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Developer, Thousand Oaks Homeowners at Odds : Compromise Urged in Condo Dispute

Times Staff Writer

The Thousand Oaks City Council has suggested that a developer plant trees and build walls between his new condominiums and the homes of several unhappy neighbors.

The council sought to settle a dispute between the developer, John Ashkar, and homeowners who claim his condos stand between them and their scenic views and privacy.

One building sits within 15 feet of the backyard of Rob and Catherine Wirtz. The couple say they can’t see the valley and that inhabitants of the condominium can peer into their yard.

The controversy centers on a handful of houses in Cambria View Estates in northern Thousand Oaks. The houses were built by a firm owned by Ashkar, who is also building the Northoaks condos.

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Owners Say View Obscured

The homeowners charge that the condos have obscured their view of the western Conejo Valley, contrary to what they say Ashkar’s sales agents told them before they bought the houses.

Ashkar, through his lawyer, Chuck Cohen, has maintained that the construction plans were fully described to prospective homeowners.

The council was seeking a compromise between the homeowners and the developer at its Tuesday night meeting, where it directed the Planning Commission to review Ashkar’s application for a minor change in the four-unit condo building behind the Wirtz home.

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Two balconies that overlooked the Wirtzes’ backyard were moved without city approval more than a month ago. Retroactive approval of those improvements, council members said, might be granted on the condition that the developer plant trees and erect a block wall between the homes and condos.

Cool Reaction

The developer’s lawyer was cool to the idea. Cohen said he would recommend that his client reject any such exchange and drop his building-change application. Cohen told the council that a Planning Commission hearing would unnecessarily delay construction.

If Ashkar decides to withdraw his application for approval of the construction changes, he would move the balconies back to their original location directly over the Wirtzes’ backyard, according to Cohen.

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