County Board Limits Commercial Growth in Santa Susana Knolls

Times Staff Writer

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors this week decided to limit commercial development in the Santa Susana Knolls, a rural area of custom-built homes south of Simi Valley.

The board agreed with county planners, who concluded in a report that the sparsely populated area would not support major commercial development.

County planner Joseph Eisenhut, who presented the report to the board at a hearing Tuesday, said downzoning the area would better reflect the needs of most of its 1,660 residents, who had expressed concern that too much commercial development could lead to traffic problems and detract from the area's beauty.

Barbara Johnson, president of Susana Knolls Homeowners, a group of about 200, was pleased with the board's decision.

'Very Judicious'

"I think the board was very judicious in its decision," she said, adding that she and other homeowners believe that development would taint their retreat amid the knolls and oak trees.

"We want to see the area treated sensitively. It's a beautiful place, and we want to preserve it," she said.

At issue were eight acres, but Santa Susana residents had fought for two years for county action to prevent what they view as overdevelopment on them.

The zoning change mandates enterprises "more appropriate to a neighborhood setting," said county planner Bruce Smith.

It permits service stations, banks, professional offices, churches, doctors' offices, repair shops, restaurants, cafes and retail stores, but excludes such enterprises as amusement parks, bars and taverns, nightclubs, carwashes, hotels and motels, Smith said.

Several landowners at Tuesday's hearing worried that their property values would decrease with a change in zoning.

"It takes away a little of my dreams, my opportunities," said Kurt Witke of Canoga Park.

"That's our whole retirement right there," said Santa Susana resident Wayne Stockton, who had feared that a commercial parcel he owns would be rezoned to residential.

Supervisors are to take a final vote on the rezoning in December.

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