An Oxnard farm won top ranking Friday as the best spot for a Cal State University campus in Ventura County after the list of proposed sites was whittled down from 40 to 10.
The 231-acre Sakioka Farms property led nine sites in addition to the Taylor Ranch that survived the first round of cuts made by a 37-member committee of Cal State officials, city and county representatives and area activists meeting Friday in Ventura.
The owners of the Sakioka Farms property, who first said through their consultant that they were unwilling to negotiate, have now agreed to talk with university officials, Cal State Vice Chancellor John Smart said.
George Sakioka, an official at the Sakioka Farms office in the Orange County city of Costa Mesa, did not return calls. He said through consultant Ingrid Elsel of Ventura that he had no comment.
The property, which the Sakiokas have owned for more than 20 years, is now planted in row crops and citrus, Elsel said.
The 450-acre Taylor Ranch west of Ventura, the university’s first choice for a four-year campus, was not ranked by the committee. It was withdrawn as the chosen location for a campus after community opposition developed and a new Ventura City Council became divided on the issue. It probably will be included in the final four or five sites to be studied in depth in an environmental impact report, Smart said.
However, when pressed, Smart backed away from an earlier position that the Taylor Ranch would definitely be among the final group of sites studied.
“The current position of the Cal State trustees is to look for alternatives to Taylor Ranch,” he said. “We’ll come back to the issue of Taylor Ranch when we get to the final group.”
Sites being considered in addition to Taylor Ranch, in the order in which they were ranked:
1. Sakioka Farms, south of the Ventura Freeway and east of Rice Avenue in Oxnard.
2. Saticoy/Hillside site, 741 acres between Saticoy Avenue and Kimball Road straddling Foothill Road in northeast Ventura. The Walker/Hearne property located just to the west is now considered part of the Saticoy site.
3. Oxnard Boulevard site, 544 acres south of Gonzales Road and between Rose Avenue and Oxnard Boulevard in an unincorporated area of Oxnard.
4. Hartman Trust, 225 acres at the foot of the Conejo Grade east of Camarillo and just north of the Ventura Freeway.
5. Lusk/McLaughlin property, 200 acres near the Ventura Harbor north of Olivas Park Drive at Harbor Boulevard.
6. Hugu McGrath property, 1,100 acres south of Gonzales Road at Harbor Boulevard in the Oxnard area.
7. Diedrich/Donlon property, 590 acres west of Rice Avenue and north of Wooley Road in Oxnard.
8. West Santa Paula site, the most remote of the locations, on hillside property south of the Santa Paula Freeway and west of 10th Street.
9. Duntley Trust, 589 acres at Central Avenue and Beardsley Road northwest of Camarillo.
The sites were ranked based on criteria developed by the committee and EIP Associates of Sacramento, the university’s consulting firm. They had to be larger than 200 acres and located west of the Conejo Grade. Other important factors included access to highways and public services, including water and waste treatment.
The committee considered the availability of housing for students and the proximity of stores. It preferred land that was designated for development by cities or governing agencies over land designated for greenbelts.
On Sept. 21, the university will take members of the Ventura County committee and the Cal State board of trustees on a bus tour of the nine new sites. On Sept. 28, the committee will meet again to narrow them to four or five. They will be studied in an environmental impact report.
During the next two weeks, the university and its consultants will contact landowners to determine if they are willing to sell and try to measure local support for a university, Smart said.
The cities of Camarillo and Oxnard have said they would welcome a university. Roger Wilde, a Santa Paula businessman who had promoted sites in that city, told Cal State officials Friday that the city did not support the west Santa Paula site.
The position of the city of Ventura, which supported the Taylor Ranch site before three new council members advocating slow growth were elected in November, remains uncertain, Mayor Richard Francis said.
“I could not predict how the council will vote,” he said.
Francis supported the Taylor Ranch, but council members Gary Tuttle and Cathy Bean opposed it, saying it would increase traffic and air pollution.
Francis said the Lusk site was opposed by residents of the Ventura Keys when that site was considered in 1987 as a site for a two-year college. Keys residents complained of potential traffic problems on their streets. The Hillside site, which also borders residential development, may face similar opposition, Francis said.