Group Seeks Ballot Initiative to Limit Simi Growth


Inspired by a proposed countywide measure, a group of residents plans to seek a city ballot initiative that would limit growth within Simi Valley.

Organizers say about 48 residents have formed a group to promote passage of an initiative for Simi Valley similar to a countywide drive known as Save Our Agricultural Resources, or SOAR.

The city measure, like SOAR, is planned for the fall ballot. Both are intended to preserve farmland and open space from encroaching development.


“This is not a no-growth initiative,” said Kevin Conville, one of a 13-member steering committee.

“The idea is to empower the citizens of Simi Valley so they can determine the destiny of the town they live in,” said Conville, who has lived in Simi Valley since 1963. “If the citizens decided they wanted to put a sprawling development on the hillside and 51% voted in favor of it then it shall be done.”

SOAR officials have been encouraging Ventura County cities to each develop their own initiatives for the last several months. Simi Valley is the third to join in the movement, following Oxnard and Moorpark. Camarillo is expected to soon form its own group.

Voters in the city of Ventura approved a similar initiative in 1996.

The Simi Valley group plans to launch a petition drive March 1, which would run simultaneously with the countywide effort, to gather signatures needed to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.

The countywide initiative would apply to open, rural and agricultural land in unincorporated areas. The city initiatives would apply to the same types of land within city limits as well as property proposed for annexation.

“The way it works now is a developer comes into town and makes a sweetheart deal with local politicians,” Conville said. “Then no matter how many meetings the citizens attend, whatever the City Council and developers decide always seems to fly.”


City officials declined to comment on the proposed initiative until a draft is made available.

But Al Boughey, director of environmental services for the city, said such an initiative is unnecessary. Voters have already imposed growth limits in Simi Valley that have the effects sought in the proposed ballot measure, he said. “The elected officials and Planning Commission have been very active in preserving open space and have done a lot to ensure that the city does not experience urban sprawl like other areas of Southern California,” he said.

One builder agreed that local governments do not need additional controls on growth.

“I like the system the way it is,” said Debbie Aronson of Simi Valley, a project manager with developer Warmington Homes of Agoura. “The government seems to be doing a good job . . . it doesn’t really need to get into the hands of the voters.”

But Conville says he sees “continued urban sprawl in the surrounding hillsides, a dramatic increase in the population of Simi Valley and the subsequent traffic and crime associated with larger cities” without a city initiative.

SOAR officials say each city needs to have an initiative to enforce urban boundary limits.

Members of the new group plan to attend the Jan. 29 town hall meeting in Simi Valley of a 23-member policy group examining the county’s growth policy options.