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VENTURA : Housing Allocations Expected Today

Ventura home builders and preservationists should receive word today on who gets to build new houses in the city and when.

City Council members had hoped to dole out housing allocations in July, but their meeting went too long. At 2 a.m., they decided to postpone the issue until they had returned from their August break this week.

Bound by the restrictions of its own Comprehensive Plan, the city can allow only about 1,000 housing units to be built between now and 1999. But developers have submitted requests to construct nearly three times that amount in the next few years alone.

Two of the projects have raised considerable controversy.

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One is a proposal by developer Ron Hertel to build 437 houses on what is now a city-owned lemon orchard. To obtain the allocations and ownership of the orchard, he proposes that the city swap its 87 acres at Telegraph Road and Petit Avenue for his 94 acres at Telephone and Kimball roads. He says he will throw $2 million into the bargain for construction of a regional park on his property.

His proposal carries the enthusiastic backing of eastside sports organizers and coaches. But preservationists and neighbors of the proposed development oppose the project because they want to keep the lemon orchard agricultural until the year 2010, as it is now designated in Ventura’s Comprehensive Plan.

The other controversial proposal comes from the Neel family, an old Ventura farming family that wants to build 120 homes on a 22-acre parcel just west of Ventura Avenue. Some members of the council have enthusiastically supported the project, calling it a private redevelopment opportunity for the beleaguered Avenue neighborhood.

But a cluster of small business owners around the property oppose the development. They say neighbors would object to their heavily industrial businesses and would try to run them out of the area.

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