RECIRCULATED CONEJO CREEK DEIR OVERVIEW
Link on the City of Camarillo website to the recirculated sections of the Conejo Creek Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) http://www.ci.camarillo.ca.us/docs/Conejo%20Creek%20Specific%20Plan%20Recirculated%20Draft%20EIR.pdf
The recirculated sections include:
~ Project Description
~ Agricultural Resources
~ Biological Resources
~ Cultural Resources
~ Hydrology and Water Quality
~ Land Use and Planning
~ Transportation and Circulation
The following are “highlights” of each section:
Project Description – The overall plan area has been increased from 740 acres to 895 acres to include 2 more parcels of land; an “unnamed parcel” and the Midnight Sun parcel owned by UBS Agri-Vest. These are needed for the football field wide flood control bypass channel that would be dredged for 2 miles through the project. In 2009, UBS Agri-Vest, the owners of the Midnight Sun parcel, submitted a letter to the City stating that they did not want to be included in the Project Specific Plan or the Environmental Impact Review. The issue of this property has still not been resolved, as stated on page 2-9:
It is acknowledged that the participation of the owner or formal acquisition of the necessary area of the Midnight Sun property to accommodate the proposed improvements would be necessary to carry out the totality of the proposed flood control improvements. Prior to future construction of the bypass channel on a portion of the Midnight Sun parcel, the rights must be obtained from the landowner. The rights could potentially be obtained by the establishment of some form of purchase agreement or via the use of eminent domain.
Agricultural Resources – the project’s 895 acres of “farmland of statewide importance” would be converted to 2,500 residential units and over 100 acres of industrial development. In lieu of this prime productive agricultural land, the project developers are proposing community gardens, space in the yards for gardens, a Farmer’s Market, a CSA pick-up site and a community kitchen. Page 4.2-15
Biological Resources/Wildlife corridor – The Conejo Creek is rich with fish, birds, frogs, plants and trees. The creek has a year-round flow from the Thousand Oaks Hill Canyon Treatment plant that attracts wildlife and sustains vegetation for habitats and protection. The Calleguas and Conejo Creek offer a “lifeline” corridor from the coastal parklands to the inland open spaces of Santa Rosa Valley and the Simi Hills. The Conejo Creek at the 101 Freeway is the only “open” undeveloped undercrossing left in West Ventura County.
The Conejo Creek development would require that the creek be “channelized” with cement revetment from the 101 Freeway to Ridgeview St. There would be a 385 multi-family residential complex sited adjacent to this portion of the creek (next to the 101 Freeway at the bottom of the Grade) and a 2-story commercial development on the other side. Lights, noise, people and pets would replace open farmland, and cement revetment would replace vegetation…further isolating wildlife in limited gene-pools on either side of the 101 freeway.
Page 4.4-44 states:
Construction of proposed recreational trails along the bypass channel, as well as conversion of agricultural lands into residential, commercial, and other public uses would result in increased presence of humans and domestic animals within and adjacent to the creeks. Increased light spillover impacts from the construction of athletic field or trail lighting, noise, and presence of non-native invasive plant species may also discourage use of the creeks or other adjacent native habitat areas for wildlife movement.
Cultural Resources – Page 4.15-12 lists 30 existing structures within the Project Area that could be considered “City Landmarks” for their role in the agricultural heritage of this area. Why are the buildings eligible to be considered “City Landmarks” and worthy of preserving when the agricultural land itself is not?
Hydrology and Water Quality – Figure 4.9-1 illustrates the Calleguas Creek Watershed. The Calleguas Creek drainage begins in Simi Valley and runs through Moorpark, Somis and Mission Oaks. The separate Conejo Creek drainage starts in the Tierra Rejada Valley of Moorpark and runs the length of Santa Rosa Valley.
The Conejo Creek development project sits at the confluence of these 2 separate watershed drainage systems. It will be bound on 3 sides by these 2 creeks, which are considered “floodways” for their drainage areas.
In order for this natural occurring floodplain to be developed, a football-field wide bypass channel will be dredged for 2 miles along the perimeter of the development, adjacent to Conejo Creek. Figure 4.9-6 shows the “bank protection” and “vegetated” segments of the bypass channel. The “bank protection” will be cement revetment along the banks.
On page 2-24 of the Project Description it states:
Design of the bypass channel and other related water conveyance components would provide permanent flood control protection to the Project Area and adjacent developed lands. Bank stabilization and channel protection systems would be constructed of flexible and/or vegetative systems, unless channel velocities and characteristics require rigid systems such as concrete slope paving, soil cement, or grouted stone.
Note the term “unless”. Now touted as open space and native habitat, this bypass channel’s first obligation is to provide permanent flood control. With a high-volume flooding occurrence, vegetation would be quickly replaced with cement revetment. In addition, cement revetment would require less Maintenance and Operation expense. The management of vegetation in this area of fertile soil and a high water table will require extensive funding and oversight…forever. Page 2-25 states
The proposed bypass channel would also require routine maintenance to ensure proper long-term functionality. Routine maintenance would likely include as needed removal of sediment and selective vegetation removal to maintain conveyance capacity of the channel. Sources of funding for this maintenance would likely be provided by a combination of sources, including but not limited to, homeowner’s association dues, property taxes, benefit assessments, and land development fees.
This is known as “bait and switch”. Remember the large public park touted as a community benefit when Village at the Park was built? Now this park is off limits to residents. Remember how the newest Outlet area (The Promenade) was sold as a project like “The Lakes” in Thousand Oaks?
And even with all the flood control “improvements” Figure 4.9-8 illustrates the flood zones that would continue to surround this project on 3 sides.
Land Use and Planning – though this recirculated “Land Use and Planning” element states on page 4.10-23:
As discussed in Section 4.12, Population and Housing, the proposed Specific Plan would facilitate the construction of 2,500 new residential dwelling units, thereby adding to the City of Camarillo housing stock and contributing toward meeting the City’s share of regional housing need.
Our Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA, pronounced ree-na) number is currently 2,224 residential units through 2021. As of the June Camarillo Dept. of Community Development Monthly report there are 25 projects “in the works” resulting in 2,407 residential units. Camarillo is already exceeding it’s RHNA number by 10%.
Also, “as discussed in Section 4.12, Population and Housing” in the original Conejo Creek DEIR it states on page 4.12-6:
Housing and Population. Cumulative development under the General Plan, including 5,824 additional residential units and 2.98 million square feet of non-residential development, in combination with the proposed Specific Plan, would continue to evolve the demographic character of the area. Based on the current average number of persons per household in the City (approximately 2.645 persons per household), cumulative development and the proposed Specific Plan would increase the City’s population by approximately 22,017 people beyond existing population (65,201). The current population of the City is within SCAG projections through 2010 and the increase in population of approximately 22,017 associated with both cumulative buildout combined with the proposed Specific Plan would exceed SCAG 2030 projections by 8,907 persons. Cumulative development without the proposed Specific Plan would still exceed SCAG growth forecasts in 2030 by 2,323 persons. Thus, the Specific Plan would contribute to this exceedance. Therefore, the proposed Specific Plan’s contribution to population impacts would be cumulatively considerable.
Noise – on page 4.11-4 the City’s standards for exterior noise for Zone II residential are noted as being 55 dBA (decibels) from 7 am to 9 pm and 45 dBA at night from 9 pm to 7 am.
On page 4.11-14 is a table entitled “Noise Level Exposure of Future Land Uses within the Project Area”. Of the 11 residential areas studied, 10 exceed 60 dBA. The school area is 66 dBA.
Moreover, it is estimated that the future proposed school along Calle Quetzal would be exposed to noise levels in excess of 66 dBA. As discussed in the Setting, Policy 2 in the City’s Noise Element states that lower noise should be sought near “areas of greater noise sensitivity” such as schools. Considering both exterior and interior noise levels that future receptors in the Project Area would experience, impacts would be potentially significant.
And not only within the Conejo Creek project. The surrounding areas would be impacted by this cumulative traffic noise. Table 4.11-9 “Traffic Noise Impacts from Cumulative Development” illustrates this impact. 26 road segments in the surrounding the project area are listed; 24 of them are above 65 dBA, most are in the 70+ dBA range.
On page 4.11-22 it states: Nonetheless, because the Specific Plan would significantly increase noise along eight roadway segments in the project vicinity upon buildout, cumulative noise impacts would be considerable.
Transportation and Circulation – The proximity of the development to the Conejo Grade will impact us all. The 101 Freeway is our County’s only high-capacity North/South transportation “mainline”. The Conejo Grade is a critical bottleneck in this segment of our transportation system. There are no viable alternate routes around the Conejo Grade except 2 lane roads through rural neighborhoods and agricultural land (such as Santa Rosa Rd and Potrero Rd).x
The recirculated Conejo Creek Draft Environmental Impact Report’s “Transportation and Circulation” element provides us with facts and figures to consider. The Conejo Creek development would generate 41,000 vehicle trips daily. 20% are projected to travel south on the 101 Freeway. 26% are projected to travel north on the 101 Freeway from the Pleasant Valley interchange. Currently the Conejo Grade carries 131,000 average daily trips (ADT). By 2030 (16 years from now) the cumulative area traffic combined with the Conejo Creek development vehicle trips are projected to result in 186,000 car trips on the Conejo Grade. A 42% increase in traffic on the Conejo Grade.
There are no 101 Freeway improvements planned for the Conejo Grade, or the “short, sharp, steep” Camarillo Springs on-off ramps. There is a dedicated 4th northbound lane proposed from the Conejo Creek bridge to the Springville interchange. However, even with this 4th northbound lane, the 101 Freeway segment “east of Camarillo Springs” (in other words coming down the Grade) would be the worst Level of Service “F”. And the segment of the 101 Freeway “west of Lewis” (between the Lewis Rd. and the Carmen Dr. interchange) would also be a worst Level of Service “F” in the middle of the Camarillo corridor.
As if that isn’t bad enough. This northbound lane would terminate at the Springville interchange. The Springville development of 1335 residential units will generate 21,000 vehicle trips daily at build-out. Springville was approved by the Camarillo City Council in 2008. The 400 acre Sakioka Farms Business Park, between Del Norte and Rice along the west side of the 101 Freeway, was approved by the Oxnard City Council in June 2012. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) projected it would generate 78,500 vehicle trips daily.
Under “Cumulative Baseline Conditions” the recirculated Conejo Creek DEIR states on page 4.15-8: The traffic forecast data were derived from the Camarillo Traffic Analysis Model (CTAM), a sub-area derivation of the Ventura Countywide Traffic Model (VCTM) prepared and maintained by the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC). The CTAM was updated in 2010 based on the latest VCTM projections and the latest land use projections and roadway improvement plans for the City of Camarillo and the surrounding region.
The question then becomes, were the 78,500 vehicle trips projected to be generated by the Sakioka Farms Business Park included in the modeling and analysis of The Conejo Creek Specific Plan Traffic Study done by Austin-Foust in 2011? It must be assumed they were not…but who knows, the reference “Traffic and Circulation Technical Reports” does not list the projects used for the cumulative traffic figures.
One wonders if the Wagon Wheel 1,500 residential unit development was included in the cumulative traffic figures? This project, along with the 400 acre Sakioka Farms Business Park, and the Camarillo Springville development of 1335 residential units and 340 acres of retail and commercial development have all been approved to proceed. All are located along the 101 Freeway. All will generate tens of thousands of vehicle trips each. None of which have hit our streets and the 101 Freeway…yet.