SOAR Campaign Takes Off in City

Moorpark is the latest Ventura County city where open-space activists have begun work on a ballot initiative that would require voter approval for development on agricultural land or open space.

Moorpark members of Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources announced at Wednesday's City Council meeting they hope to begin gathering signatures in April for a petition similar to those proposed in Oxnard, Camarillo and Thousand Oaks. A countywide initiative also is in the works.

"This is one mechanism to hopefully prevent the wholesale urbanization of the county," said Lori Rutter, who hopes her group will collect the 2,600 signatures needed for the initiative to qualify for the Moorpark ballot.

The 16-page petition filed last week with the city attorney will be checked to see if it can stand a legal challenge, Rutter said.

The SOAR initiatives have not generally been well-received by farmers and landowners. Farmers from Moorpark and other communities have objected that such measures take control of their land out of their hands.

SOAR county coordinator Lisa Burton said the group's petition for Camarillo and the countywide measure will be ready for circulation today. The group expects its petition for Simi Valley to be ready on Saturday and the petition in Thousand Oaks to be done next week.

Ventura saw a similar initiative approved by voters about three years ago.

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