SOAR and Planning

Rep. Brad Sherman, indicating his support for the SOAR initiatives, was quoted on Sept. 3 as saying, “I know the difference between Van Nuys and Westlake and it should be kept that way.”

I oppose SOAR. Following is part of my letter to the congressman:

Do you really believe Van Nuys would be as it is if it were developed under the myriad of current local, state and federal planning laws and controls now in effect? I think not. As you know, most of these laws were enacted post-1970, and most of Van Nuys developed pre-1970.

Westlake would not have been developed under SOAR . . . period. End of statement! Among the arbitrary and capricious provisions of SOAR is that individual property owners would be limited to a maximum of 40 acres every other year rezoning even with county-wide ballot approval.


Westlake is 12,800 acres. I was the developer’s attorney from 1968 to 1973 and the project manager for the North Ranch 4,700-acre development from 1977 to 1980. No way would we have even a luxury, low-density, high-amenity project like North Ranch under SOAR, which would prohibit extension of city services beyond urban boundary lines! All of Westlake was unincorporated when we started.

The answer to good land use lies in good planning in every jurisdiction. Good planning was voluntarily undertaken by the developers of Westlake Village and is now assured by a myriad of complex laws enacted over the last 30 years (those demanding General Plans). SOAR is not about planning; it is about pulling up the drawbridge.

In short, we don’t need SOAR, its risks are too profound and its consequences potentially very undesirable. Rather, we need continued good planning.

JOSEPH M. BOWMAN, Westlake Village



The Times’ advertising for its four-part series on SOAR presents the SOAR debate as a choice between the San Fernando Valley or “paralyzed urban growth.” While it is true that SOAR could keep Ventura County from turning into another San Fernando Valley, where is the logic in saying it would paralyze urban growth?

SOAR would enforce what is referred to as the “blueprint for growth,” otherwise known as the General Plan. It would only apply when politicians for the developers want to change the General Plan to get rid of open space and agriculture. Do you think the current General Plans in any way paralyze growth?

The county and city General Plans call for tens of thousands of new houses, hundreds of new shopping centers and millions of square feet of industrial buildings to be built in the next 20 years in Ventura County. That is planned growth and would not be affected by SOAR. It would happen anyway.

There is no basis for a conclusion that, unless you add more growth than already planned, somehow SOAR would paralyze urban growth. I hope The Times will frame the SOAR debate using logical arguments and not rhetoric.

MARY E. WIESBROCK, President, Save Open Space, Agoura


We as residents of Ventura County are faced this November with a large decision that will affect the future of this county. Our neighbors who reside in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Camarillo, Oxnard, Moorpark and Santa Paula will vote on versions of an initiative called SOAR.


I have lived in this county since 1967. I enjoyed growing up here, love raising my family here and look forward to my grandchildren being able to live here. The impact of this initiative could take the freedom of that choice away.

I urge everyone to read between the lines of this misdirected plan and realize that it would not protect agricultural land or open space within our city limits. The boundaries that would be defined would actually intensify city uses to meet the needs that are not being met now.

Let a system that works for us now continue to work. Vote no on SOAR!