Shop, Dine, Play, and Stay

About Our Plan

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Imagine a place in our city that bustles with excitement. Imagine a place in our city where people live, work, and dine all within walking distance. Imagine a downtown in Thousand Oaks. The Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association has developed the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan (TOBSP) in order to guide creative mixed-use and pedestrian friendly development of the Boulevard. The TOBSP was spearheaded by local business owners in order to lay the foundation for improvements that will benieft residents, visitors, and businesses alike. 

The TOBSP major components include: adequate parking, pedestrian-friendly streets, oak tree preservation, and mixed-use structures that contain both commercial and residential uses. The goal is to have people living on the Boulevard walking to stores, restaurants and local entertainment.

 

Current Projects

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The City of Thousand Oaks Community Development Department publishes a monthly summary of development and planning applications and a list of all construction permits issued in the last month. Download the latest edition of these reports below.

Development Activity and Construction Permits


 

Download the latest Development Activity Report 

 

Download the latest Permits Issued Report 

2018 Gala

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We are happy to announce that Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association was awarded Nonprofit of the Year!
The Chamber held their annual Recognition Gala at Calamigos Ranch.

The event honored outstanding local leaders and organizations, including: 

2018 Award Honorees:

  • Business of the Year, Ventura County Credit Union
  • Man of the Year, Haider Alawami
  • Woman of the Year, Dianne McKay
  • Nonprofit of the Year, Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association
  • Ambassador of the Year, Michael Reardon 
  • Volunteer of the Year, Fran Brough


 

Get Involved

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Medical  Offices

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The Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan loosened parking requirements for buildings. That made it easier for medical providers - such as Kaiser and UCLA Health - to locate in Thousand Oaks and makes it easier for residents to get to their doctors' offices. Listen to one resident talk about the benefits of the Specific Plan.  

Whats Happening

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Thousand Oaks is home to some world-class entertainment.The Civic Arts Plaza has hosted former presidents, Nobel Prize winners and shows that later went all the way to Broadway. The Distinguished Speakers Series brings eight notable speakers to Thousand Oaks every year. The Alliance for the Arts is a major supporter of the Civic Arts Plaza and brings in performances from such groups as Cabrillo Music Theatre and traveling shows.

The Boulevard is also a place for other exciting events such as: car shows, parades, Garden of the Worlds, and The Lakes. All of these venues offer so much fun and entertainment that you don’t have to leave town to have a great time. Check out our calendar listings for what’s happening in your community!   

Civic Arts Plaza

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The Bank of America Performing Arts Center at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is one of the largest performing arts centers between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and is funded through a unique public/private partnership between the City of Thousand Oaks and the Alliance for the Arts. The Bank of America Performing Arts Center consists of the 1,800-seat Fred Kavli Theatre for the Performing Arts and the 394-seat Janet and Ray Scherr Forum Theatre, which combine outstanding arts and entertainment with state-of-the-art technology and acoustics. Over 300,000 patrons and 50,000 children attend more than 400 performances annually.                     

 Visit www.CivicArtsPlaza.com for tickets!


COVID-19 UPDATE

As the situation involving COVID-19 is rapidly evolving we want to disseminate information as efficiently as possible, so please monitor our website, Facebook and Twitter accounts as you will experience long call wait times.  The Bank of America Performing Arts Center is actively monitoring the situation and will be in contact with ticket purchasers as soon as we are able to confirm any changes to our performance schedule.  Instructions on how to proceed will be included in all communication from the theatre by email.  We appreciate your patience.
 
Violins of Hope has been postponed - Date TBA
Sarah Chang Brahms Violin Concerto has been postponed - Date TBA
David Cameron has been postponed - Date TBA 
The Secret Garden has been postponed - Date TBA

The tickets you have now will work on those date.  If you can’t attend that date, please go to your point of purchase for a refund.

To keep yourself up to date with the most current information:
 
VC Emergency
California Department of Public Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 
You can do your part to protect yourself and your community by following these simple steps:
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (or with your elbow) and discard tissues into a trash receptacle
  • Stay away from work, school or other people if you are sick, especially with respiratory symptoms such as a fever or cough
  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick

New Starbucks on the Blvd.

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Shawn Moradian says the future Starbucks at the southwest corner of T.O. Boulevard and Auto Mall Drive will be unlike any other in the Conejo Valley.

“This is not a normal Starbucks,” he said. “I gotta tell you, this is a flagship store.”

At 2,300 square feet, not only will it be the largest—mark this one a venti—it will have tons of seating space inside and out, said Moradian, who hopes to transform the longtime bank building at 3366 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. into a bustling community gathering spot.

“There will be murals and an open kitchen, so more like going into someone’s home and they serve you a cup of coffee,” the property owner said.

The future Starbucks will take up the bottom floor of the existing building, which is being completely remodeled for the new tenant. The top floor will remain vacant for a future use, likely office space, city planner Stephen Kearns said.

Moradian said he hopes to see Starbucks open in early 2018. Hours will be from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week and the store will include a drive-up window.

The property owner says he expects the new business will help solve some of the congestion at the current drive-thru-only Starbucks two miles down T.O. Boulevard at Rancho Road. During peak hours, traffic from the location regularly backs up onto the street.

As president of the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Business Improvement District, the group that funded the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan, Moradian said the design of the Starbucks fits perfectly into the plan’s vision for the namesake thoroughfare.

“It’s geared toward embracing the specific plan in terms of creating a sense of place,” he said. “This property has been a bank since it was built in the 1960s, but we wanted something active for it that’s going to be vibrant and high-use.”

For its part, the city agrees.

“It fits right in to the vision,” said Haider Alawami, economic development officer. “It’s at the eastern gateway to the specific plan and it’s going to be a lively place because they’re going to be open in the evenings.”

Alawami said he anticipates a lot of pedestrian traffic coming from the many office buildings within walking distance of the corner, not to mention from the auto mall. The specific plan encourages designs that encourage people to get out of their cars, walk and gather.

Moradian, whose family has owned property along the boulevard since the 1960s, said he’s waiting until after Starbucks opens to lease the top floor. He said he wants to evaluate customer volume and find a complementary business.

Once the new building has been renovated inside and out, Moradian said, he’s hopeful surrounding property owners will follow suit.

“We’re hoping this project will help activate adjoining properties and will be somewhat contagious and inspiring so my neighbors will continue the trend down the boulevard,” he said. “I’ve got to lead by example.”

A Thousand Oaks Boulevard property owner has revealed plans to open the city’s newest Starbucks.


Affordability

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The Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan provides the opportunity for affordable housing along the Boulevard and allows residents the opportunity to live near their workplace. 

BID Agendas

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Downtown Core

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Creating a Downtown Core

Thousand Oaks Blvd. between Erbes Rd. and Conejo School Rd is home to the Civic Arts Plaza, Gardens of the World, The Lakes Shopping Center and several City-owned properties. Our Downtown Master Plan will guide the evolution of this half-mile stretch into a robust, walkable, entertainment, shopping and mixed-use residential hub that takes a fresh look at how we live, shop and play.

Downtown's Four Focus Areas

  1. Redesign the Civic Arts Plaza frontage to be more active
  2. Create a retail and entertainment destination on the City-owned Westside parcel
  3. Improve the pedestrian environment along Thousand Oaks Boulevard
  4. Expand arts, cultural and entertainment programming. 

299 E. T.O Blvd.

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On Tuesday, August 28th, 2018 City Council approved approximately 14,000 square feet of commercial space and 142 apartments at 299 E. Thousand Oaks Bouelvard. 

Of the 142 units, ACRE Investment Company, was granted approval of 11 below-market-rate cost units that will be mixed within the project site. 

This approved mixed-use project brings a unique affordable housing development to the west end of the boulevard in the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan.

Read More Below: 

https://www.toacorn.com/articles/council-oks-boulevard-apartments/

Master Plan

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City Council Race

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Very few decisions the City Council will make could change the face of Thousand Oaks like those that concern development, especially along its main thoroughfare. That’s why, for both residents and council candidates, the issue is among the most important in this year’s election.

“What I feel we must do is to find the delicate balance between encouraging economic vitality and preserving the charming character of Thousand Oaks,” said Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña, who in August was the lone vote against plans for 142 apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail space at 299 E. T.O. Blvd. “When I look at a (residential) project, I’m looking at a balance it achieves: We need housing, but we have to be super careful of excessive density.”The general consensus of the eight candidates who responded to the Acorn’squestions regarding growth: Growth is necessary to keep the city healthy and thriving economically, but the council must take a balanced approach, especially in regard to housing.

Challenger and business owner Clifford Zone described the boulevard as “a business that is hurting.”

“There are currently way too many empty storefronts and way too many massage parlors on T.O. Boulevard,” he said. “I agree with the revamping of the boulevard to entice new small businesses to come join our great community, and if the mixed-use of these properties helps the property owners offset some of the costs of this remodeling of the boulevard, then I am for it.”

Not developing is not an option, said Councilmember Joel Price, one of the council’s most consistent pro-business voices. He was the lone vote in favor of a retirement home proposed in the Rolling Oaks neighborhood that ultimately failed in 2016.

He also spearheaded an amendment to the municipal code that allowed for the brewing of beer on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, clearing a path for microbreweries.

Regarding housing, Price is of the mind that the city should approve projects now—while it still has control over design elements and other variables—before the state says otherwise, telling the Acorn that cities that don’t are “shooting themselves in the foot.”

“Sacramento will take over and take control, and I don’t think there’s anyone who wants to live with that,” said Price, who voted in favor of the mixed-use development at 299 E. T.O. Blvd. “The best way to maintain control over that is to (develop) the way we have the last many years: slowly and measured.”

Also addressing the loss of local authority is challenger Kevin McNamee, a chiropractor who says the city should take a more active role in opposing legislation from the capital. He said he was not in favor of the most recent mixed-use plans approved by the council but acknowledges their hands were tied.

“Unfortunately, the City Council had no reason to turn down approval of these projects because they complied with state mandates imposed upon the city by our Sacramento Legislature,” he said.

If elected, he said, he would focus on figuring out where all these people the council wants to attract to the boulevard will park.

“There will be a parking shortage when these projects are completed. Due to inadequate parking, visitors to the downtown development will come to the city once and never return (and) residents will not have adequate parking and search for alternative parking on local streets, which negatively impacts those local neighborhoods,” McNamee said.

Candidate Thomas Adams, a wine marketer, said he fully supports mixed use, including at 299 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.

“As I walk precincts and talk to people on the street, nobody I’ve met is afraid of growth; they simply want assurance that whatever comes will not be unsightly or pull our city down in any way,” Adams said.

He said he is in favor of continuing the council’s current vision for a measured number of new residential projects.

Challenger Bob Engler, a retired fire captain, also supports the council’s vision for a connected, walkable downtown providing pedestrian-friendly family activities, entertainment and dining opportunities, but he wants the city’s planned slow-growth approach to be maintained. He said he sees the city as “essentially built out.”

“We are not the San Fernando Valley and people here are not interested in traffic congestion, increased crime and homeless encampments common there,” he said. “Voter-approved Measure E ensures we can never become anything like the San Fernando Valley.”

The sole candidate who is a former council member as well as a contributor and signer of the city’s original master plan is also the only candidate to outright oppose the concept of housing on the boulevard.

Ed Jones, who serves as a Conejo Recreation and Park District board member, told the council at its Aug. 28 meeting that while he supports the beautification of the boulevard, he doesn’t think it has to be tied to multistoried buildings with dwelling units.

“These dwelling units would not be proximate to parks, schools . . . or casual outdoor enjoyment, especially by children, as are residential tracts,” he said.

Some residents took umbrage with Jones’ statement that renters don’t feel the same attachment to community as owners, a view he was surprised to learn.

“I can’t imagine my remarks raising any eyebrows (because) I stated a fact that is well-known to anyone who has ever walked precincts in T.O.—apartment dwellers by and large are not registered voters: We have a high percent of registered voters in single-family homes but a very low percent in apartments,” he said.

Jones said he doesn’t believe there is a moral difference between house and apartment dwellers, only that they don’t vote in the same ratios.

He said his position is he would allow the 300 units planned for the boulevard to proceed but that he had concerns beyond that point and would vote to protect the original master plan.

Candidate Dan Twedt, a caregiver, declined to speak on specific issues. He said his viewpoint on land usage and municipal policy is “essentially geo-Libertarian or geoist/Georgist.”

He said people should own the value they produce themselves, but economic value derived from land and its natural resources should belong equally to all members of society.

“Until we get there, my general policy perspectives would advocate for increased use of public-benefit land trusts, 99- year leaseholds to tamp down monopolistic landlording, liberalizing zoning regulations to allow more mixed-use and somewhat taller buildings—sometimes a good thing because it allows better space efficiencies—respecting designers’ visions while encouraging walkable/bikeable neighborhoods, and keeping a lid on rental/housing costs,” he said.

Candidates Don Schmitz, William Tomasi and Carrol Holst did not reply to calls to comment for this article.


https://www.toacorn.com/articles/downtown-front-of-mind-for-candidates/

Proposed 7-Eleven

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A Beverly Hills-based developer seeking to build a 24-hour 7-Eleven gas station across the street from Thousand Oaks High School has decided to give residents a chance to have their concerns heard before the proposal’s scheduled Oct. 22 hearing date with the planning commission.

“The purpose of this meeting is to discuss our proposed development and hear the community’s potential concerns and recommendations,” Megdal & Associates said in an email.Megdal & Associates will host a community outreach meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 11 inside an office building several miles away at 290 Conejo Ridge Ave., Thousand Oaks.

Plans for the vacant site at Avenida de Las Flores and Moorpard Road have been met with opposition from residents living nearby who say 7-Eleven is a bad fit for the neighborhood. The dead-grass-covered lot at 2198 N. Moorpark Road, which for years housed a family-owned gas station, has sat vacant for 13 years without a formal application to develop it.

The property owner had to spend a lot of money to decontaminate the site, said Taylor Megdal, president of M&A, and now wants to put the 20,000-square-foot lot to commercial use again.

Megdal defended the project, saying it was only put forth after two previous proposals were met with opposition from T.O. High School administration.

“This has been selected by the high school to be the most innocuous use for them,” Megdal said. “This was all catered around the high school.”

Megdal said the original idea—a sit-down Hawaiian barbecue restaurant—was rebuked by then-principal Lou Lichtl because school officials feared it would become a “hangout spot.” The developer said he was told in no uncertain terms by the city that they would not support a proposal that did not receive a sign off from the high school.

“The fear is those kids then are leaving class, walking across the street, God forbid, it’s a highly trafficked corner, there’s a wreck,” the company president said about issues with the Hawaiian restaurant.

Megdal, who’s built other projects near schools, said the concern from Lichtl was that students would be patronizing the restaurant day and night and it would become a “campus restaurant.”

“Which they don’t want,” Megdal said.

After the restaurant idea was nixed, he said, his firm pivoted to a drive-thru Starbucks. But that idea was also met with resistance from Lichtl, Megdal said, for the same reasons.

“It was a non-starter,” the developer said.

Current TOHS Principal Eric Bergmann, who was hired in early 2018, told the Acorn last month that he wasn’t privy to discussions regarding prior iterations but that he did speak with the developer regarding the proposed convenience store/gas station and was told it will neither sell alcohol nor vaping products.

Reached on Wednesday, Lichtl told the Acorn he didn’t have any recollection of the developer coming forward with either a Hawaiian restaurant or a Starbucks, just the 7-Eleven.

He said the notion that he had the power to personally derail a project was incorrect.

“I don’t know that our opinion has that much sway,” he said. “I trust the city and planners to make those decisions in the best interest of the community.”


https://www.toacorn.com/articles/firm-behind-proposed-7-eleven-to-host-community-meeting/​

Amazon Leases Space

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E-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. is opening a warehouse in Newbury Park.

The company has for months been posting openings for various positions at an undisclosed location in the city. That location, the Acorn learned this week, is in Sares-Regis Group’s recently completed 500,000-square-foot industrial development dubbed Conejo Spectrum Business Park.

Though neither Thousand Oaks city officials nor the business park’s leasing agent would confirm Amazon’s impending arrival—parties were required to sign strict non-disclosure agreements—an Amazon employee told the Acorn the warehouse’s address is in the Rancho Conejo area.

Patrick DuRoss, a broker for Colliers International, the commercial real estate firm handling leases at the site, would only say that agreements are now in place for seven of the development’s nine buildings; two were signed within the last month. The collection of state-of-the-art glass-and-concrete structures, which range from just over 37,000 square feet up to 99,000, was finished in July.

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/amazon-leases-space-in-rancho-conejo/ 

Brewery Breaks Ground

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Property owner Shawn Moradian is pouring his heart into the city’s first functioning brewery.

Though technically the landlord and not an investor, Moradian’s role in the development of Tarantula Hill Brewing Company—which is eyeing an early 2019 opening— goes far beyond making sure the utilities are turned on and the rent is paid. He’s shepherded the owners through the permitting process, offered advice on dealing with unforeseen challenges and, most of all, served as head cheerleader.

“When this is done, what you’re going to see is going to be extraordinary,” he told the Acorn recently during a tour of the site.

Moradian describes his decision in 2014 to buy an empty furniture showroom at the western end of E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard as a leap of faith. At the time, the 22,000-square-foot building near Moorpark Road had already sat vacant for four years.

With help from a commercial real estate firm, Moradian shopped around the old showroom, but while he came close to making a deal with a motorcycle dealership, nothing materialized.

After all else failed, Moradian leased the space seasonally to a Halloween store. He considered reducing the 40-year-old showroom to rubble and starting from scratch.

Then came the vision for Thousand Oaks’ first brewery.

After the City Council updated the municipal code in 2016 to permit alcohol brewing along the east-west thoroughfare, Moradian, who owns several properties on the boulevard, got in touch with Ali Zia, the proprietor of Bottle & Pint in Newbury Park, to see if the local entrepreneur was interested.

Despite the success of B&P, Zia said, he’d never considered opening a brewery. But Moradian’s vision intrigued him.

As the pair drove up and down the city’s namesake street last fall looking at potential locations, they lingered on one in particular: the old furniture showroom.

“This is it,” they thought.

Nearly a year to the day of their fateful ride, Moradian and Zia were on hand last month to watch construction crews break ground on the future brewery at 244 E. T.O. Blvd.

Their first order of business: knocking down the showroom’s 9-foot ceilings, which revealed just how large a space they were dealing with. After that: demolishing a concrete landing out front to make room for a 300-foot covered patio that will run the length of the building and overlook the boulevard.

“You’ll be sitting on the street,” Moradian said.

Already sporting merchandise for the future brewery, Moradian could barely contain his excitement as he discussed the project.

“This is truly a pioneering effort on their part. . . .” he said of the local group behind the brewery. “This is going to be something that is actually measurable, that we get to deliver to the residents and to the boulevard.”

Shawn Moradian Acorn file photo

Though a grand opening is months away, beer could begin brewing at the site as early as next month.

“We’ll be brewing as soon as possible,” said John Edney, one of the individuals behind the project.

To ready the location for the stainless steel fermentation tanks that will be used to brew THBC’s future IPAs, pilsners and stouts, crews had to pour tons of cement to reinforce the floor.

“They weigh a massive amount,” Edney said of the tanks.

With lots of work left to be done, Zia admits to feeling the pressure of deadlines.

“The one thing that I’m not nervous about is the beer,” the T.O. native said. “We’ve got the brewer; he’s awesome. It’s as if we’re running a football team and we got Tom Brady. We know the beer is going to be good.”

Moradian, president of the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association, reminded the Acorn that without the passage of 2011’s T.O. Boulevard Specific Plan, Tarantula Hill Brewing would have never made it off the drawing board. With the formation of the Thousand Oaks Business Improvement District, the group of property owners—the City of T.O. included—helped pay for the plan with a self-imposed tax.

Some have been critical of the plan from the start; others have bemoaned its lack of progress.

Moradian said the brewery is a win for everyone who’s supported the BID’s efforts.

“Aside from Lupe’s (a mixed-use project farther down the boulevard), this will be the defining project of the plan,” he said

Sourcehttps://www.toacorn.com/articles/brewery-breaks-ground/

Community Outreach

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If you build it, they will come. And that’s what neighbors living near the site of a proposed 7-Eleven on Moorpark Road are afraid of.

During an Oct. 11 meeting hosted by the Beverly Hills-based developer, unhappy residents told the firm they were concerned that building a 24-hour convenience store and gas station across from Thousand Oaks High School would create the same problems that plague the city’s 7-Eleven locations on Wilbur Road and Kimber Drive: vagrancy, traffic, loitering, panhandling and crime.

Taylor Megdal, president of Megdal and Associates, was on hand to answer questions. The real estate development company is seeking to buy the vacant lot at Avenida de Las Flores and Moorpark Road—if it can come up with a plan that the city approves.

More than a dozen people attended the meeting in a T.O. office building near the 101 Freeway. The meeting grew rowdy at times as neighbors interrupted the presentation on the current plans for the site.

The proposal includes a gas station with a “fresh fare” convenience store where 30 percent of the space would feature a selection of sandwiches, fruit, cheese, hummus and other healthy options, Megdal said. It would not sell alcohol or vaping supplies but would carry cigarettes.

Previous plans for the site, including a Hawaiian-style restaurant and a Starbucks, were rejected after failing to gain support from TOHS administrators, the developer said.

Megdal described the current iteration as the “least offensive.”

“It can’t be nothing,” he said. “You have to understand, we’ve tried everything.”

According to Megdal’s presentation, the 7-Eleven project would represent a $2.8-million investment by M&A that would bring the city over $200,000 annually in sales tax.

Robin Kaswick has lived in Thousand Oaks since 1963 and remembers when a drive-thru dairy operated at the site. She lives two doors down from the high school and said residents don’t mind a business going in there but would like some input as to what goes in.

“We want you to develop it,” she told Megdal. “We want your family to make money and be happy in Thousand Oaks, just like you’re happy in Beverly Hills, but we don’t want you to cheapen our community.”

The lot in the 2100 block of N. Moorpark Road housed a family-owned gas station for 40 years until it experienced a leak, Megdal said. He said the current owner “paid a fortune” to clean up the soil, and the lot is ready for commercial use.

Some residents worried that parents would drop their kids off at the 7-Eleven to grab breakfast, increasing the number of students crossing a “crazy” busy intersection in front of distracted drivers.

TOHS Principal Eric Bergmann told the Acorn in an email that because the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office indicated they want the lights in the store to stay on all night for security reasons, he let a city planner know he was also in favor of that. He did not take a position on the proposal itself.

“When I began in February I was told that the decision had already been made, and I am trusting the city planning process to make a decision that is in the best interest of the community,” he said.

Megdal said at the end of the hourlong meeting that he would hold another community outreach event before an Oct. 22 planning commission hearing. As of Monday afternoon, the project’s architect, Neal Scribner, said, such a meeting had yet to be scheduled.


https://www.toacorn.com/articles/developer-greeted-by-the-unwelcome-wagon/

7-Eleven On Hold

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The developer behind a hotly contested proposal to build a 24-hour 7-Eleven gas station across from Thousand Oaks High School made an 11th-hour decision last week to back out of a scheduled hearing before the city’s planning commission.

Deputy Community Development Director Peter Gilli said the city received a request for a continuance from Beverly Hills-based Megdal & Associates on the afternoon of Oct. 18—after the agenda for the Oct. 22 meeting had already been published.

As a result, the commission was forced to meet Monday even though it had no other business.

Chair Doug Nickles called the meeting to order at 6 p.m., led the panel in the Pledge of Allegiance, took roll and then called a vote on the developer’s request to postpone the hearing to an undetermined date.

It passed 4-0, with Commissioner Don Lanson absent.

Deputy Community Developer Director Kelvin Parker told commissioners that the developer wanted extra time to hold a second community meeting and, potentially, “make material changes to the project.”

At the first meeting, held Oct. 11, Megdal representatives tried in vain to win over an audience of a dozen people who live in the immediate vicinity of the 20,000-square-foot lot, which has remained vacant for over a decade since a long-operating gas station there was demolished.

They explained how they planned to invest $2.8 million in the project and how they’d agreed not to sell alcohol or vaping materials at the request of Thousand Oaks High School leadership.

They also said the family that operated the gas station had “paid a fortune” to clean up the soil after it was contaminated and hoped to recoup some of their losses.

But those in attendance seemed unmoved.

They continued to express concerns that opening a 24- hour convenience store at that location would attract vagrancy, panhandling and crime, and make the intersection of Moorpark Road and Avenida de Las Flores less safe for the many students who use it.

Some alternatives suggested: a pet-grooming business, Starbucks and a medical office.

The property backs up to single-family homes and must contend with TOHS, making any proposal tricky, city staff has said. Megdal said it only went with the plans for a 7-Eleven after two previous ideas were rejected by the high school: a sit-down Hawaiian barbecue restaurant and a Starbucks drive-thru.

Reached Wednesday, Taylor Megdal, president of Megdal & Associates, said they postponed the planning commission date to allow for another community meeting, this time with police and other local residents who support the project.

“We do want it to be more focused on what we can do to accommodate its prior use. If they don’t want the gas to be 24 hours, if they want more trees, whatever, we’re happy to discuss it. We’ve tried everything else,” he said.

“The problem is if these folks agree to a Starbucks and another group of people comes out opposed to it, it can be a circular process into perpetuity,” he added.

On social media, some residents have come to 7-Eleven’s defense, saying the chain would be a vast improvement over the current state of the property.

“Would be nice to see something go into the old gas station lot finally,” one person wrote on Nextdoor.com. “What’s so bad about a 7-11?”

A new hearing notice will be sent to all property owners within 500 feet of the subject site when the project is placed back on the planning commission calendar, Gilli said.

Kyle Jorrey, Dawn Megli-Thuna

October 25, 2018 

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/yet-to-silence-critics-7-eleven-developer-asks-for-more-time/

Final Forum Provides Fireworks

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Conejo Valley school board candidates made a final presentation of their platforms to voters at the Goebel Center last Thursday night at a forum moderated by Acorn Newspapers editor-in-chief John Loesing and Thousand Oaks Acorn editor Kyle Jorrey.

Eight hopefuls are vying for three seats on the five person board that oversees a school district with around 18,000 students. The candidates answered questions at the Oct. 25 event about the board’s oversight of booster club fundraising, standardized test scores, the core literature policy and the district’s proper role in addressing racial discrimination off-campus.

But moderators also asked candidates targeted questions that addressed specific issues that had arisen in each of their campaigns or from their record of service.

Jenny Fitzgerald was asked why voters should cast their ballot for her, an attorney, when other candidates in the field have long histories of serving and volunteering in the district.

Fitzgerald disputed the claim that she did not have a track record of service in local schools or a concrete background in education. She said she was a PTA member and classroom volunteer who goes on field trips. She said she appreciates stay-at-home parents who can donate time as room parents and she participates to the extent she is able.

She said her professional background, both in law and state legislation, would provide a skill set which is sorely needed on the board.

“I do have a history of putting in time to help our local schools,” she said. “I do what I can as a working parent to make sure I’m there for my kids and the kids that are in our schools.”

Cindy Goldberg has been the executive director of the Conejo Schools Foundation since 2007 and leads the District Advisory Council and has close relationships with administrators across the district.

Jorrey asked her if she could see herself, a district insider, voting against the recommendation of district staff. Goldberg said she has disagreed with district staff vehemently at times—on certain issues, namely the manner in which the University and Meadows elementary school closures were handled.

She said her job at CSF is about supporting students, not the district.

“It’s always about the students for me,” she said.

Marlon Delano Williams has become a perennial candidate in Thousand Oaks elections, having run once for City Council and four times for school board. But he doesn’t fundraise, canvass neighborhoods or campaign outside of appearances at political forums.

Loesing asked Williams why voters should back him given his lack of campaign effort. Williams said children have the potential to be outstanding citizens in CVUSD and beyond and he would like to serve as a role model for students to go out and challenge themselves and society to do better.

“We are living in a society where we spend too much time, too much energy trying to belittle each other, trying to tear each other down,” he said. “We need to learn to be a community of builders.”

Bill Gorback’s slogan is that “It’s all about the kids,” but Jorrey asked “What about the taxpayers?” as he queried Gorback about which specific cuts he would make to help secure the district’s financial future while taking into consideration that employment costs account for the lion’s share of the budget. Gorback said employment and pension costs are set but he would focus on cutting spending that doesn’t benefit children in the classroom.

He cited a recent decision by the district to spend $15,000 to create a graphic explaining the district’s fourth LCAP goal.

“$15,000 in a $197 million budget, it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s a very small thing,” he said. “What I look at as an example is what could that $15,000 have bought as far as educational material for the kids?”

Patrissha Rose Booker has based her campaign on being a “voice for the voiceless” and she has frequently said she doesn’t expect to win. Loesing asked her if her candidacy was simply splitting the vote. Booker said there needs to be diversity on the board, which is currently all white.

“Maybe my face will encourage some other person of color to run and they will get on the school board. I’m trying to inspire others,” she said. “I’m not splitting any vote.”

Amy Chen has billed herself as the director of a newly formed educational nonprofit in Arcadia, Top Goal Education. But critics have accused her of creating a paper organization that exists in name only in order to use it for her ballot designation.

Jorrey asked her to set the record straight once and for all and to tell what work she has done as director of Top Goal as well as what resources the organization has provided or will provide in the future.

Chen, reading from a piece of paper, responded that the documentation she submitted regarding her role at the nonprofit was accepted by the county clerk and recorder’s office.

“We have followed the law and it is validated to their satisfaction,” she said.

Chen said she has been a professional in the education sector for the past four years, citing her role as CFO at a for-profit Chinese language cultural enrichment school in Arcadia, First Avenue Education.

“I have an appreciation and respect for diversity, however the negative innuendos and speculations are unfortunate,” she said. “As I have said in the beginning, as an immigrant, I understand and respect cultural differences, needs and challenges facing our population.”

The lone incumbent in the race, Mike Dunn, spent some of his time during the forum chewing gum and reading a newspaper.

Loesing said last year was a tumultuous time for the school district and Dunn’s disparaging remarks about the LGTB community and his tendency to mix politics and religion has been well documented. He asked Dunn if he will he continue to put his religious and political beliefs ahead of decisions affecting our public school system if he’s reelected.

“What I will do is what I have done. I will be a strong advocate for the rights and wishes of the parents and taxpayers in this community who send their kids to the public schools and pay for public education,” he said. “There is a segment in our society which is using the public schools to indoctrinate our children. And I oppose that agenda. That makes me a target.”

When asked by Jorrey if he had any regrets from his last term, Dunn said he regretted going along with a decision in 2013 to fire Joe Cook, the district’s former director of nutrition.

In a letter to the Acorn in August, Angie Simpson said that personal attacks and political agendas damage our schools and have no place in our community. Simpson was one of three candidates endorsed by the Ventura County Republican party and the other two GOP-backed candidates, Chen and Dunn, have made their political positions crystal clear. Jorrey asked Simpson to rectify her statement in light of statements made by her de facto running mates.

Simpson said she wasn’t aligned with any of her fellow candidates, including Chen and Dunn.

“Do I agree with them on some things? Absolutely. Do I agree with candidate Fitzgerald and Gorback and Cindy on others? Yes. But what you can expect out of me is to be an independent thinker,” she said.

Simpson said as a trustee she will never agree with anyone on every single position and she thinks the notion of candidate slates has been destructive to the community.

“I think this election is completely polarized. This isn’t about the best person for the job,” she said. “This is about who’s on Team Blue and who’s on Team Red and I think that’s really sad.”

Williams said regardless of who wins a seat on the board Nov. 6, he believes the next few years will be great for CVUSD.

“Whether it’s Team Blue or Team Red or Team Black, it’s all about the students,” he said.


Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/final-forum-provides-fireworks/ 

Disaster Guide

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Food Bank Expands

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Manna Conejo Valley Food Bank will expand its pantry services to help those affected by the Borderline shooting and displaced by the wildfires. People who have lost their job or have limited financial resources to purchase food as they recover—among others—may come to Manna to receive food assistance.

“Manna has been so blessed by the generosity of our wonderful community over the years,” said Jennifer Schwabauer, executive director of the food bank. “It’s only right that we extend that generosity to help our friends and neighbors who have suffered from these tragedies.” The pantry at 3020 Crescent Way, Thousand Oaks, is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. It will be closed for the Thanksgiving weekend but will resume its normal schedule Mon., Nov. 26. Visitors are asked to bring a photo ID and proof of residency in the Conejo Valley.

Community members looking to make food donations should visit mannaconejo.org to find out the most-needed items, Schwabauer said. For more information, call (805) 497-4959.

 Lasting Borderline12 Memorial

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It began with three candles and a few cellophane-wrapped flower bouquets on a wall, but little by little a makeshift tribute to the 12 people killed at Borderline Bar and Grill on Nov. 7 has grown to take over an entire street corner in Thousand Oaks.

 

Now T.O. city leaders are examining where and how to establish a permanent memorial for Sgt. Ron Helus, Sean Adler, Cody Gifford-Coffman, Blake Dingman, Jake Dunham, Alaina Housley, Dan Manrique, Justin Meek, Mark Meza, Telemachus Orfanos, Kristina Morisette and Noel Sparks.

Even while fires surrounded the city, threatening lives and property, people came to the memorial near Moorpark Road and Rolling Oaks Drive, just down from Borderline. They left flowers and art, as well as prayers and thoughts scrawled on notes, on cards and on the sidewalk.

“Rest in peace, beautiful souls,” says one message.

“Thank you for sharing your light with the world,” says another.

Personal mementos were also left for the victims. A light blue ceramic angel had been placed on the cross bearing Sparks’ name. A Pepperdine University baseball cap was left for Alaina Housley, and three “Happy birthday” balloons were tied to Mark Meza’s cross. He would have turned 21 Nov. 19.

“It’s beautiful. And chilling. And it makes you cry, but it’s more than just that,” said Thousand Oaks resident Susan Boyd, who paid a visit to the memorial last week. “It reminds you people do care about one another, and we need that right now.”

Boyd said she hopes the tributes are a source of healing for the families of the victims as well as the survivors and the community at large.

“We might have a bigger population, but we’re still a small town and we need a way to share the love,” the 43-year-old mother of three said.

She’s not the only one who knows how much the memorial means. Last Monday, when they heard about the predicted rains, a group of Thousand Oaks residents who wished to remain anonymous brought canopy-style tents to protect the site.

The memorial has grown so large that there’s no longer room for visitors on the sidewalk: They’re forced to stand in traffic on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. For now, temporary traffic-control measures are in place to keep cars from using the outermost lane where visitors stand, and the memorial will remain in place for the foreseeable future, City Manager Andrew Powers said Tuesday.

In the meantime, however, community leaders are discussing permanent ways to honor those lost. At the Nov. 15 Conejo Recreation and Park District meeting, director Joe Gibson suggested a permanent memorial at Conejo Creek Park North.

“I visited the Healing Garden at Las Vegas for the Harvest 91 victims and would like to establish something like that,” he told the Acorn after the meeting.

The Las Vegas garden features a remembrance wall, a grove of 58 trees, one for each of the lives lost at the Oct. 1 concert last year, as well as shrubs, flowers and a path encircling an oak tree.

Before that would happen, the district would first explore that and other options with the city, county and others involved, CRPD General Manager Jim Friedl said.

“I think right now it’s sort of a thing everyone is aware there is a need for . . . but in terms of what that is, where that is, who is taking the lead, that’s something that hasn’t been solidified,” Friedl said. “To do it well and do it right, there is a lot of thoughtful work and discussion that has to happen, and we stand ready to participate in that with the county, Borderline and, of course, of course, the families.”

The city will also explore options for a permanent memorial. Mayor Andy Fox said he’s received several emails with various suggestions, but they all have logistics that need to be sorted out, and input from the families of the victims is needed.

One memorial the council agreed on at its Nov. 27 meeting was to initiate a request for a highway memorial honoring Helus and renaming a street near Borderline for the officer. The idea was brought forward by Joel Price, a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer.

“After the events of the Borderline shooting, it occurred to me that in the city of Los Angeles, any police officer who dies in the line of duty is recognized, and I think it’s important that we do the same thing here in the city of Thousand Oaks,” Price said, his voice breaking throughout his proposal.

The outgoing council member said the highway memorial requires action by the city, and he hopes the council will continue to pursue it.

“In addition to that, I think it would be very fitting if we were to honor the memory of Sgt. Helus close to where the shooting actually occurred, whether it be renaming the street or positioning some other memorial in his memory,” he said. “I would hope the council would proceed down that road as well.”


https://www.toacorn.com/articles/local-leaders-talk-lasting-memorial-for-borderline-12/

Goodbye to the Godfather

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After two and a half decades of heading negotiations, brokering compromise and orchestrating deals, Andy Fox gave up the gavel last week.

Representatives from the legislative, business and arts communities, among others, turned out in droves to say goodbye to the outgoing mayor at the Thousand Oaks City Council’s reorganization meeting Dec. 11.

Both those from the “always Andy” camp and those who started on opposing sides touched on themes of leadership, good governance and the impact Fox has made during his 24 years in office, the second-longest run in city history.

“There isn’t a single resident of Thousand Oaks who hasn’t been touched by your leadership and accomplishments while serving on this council (and) at times, you’re referred to as ‘The Godfather of Thousand Oaks,’” said Shawn Moradian, president of the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association, which represents boulevard property owners. “You have the ability to bring people together, find common ground, work toward exciting solutions and deliver positive results.”

Fox, who already had leadership experience from working for the L.A. firefighters’ union, was well-suited for a role in government from his first days on the planning commission, where he served before first winning a seat on the City Council in 1994, said former mayor Larry Horner, who served on the governing body from 1974 to 1990.

“Andy seemed to have fallen into a niche that was just meant for him, and he has become what I consider to be one of the finest mayors and council members in the history of this city,” Horner said. “Second to none.”

Part of that could be Fox’s ability to so effectively strategize, said City Manager Andrew Powers, who said the city’s executive leadership team had discussed both Fox and outgoing Councilmember Joel Price earlier in the day.

“Every single person around the table had an example or some story about the strategy you brought to bear on a really difficult issue that we were wrestling with,” Powers told Fox. “You were never shy to roll up your sleeves, always focused on achieving consensus outcome . . . whether it was Miller Ranch mediation, the mobile home park ordinance, the Western Plateau, the T.O. Arts merger, the list goes on and on, establishing a vision for downtown.”

For all his victories and accomplishments, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Fox, who said his first 10 years on the council included nights, like last Tuesday, where nearly every audience seat was filled; but unlike Tuesday, when the audience was filled with accolades, the earlier audiences were filled with angst.

“My first two or three terms on this council were not easy: They were times of political infighting; they were times of a lot of unrest,” Fox said. “There’s been nights where it’s been just this crowded and with just this many people and it was the Hatfields and McCoys.”

Those days were recalled by Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña, who joined Fox on the dais in 2002 and, on many occasions, found herself on the other side of the aisle. She now considers Fox a friend.

“Once upon a time there was a story of no greater woe than that of the Tuesday Night Fights TV show,” she said. “I have learned a lot from you . . . and I could not be more thankful for knowing you and getting to know you, the human that you are.”

Bill-de la Peña, along with a number of other speakers, said Fox’s leadership skills were never more apparent than during his final weeks on the council, as he guided the city through dual tragedies in November: first the massacre Nov. 7 at Borderline, followed by the Hill and Woolsey fires Nov. 8.

“You carried yourself with tremendous strength, courage, resilience,” Bill-de la Peña told her longtime colleague. “You knew exactly what to do and when to do it. It was really just fate you were mayor this year, and we could not have had a stronger mayor than you.”

Sourcehttps://www.toacorn.com/articles/goodbye-to-the-godfather/

7 Eleven Update

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Despite pushback from nearby homeowners, a Beverly Hills-based developer is moving forward with plans to build a 24-hour 7-Eleven gas station across the street from Thousand Oaks High School.

 

Residents who live within 300 feet of the empty lot at Avenida de Las Flores and Moorpark Road were invited to a Dec. 21 community meeting with the developer.

Taylor Megdal, president of Megdal and Associates, fielded questions during the meeting at the Thousand Oaks Community Center near the site of the proposed project. A representative from Back Bays Trust, the company that owns the lot in question, was also present.

Megdal’s real estate development company is seeking to buy the property if it can come up with a plan the city approves.

A handful of neighbors attended the 7 p.m. meeting to express their concerns about the project, many of which centered on the 24-hour nature of the business. Others took issue with the “rolling hot dogs” and other unhealthy food options the establishment would sell.

John Mcloughlin is a real estate broker who lives near the vacant lot. In an email to Conejo Valley Unified school board president Betsy Connolly that was provided to the Acorn, Mcloughlin said a development of this kind provides a legitimate excuse “for the wrong type of people to hang out and have lunch and observe the customers, who effectively will be your students.”

“This is a terrible mistake for the school safety, encouraging students to hang out there and will also encourage criminal activity,” he said.

The proposal calls for a gas station with a “fresh fare” convenience store where 30 percent of the space would feature a selection of healthy options such as sandwiches and fruit. The building would include a surveillance system with 32 cameras that would feed to the T.O. Police Department, Megdal said.

The lot in the 2100 block of N. Moorpark Road housed a gas station for 40 years until it experienced a leak. The owner has cleaned up the soil, and the lot is once again ready for commercial use.

More than 750 people have signed an online petition to stop the project from moving forward.

Because the project sits kitty corner across the street from Thousand Oaks’ flagship high school, Megdal has talked to school administrators to get their opinion on the proposal. Previous plans for the site, including a restaurant and a Starbucks, were rejected after failing to gain support from TOHS administrators.

In an August letter from TOHS Principal Eric Bergmann to the city planner who formerly worked on the project, the administrator endorsed the business staying open 24 hours. Reached for comment, Bergmann told the Acorn that school officials have not taken a stance on the project and his letter was only sent to voice support for the police department’s stated preference for a 24-hour business.

He said the decision to build a 7-Eleven at the site had been made by the time he joined TOHS in February 2018.

Pamela Scott provides representation to both 7-Eleven and Megdal and Associates. She told those at the meeting that gas stations were one of the areas of the retail industry that could still afford to expand.

“We can all wish for something, but we can’t create demand from the sky,” she said.

Megdal’s architect, T.O. resident Neal Scribner, said the next step will include another community meeting before the project goes before the planning commission.

The project was originally slated to go before the commission in October, but Megdal canceled the hearing to have more time to discuss the project with residents. The date of the hearing has not been announced.

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/debate-over-7-eleven-continues-into-new-year/

Fire Causes Shutdown

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Ventura County firefighters have knocked down a blaze that started Friday afternoon in a two-story office building on Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

The department received a call around 12:10 p.m. along with reports of explosions and a person trapped inside the structure at 1429 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. A spokesperson for the department was not immediately able to confirm either report.

A public information officer for the department reported the fire was out around 1:25 p.m.

More than 70 firefighters and at least 11 engines plus three ladder trucks responded to the blaze. The boulevard remained closed to traffic between Rancho and Erbes roads as of 1:45 p.m.

Built in 1963, the 14,844-square-foot building is home to a dentistry practice, barber shop and massage therapy business.

Source:  https://www.toacorn.com/articles/structure-fire-causes-boulevard-shutdown/ 


Homelessness Grant

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A brand-new social services agency serving the very poor in Thousand Oaks is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the city as part of its ongoing efforts to address homelessness in the community.

The City Council voted at its April 23 meeting to give the cash infusion to the nonprofit Harbor House, headed by Denise Cortes, former Ventura County area director of Lutheran Social Services. The vote came after a report from the council’s ad hoc homeless committee made up of Mayor Rob McCoy and Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña.

“Harbor House is a local organization that will keep your donations locally and will go immediately to rapid housing services and other services they offer,” Bill-de la Peña said. “It’s one step at a time that we can help these individuals get back on their feet.”

The money will come out of the city’s general fund. The city in the past has also provided grants to other organizations that serve the poor, like LSS, Conejo Free Clinic, Manna food bank and Many Mansions.

The April 23 report was the second of its kind since the committee’s formation in February 2018. Since the last report in October, the county has conducted its annual homeless count, in which 103 homeless people were identified in the city, though the Thousand Oaks Police Department’s count puts the number closer to 280 people, Assistant City Manager Ingrid Hardy said.

Hardy has been tasked with coordinating the city’s multifaceted strategy to address homelessness.

To keep local residents apprised of the progress, the city has created a web page dedicated exclusively to this issue: toaks.org/homeless.

On the page, there are hyperlinks to topics such as “understanding homelessness,” “exploring the city’s role,” “finding local resources” and “homelessness and the law.” There is also a link for reporting concerns.

“Our charge is to serve as a convener, to provide community leadership and develop and implement strategies that link people with resources,” the site says. “We work to enforce local regulations; and to help businesses and residents understand homelessness, their role, ways to contribute, and how law enforcement can help. While the City does not provide direct services, we work closely with local and regional service providers.”

This, too, is a goal of Harbor House, which recently opened its doors at 430 E. Avenida de Los Arboles, Ste. 203A, and sees visitors by appointment only. While it does not provide housing directly to people, it helps connect homeless people to housing and other social services.

Councilmember Al Adam also praised the work being done by the community’s religious institutions in providing year-round meals and overnight shelters during the winter months and asked if there has been movement toward opening church shelters throughout the year.

“Many communities have tried to build homeless shelters and faced tremendous oppositions, to be candid . . .” he said. “To have churches already here and accepted by the community, if they would be willing to open their doors year-round, that seems to be a possible practical solution.”

The question was fielded by McCoy, who also serves as pastor at Godspeak Calvary Chapel.

“There are many churches that want to participate yearround, but we want to make sure we’re all on the same page,” he said. “We’re dealing with misconceptions, trying to see who’s doing what in the city, and we’re getting everyone together in meetings to understand what we’re doing so we can do it in a concerted effort. The answer to your question will come at a later date, but suffice it to say we all want to do the right thing.”

For its next steps, the city will continue to explore longterm options, further develop outreach strategies, distribute anti-panhandling materials and continue to engage and gather input from community partners and businesses.

To help do this, it will convert an existing employee position to that of a homeless liaison to coordinate with social service organizations and others working on the issue.

The city had not yet determined which position would be converted.

Article by: 

https://www.toacorn.com/articles/city-awards-grant-to-address-homelessness/ 

Park Closed to "All" After Hrs

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The City of Thousand Oaks’ recent legal change regarding sleeping on public property will not impact parks owned by the Conejo Recreation and Park District, the district said this week.

Jim Friedl, CRPD general manager and a former attorney, told the Acorn on Tuesday that district administrators believe the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in Martin v. the City of Boise, a case involving homeless people sleeping on public property, does not take precedence over the district’s existing ban on being in parks between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“That applies to all of us,” Friedl said. “Uniformly applied, that rule limits people from being in the park at all (during those hours).”

People are allowed to sleep in CRPD parks during the day, however.

"Sleeping in a CRPD park during normal operating hours is not—and has not been—a crime. . . . We prohibit camping and camp paraphernalia, but not sleeping,” Friedl said via email, noting people from all walks of life currently use the parks for that reason.


Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/parks-still-closed-to-all-after-hours/

Big Changes for TO Transit

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The City Council is scheduled to vote Oct. 22 on a host of changes to the system, including raising fares from $1.50 to $2 for bus riders and from $3 to $4 for those who use Dial-A-Ride service within the city.

Thousand Oaks Transit may also do away with a program that allows Dial-A-Ride cardholders (who must be 65 or older or have an Americans with Disabilities card) to ride for free. Instead, those cardholders would pay the senior/ disabled fare, which TOT plans to reduce from 75 cents to 50 cents.

Other modifications include the elimination of $4 day passes and a reduction in service hours, going from 15 hours (5 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to 13 hours (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.) on weekdays and from 12 hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to 11 hours (8 a.m. to 7 p.m.) on weekends.

The last fare increase was in 2011. Meanwhile, operation costs have increased by 50%, according to the city’s website

On the positive side, TOT will introduce a student pass with no time restrictions. It is also weighing a new summer youth pass that would allow school-age children unlimited rides for nine or 10 weeks during the summer, city transit manager Mike Houser said.

“We’re looking at what many agencies offer when school is out for the summer and kids are bored and parents aren’t home,” Houser said. “It essentially mimics what kids are getting while school is in session.”

The changes are coming about for a number of reasons, primarily financial ones.

“Our costs over the last couple of years have increased substantially,” Houser said. “That mostly comes from labor costs, as the minimum wage increases, but along with that are some things that by themselves don’t make a large impact but add up.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the proposed changes can attend one of two meetings planned for Fri. and Sat., Aug. 16 and 17.

Friday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the third-floor boardroom at City Hall, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Saturday’s starts at 2 p.m. inside the Goebel Adult Community Center’s Sky Lupine Room, 1385 E. Janss Road.


https://www.toacorn.com/articles/big-changes-in-store-for-to-transit-system/

7-Eleven Appeal

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The Los Angeles-based developer proposing to build a 7-Eleven gas station/convenience store across the street from Thousand Oaks High School wants a second opinion.

Megdal & Associates has put up the $1,550 necessary to appeal to the City Council the planning commission’s July 8 unanimous denial of its proposal. The council will have the final say on the debate that started in summer 2018 when plans were first submitted to the city. Hearing is scheduled for Sepember 10, 2019. 

To read more from this article, visit: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/council-to-decide-7-eleven-proposal-on-appeal/

 

General Plan Update

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Thousand Oaks 2045

The City of Thousand Oaks is embarking on a community-driven project to create a new guiding vision for the City. The initiative, Thousand Oaks 2045: Rooted in Community, will result in a new long-range citywide General Plan that preserves the wonderful and unique characteristics of the City - its suburban character, verdant hillsides, amazing schools, and a strong sense of community - while creating a more prosperous, unique, and sustainable Thousand Oaks. 

The Thousand Oaks 2045 process officially kicks off in Fall 2019. Comprehensively updating a General Plan is a complex task. It involves research and analysis, the evaluation of current and future trends, creating new policies and regulations, developing a regulatory document, and preparing an environmental impact report. Throughout the process, there will be numerous opportunities for the community to get involved.

Whether you just moved to Thousand Oaks or have called it home for many years, Thousand Oaks 2045 is an opportunity for you to help shape its future. This process is a rare opportunity for the community to come together and build consensus on a variety of topics that affect daily life, and to ensure that the plan reflects its concerns and aspirations. Community voices will direct this plan, so make yours heard!

There are many ways to get involved and we need your participation throughout this process!

  • Community-Wide Workshops
  • Educational Forums
  • Focus Groups
  • Surveys
  • Neighborhood Meetings
  • Pop-up Workshops
  • General Plan Advisory Committee Meetings
  • City Council and Planning Commission Meetings

UPCOMING MEETINGS

GPAC Meeting #7
Wednesday, April 15th | 6:00 pm

TAKE THE NEW ONLINE SURVEY!

1710 E. T.O Blvd.

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Construction in underway at the  former Lupe's Mexican Restaurant on 1710 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard. The Thousand Oaks Planning Commission approved construction of a mixed-use complex, including apartments, commercial space and outdoor dining areas, at the downtown site of the former Lupe's Mexican Restaurant on February 14, 2017. Lupe's a Thousand Oaks mainstay for nearly 70 years, closed on August 2016. 

The Planning Commission green-lighted the project by applicant Dalygroup Inc. on a 3-1 vote to allow construction of two, three-story buildings with 36 apartments on the 5.13-acre site at 1710 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard and nearby parcels. The permit approval also allows for the construction of 4,890 square feet of commercial spaces, parking areas, public exterior spaces, outdoor dining areas, recreation amenities, and associated site improvements. 

Approved Cell Tower

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Barring an appeal, Verizon Wireless has won the right to install a cell tower in the middle of North Ranch.

 

Once it’s up and running, the equipment on Sunnyhill Street will boost coverage for hundreds of Verizon customers who live east of Westlake Boulevard and south of Kanan Road, the company said at an Aug. 26 hearing of the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission.

Commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of the application, which dates back to 2014. It involves the installation of antennas on wrought-iron fencing that surrounds a water tank owned by California Water Service. The 2.5-acre property is surrounded by million-dollar homes.

To meet Federal Communications Commission standards, Verizon must install a 7-foot-high fence around the antennas.

Bad reception

Of the 20 public speakers who turned up to discuss the wireless facility, 17 were opposed.

“What we have to do when we design a house around an oak tree is crazy, yet here we have a situation affecting the health and welfare of your residents. . . .” architect Ken Unger, a father of five, told the commission. “It boggles my mind.”

The majority of opponents voiced concerns over the health threat from radio frequency emissions; however, health and safety are topics planning commissioners are not allowed to consider when weighing the application, said Jonathan Kramer, the city’s wireless consultant.

“You’re in the aesthetics business,” Kramer told the commission. “Under federal law, under state law, your job is to look at the aesthetics of a project and make a determination regarding it.”

Former Thousand Oaks city attorney Mark Sellers, speaking on behalf of nearby homeowners, acknowledged the law but suggested Verizon could have found a more suitable site that was farther from residences.

“I feel this is a market-value issue. It’s not a health issue. I’m not going to argue health,” Sellers said. “There are studies out there that say if you’re across the street from one of these sites, your home is going to lose 20% in value. That’s a legitimate land-use decision for you to make and consider.”

Those speaking in favor of the project argued that there is no reliable cell coverage in the neighborhood, which creates a safety hazard. It was for this reason the application was endorsed by the Westlake North Property Owners Association.

“I understand a lot of people here have concerns about health. Safety is the other side of that coin,” said North Ranch resident Joslyn Stuart. “I know some people are concerned they didn’t get notice of tonight’s meeting or of the building of the proposed cell tower. I am one of the people who didn’t get advance notice of the fires or the evacuation (because I didn’t have cell coverage).”

Before their vote, commissioners told the audience their authority was limited.

“Despite the fact I can empathize with all of the comments all of you have, I do recognize . . . that I am limited here and I am not allowed to interject my own personal feelings and my own personal opinions into what I have to look at here,” Commissioner Nelson Buss said.

In making the motion to approve the project, Commissioner Don Lanson said he’s become increasingly frustrated with the loss of local control in regard to many subject matters, cell towers included.

“It’s happening all over the place, and there’s lots of things we get frustrated about and would like to have comment on and involvement with,” Lanson said.

But that’s not his job as planning commissioner, he said.

“We don’t decide health emissions. We don’t decide lots of things we got into tonight. I’m frustrated . . . and the problem is we don’t have the authority,” he said. “The issue at the end of the day is, for purposes of this application, we’re looking specifically at whether it fits the rules and regulations, and I believe it does.”

Opponents had until Sept. 4 to file an appeal.


https://www.toacorn.com/articles/after-5-years-verizon-gains-approval-for-cell-tower-in-westlake/

Public Health Emergency

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The County of Ventura has declared a local health emergency, a move that gives the agency broad powers to try and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. It also aids local public schools as they prepare for potentially days, if not weeks, without classes.

Three individuals in the county have registered positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus; 95 had been tested countywide as of March 12. All three individuals who tested positive at the county’s lab traveled abroad recently, the county said, meaning there has yet to be a documented case of the disease going from neighbor to neighbor, or so-called “community spread.”

The declaration of emergency came after weeks of discussions between county leadership and the county’s 10 cities that accelerated mightily over the last 48 hours. Representatives from the county, Ventura County Public Health, county superintendents and city officials discussed the matter at length Thursday afternoon in a conference call in an attempt to get on the same page.

Public health’s decision is of particular importance to the county’s 20 public school districts as it will protect them from missing out on state monies tied to average daily attendance.

Following the county’s decision, Conejo Valley Unified announced Thursday night it would close all its campuses starting Mon., March 16 through Fri., March 20. Classes will be in session tomorrow, Fri., March 13. A planned in-service day for teachers set for Monday has been canceled.

CVUSD Superintendent Mark McLaughlin told the Acorn it didn’t feel right asking educators and staff to report after public health had declared an emergency. CVUSD will reassess the situation March 20 before deciding whether to cancel more classes.

Despite talk of some districts attempting “distance learning” and online classes, McLaughlin said any learning CVUSD students did while away from the classroom would be optional.

“It’s much harder for public schools to move to an online format as mandated instruction as we have Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) laws to contend with, as all of our structures and supports for individual students are based on face-to-face teaching,” McLaughlin said.

City response

After county health’s emergency declaration, the City of Thousand Oaks made preparations for its own.

Until further notice, all non-essential city facilities with a capacity of 250 people or more are closed to the public, that includes the Goebel Adult Community Center, Grant Brimhall and Newbury Park libraries and Thousand Oaks Teen Center. City Hall will remain open to the public and the City Council still plans to meet inside the Scherr Forum. While the Goebel will be closed starting tomorrow, Friday, the Teen Center will close Saturday.

In addition, all non-essential city-sponsored events have been canceled or postponed to a future date. Many upcoming shows at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center have been rescheduled until later in the year.

Over at Conejo Rec and Park District, General Manager Jim Friedl confirmed the Goebel and teen centers would be closed, as would nearly all community centers for the foreseeable future beginning Sat., March 14. CRPD was also canceling its sports leagues and classes and shuttering the Community Pool at Cal Lutheran University as well as the Hillcrest Center for the Arts.

CRPD parks are unaffected.

Thousand Oaks Mayor Al Adam released a prepared statement Thursday evening.

Our top priority at the City of Thousand Oaks is everyone’s health and safety. To best protect our residents, the city will also be declaring a state of emergency. This allows the city to address the closure of city facilities and enact social distancing plans for public meetings and gatherings, Adam said.

“The news can sound scary, and rightfully so. However, I encourage everyone to proceed with calm focus and keep compassion for each other at heart,” the statement continues. “Check-in with your friends, family and neighbors to ensure they have what they need. . . In these unprecedented times it takes collective action from all of us. 

Working together, we can slow the spread of the virus.

Adam said the city would keep the community updated as much as possible. He encouraged residents to visit vcemergency.com for the latest information on the spread of COVID-19 in Ventura County.

Colleges close

Ventura County Community Colleges and Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks are the latest institutions to announce a halt of in-person classes, following UCLA, USC and Pepperdine.

 CLU said on Thursday it is putting into effect its social distancing plan, which includes virtual instruction for classes.

“Faculty have been preparing for this and exploring creative options for classes such as labs and the arts, but there may be a few special exceptions made for some classes to continue to have in-person components,” CLU President Chris Kimball said in a March 12 note to the school community.

Residence halls will remain open. Students may choose to return to their permanent place of residence or decide to remain in on-campus housing, where appropriate social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures will be in place, Kimball’s note said.

Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges, including Ventura College’s east campus, start transitioning to virtual and alternate forms of classes beginning Mon., March 16 through Fri., March 20. Following the week-long transition, lecture classes will no longer meet and will continue in virtual and alternative modes beginning Mon., March 23.

 

CVUSD shuttering campuses for at least one week

CAP

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Conceptual Renderings of the Campus Master Plan

Civic Arts Plaza Campus Background

The Civic Arts Plaza (CAP) was completed in October 1994 to be a regional performing arts and civic center. The campus includes the 1,800-seat Kavli theatre, and the 394-seat Scherr Forum theatre, which also doubles as the Andrew P. Fox City Council Chambers and Planning Commission venue. The campus includes a 750-space 5-level parking structure, and 87,000 s.f. of office area dedicated to City Hall functions and 10,000 s.f. for tenants. Total building area on the CAP campus is 209,000 s.f. The theatres collectively host about 200,000 visitors each year for a variety of live performances/events from musical theatre and bands, to speakers and local school and dance performances. The CAP is within the Civic Arts Plaza Specific Plan, which was adopted in 1989, and has been amended several times over the years.

The Specific Plan covers 27 acres. The CAP campus totals approximately 14 acres. The 10-acre "The Lakes" shopping center is located east of CAP, and the 3-acre Westside property is located west of the Dallas Drive entrance to the CAP. Any proposed improvements to the CAP campus would complement and build upon prior analyses, including periodic maintenance evaluations coordinated by City staff, and a Needs Assessment Report for the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza that was completed in July 2005 by a team of architects and a landscape architect (Kaplan, Denton, Spitz). A variety of small projects were completed from that effort, but due to the downturn in the economy in 2008, major design changes were not completed. 

In addition to being the first implementation step of the Downtown Core Master Plan, the Campus Master Plan provides an opportunity to comprehensively re-envision the CAP campus for the future as it approaches its 25th anniversary. 

Click Here for the complete report to City Council November 5, 2019.

What Makes a Successful Civic Arts Plaza?

Civic

The CAP will be Thousand Oaks true civic center whose City Hall and other civic supporting uses are functional, inviting, accessible, and interconnected.

Cultural

The CAP will be a regional hub and a local asset for cultural, entertainment, and art events and amenities to draw Thousand Oaks residents and visitors from afar.

Place-Making

The CAP will be viable, uniquely Thousand Oaks, and a recognizable “place” with a variety of active uses that support the cultural and civic centers, activate the public realm, and frame a central Town Square for Thousand Oaks

An Improved Civic Arts Plaza is a DCMP Priority

The Downtown Core Master Plan (DCMP) states a vision for a new Downtown for the City, with the Civic Arts Plaza (CAP) at its core. During the DCMP process, the City engaged hundreds of community members in a variety of venues and formats:

•Stakeholder Interviews
•Pop-up Events
•Focus Group Meetings
•Open House
•Online Survey

The improvement of the CAP is identified as one of four Critical Actions in the DCMP:

•Redesign the Civic Arts Plaza to be more active and connected
•Expand arts, cultural, and entertainment programming
•Create an entertainment and commercial destination
•Improve walkability and the pedestrian environment

DCMP Outline
Source: Downtown Core Master Plan, Downtown Framework Map

Click here for more information on the Downtown Core Master Plan

Source: https://www.toaks.org/departments/city-manager-s-office/campus-master-plan 

COVID-19

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The County of Ventura is the first and largest Southern California County to receive approval from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to move forward on an accelerated Stage 2 path to reopening. 

This means that Dine-In restaurants and In-store retail can open, after registering at www.vcreopens.com. Let’s get the word out!

Shopping Malls, Destination Shopping Centers, Strip and Outlet Malls all with exterior facing entrances can open too. Internal stores that are only accessible by entering the common areas of an indoor shopping mall are not allowed at this time.

If businesses have questions, the vcreopens website has a link to our COVID-19 Hotline: 844-VC-OPENS

Go to www.vcreopens.com for Guidance, Checklists, and Prevention Plan templates and to register:

325 Hampshire Rd.

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What is Project Prescreening?

The prescreening process is an early evaluation of a proposed concept, to determine if it warrants allocation of residential units under the City’s growth control Measure E. It affords an opportunity for public participation at the onset of a project, and an initial look at a proposed concept by City Council and staff.

Prescreen concepts are evaluated according to criteria previously defined by City Council (Resolution 2018-015). Categories of criteria include: a) suitability of the site; b) quality of design; c) provision of Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) units; and d) community benefits. In addition, projects within the downtown area are evaluated in the context of the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan (SP 20). 

Approval of a prescreen does not mean that the project is approved. If a prescreen is approved, it simply means that the project is allowed to proceed through the normal review and evaluation process, including refinement of the concept, formal application, environmental evaluation, public hearing and recommendation by the Planning Commission, and final public hearing and action by City Council.

Because prescreens constitute an early review of a concept, applicants are only required to only provide enough information to determine if the project should be vetted further through the formal review process.

This project is scheduled for a prescreen by City Council on Tuesday, May 12th. If you'd like to participate in public comment virtually during this meeting, please click here.

This page will be updated as more information is provided by the applicant.

To view the packet, please click here.

Open Air Dining

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Dine in or take out? It had been 63 days since Thousand Oaks diners had heard that question when the county got word last week it could move on to a phase of reopening the economy that included seated dining.

While it may have felt like forever between March 20 when the county first issued its stay-home order and May 20 when it eased it, it took no time at all for some restaurants to fling their doors open to welcome customers back inside.

Word of the reopening hit May 21 and by the following night, city residents were sharing which eateries they’d visited. Moody Rooster, Pedals & Pints, Cronies, Barone’s and Dog Haus all got thumbs up for opening and doing it per new regulations that are designed to keep customers distanced and safe.

To open for dining, restaurants had to have policies in place for physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, and employee health screenings.And all polices had to be documented in a worksite-specific plan.

While it sounds like a lot of time-consuming work, it wasn’t too bad, said Sandrine Casanova Paccallet of Chocolatine French Café on Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

“These were all things we were doing anyway because we never closed,” Casanova-Paccallet said. “We were doing takeout and then we added delivery and we already had signs and marks on the floor for distancing.”

The major difference will be in the little things, like asking customers to wear masks when they are walking in the restaurant but allowing them to remove them at their table.

Speaking of tables, the small sandwich, salad and sweets shop, like most open restaurants, has had to remove some in order to keep patrons distanced.

A decision Tuesday by the Thousand Oaks City Council will help business owners make up for some of the lost seating, however.

With a 4-0 vote, the council allowed restaurants to expand their footprints, which could include allowing tables on adjacent walkways, shopping center parking lots and city rights-of-way, like sidewalks.

“What this situation has done is reduced the internal capacity of these restaurants. … To make up for that 50% decreased capacity, typically, we need seating outside … perhaps on the sidewalk,” Mayor

Al Adam said. “And it’s actually kind of fun in a way because everybody likes alfresco dining, I believe.”

As part of its vote, the council also agreed to extend its commercial and residential eviction moratorium through June 30 and donate $20,000 from the city’s general fund to a relief fund established by the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Businesses do not need to be members of the Chamber in order to apply for aid from the Conejo Valley Small Business Relief Fund.

A few establishments—like the city’s two breweries, Pedals & Pints and Tarantula Hill Brewing Company—had already ordered tents and tables for their parking lots, knowing the issue was coming before the council.

“We’d talked with someone at the city and they said it was likely it would pass, so we didn’t want to wait,” said Brad Cristea of Pedals & Pints on why he’d gone ahead and set the plan in motion.

Local chain Eggs ’N’ Things, which did not offer to-go meals and has been closed since the county’s stay-home order was issued, rolled out its reopening on Wednesday to thankful patrons, said Thousand Oaks store general manager Jennifer Vrataric.

“We have a lot of loyal customers who said they’ve been driving by for days to see if we’re open,” Vrataric said. “People were really easygoing. They were generous with their waitresses and I think they’re just happy to be out of the house.”

Vrataric did say, given the choice, diners preferred to sit on the establishment’s patio in the open air. Inside, about half of the restaurant’s tables have been blocked off to allow for adequate distancing. Outside, the staff has been able to spread tables out enough that most are still in use.

So far, the hardest thing for Vrataric was getting used to wearing a mask all day.

“But it’s OK, I’ll get used to it,” she said, adding the importance of keeping people safe.

“People were happy. No complaints.”

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/open-air-dining-the-new-in-thing/

Increase In Hospital Cases 

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Ventura County’s typically soft-spoken public health officer turned to tough talk Tuesday when addressing the Board of Supervisors about the county’s sustained rise in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Asked to discuss business reopenings and the state’s newly minted mask mandate, Dr. Robert Levin veered off into a stern warning to the public.

“Let me pause here for an unpleasant reality,” Levin said. “If my reading is correct, we’re showing the first signs of starting to lose the battle against COVID-19 in our county.”

The positivity rate, that is, the percentage of tests found to be positive, is up sharply over the past two weeks. Out of 1,500 new test results shared Tuesday, 131 were positive, for a rate of nearly 9%. Ventura County’s positivity rate had been hovering between 3% and 5% since the outbreak began in March.

More concerning to Levin and Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas is the number of people in local hospitals with COVID, which for most of April and May fluctuated between 20 and 25. As of Tuesday afternoon, 51 COVID patients were in the county’s eight hospitals (53 is the all-time high), with 14 in intensive care, leaving 134 available beds and 50 available ICU beds countywide.

Ventilators, which are necessary to sustain the breathing of COVID patients in the ICU, are readily available, with over 180 not being used, the county said.

Small transgressions, big impact

Levin did not attribute the rise in hospitalizations to one source but rather a collective unwillingness to continue abiding by the practices that kept Ventura County’s numbers low throughout much of spring.

He said he saw hundreds of people shoulder to shoulder watching a skateboarding competition in Ventura on Sunday.

"I hear those that deny that COVID-19 is a threat. I’m less concerned about the impact that they have on our COVID numbers than I am about the many of us who conveniently dismiss the threat of this virus,” he said.

Asked by the Acorn whether there is any evidence to suggest the large protests over the death of George Floyd have played a role in the uptick, the public health officer said no.

“We don’t have any evidence that the increase in cases is due to those gatherings. And we do look for these things,” Levin said in an email. “I’m not that concerned at least about the Ventura County rallies. I drove by one at government center and participated in another in Oxnard. In both cases people were doing a remarkable job of social distancing on their own. At the Oxnard rally there were probably 200 people there and I only saw one couple without face masks.”

Speaking to the supervisors June 23, Levin said residents have started to convince themselves that it’s OK to have a few friends over for dinner or spend more time out of the house than is necessary.

It’s not, he said.

“I know I sound like a zealot. I admit to some of these limited breaches myself. . . . But we must stop,” he said.

Reopening threatened

He said the most high-risk activities are parties, barbecues and socializing in close quarters or during breaks on the job. A single neighborhood barbecue at an Oxnard mobile home park has been blamed for 19 new cases, the county said.

“It’s like we’re cheating on our diet and angry or baffled that we can’t lose weight,” Levin said.

"So what is the price we pay? Where are we headed? More cases of COVID-19, more people hospitalized, more people in our ICUs, more people dead.”

Though the county has said it is prepared for a surge, Levin said he could envision a future with “long lines outside hospitals for the seriously ill waiting to be seen, waiting just to get in.”

“At this point, the state will step in. They will roll back all the businesses and activity reopenings we’ve seen. This hasn’t happened yet, but I’m concerned that it will,” he said. “Businesses, savings and lives will be ruined. Some have been ruined already. More will be.”

The easy prevention, Levin said, is continued isolation for a little longer, only leaving the house for essentials, exercise or the occasional meal in less crowded settings.

“We deserve our freedom, but the reality is we just can’t have it yet,” he said. “This is a classic case of deferring our reward . . . until this damn situation lets up and allows us to have our freedom again.”

The increase in hospitalizations and cases in Ventura County is a trend seen up and down the state. While the number of confirmed cases was expected to increase along with expanded testing, hospitalizations are another matter. Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged this week he was troubled by the trajectory of the figures.

“There is a sense that a lot of young people are, well, you’re young, and so you feel a little bit more invincible. But respectfully, often that can be a selfish mindset,” he said.

Nevertheless, the state has continued to issue guidance for sectors to reopen, this week adding movie theaters, which may reopen in Ventura County on June 26 at 25% capacity unless something changes.

Local outlook

The status of the county’s figures came up at Tuesday’s Thousand Oaks City Council meeting, with City Manager Drew Powers reporting that he was on a call with public health officials and other city managers from across the county earlier in the day where there was talk of “growing concern.” In T.O., there have been around 231 confirmed cases of COVID to date, 10% of the county’s total, and far fewer than in neighboring Simi Valley (454 cases), which has a smaller population.

“Numbers are not heading in the right direction,” Powers said.  “At this time, where things are starting to resemble some sense of normalcy, we have to redouble our efforts of staying safe. . . This is not over and we can’t have the hard work we did this spring slip away from us.”

Councilmember Ed Jones said he was confident Thousand Oaks residents would respond in kind.

“I have the feeling that we have a certain morale here in Thousand Oaks, a certain esprit de corps, a certain camaraderie that may not be present everywhere, and I believe that spirit is going to pull us through and we will be much better when this finally ends,” he said.

COVID UPDATE
 

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/increase-in-hospital-cases-has-officials-on-high-alert/


 

CVUSD Budget Passes

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Conejo Valley Unified trustees have approved a $205-million budget for the 2020-21 school year, putting an end to months of uncertainty over how California’s COVID-19 recession would affect public education in Thousand Oaks in the fall.

The spending plan adopted June 30 includes no layoffs of teachers or nutrition, transportation and custodial staff—a mandate of state budget makers—but it does reflect a 10% reduction in CVUSD’s supply budget as well as leaving a number of positions vacant, positions made expendable by temporary public health orders that limit the number of students who can be on campus at any given time.

It also involves the use of $6 million from the district’s nearly $27 million in reserves.

In an interview this week, trustee Jenny Fitzgerald told the Acorn that dipping into the district’s fund balance will allow CVUSD the staffing flexibility it needs to provide a safe and robust learning environment when students return to a very different classroom in August. She said the district projects to use portions of that fund balance every year.

This year’s budget has the distinction of being the first in recent memory not to be adopted unanimously. Trustee Sandee Everett voted no, saying she had concerns over whether the state would make good on $11 billion in deferred payments promised to CVUSD and other districts across the state.

“We’re moving forward with the budget as if we’re going to get fully funded,” Everett said.

As part of a budget deal struck between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, public schools in California are expected to take out loans until more federal stimulus dollars arrive; the CVUSD budget adopted last week already includes $10 million from the CARES Act coronavirus relief bill passed in March and relies on the state budget, which is dependent on a second stimulus bill being approved by the president.

“The deferrals are in lieu of federal stimulus,” Deputy Superintendent Victor Hayek. “So if the federal stimulus dollars come in, then there will be no deferrals.”

Hayek said the state budget was signed by the governor the night before CVUSD approved its budget, so the document approved June 30 is somewhat of a placeholder until after the July 15 extended tax deadline, when the state will have a more complete picture of its revenue situation.

Deferrals

The state, and subsequently CVUSD’s, budget relies on funding deferrals between February and June 2021. The district expects to be paid back between July and November of that year, Hayek said.

In the meantime, CVUSD will have to take out around $25 million in tax revenue anticipation notes, or TRANs loans, for cash flow until state funding arrives. The 2020-21 budget includes an additional $350,000 in interest expense from the loans, which the district already uses for cash flow purposes while awaiting property tax revenue.

The deferrals mean the district will be able to maintain necessary staff as it prepares to reopen campuses in August, a fact seen as critical to school board trustee Betsy Connolly, who said at the June 9 board meeting that the district will need “all hands on deck.”

Everett asked if CVUSD had a back-up plan in case the state doesn’t make good on its promise to pay the deferred revenue.

“What it would do is force us to cut $25 million,” Hayek said.

Superintendent Mark McLaughlin said the state relied on deferrals for several years starting in 2009. He said those were eventually paid back, though not in accordance with the original timeline.

“History does show that the state would pay us back for whatever the deferrals are that they promised,” he said.

Debate

Ahead of casting the lone no vote, Everett questioned why the budget didn’t include more dollars toward paying down the district’s unmet state pension obligation, which as of the 2019 audit stood at $207 million.

“If it were me, before we’re giving pay raises across the board and those kinds of things, people need to be aware of what our pension situation is,” Everett said, referring to a retroactive districtwide 2% raise approved by the board in April in a 5-0 vote.

Connolly reminded Everett that CVUSD does not run a private pension system and any money carved out of the budget should be spent for local benefit.

“This idea that we would set aside money in order to pay down the state system makes no sense at all and especially in a time when we are facing a budget crisis,” she said. “This is a discussion that makes no sense, and I urge everyone that we move on to things of substance.”

Fitzgerald told the Acorn she feels Everett’s opposition to the budget has less to do with concern for taxpayers and more to do with concern over her reelection campaign. Everett, the lone conservative member of the board, is seeking a second term.

“We can’t ignore the fact that there is an election coming up, and to me it’s very obvious, not just with the pension but with a lot of comments from board member Everett, that she is trying to sound fiscally responsible,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re really good sound bites for the public because they come across as sounding like she’s a watchdog for the district, but for people who watch the meetings, it’s clear those comments make no sense in context.”

In an email, Everett said her opposition is based in facts.

“The financial plan approved by our board majority to weather the current financial crisis is irresponsible,” she wrote. “The board decided to borrow ($25 million) and pay hundreds of thousands in interest rather than just using our own reserves for free. Borrowing from the state comes with strings attached. For example, we won’t be allowed to lay off administrators this coming year in order to balance our budget.”

Supplies

During the meeting, Fitzgerald expressed concern that with new prohibitions on shared classroom supplies, certain items would become extremely limited with a $443,000 reduction in the supply budget.

Hayek called that a variable “that is hanging above us.”

McLaughlin said they’ll be able to address adjustments to supply budgets in the first and second interim budgets.

“Until we start living in this new reality and we get through a couple months of school, we won’t know what that impact is,” McLaughlin said. “There are so many things we’re going to have to figure out, and we’re going to be learning as we go a little bit.”

The budget leaves intact funding for Outdoor School, though the sixth grade program may not happen this school year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/cvusd-budget-passed-on-promise-of-payment/


Church Restraining Order

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Calling it a “very important, deeply fundamental constitutional issue,” a Ventura County judge granted a temporary restraining order today against Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Newbury Park, forbidding the church from holding large worship services indoors until a full hearing can be held Mon., Aug. 31.

Citing a recent Supreme Court decision that dealt with a Chula Vista, Calif., church that challenged the governor’s coronavirus restrictions in April, Judge Matthew Guasco said the balance between personal freedoms and public health weighed heavily in favor of the County of Ventura, which requested the injunction.

“South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, this year’s case, dealt with pretty close to the same series of restrictions that the respondent is challenging here with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on the ability of places of worship to have indoor services,” he said. “And Chief Justice (John) Roberts, he summed it up perfectly in terms of the balance between individual liberty and the government’s police power to protect the exercise of individual liberty if it threatens the public welfare and health.

“The Constitution is not a suicide pact. The exercise of individual liberties has to be consistent with public health, otherwise the one would cancel out the other.”

In requesting an injunction, or a temporary restraining order, the county’s legal team, led by Assistant County Counsel Jaclyn Smith, had to show cause that the situation was an emergency that presented an immediate public health risk.

Guasco said the county easily met that burden of proof.

“On a scale of 1 to 10 of the most immediate irreparable harm possible, this is a 10. It doesn’t get much more immediate or irreparable than the threat that a lot of people are going to spread a contagious and deadly disease,” he said.

To date, no members of the Godspeak congregation have come down with the virus, Pastor Rob McCoy has said.

The church, led by the former Thousand Oaks City Council member and onetime Republican candidate for the Assembly, has been holding indoor worship services for weeks in defiance of a ban in effect in counties on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list.

Today’s hearing came three days after the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in closed session to give county attorneys discretion to seek legal action against people or entities that don’t comply with state or local health orders. County counsel filed for a restraining order the next day.

Before announcing his ruling, Guasco cited Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 115-year-old case in which the Supreme Court upheld a local health board’s right to require people to be vaccinated to prevent the spread of smallpox.

“We’re not writing on a clean slate; this is not a new question,” Guasco said. “Pandemics and their restrictions on individual liberties under the Constitution have been with us for over 100 years.”

Prior to the start of the 9 a.m. hearing, the judge said he does not take the protections guaranteed in the Constitution lightly, especially as it pertains to religion.

“There are probably very few, if any, questions that I, as a judge now of nearly nine years, view as more serious than whether the First Amendment, freedom of the exercise of religion, should be restrained by the government,” Guasco said.

The judge noted a temporary restraining order is just that, temporary, and said the order would be dissolved if Godspeak’s legal team is successful during the more thorough hearing in 2.5 weeks.

Prior to the ruling, attorney Robert Tyler representing Godspeak argued for a continuance until Tuesday, which was opposed by the county on the grounds that McCoy intends to hold indoor worship services on Sunday.

Between three services, over 1,000 people have been attending Godspeak on Sundays. A photo taken inside one of the services shows rows and rows of people seated next to one another, none wearing masks.

“The defendant insists upon holding indoor services without requiring any masks or social distancing and . . . they’ve made clear they intend to hold services this Sunday, and so to prevent an unlawful and potentially deadly event from occurring, plaintiffs are compelled to seek relief from this court to protect the residents of the county,” Smith said.

In his statements to the judge, Tyler argued the county (and state) were selectively enforcing public health orders by forcing the church to shut its doors but embracing protests where social distancing and mask wearing were not enforced.

Further, Tyler argued, the immediate and irreparable harm to which the county alluded is a fallacy.

“There is a serious question of fact as to whether or not this state of emergency that we are operating under rises to the level that our Constitutional liberties should be quote-unquote limited or suspended, even,” Tyler said. “When we have elected surgeries . . . for example, one in 200 knee replacement patients die within 90 days of surgery. That is a .5% death rate. That’s well over double the death rate from COVID-19 but we don’t ban knee replacement surgery.”

Nor should society ban “spiritual surgery,” people coming to church when the risk is “so much smaller,” Tyler said.

The Aug. 31 hearing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. in Courtroom 20. Because the courtroom is not Zoom-compatible, the hearing will be held in person with masks and social distancing, the judge said. Only nine people will be allowed in the audience.

This story will be updated.

 

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/judge-grants-county-request-for-restraining-order-against-church/


Proposed Wildlife Bridge

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A California agency that funds wildlife conservation initiatives across the state will give $5 million toward construction of the Liberty Canyon wildlife bridge in Agoura Hills.

Currently in planning stages, the $89-million land bridge will consist of a 200-foot-long overpass across the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon.

At its quarterly meeting in August, the California Wildlife Conservation Board approved more than $25 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. The funds included a $5-million gift to the National Wildlife Federation for the wildlife crossing at Liberty Canyon.

The wildlife federation is working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California State Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans, the City of Agoura Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to build the bridge for animal migration.

Hemmed in by Southern California’s freeways and urban development, big predators like mountain lions face a possibility of extinction within 50 years, biologists say. The wildlife crossing will be a major tool in helping large and small animals travel safely across the local freeway.

“This project, when completed, will enhance an important and extremely vital wildlife corridor for wildlife species in Southern California,” WCB executive director John Donnelly said in an email.

The board said in its approval minutes last month, “The Liberty Canyon area . . . has been identified as the ideal location for a wildlife crossing over U.S. 101. Prime habitat, contiguous with large swaths of protected habitat north and south of this connection, has already been protected on both sides of the freeway.

“Connecting these areas would give mountain lions and numerous other species living in these highly fragmented habitats the room they need to roam, mate and thrive,” the agency said.

WCB called Liberty Canyon a “biodiversity hotspot,” and said, “This location is the best remaining connection between undeveloped open space in the Santa Monica Mountains to the south and the Simi Hills and Los Padres National Forest to the north.”

The WCB funding comes from Proposition 68, the statewide parks and water bond act of 2018.

The National Wildlife Federation is leading the wildlilfe crossing fundraiser with its #SaveLA Cougars campaign. To date, $15.4 million has been donated, said Beth Pratt, the wildlife federation’s California regional director.

“With the money raised to date, we have secured enough to keep Caltrans funded through next spring, so there are no delays in the project at this time and, indeed, the team is making great progress on final design and engineering,” Pratt said.

“We understand these are challenging times, and human health and safety must be a priority. Yet the extinction timeline for mountain lions is not on pause, and we must build this crossing on time or mountain lions may not have a future in the Santa Monica Mountains,” she said.

 

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/proposed-wildlife-bridge-gets-5-million-boost/ 


No on Prop 15

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As a general rule, we never advocate for any political and/or policy decisions, however Prop 15 negatively affects us all equally and you must be informed of the consequences if it were to pass this November.

In simple terms, Prop 15 would repeal and eliminate California’s longstanding Prop 13 property tax protections (enacted in 1978), thereby allowing the state to reassess property taxes to market values.

What does this mean for YOU?

HIGHER RENT, COMMON AREAS CHARGES, AND TAXES!

As it stands, Californian’s and our businesses pay the highest taxes in the country and special interest groups are still continuing to advocate for more. Prop 15 is purposely misleading, as it is mislabeled as an education bill, however if you read the fine print, it is not about education at all.

It the largest money grab in our state’s history. Should it pass, it would cause massive inflation on goods and services and put hundreds of thousands of businesses out of business. Additionally, families and businesses already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic would have to absorb this Tax, as well. The devastating consequences are too great to even quantify. Expect massive layoffs and business closures, skyrocketing foreclosures, and lose of equity in your homes and businesses.

Voting No on Prop 15 is not enough, please share this information with as many friends, family members, business owners, and any other California voter’s you can! We all need to VOTE to defeat this insanity.

Additional information can be found at: NoOnProp15.org

Amazon Opening at Promenade

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Global e-commerce giant Amazon is opening a grocery store in Thousand Oaks. 

Amazon Fresh will fill a vacancy at the Westlake Promenade later this year or early in 2021, taking over the 31,000-square-foot spot formerly occupied by Vintage Grocers and, before that, Bristol Farms.

Among the store’s features are special carts that tally up the items placed inside so there is no need to see a cashier, although they will be available, as will more conventional shopping carts.

A spokesperson for Caruso, which owns the Promenade, told the Acorn on Monday that the company was not yet authorized to speak about their new high-profile tenant.

High-tech grocer

Though Thousand Oaks had been mentioned in news reports as far back as April as a landing spot for Amazon Fresh, T.O. City Hall and Caruso have been tightlipped about the online shopping leader’s foray into the local grocery market. It wasn’t until the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control posted a notice of a liquor license transfer last Thursday mentioning Amazon by name that the location of the business was confirmed.

“We’ve been working with them since the beginning,” Haider Alawami, the city’s economic development chief, told the Acorn on Monday. “Of course, we’ve been told not to mention that name, but eventually it was going to come out.”

The first Amazon Fresh store in the nation opened in August in Woodland Hills, 15 miles away. Initially, it was open only to Amazon Prime members. Now it is open to the general public.

Some economic experts were surprised when Amazon, a company valued at nearly $2 trillion, announced in fall 2019 its intention to open a chain of grocery stores given that it had acquired Whole Foods only a few months earlier.

Other stores are planned in Northridge, Irvine and North Hollywood, an Amazon rep told SupermarketNews.com in August.

Amazon Fresh is more than a traditional grocery store. It will offer same-day grocery delivery and pickup, with shoppers who place their orders online being met in a designated parking spot outside the store. Amazon Alexa users will be able to tell the digital assistant what they want and then have the items ready when they arrive.

But what is supposed to really distinguish the store from others is Amazon’s so-called Dash Cart.

According to Supermarket News, the cart “uses computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items placed in the cart’s basket. Customers sign into their Amazon account by scanning the Amazon app QR code using the reader on the cart’s handle, place bags in the basket and then begin shopping.”

The cart beeps when a product’s barcode has been recorded; if the item is removed from the cart, it is removed from a running tally of purchases displayed on a screen on the cart.

When they have everything they need, customers can leave through the Dash Cart lane, which automatically completes their purchase with any payment method added to the Amazon website or app.

Alawami said the store is an exciting addition for the Promenade, which has fared better than other local shopping centers during the COVID-19 outbreak because of its large public spaces.

“ The way (Rick) Caruso and his development team built those shopping centers, with ample open areas out in front of the stores . . . that’s really played well into the outdoor activities that we are allowing temporarily,” Alawami said.

Bristol Farms was an anchor tenant at the Promenade when it opened in 1996. When the store closed in 2016 and moved to Woodland Hills, it was replaced within seven weeks by Vintage Grocers, which at the time had just one other store, in Malibu.

After being greeted by fanfare, the high-end grocer founded by Walmart heiress Paige Laurie eventually fizzled.

Its owners closed the store one morning in March 2019 with no warning—even for employees.

“Hopefully they’ll be able to reach out to the Vintage Grocers employees and offer them a job,” Alawami said of Amazon.

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/amazon-set-to-open-grocery-store-at-westlake-promenade/ 


New Proposal For Lot by TOHS

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The developer behind a failed effort to open a 7-Eleven convenience store/gas station across the street from Thousand Oaks High School is back with a new idea.

According to paperwork submitted to the city last month, the property owner is now considering a drive-thru Starbucks at 2198 N. Moorpark Road, a vacant lot that was for years a family-owned gas station.

The drive-thru would have room for 17 cars, and there would be 10 parking spots.

The proposal is in the pre-application phase, meaning the applicant is receiving feedback from city staff before presenting a formal application.

In the case of 7-Eleven, the developer tried to work with neighbors over the course of two years.

Ultimately the proposal was denied by both the planning commission and the Thousand Oaks City Council on appeal.

A drive-thru Starbucks is now under construction at Janss Marketplace, also on Moorpark Road, about two miles away.

Source: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/new-proposal-for-lot-near-tohs/ 

Vote No on Prop 15 

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Tax grab will devastate small biz


The Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association (TOBA) represents the interest of hundreds of local mom-and-pop property owners along T.O. Boulevard, including many small businesses.

Our members are comprised of small-business owners who, like many others, are fighting to survive this pandemic. Just when we think things cannot get worse, Prop 15 comes along to raise the cost of doing business.

Generally, TOBA does not advocate state ballot measures or policy; however, Prop 15 negatively affects us...

 

To see this article in its entirety please visit The TO Acorn Website:

 https://www.toacorn.com/articles/tax-grab-will-devastate-small-biz/

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