Ban Lifted : 2 Weeks Later, Moorpark’s Growing Again

Times Staff Writer

The Moorpark City Council has ended a two-week ban on permits for residential construction, leaving the door open for developers to receive permits for a record 2,000 new homes this year.

A proposal to extend a moratorium on issuance of building permits to the end of the year was defeated when two councilman voted against it after a four-hour hearing Tuesday night. The measure, which required a unanimous vote to pass, was opposed by developers, who said the ban would unfairly keep them from completing projects already approved by the city.

The push to build in Moorpark, spurred by the possibility that voters will adopt a slow-growth ballot measure in November, could double the city’s population of 16,000 in the next several years, a report to the City Council said.

But Moorpark officials said they will keep development within Ventura County guidelines that require the city to wait until the end of the century to reach a population of 34,000.


After this year, the city “will probably not issue any more building permits until sometime in 1989,” Moorpark City Manager Steven Kueny said. For Moorpark to keep within the recommended county population limit of 23,000 by 1990, only 931 residential building permits could be issued after this year, Kueny said.

6,650 New Residents

The permits issued during 1986 are expected to result in construction of housing for about 6,650 new residents by the end of next year, Kueny said, increasing Moorpark’s population by 40%.

Councilmen Danny Woolard and Albert Prieto supported an extension of the moratorium. Councilmen James Hartley and Thomas C. Ferguson voted against extending the ban on new permits.

“In my mind there is no good reason for this community to continue this moratorium until November,” Hartley said.

Councilwoman Leta Yancy-Sutton abstained from voting and was absent from the hearing because of a possible conflict of interest. Her husband, Ed Sutton, writes bids for an Oxnard construction firm that handles several Moorpark projects.

Developers applauded the lifting of the ban.

“We are very pleased,” said Mary Gayle, an attorney representing Pardee Construction Co. of West Los Angeles. The firm needed 113 permits to complete a 256-unit housing tract, a city report said.


Gayle testified at Tuesday night’s hearing that the firm had invested $13 million in construction and that millions of dollars had been spent in contributions to a city road-improvement fund.

But residents speaking in favor of continuing the moratorium said roads, schools and other public services are already too crowded.

The council enacted the emergency moratorium on issuance of building permits Aug. 18 after a city report revealed that, since Jan. 1, nearly twice as many permits had been issued than in the same period of any of the previous three years.

Since the beginning of the year, Moorpark had issued a record 1,012 permits for new housing units, and developers predicted that they would request an additional 1,031 permits by year’s end, the city report said.


All the permits were for units in projects that have received City Council approval.

Fears Over Ballot Measures

Developers say the rush for permits was triggered by fears that voters will adopt one of two growth control ordinances on the November ballot.

From July 28 to Aug. 17, shortly after the measures were placed on the ballot, 571 permits were issued, slightly more than the yearly average from 1983 to 1985, city officials said.


One ballot measure, an initiative by a residents group called the Committee for Managed Growth, would restrict new housing to 250 units a year through 1995. Exempted from that measure are low-income housing and projects of four units or less.

The City Council, which has opposed growth limits, responded to the initiative in June with its own ballot measure. It would limit Moorpark’s population to 33,878 at the turn of the century by permitting an average of 411 residential building permits a year.

The extent and rate of growth have emerged as the key issues in November’s council election, which has incumbent council members Yancy-Sutton and Prieto facing two slow-growth candidates and four other challengers.

Clint Harper, a council candidate and member of the slow-growth committee, said after the Tuesday hearing that the growth measures on the ballot have almost become a moot point. By November, the city will have issued enough permits to ensure a high rate of growth for the next several years, he said.