Camarillo residents speak out against Conejo Creek plan
By Justin Formanek 12/13/2012
Camarillo’s Planning Commission held a public hearing for the Conejo Creek Specific Plan last Tuesday, Dec. 4. The hearing had been continued from Sept. 18. The primary purpose of the evening was for the Commission to hear further comments related to the project’s draft environmental impact report (EIR).
“The Conjeo Creek Specific Plan is a large and complex proposal that has been presented to the city for consideration,” said Wayne Boyce, chairman of the Planning Commission, “and there have been — and will be — many more steps involved with its consideration and plenty of opportunity for public input.”
To date, the city has received roughly 500 comments regarding the EIR, including letters from a variety of sources, such as public agencies, interest groups and individuals.
The overwhelming public outcry has come largely in response to what the EIR has designated as “significant and unavoidable,” or Class I, impacts of the plan.
Of the more than 100 people who crowded into the City Council chambers, only a small number was was able to make their opinions heard. Mel Johnson, a Camarillo resident for more than 25 years and a small business owner, was one of them.
“At issue here is the quality of life today and for generations to come. It is not important whether this project meets EIR requirements,” said Johnson. “The real question is the magnitude of the sacrifices that must be made to bring it to fruition.”
Among them are the loss of agricultural lands and the demolition of potentially historic structures within the 740 acres included in the proposal. According to a presentation by Abe Leider of Rincon Consultants, the preparers of the EIR, this will negatively affect Camarillo’s “scenic views” and “visual character.” Increases in traffic-related congestion and noise are also expected.
“Indications are that the majority of the citizens of this city strongly oppose this project,” added Johnson.
Dennis Hardgrave of Development Planning Services, the Conejo Creek project’s applicant, attempted to counter this opposition.
“There is noise out there today that’s not acceptable. There is nothing to mitigate that noise that’s being funded by anybody other than individual homeowners who elect to do the menu that the EIR states.” The noise, said Hardgrave, “will continue to get worse with or without this project.”
The Planning Commission will continue to discuss the Conejo Creek Specific Plan at its next meeting on Feb. 19.
“The current work effort, ongoing now and after tonight’s hearing,” said Leider, “is to work on responses to the comments received and to the comments we’ll get from the Commission.”