face of Ojai forever, and there will be no going back. Over the last six years, since I've lived here, I've watched Ojai change and get busier. Traffic downtown on the weekends is already horrible. I can't even imagine what it would be like with this huge 200 room hotel and more space for shops. We don't need another hotel, we need a place for our community, a community pool perhaps. It's obvious to me that the majority of Ojai residents are against this project. We live in Ojai because we want a small town feel and we don't want big development. We also do not want Ojai to turn into LA. I already see that happening. The future of Ojai is in your hands. Please listen to the community and the people. We voted for you to take our opinions and interests to heart. I am confident that, after listening to the community over the last 3 months, the school board will vote to terminate the Exclusive Right to Negotiate".

1/12/2022 - Dave Cipriani (General Public Comment): "Please say NO to a 200 room hotel. There are better ways to address these problems."

1/12/2022 -Larry Steingold (7.2.1): "Regardless of who or what goes there, Any new deal should specify that at least 75% of all expenditures on the property, by any developer or OUSD be spent with companies and people located within the City and the district with penalties and automatic enforcement. If we have to live with the consequences, we want some of the money to stay here. In fact that should be for any monies spent by the District. Please make the appraisals public, for the $250k and $750K amounts along with supporting comps, and data to explain how rents went up $500k in 3 years. Re affordable housing. Require OUSD to buy down the rents for those people who reside in the units from the rents they receive, limited to only Ojai residents of at least ? years and school employees. That way no-one has to deal with state and federal issues while still meeting the affordable housing needs."

1/12/2022 - Darris Lange (7.1.11): "Thank You OjaiUSD for the Covid Testing Program

the process was easy and widely available Thank You OjaiUSD for the Ojai Riders program offered free to all students in Middle School and High School. This program gets students out of the house to explore the trail systems throughout Ojai. Privately this program was offered at approximately 400.00 every 9 weeks. Next I would like to offer some feedback regarding the School Site Counsel(SSC) and Parent Participation. I sat in on a school site meeting and reviewed the SPSA, or single plan for Matilija School and was frankly shocked. MMS School Site Council has under 30,000 for discretionary funds, 600.00 from the PTA. I have come to the realization that Parents of Students enrolled at Ojai USD are not supporting schools financially. Coming from a private school, parent participation was never a problem. At minimum enrollment was 15,000 per student per year and up. Matilija Middle school has ~500 students, 43% qualify for a low income supplement from the state of 2500.00. If only 50% of non low income parents contributed 1000.00 per student, MMS would have 250,000 in funds for student action. If the Parents, non low-income, district wide contributed 1000, would produce an excess of 750,000 annually, which ironically is the upper estimate of what the district would make by leasing property in down town Ojai. I advocate that if Ojai wants to keep Ojai, Ojai, open up your check books and contribute a minimum of 1000 dollars a year for your students. All parents should contribute 2000 per student per year, that would total 1,500,000 for our district. Perhaps part of the 1,500,000 could be used to develop the Ojai property that benefits students, like a theater, drive in, Art Studio, Trade School etc. If 1000 or 2000 is to much for you to donate, then apply for low income, do the work required to have the state kick in the money for you. What is low income, according to the building project, low income is qualified by rent or mortgage that is more than 25% of income. If you are paying 2000 per month in rent, then your household income has to be greater than 96,000 annually. For the District, these funds could help develop programs to re-capture parents and state funds for our Ojai public school system Dlange"

1/12/2022 - Annika Forester (7.2.1): " I agree that the Chaparral/District Office property is sorely underutilized at present, and I support the objective of seeking a higher function for it, to the benefit of the District and its students, and therefore the community, and pursuant to the recommendations of 3 prior 7-11 committees. However, I do not support continued contract with SVS Dev LLC.

In short: they don't have the community-facilitation skills and their design was 100% tone-deaf to our town's character and needs. The problem, however, is not with them. It is beyond the scope of real estate developers skills to lead community processes, so I don't fault SVS Dev LLC for failing at what any other real estate developer would have likewise failed at. What we need now is a sound and credible community visioning process led by skilled community-development facilitators, not real estate developers. The District and the City need to join together and create a process to listen to the people they are elected to serve. There are a lot of hard feelings in this town, economic disparities are brutal, and continued business-as-usual catering to vapid touristic image-making and race-to-the-bottom service wages is detrimental to everything our community stands for and needs to become. The only way to authentically and sincerely move forward is to hit pause and establish a wholistic process inclusive of the City and the community. There are countless models of successful community development projects and professionals who can lead them. Start with this, and once we have that vision, let the developers make their pitches. Doing so sooner is just out of order."

1/12/2022 - Sally England (7.2.1): "I would love to see the Chaparral property turned into art studios and affordable live/work spaces. It would also be great if the farmers market continued on, and there was a community Co-op and cafe as well. When discussing the future of this property the number one priority should be how it will serve the community, and not how to make money through tourism. This is an opportunity to enhance the flavor of Ojai, not to turn it into a generic tourist town. Please no hotel!!!"

1/12/2022 - Annie Cox (General Public Comment): "I stand in opposition to the ill-conceived hotel development project, and I wanted to share one concept idea with you. I lived in Providence RI for 7 years. That city did some real soul searching after having been known as a gangster town, and the pit stop between Boston and NYC. They deliberately re-branded themselves as the creative capital, leaning into the strengths of what they had going for them - young, scrappy, creatives and intellectuals (because of all the colleges in town). They converted spaces into artist housing/ work spaces. They turned the whole town into a canvas that the artists built on and beautified. One example that stands out, is a defunct steel yard they turned into a vocational arts school and mixed use venue. I took metal smithing classes there and attended a wedding there. Young people learned welding and other useful skills. I think it could be a model for Ojai - we don’t want to do what other cities have done, leaning on tourism to sustain us - we can be creators and producers.

https://www.thesteelyard.org/about/ https://www.goprovidence.com/meetings/where-ideas-inspiration-meet/

I sincerely hope we can create something new and uniquely Ojai, as opposed to this cookie-cutter development that will white wash all character in Ojai. Thank you."

1/12/2022 - Jose Scibetta (7.2.1): "I oppose the building of a hotel on School district property due to the impact on traffic and water."

1/12/2022 - Vanessa Keating (7.2.1): " To whom it may concern, Thank you for your understanding and recent transparency on the factors that led to the decision of making public use of the District Office Property. Due to health concerns and covid, I am unable to make the in-person meeting. I strongly request that you to vote NO on the extension for the ERN. I also request that you look to do business with a new developer and no longer seek the services of SVS Dev LLC. The reasoning for my requests are as follows: 1. A desire to keep the relaxed and community feel of Ojai. As a 10 year resident of the Ojai Valley, I like many other fell in love with the small town feel and slower pace - which prompted a move to be part of a community that is set in this way (otherwise, myself and many others may have moved to Santa Barbara, or LA). 2. A large, private, commercial/residential property located in the center of town will forever change the "vibe" of Ojai. I have lived in 3 towns, and have roots in several other towns on the east coast who have made large changes such as this to "underdeveloped communities" and in each and every one, it changed the structure of the community, increased traffic, increased crime, made living costs too high for artists and contributing members of the community (to the point they left). Each town changed in so many ways, they are unrecognizable, a mere 5-10 years after development. 3. The Developers who were hired to pull off this grand revenue making vision do not seem to be experienced in a build of this size, nor at all interested in the Ojai community. These developers do not have samples of work they have done in other towns, have been hostile and unprofessional at times in meetings or interactions with the community. 4. Location of development & traffic impact It is possible that this proposed development (200 rooms + residences) - almost as big as Ojai Valley Inn (320 rooms) is better suited at a different location in the valley and not in a location where traffic (an intersection that is already dangerous) will become unimaginably worse and unsafe. I understand that these opinions and feelings address the reasons for my request - but do not address the needs of the Ojai School Board, what would best serve the community, nor most importantly, the children and educators of the Ojai Valley." Further, I know this development was proposed to generate the most money for the OVSB. But it does NOT address the needs of all involved. Is it possible, we start this process again, outlining all the issues, solutions for these issues and the cost of addressing the issues - and then see if there is a regenerative solution that works within this specific property/area? I'm not against anything, but I am against the only offer that has been shown to us. Please consider the concerns of all in the valley, lets work together for a solution that is a win-win-win for us all - something we can be proud of for decades to come. Thank you for your consideration, Vanessa Keating Ojai Valley Resident"

1/12/2022 - Janine Comrack (General Public Comment): "I am absolutely against any hotel downtown!!! The traffic downtown is already atrocious and adding something as was suggested by the developer would only make life for those of us living in the valley unbearable. Please consider other alternatives that are more condusive to our beautiful Ojai Valley and its residents. You have to realize just how crazy and inappropriate this development "idea" was. This is a small wonderful town and not LA!!!!"

1/12/2022 - Adrienne (General Public Comment): "Vote no on extending the ERN!Let’s stop and start anew with a public input from the beginning from residents ."

1/12/2022 - Emily Scibetta (7.2.1): " I beg the OUSD to cancel the contract with the developer and seek other opportunities, with community input, to support the school systems financial needs. As a parent of two children who have lived in ojai for 4 years and will soon enroll in ousd, we are committed to supporting a path forward. A development of this size will likely push us to leave the community. I am a physician at Ventura county medical center and I love my community, my patients and the fabric of ojai. Please cancel this contract. I would attend in person tonight, but I have clinical Work. Thank you for all that you do!"

1/12/2022 - John Aufderheide (7.2.1): "I do not support an extension of the ERN for the District Office Property with SVS Dev LLC. They are out of touch with the town - specifically their initial proposal did not adequately address two critical problems: water use and traffic. Also, In their community online meeting they began the meeting by suggesting that we are in danger of losing the school system if we don't work with them. (The statement was that inaction could cause us to lose the school system - the implication being that we needed to work with them to prevent that.) Finally, there is another proposal that was submitted more than ten years ago by long term residents who have the health and viability of both the town and the school system at heart. It is time to explore other options!"

1/12/2022 - Bianca Roe (7.2.1): "To the OUSD School Board we do not believe that SVS is the right developer for the OUSD District Office property. SVS Dev LLC has been in contract with OUSD since, 2019 under Andy Cantwell. In more than 2 years under contract, SVS Dev LLC has done zero community outreach, shown no understanding of our towns environmental issues, shown serious lack of historic landmark comprehension and have not followed any of the existing ordinances of the city. At the Planning Commission meeting Nov 2021, we saw the biggest Ojai Community turn out against SVS Dev LLS's presentation, all the while the developers claim not to have had ample warning of community presentation.. well, they had OVER 2 YEARS TO OUTREACH TO THE COMMUNITY AND DID NOTHING. Nothing is a number, it's ZERO. Not one Community outreach event before Nov 2021. There are more than 3,000 Ojai Signatures on the petition against SVS Dev LLC proposed development. This is a community movement, showing the opposition to the development put forth by SVS Dev LLC. https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/save-ojai-from-development The vote this evening, is not one that only takes in the OUSD agenda into account, but must take into consideration the general census of the Ojai Community. This is after all Public Land. The public, has been very vocal about their lack of interest to develop this site for private use with these developers. This evening, it is a VOTE NO on extending the contract with SVS Dev LLC. https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/save-ojai-from-development It is time to terminate Sage Realty Group, this is not the location that should be in negotiations for development. It's time to fold the cards, because the community of Ojai will not allow this development site to be turned into a mega hotel or any other number of privatized ideas. Public Land is for Public Use.. not for Private Development. Perhaps the conversation, is about surprising a different location, a different site in the OUSD portfolio, leave this historic landmark alone, or if you do consider developing it, make it a NFP and a Public Land for Public Use project. You have had some of the best most capable minds of our town, come together, put their professional opinions in writing against SVS Dev LLC, Local Architects, Designers, Lawyers, Community members: Marc Whitman, Craig Walker to name but a few.

PLEASE VOTE NO, we do not want to extend the ERN with these disastrous developers."

1/12/2022 - Ray Powers (7.2.1):" Rather than being redundant, as I support the feedback given by fellow community members Marc Whitman, Bill Miley and Jefferey Starkweather, I encourage the OUSD board to decline an extension of the current development group and not continue a further relationship with them. The overall design lacked sensitivity to the community wants/needs and the neglect to create an inclusive environment for community input prior to the design process I find unprofessional. A much more visionary concept that will grow the future of Ojai is needed. One that focuses on design principals that, top to bottom, embrace the health and well being of all aspects of our residents and visitors. Ecological and economical resiliency must be key factors."

1/12/2022 - Lauren O'Donnell (7.2.1): "Hello- general public comment from resident and homeowner. I am sure the majority of ojai residents agree that the proposed development of the space is not the right solution. From my experience with the priorities of residents and the city of ojai and their strict parameters this contradicts small the town standards that have been enforced over the years. I strongly oppose this proposal and the space needs to serve the needs of the community, not a quick easy fix for the profit of a hotel that has no interesting in serving the priorities of the community. Thank you, Lauren O’Donnell"

1/12/2022 - Julia Weissman (7.2.1): "Please vote no on the extension of ERN with SVS Dev LLC and the proposed Ojai Historic Town Square project. The SVS team has made no discernible progress after a year's extension. Do not give them more time, and do not give them a lease. It will only waste more time and resources. The proposed scheme lacks vision and taste and clearly misunderstands the Ojai community. This site is a critical parcel that, if dealt with correctly, could connect Ojai's disjointed downtown. To pursue a deal with a developer of this sort would -- at best -- miss the opportunity of the moment and could possibly destroy the livability of our town, which is already over-priced, congested, and running out of water. The amount of revenue generated from this project is insufficient to justify the downside, a drop in the bucket of your current overall budget. It is offensive that this deal has gone as far as it has. The scale of the hospitality portion of the project is wildly inappropriate for Downtown Ojai. Any hospitality considered should be small-scale, a McMenamins-type boutique hotel / mixed-use community space, such as exists in the Pacific Northwest. A side note about one of that group's latest projects at a renovated school in NE Portland: the pool included in the design was opened up to the community (shared with hotel guests) free of charge for fifteen years. Compromise is possible.

The number of "affordable" units included in SVS' plan is absurdly low: nine of sixty-four. And what that translates to is even worse, considering the current rents that will be locked in for these units are already unaffordable for a large proportion of this community. Surely there are grants available to build genuinely affordable housing. A private developer will never be able to deliver this, and if it's demanded (which it seems to be), I guarantee you, SVS will back out. Getting to that point may take years. SVS didn't seem to earn any goodwill at their "community meeting" on 1.6.22, and public comments shared by Ojai Valley news have already addressed that. I would like to add that their team seemed surprised that environmental remediation is needed for the property. How are they surprised? There's a fuel tank on the property. In the November meeting, it was brought up that their parking garage plan is incompatible with the water table, another surprise for an unqualified development team that doesn't seem to have done any research or made any attempt to develop an appropriate plan for this parcel. Start over."

1/12/2022 - Frederick Fisher (7.4.2): "To the Ojai Unified School District Board,

I am an architect and Ojai resident. Please do not extend the Exclusive Right to Negotiate with SVS DEV. LLC. The project is entirely ill conceived from the standpoint of lack of inclusive engagement with the community, lack of understanding of Ojai, inappropriate use of key publicly owned space in the town of Ojai. The project fails to provide appropriate, community supportive use of public land acquired for educational use. The developer has shown lack of understanding of the community and of appropriate public process. The Board should end this relationship and restart with parameters that respect and support the community. A better partner and direction can be found. Frederick Fisher AIA Gold Medal Fellow of the American Academy in Rome"

1/12/2022 - Erica Helson (General Public Comment): "I oppose the proposed mixed-use development at the OUSD downtown site. As a resident of E. Topa Topa Street, two blocks from the site, this development would impact my family and neighbors very personally. My opposition is founded in the beliefs that:

1. The proposed project will benefit outsiders more than locals.

2. Ojai needs to diversify its economy, not grow its already robust tourism sector.

3. Inequality will increase if we continue to allow our economy to be dominated by tourism.

4. In our wealthy community, there are more creative and fruitful solutions to the school funding issue.

In addition to these broader community-wide concerns, on a personal level, parking on my street is already dominated by tourists and downtown visitors, especially on weekends. Many of the homes on our block already do not have enough parking for residents. For example, my home only has space for one car so street parking for residents and their families is essential. Parking and traffic is a major concern for local residents."

1/12/2022 - Bob Kemper (7.2.1): "The current plan unfortunately does not reflect the needs or desires of the community. Regardless of the reason, the developer has lost any and all credibility with the community at large, and their contract should be terminated. I, and many other long-term residents and civic activists believe that there are better uses for the property that can still generate necessary revenue for the district, and for the city, and do so while providing the community with facilities that serve the needs of the community. Thoughtful and prominent members of the community are already gathering to develop alternate site-plan options, along with attendant financing/funding sources. Fortunately, Ojai is blessed with a diverse and talented population, residents who love our unique valley, it’s natural beauty and spiritual history. And they have skills, be in the arts, professional services, retail operations, fundraising, planning, design, construction and more. Let’s select the right people from our Community to work directly with the district and the city to develop a workable, financially feasible plan for this critical part of Ojai’s downtown area. Please terminate the contract and let us go to work." 

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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