Oak Park Might Try to Annex Hope Land : Development: The small community considers cityhood in an effort to regulate growth in the Jordan Ranch and Ahmanson Ranch areas.


While Simi Valley mulls the idea of annexing Bob Hope's Jordan Ranch, two officials of the small community of Oak Park said Tuesday that they want to form a city and annex the entertainer's land and Ahmanson Ranch.

Oak Park advisory council members say the two developments will have a profound effect on their community, which is just west of Jordan Ranch, and they should be able to regulate growth in the area.

"If there's going to be any annexing taking place, it should be Oak Park," Councilman Duane Skavdahl said. "We're the ones who are right next door. We're a player in this game, and we need to do something to get people's attention."

Skavdahl said he will bring the issue up at the Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council meeting Tuesday. If the council agrees to begin incorporation proceedings, the community could start a petition drive to collect 25%, or about 4,000, of voters' signatures to put a cityhood proposal before the Local Agency Formation Commission.

If the city is incorporated, it would return to the county agency to receive permission to annex the two developments, which combined would include nearly 4,000 homes, several golf courses, two hotels, a shopping center and several office complexes. Oak Park officials estimate that the annexation process could take two years.

Meanwhile, LAFCO on Sept. 12 will discuss the possibility of allowing Simi Valley to move ahead with the annexation of Jordan Ranch into its city. Simi Valley has asked the local planning agency for a preliminary ruling on the matter before moving ahead with the lengthy process of amending its General Plan to include the Hope property.

As a result, Skavdahl said, it is important that Oak Park move forward quickly or "we could be left in the dust."

Although some county officials said Tuesday that it makes more sense for Oak Park than for Simi Valley to annex Jordan Ranch, the small community would face several obstacles if it decides to form a city.

Because Oak Park and Jordan Ranch include little commercial development, the city would lack an important source of revenue. And although Ahmanson Ranch would have enough commercial and industrial development to sustain the city, some county officials doubt whether the ranch could be included as part of Oak Park, since Cheeseboro Canyon, part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, divides the communities.

"It just isn't feasible," said Ventura County Supervisor Madge L. Schaefer. "Geographically, there are problems."

Nevertheless, Oak Park Councilman Ron Stark said the community has to explore its options or risk being landlocked if Simi Valley decides to annex Jordan Ranch.

"We would be turned into an island with no chance of developing," Stark said. Yet the city's roads would serve Jordan Ranch, he said.

"We would be the most impacted, and yet we would have little impact on what's going on," he said.

Officials for the two developments said they would favor joining Oak Park.

"It's great," said Donald H. Brackenbush, president of Ahmanson Ranch Land Co. "I think it could work."

Fred Maas, vice president of Potomac Investments Associates, which has an option to buy Jordan Ranch, agreed.

"The people in Oak Park are obviously our neighbors," Maas said.

The annexation frenzy began several weeks ago when Hope asked Simi Valley to take over 2,308 acres of his Jordan Ranch property south of Simi Valley and 3,495 acres of his Runkle Ranch northeast of the city.

Hope officials said the Simi Valley annexation proposal was prompted partly by the election in June to the Board of Supervisors of slow-growth advocate Maria K. VanderKolk, who narrowly defeated Schaefer.

VanderKolk's campaign centered on her opposition to the Jordan Ranch development and a controversial land swap proposal involving federal parkland, which would be necessary for the project to proceed.

Under the proposal, the National Park Service would swap 59 acres of parkland needed for an access road to the Jordan Ranch subdivision for 1,100 acres of the ranch. Also, Hope is selling and donating more than 4,500 acres in the Santa Susana and Santa Monica mountains to park agencies for a below-market $10 million.

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