Simi Officials Demur on Growth Initiative

The Simi Valley City Council this week criticized an attempt by a citizens group to fight traffic congestion with a moratorium on development in congested areas of the city.

The group, which calls itself FIGHT (Fight Ill-favored Growth and Horrible Traffic), has announced plans to collect 3,800 signatures in order to place an initiative on the November ballot.

In a letter to the council, proponents wrote that their aim is to "alleviate traffic congestion on the streets of Simi Valley, and, we hope, ensure an adequate quality of life."

Some council members questioned not only the need for a development ban, but also the need for an initiative.

Council member Vicki Howard and Mayor Greg Stratton said the initiative represents an end-run around city officials.

"The initiative should be used when the legislative body fails to take action," said Howard. Howard and other council members said the city already is working on plans to reduce traffic congestion.

The city manager's office received a copy of the proposed initiative Jan. 19, with a cover letter signed by Paul La Bonte, Fred Harrison and Mike Stevens. The letter asked for comments from the council.

La Bonte has expressed confidence that Simi Valley residents will support the measure, which would halt development within a three-mile radius of congested streets or intersections. Volunteers from his group recently canvassed about 3,000 residents, and 90% said they believe traffic congestion has become worse, according to La Bonte.

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