Thousand Oaks City Council Cancels 7 of Its Next 13 Meetings : Government: Few hearings are on tap. Some wonder if builders, fearful of a 2-2 vote, are waiting until the fifth seat is filled.


Are developers avoiding the four-member Thousand Oaks City Council?

There are so few public hearings scheduled in upcoming months that the city has canceled more than half of its regular Tuesday night council meetings between now and the June 6 special election.

It could be pure coincidence. Or, as Councilwoman Judy Lazar notes, some applicants for city building permits may be hanging back--fearful of a 2-2 vote from the often-divided council--until a fifth member is elected.

“It’s certainly possible that some developments or items are being postponed until a fifth council member is elected,” Lazar said.


A spring lull in council business is virtually unheard of in a city where agendas are usually so filled that meetings drag into the next morning. A couple of years ago, the city switched from two meetings a month to four because there was so much to do.

But looking over the spring schedule, city staff members found there were not enough events to warrant a weekly session. Tuesday night, the council approved a new schedule that cancels seven of 13 upcoming meetings.

“There is nothing filed with the Planning Department and no appeals are upcoming,” City Clerk Nancy Dillon said. “So why have a meeting and just have one or two items on it?”

“There may be someone out there that is holding back their project (until after the election),” Dillon added. “Who knows? Until they file, we don’t know.”

The four-member council has tended to split evenly on development issues after former Councilmen Alex Fiore and Frank Schillo departed in December.

Lazar and Councilman Andy Fox usually align on one side, with Mayor Jaime Zukowski and Councilwoman Elois Zeanah on the other.


The first split was on how to resolve the fifth seat, which Schillo vacated when he moved to the county Board of Supervisors. Fox and Lazar both said they thought that Mike Markey, the fourth-place finisher in the 16-candidate November election, should be appointed to Schillo’s place. But Zukowski and Zeanah wanted a special election. With the 2-2 deadlock, city law mandated a special election.

The council was also sharply divided on construction of the Lang Ranch debris basin. Members stalemated until developers threatened a lawsuit, then voted unanimously for a modified--and less environmentally damaging--version of the project.

Many residents who spoke at public hearings in December and January said they wanted Markey appointed because they were afraid to see city business stalled in a series of 2-2 votes.

Now, apparently controversial council business is simply being postponed until after the election, with applicants choosing to avoid the divided council.

For instance, a public hearing on Home Depot’s application to open an hour earlier has been delayed until July 11 at the company’s request.

The $100-million Seventh-day Adventist commercial development is still before the Planning Commission, and very likely will be continued until July as well.


The unresolved question of moving an equestrian center off Dos Vientos Ranch in Newbury Park has been continued indefinitely, and city Planner John Prescott said council members might not get to that issue before the special election.

In fact, the only public hearing on a planning issue now scheduled is a March 28 session on a condemned building, the former Unocal station on Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

“It seems to be a trend that applicants would like a full council,” Zukowski said. “We have cases pending that seem to want to delay. I don’t know if they are avoiding us or waiting for a preferred time.”

Zukowski said the canceled meetings can be reset if needed.

But for now, council members intend to spend more time with residents, holding quarterly meetings in neighborhood settings, as well as planning joint sessions with the park and school districts.

And perhaps even enjoying a little time away from the usual Tuesday night marathons.

“Isn’t it lovely?” Lazar said.