A battle over the future of Santa Paula’s Adams Canyon has officially begun, as community members on both sides of the issue have submitted written arguments for voters to consider through the Nov. 5 election.
Measure F would expand the city’s growth boundaries to include Adams Canyon, 5,413 acres of rugged hillsides and canyons to the northwest.
It would enable an Arizona developer to seek City Council approval for up to 2,200 homes.
In the ballot arguments, backers of the initiative--including Santa Paula Mayor Ray Luna--say it will ensure that the council, not the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, has control over what happens in Adams Canyon.
“We never thought we would have a dump or a jail in Santa Paula, but we have them,” Luna said. “We don’t have the political clout in the county that other cities do. We need local control.”
But opponents, including Santa Paula attorney Jim Procter and former Councilman John Melton, call that argument an “insult to the intelligence of Santa Paulans.”
Their ballot statement warns voters about traffic and pollution that would likely result from a large development, adding that any project would include upscale homes that few residents of the blue-collar city could ever afford.
Mike Miller, a Santa Paula resident and leading organizer in the effort to keep Adams Canyon from being developed, said the measure is not about city control.
It is about an out-of-state developer who wants to clear the way for a massive project, he said.
“They are not interested in moving the [growth boundary] for a discussion--that is a smoke screen,” he said. “They are very keen on building a large-scale development there.”
While no project has been officially proposed, Arizona-based Pinnacle Development Group has said it wants to build a mini-city to be called the Ranch at Santa Paula. It would consist of homes, schools, golf courses, hotels and shopping areas in Adams Canyon.
Greg Boyd, project general manager for the developer, said if Measure F passes, the company would hire planners to work with the community to design a project that meets the public’s needs.
Under the city’s General Plan, any such development would include up to 400 units of affordable housing, recreation facilities and open space, the proponents’ ballot argument contends.
Proponents say they support the development of Adams Canyon as a way of revitalizing the cash-strapped city by bringing in added taxes, new jobs and much-needed housing.
“This is the last opportunity we have to regain an economic foothold in this area,” said Planning Commissioner Gary Nasalroad, who signed the ballot statement in favor of Measure F.
But Miller said a remote canyon with no urban services, such as streets, sewers and lighting, is the last place for a new suburb.
Santa Paula voters said as much two years ago when they passed a Save Open Space and Agriculture Resources initiative--requiring a public vote before any new development was allowed in Adams Canyon.