Ventura County’s third-largest city could grow by more than 35% in the next 25 years, planners say.
The Simi Valley City Council on Monday night approved the projection that pegs the maximum development of the city to the year 2020.
Forecasters are dubious that Simi Valley, which now has a population of about 104,000, will actually grow to the build-out size of about 140,000 residents in that time, but they need to make the estimate for planning purposes.
“Keep in mind that this is nothing more than a projection,” said Dulce Conde-Sierra, deputy director of housing for the city. “We don’t really know how long it will take, but this is the maximum that the city could grow in that time.”
County planners say the numbers show that the city will grow at a moderate and perhaps even slower rate than the county as a whole, said county planner Steve Wood.
The population in Ventura County is about 720,500, and the county grows by about 11,000 new residents each year, Wood said. That steady growth rate probably will continue, he said, with the most dramatic increases probably occurring in Oxnard. Oxnard is the largest city in the county, and Thousand Oaks is the second-largest.
Although it is just an estimate, the Simi Valley population projection is important for a number of planning purposes, Conde-Sierra said.
Both local and regional planners will use the estimate to draw up rules controlling growth, to map out roads and highways and to project needs for pollution-control measures.
A committee of City Council members, planners and builders is working on a draft of a new growth-control ordinance in Simi Valley. The existing ordinance will expire in July, and the population estimate approved Monday night will be used to determine how many allocations for building homes can be issued each year in the city.
Working backward from the year 2020 and using an average number of people per household, the committee will use the maximum population figure to come up with the number of allocations that may be issued each year. Once they have an allocation, builders can apply for a building permit or hold onto the allocation for a later date.
Right now, the city offers about 300 allocations a year. But the sluggish economy has kept those that hold those allocations from going forward and getting building permits: Only about 181 permits were issued in 1994, and there is a backlog of about 1,500 allocations, Conde-Sierra said.
Despite the backlog, the number of allocations issued each year may be raised to about 450, she said.
Mayor Greg Stratton, who serves on the committee, said the population estimate approved by the council is consistent with what is projected in the city’s General Plan, which was last updated in 1988.
Simi Valley will grow at a steady clip over the next 25 years while maintaining its present character, Stratton said.
“I don’t think you’ll see much of a difference,” he said. “There will be a few more homes in the outlying areas, but I don’t think it’s going to be a perceptible difference.”
The population estimate will also be used by regional planners mapping out future demands on Southern California’s freeways and public transportation. The Ventura County Council of Governments and the Southern California Assn. of Governments will both use the figure in their planning models, said John Sullard, who works with the Ventura County Council of Governments.
“It will feed into the regional planning effort,” Sullard said.
All cities in each of the seven Southern California counties submit population estimates for the next 25 years to the Southern California Assn. of Governments.
For a time, the association generated its own projections of growth, but after pressure from cities, it has begun to request estimates from the cities themselves, Sullard said.
The massive amount of information will be used to plan for future transportation demands, he said.
“Here that means mostly highways,” Sullard said.