What is the Conejo Creek Development? It is a consortium of five landowners who own a combined 740 acres at the base of the Conejo Grade. Click here for information about the applicants. They have applied for an amendment to the City of Camarillo General Plan to change the zoning of their property from Agricultural to Residential, Industrial and Commercial. It includes over 100 acres of industrial development and 2,500 housing units (of which 1,525 will be two and three story multi-family homes). The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is now out for review and public comment. To view the DEIR go to the Conejo Creek heading at the top of any page and scroll down to Draft EIR. See more information about the size and scope.
Is this land protected by the Save Open-Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) Initiative? Yes and No. 440 acres are within the City limits and an additional 300 acres are within the Camarillo Urban Restriction Boundary (CURB) and so are not protected by a SOAR designation. In addition, there are 105 acres in the Conejo Creek Study area which are outside the city limits and outside the CURB boundary and so are protected by SOAR. This parcel, owned and farmed by Midnight Sun, Inc., is critical to the development.
Why is this parcel critical to the development? Conejo Creek (the stream) drains a large portion of Eastern Ventura County and is prone to flooding. Flooding is what makes this prime farmland. A massive $20 million bypass channel would need to be dredged through the project and specifically through the Midnight Sun parcel to connect with Calleguas Creek. See Midnight Sun Page for more information.
How about jobs and employment opportunities? Well, you can look at the Conejo Creek Properties development from (1) the Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) angle, (2) the construction job angle, or (3) the angle of jobs coming from businesses in the industrial/commercial buildings that would be built on the 100 acre portion.
(1) The NBVC is Ventura County’s #1 employer, providing 19,000 military and civilian job opportunities and pumping nearly 2 billion dollars into our local economy. However, nationally, air installations like NBVC have been impacted by development “encroachment”. Noise and safety concerns have limited the military training and operations of these bases and curtailed their growth. For mor information on the impact to the NBVC click here
The Conejo Creek Properties project is the first development project to leapfrog Pleasant Valley Rd. towards the Base. In addition, the entire project is adjacent to the inbound Runway 21 Pt Mugu flight path, at an especially noisy and dangerous point, as the jets rev-up their engines to power wing adjustments and lower landing gear.
With noise and safety issues from development limiting other bases, NBVC could actually benefit from increased military investment if the Navy is convinced we as a community are committed to encroachment prevention. The Navy is helping to fund a Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) that will evaluate compatible land uses. This JLUS is just being funded and will probably take several years to complete.
(2) Construction jobs of various sorts will only last as long as the project is being constructed. We have seen the length of time the Springville 1440 homes have taken to “get off the ground”. We have also seen how The Village at the Park development primarily employed large corporate home builders who brought in their own management and subcontractors.
(3) As to the 100 acre industrial/commercial area…as we all have seen driving around town, empty buildings don’t offer employment opportunities.
Won’t the Conejo Creek Properties project take 20 years to build-out? Perhaps…but before we know it, bulldozers will begin dredging the 2 mile long, 300 foot wide bypass channel along the Conejo Creek in order to “lift” this entire area out of the flood plain because no building can occur until the flooding danger is addressed. In the past, there was money to improve our freeways, imported water to tap into and agricultural lands throughout Southern California. Now, government funds for freeway expansion are nonexistent, imported water is restricted and expensive, and local agricultural land is a rare sight. So though it might take 20 years, in the end, no matter how long it takes, our community is left dealing with traffic congestion and freeway capacity overloads,
increased imported water rates, stagnant home values, encroachment along the NBVC inbound flight path, and our unique Camarillo gateway “farmland view to the sea” forever filled in and paved over and as stated in the DEIR it would change the viewed character of Camarillo from a anagricultural to more urban setting.
Doesn’t the Camarillo Sanitation Facility need flood protection?
Yes, it does. In fact, the City has already planned a $2/mo. sanitation fee increase to cover the cost of a levee to protect the Sanitation Facility. However, that $2/mo fee is getting mixed in with a significant sanitation fee increase due to storm water runoff regulations and requirements that the City must meet…but don’t be fooled, if approved, the Conejo Creek Properties project will not reduce your sanitation fees by anymore than a couple of bucks a month. This seems like a very small price, when compared to the traffic congestion and other quality of life impacts we will end up paying for. The bypass channel is only needed if the proposed 2,500 homes and 100+ acres of industrial/commercial buildings are built. See Flooding/Sanitation Facility.
What about the landowners property rights? As a residential property owner, do you feel you have a right to change your zoning and build dense housing next to your neighbors? Shouldn’t the impacts of your development be evaluated and the comments of your neighbors be taken into consideration? This land is zoned agricultural land and always has been. It is the right of the community to be able to weigh in on the impacts that will affect us all…especially when the impacts will affect our own properties.
In fact, if existing residential properties are constantly competing with new housing inventory, the neighboring older homes values will always be affected. Older homes usually require improvements that can not be “folded” into a mortgage payment. Brand new homes are cosmetically appealing and move-in ready…no time, effort or extra loans required.
The landowners have the right to sell their property whenever they want, but they must go through the Environmental Impact Review process if they want to obtain a zone change from agricultural to residential.
If we don’t build all these houses, where will our kids live?
Well, how many kids have moved out of The Valley, while the parents stayed behind in the “old home”? Will our kids even want to stay here if the quality of life is so dramatically changed? If they grew-up surrounded by open space and farmland, they will want the same for their kids. This is in fact, all about the quality of life we are leaving for our future generations.
What do the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers mean? The Regional Housing Needs Assessment is mandated by State Housing Law as part of the periodic process of updating local housing elements of the General Plan. The RHNA quantifies the need for housing by income group within each jurisdiction during a specified time period. The current cycle covers October 2013 to September 2021. Camarillo’s new housing number is 2,242 which translates to 289 per year.
Does that mean that Camarillo must approve additional housing projects to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) for the current cycle?
No, with the housing projects that have already been approved by the City Council we have enough planned houses to meet our housing quota. See RHNA page
Does the State Housing Law require land zoned Agriculture be used to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers? No, there are protections written into the State Housing Laws in the California Government Code. The following are two examples:
Section 65589.5c states: “The Legislature also recognizes that premature and unnecessary development of agricultural lands for urban uses continues to have adverse effects on the availability of those lands for food and fiber production and on the economy of
the state. Furthermore, it is the policy
of the state that development should be guided away from prime agricultural lands; therefore, in implementing this section, local jurisdictions should encourage, to the maximum extent practicable, infilling existing urban areas”.
In Section 65561, “ The Legislature finds and declares as follows:
(a)That the preservation of open-space land, as defined in this article, [agricultural land is included in this definition] is necessary not only for the maintenance of the economy of the state, but also for the assurance of the continued availability of land for the production of food and fiber, for the enjoyment of scenic beauty, for recreation and for the use of natural resources.”