The Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council is considering a serious bid to annex entertainer Bob Hope’s Jordan Ranch and the adjacent Ahmanson Ranch in an effort to regulate or stop growth on those southeast Ventura County properties.
The council voted 4 to 0 Tuesday night to form a committee to meet with the Local Agency Formation Commission to discuss how the community could incorporate, which is necessary before annexation could occur. Council member Kent Berringer was absent from the meeting but left a letter saying he would not support incorporation, officials said.
Details of the committee’s membership and agenda were not decided Tuesday.
The council also passed a resolution opposing annexation of the two ranches by either Simi Valley or Thousand Oaks.
Council members said they would support cityhood and annexation of the ranches to prevent or regulate developments now proposed for both sites. Developments planned for the Jordan and Ahmanson ranches would bring about 11,000 new residents and 240 acres of commercial, office and retail space to the area.
Oak Park officials said the developments would have a profound effect on their community, situated just west of Jordan Ranch between Thousand Oaks and the Los Angeles County line. The officials added they should be able to regulate growth in the area.
“We would like to see as little development as possible between us and the San Fernando Valley,” Council member Duane Skavdahl said. “We don’t want to become San Fernando Valley West.”
The Municipal Advisory Council was set up by the state and its members serve as advisers to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. The council, whose members are elected, does not have any land-use authority and operates under guidelines set forth by county supervisors.
The community would have to collect signatures of 25%--or 1,072--of the 4,288 registered voters in the area to put a cityhood proposal before LAFCO, said Bob Braitman, executive director of the commission. About 10,000 people live in Oak Park, county planner Steve Wood said.
Braitman said one of the main criterion for incorporation is if Oak Park, which has little commercial development to generate revenue, can demonstrate it could support itself financially.
Officials for the Ahmanson Land Co. and Potomac Investment Associates, which has an option to buy Jordan Ranch from Hope and develop the property, have said they would be willing to talk to Oak Park officials about incorporation as long as their projects are approved.
But Oak Park Councilman Ron Stark said he and at least one of his colleagues have a different objective.
“They’re thinking about incorporation so they can build,” Stark said. “We’re thinking about incorporation so they can’t build.”
Skavdahl and Stark said their concerns over the effects the projects might have on the area were reinforced by the results of environmental impact reports released this week.
The reports found the two projects would cause irreparable harm to the area’s rural environment by causing significant increases in smog and traffic. The findings have put pressure on developers to either scale back their projects or find other avenues to get them approved. A majority of the five-member Board of Supervisors have said they probably would not support the projects.
Anticipating opposition from the board, Hope in July asked Simi Valley to annex Jordan Ranch along with 3,600 acres of his Runkle Ranch property, northeast of the city.
Simi Valley has petitioned LAFCO for a preliminary ruling to determine whether annexation of Jordan Ranch is feasible. The commission will consider the request when it meets Sept. 12.
Meanwhile, Simi Valley Mayor Greg Stratton met with Thousand Oaks council members Frank Schillo and Lawrence E. Horner on Wednesday night to discuss the annexation proposal. Stratton has suggested it might be more practical for Thousand Oaks to annex the 2,308-acre Jordan ranch because it would be better able to provide services to a 750-unit housing development and golf course planned for the property.
Skavdahl said if Simi Valley or Thousand Oaks should pursue annexation, Oak Park would be ready to put forth its own proposal.
“We don’t want to be left behind,” he said.