Santa Paula Times

Public speakers, Council express
concerns about E. Area 1 changes

October 09, 2015
Santa Paula News

Public speakers as well as several City Council members expressed concern with a proposal to amend the East Area 1 Specific Plan primarily dropping apartments and condominiums from the housing mix.

Former Mayor Mary Ann Krause said after the council’s last meeting where several amendments were adopted she received phone calls and emails, “asking if I could help them understand,” the changes that includes allowing the planning director to make minor changes administratively.

That includes removing condos and apartments to make the entire 1,500 residential development single-family homes, a change that Krause said is not only “too significant to be done administratively” but also would “undermine the walk able village concept which is the very backbone of this neighborhood,” where such units were planned.

Changing housing types, “would alter the demographics of who will live in the neighborhood, would have implications for traffic, parking, schools, and recreation, and would increase water demand. All of these issues will have CEQA consequences and will require a separate specific plan update. I urge you not to wait until the developer has done costly engineering, but to call now for a very public review of the developer’s intentions,” with a public workshop.

Krause said, “There are some negative comments circulating in the community,” which voted to allow development based on initial plans, “let’s get things back on a positive footing.”

She also questioned the new aspect of the development that the Homeowners Association funded by residents would privately own streets.

Krause lives in a subdivision with an HOA but public streets and she noted that homeowner compliance to rules is not always a given creating overcrowded street parking and other complications.   

Removal of the apartments and other changes, said Sheryl Hamlin should trigger a new //Environmental Impact Review due to change of use or density.

And, “It seems a bit troubling to me that we would just announce that a whole class of residents would be extricated from this development because the developer did not want to put (apartments) in there...”

She also questioned managing an HOA with 1,500 residences and said the planning documents lacked an overlay map of HOA areas with the public areas, including roles and responsibilities for use.

Hamlin also noted that the changes to the project were not the first with previous amendments removing commercial space in the development.

Mike Penrod of Parkstone Company, the project manager, said the development is responding to what the market desires. Rather than excluding people by removing apartments Penrod said the development would offer homebuyer opportunities. 

Two roads, Santa Paula and Hallock, will be publicly owned and the others will have HOA paid maintenance as well as policing for code enforcement by security guards.  

Glen Crosby of The Lewis Group, which is partnering with Limoneira to develop the infrastructure and prepare the lots for East Area 1, said HOAs for larger developments are more efficient.

Councilwoman Ginger Gherardi asked City Attorney John Cotti if the changes would trigger an EIR and he answered no noting the project had undergone two extensive EIR processes.

Councilwoman Jenny Crosswhite asked Crosby for a definition of a Master Planned Community, noting people had asked her about the new description for the project and how such a development would fit with existing community.

Limoneira said Crosby had already adopted the concept of a MCP for the project before Lewis Company became involved. Lewis he noted “Builds a sense of place” and East Area 1 will have a school, open space, parks and a protected habitat. 

He said it will be a “very special place” where people will want to live, play and enjoy the network of neighborhood parks and paths, unlike his own home where he has to drive to enjoy such amenities.

Crosswhite asked about pricing: “I hate to quote prices so far in advance,” said Crosby due to potential market changes but “we’re hoping to bring product into the market,” in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.

More expensive homes he noted will be built last.

Crosswhite said she has concerns about affordability and those looking to buy “would still have to come up with a down payment...I’m trying to wrap my mind around young working families or those that come from a family of immigrants,” coming up with the funds to purchase a home.

Such issues she noted would impact “the diversity of the people that live there...”

In the end she voted yes on the amendments noting, “But I’m hoping you’ll continue to take care that it interacts with the rest of Santa Paula...keep that in mind as you move forward.”

Gherardi agreed noting that as housing proceeds it be “inclusive as possible...”

The council voted 4-0 for the amendments; Mayor John Procter, a Limoneira stockholder, recused himself from the item.