Residents of Ventura’s Saticoy and Wells neighborhoods know what they want — which also means they know what they don’t want.
What they do want are a strong community identity, an array of youth services and reasonable fire and police response times — among other things. What they don’t want are poorly lit streets, streets impossible for pedestrians to traverse and urban sprawl, among other things.
Over 100 residents of Saticoy and Wells turned out last weekend for a community dialogue and workshop designed to shape the futures of the two communities. City planners, along with a group of students from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, addressed attendees whose input will ultimately help devise a community plan for the region.
Community plans for various sections of the city are designed to flesh out the guidelines of the city’s general plan — a general overview for growth in the city over the next two decades that was adopted last summer. The community plans will “set policies on community character, building form, building types … streetscapes and parking,” said Lisa Porras, community development senior planner.
The results of a December community planning session for the Saticoy and Wells communities were presented at Saturday’s meeting, where Catherine Pelton, a Cal Poly student working on the new Saticoy and Wells plan, outlined community priorities for residents. Overall, Pelton said, residents favor the establishment of a tightly-knit community with a rural flavor.
Among the attributes of the area listed by residents are its mountain views, open space and small-town atmosphere, as well as the charm of Old Town Saticoy and the connectivity of Saticoy to other neighborhoods. “It has a high sense of community and it has an older, traditional neighborhood pattern,” Pelton said of the Old Town neighborhood. Additionally, the region’s unique character, Chumash origins and family-oriented communities were listed among its high points by residents who provided input. “The hillsides here in Saticoy are of great importance to you — but there is a lack of community identity and landmarks,” Pelton said, addressing the audience.
Residents expressed concerns about services that need improvement in several different areas, including traffic, social opportunities and basic amenities. They included pedestrian and child safety, traffic, lack of roadway connections, agricultural pesticide use, lack of after-school activities, lack of sidewalks, lack of youth and senior programs and drainage, among others.
Most participating residents expressed the desire for Saticoy to offer more for residents while maintaining its rural character. Traffic remains a major concern because the communities are home to the busy thoroughfares of Wells Road and state Route 118.
Because the thoroughfares in Saticoy and Wells are very “auto-oriented,” safety is an issue for pedestrians, Pelton said. “Those really need to be worked out, along with the traffic, in general,” said Matthew Fawcett, a Cal Poly student working with residents on the community plan.
Fawcett said the preservation of agricultural assets remains a priority for residents. “Everyone does like the agricultural feel of the area and they don’t want new development to change that.”
Jonathan Schuppert, another Cal Poly student at work on the plan, said another major concern for residents is the local Boys & Girls Club, which many have said offers inadequate facilities and a lack of programs. “We’ve learned that the Boys & Girls Club isn’t adequate and isn’t well lit at night.”
A general lack of youth activities was cited by many parents. “I love living in Saticoy, but I wish there was more for my little girls to do here,” said Malinda Torres, a 36-year-old mother of two girls, ages 8 and 12. “We just moved here and I want them to be a part of the community.”
Fawcett said emergency response times, dark streets at night and crime at night were the top three concerns of residents. “Residents feel that police response is low and that there isn’t a police presence in the community,” he said.
Revamped plans for the region will likely include the refurbishment of Saticoy’s industrial region, which may include mixed-use development, according to Fawcett.
A general desire among residents to make Saticoy and Wells more attractive gateways for Ventura County was also voiced. “Saticoy and Wells are the eastern gateway to Ventura and we want to make it distinctive because of that,” Pelton said.