East County Issue / Sunset Hills...
GREG STRATTON, Mayor, Simi Valley
Obviously, the answer is no. They should not be able to delete the road. That road is part of the county transportation plan and is, in fact, potentially needed to keep traffic levels to a reasonable level. It’s part of the countywide road system and our entire internal and external analysis has been based on the assumption that the road would be there. Our studies show that the road will carry a reasonable amount of traffic that will otherwise be carried on Royal Avenue, Madera Road and Wood Ranch Parkway. This is as unfriendly an act as it would have been for the city of Simi Valley to have closed Tierra Rejada because people from Moorpark use it to get to the 118 Freeway. I think it’s certainly not conducive to a regional or even countywide approach to transportation planning. We’re in the process of looking at our legal options, but from what I can see, we have every ability and perhaps necessity to take this to court.
ROBERT E. LEWIS, Mayor, Thousand Oaks
The General Plan is just that, it’s a plan, and until it’s fully implemented, it’s always subject to modification. The circulation element is part of the General Plan. At the time our General Plan was approved and that circulation was shown, our city was going to be dramatically more populated than it now will be at build-out, some 50,000 to 60,000 people more. This changed the circulation. One would never assume that just because it is a pencil mark on a piece of paper that it would be built. Simi sees that road as a direct shot to the area where they hope to be able to build a mall, down at the 118 Freeway and First Street, and Sunset Hills (Boulevard) would open up the back end of Thousand Oaks with a straight shot to the mall. They’re looking to burden their own neighborhood with Thousand Oaks traffic in order to justify getting a mall. It’s important to know that one of the areas where we’ve had the most significant decline in density is right there in Sunset Hills. That immediately changes the circulation. Anyone who thinks the General Plan is a static document basically doesn’t understand a general plan.
ART GOULET, Director of Public Works, Ventura County
Under the law, they’re certainly entitled to delete it. Whether or not that’s a prudent move on their part is another question. It seems to me that when one plans for the future and there really isn’t any compelling need to change from that plan, you shouldn’t change. Based on what I know, that link between the two cities is an essential component of circulation in that area, both for the people of Simi Valley as well as the people of Thousand Oaks. There are examples of similar changes in general plans that have been made throughout the county by the policy makers at various times, and typically when you go back and look at it under different circumstances, the conclusion is that they were really not good decisions. It’s really incumbent upon the policy makers to make sure that they deal with the mobility needs of our populations at large rather than give undue consideration to a limited part of their constituency. We need to look past the instant political furor and look at what’s best for the community as a whole, or the communities as a whole.
VICKY HOWARD, Supervisor, Ventura County; member, Ventura County Transportation Commission
Every city is responsible for its own circulation element, but I think that one of the things that we need to do is to work more cooperatively with the cities and the county to make sure that we have circulation that will take care of the traffic not only today, but in the future. It’s very important to make sure that there are adequate connectors between the cities, and if we have adequate connectors then the traffic will flow more smoothly. I think too often we only look five years ahead, and don’t realize that this county’s going to be around forever. I think we’ve seen the mistakes, for example in Orange County. There’s horrendous traffic there because they haven’t planned ahead and I would hope we’re smarter than that. Each city has a circulation element, and the connector roads between those cities, you use those to judge what the traffic is going to be. So, if you drop out one of those it can have a significant impact on the other cities.
GINGER GHERARDI, Executive Director, Ventura County Transportation Commission
Our general feeling in the commission was that the action may have been premature. The road has been on the plan for a long time, as has the connection of the 23 and 118 freeways, which is under construction. The commission generally felt that a decision (on Sunset Hills Boulevard) should be deferred until such time as after the 23-118 connector is in operation. We think that it would be preferable to them to re-evaluate the traffic patterns after the connector is open, with current information. The (environmental) document pretty clearly shows that there will be congestion in Simi Valley; I believe it’s on Royal Avenue and Madera Road. We are the congestion management agency for the county; if this action backs up the traffic in those areas to more than an acceptable level, then Thousand Oaks would have to pay for improvements to mitigate that. It’s possible that the city of Thousand Oaks would be required to pay for improvements in Simi Valley if the roads deteriorate as the environmental impact report suggests that they may.