Old Town Test Area Set for Council Vote

In an effort to encourage redevelopment of sagging buildings in the Old Town neighborhood, the City Council on Tuesday will consider increasing density in a four-acre test area near the Civic Arts Plaza.

If approved by the council, the number of residences allowed in the test area--bounded by Los Robles Road, Live Oak Street, Skyline Drive and Crescent Way--would increase from 12 to 15 per acre.

On a 4-1 vote, the Planning Commission recently recommended that the change be rejected because it would alter the character of the area.

Instead, a majority of commissioners said, the city should encourage rehabilitation of the existing 23 parcels in the hopes that residents would not be displaced.

In a report prepared for the council, city planners say they envision "both the retention of existing residences to the extent feasible and construction of new units on the same property to revitalize this area."

However, increasing density is rarely popular in this city known for its slow-growth ways.

Many of the homes in the Old Town neighborhood south of Thousand Oaks Boulevard near City Hall were built in the '30s, '40s and '50s.

A few of the bungalows are run-down rentals that owners would like to replace. But some have said it is not cost-effective to tear down an old house and replace it with, for example, a duplex.

Starting from scratch only makes economic sense if a bigger project can be built, they said.

In the city's General Plan, the area is earmarked medium density, which allows between four and 15 residences per acre.

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