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Cochran Street Project Has Taken Step Toward Reality : Simi Valley: Fourteen of 15 property owners have agreed on a funding plan that has been eight years in making.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An eight-year effort to link segments of Cochran Street in Simi Valley and pave the way for 40 acres of commercial development moved closer to reality Monday as all but one of the 15 property owners agreed on a funding plan.

Under the agreement, the city would foot the $4-million estimated cost of building the road. As developers purchase the land, property owners would reimburse the city for 40% of the cost.

The project is expected to spur development and provide jobs and sales tax revenue. But plans for the road extension have stalled repeatedly over the years as the city and property owners struggled to devise a payment agreement. A city-run committee wrote more than a dozen drafts before the current proposal.

“We’ve been working for a long time to get an agreement everybody could live with,” said Councilwoman Judy Mikels, who serves on the committee. “In all this time, this is the closest we’ve come, and I am really, really hopeful that this is finally going to happen.”

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Still hoping to persuade the last landowner to sign the agreement, the city has declined to identify the holdout because they fear it could jeopardize the effort. The city could condemn the holdout’s property to construct the road, but officials were taking a conciliatory tone Monday.

“We are at a sensitive point in the negotiations right now,” Deputy City Manager Jim Hansen said. “We don’t want to alienate anybody, because we’d really like to get this agreement finalized and get this road built.”

Cochran, one of the main east-west arteries through Simi Valley, currently ends just west of 1st Street and resumes again at Madera Road. In between are 40 acres of dusty, hilly, undeveloped land, hemmed in on the east and west by paved roads, landscaped lawns and business parks.

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Bordered on the north by the Simi Valley Freeway and on the south by railroad tracks, the property is considered prime commercial-industrial real estate.

According to Simi Valley’s General Plan, the land is zoned for industrial and office use, along with certain commercial uses such as auto dealers and large retail stores.

But the hilly terrain and the large number of landowners has made development difficult.

“In many cases, you’d just build a piece of a road at a time, as developers came in who wanted to build,” said Bill Golubics, traffic engineer. “But in this case you’re looking at some pretty major grading, so you really need to get the whole thing done at once.”

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Several years ago, Louis and Cynthia Pandolfi bought a one-acre plot on the property just east of Madera, hoping eventually to sell it to a developer.

“We were a little reluctant because we’d heard that the other property owners couldn’t agree on terms to get a road through,” Cynthia Pandolfi said Monday. “Now we’re relieved to see that we’re so close to making it happen.”

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If the final landowner is persuaded to accept the agreement, it will be sent to the City Council for consideration. If approved by the council, the project would begin within eight months of the date all the landowners sign off on it.

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Attorney Russell Takasugi, who represents a landowner with another small chunk of the property, said he is heartened by the progress on the agreement but will remain cautious until it is finalized.

“They literally marched the football down the field from the opposition’s 20-yard line and are now at the one-yard line,” he said. “But until they get the ball over the goal and score, they could still fumble.”


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