The Ventura City Planning Commission held this week what they call a pre-screen of the proposed Westside Villas, a 43-unit development of single-family residences that would be located on the property at 1350, 1430 and 1450 North Ventura Avenue.
Residents, notably those of Carr Drive, were concerned.
Carr Drive is an anomaly in the area, a double-stub cul-de-sac that boasts a strong community core, with at least two residents who have lived there since 1952.
Those who call the tightly knit street home have had two specific concerns about the proposed development: first, the added traffic. For a 43-unit development, 73 parking spaces are allotted, which gives rise to concerns for parking overspill onto Carr Drive.
The second was the prospect of extending two stub alleys that currently exist on both Leighton and Lewis streets but which do not currently connect. Creating one long alleyway would increase access to Carr Drive and enhance the “walkability” of the area, which is one of the outlined goals of the city’s general plan. It would also provide direct access from the development to Carr Drive, but such a plan gives rise to safety concerns.
Resident Hills Sutton said he believes his neighborhood is home to “the highest density of parolee halfway houses” in the area noting that he had counted 13 in the immediate vicinity.
“We also have a lot of registered sex offenders,” he adds. He pulled up a list of 19 registered as living between Center Street and De Anza Middle School.
Many believe that the layout of the street ensures its safety. The double-dead-end nature of the street prevents “crimes of opportunity” that might otherwise be committed on a street that serves as a more heavily trafficked thoroughfare.
Residents like Ionia Kershaw, a former VC Reporter employee, point out that the proposed design of Westside Villas includes safety gates, which appear to be the developer’s acknowledgement that the surrounding area isn’t entirely secure.
The first proposition presented by developers met with the general satisfaction of Carr Drive residents, with a seven-foot wall separating the street from the Westside Villas development. The city’s concern about increasing pedestrian access, however, led the developers to create an alternative plan, in order to meet the general plan’s guidelines to \”extend stub end streets thru developments where appropriate” in order “to provide necessary circulation in a developing area.\”
But on closer examination Tuesday night, the Ventura Planning Commission agreed with the residents’ concerns that connectivity was not essential to the development. The commission voted to send the plans back to the developers.
“It seemed the commissioners just completely agreed that our concerns were legitimate, that it really was a community issue,” says Sutton.
Michael Faulconer, of Faulconer & Carawan Architects and Planners, the firm involved in this project, points out that approval is pending. As an architect involved in the project and a member of the Design Review Committee, Faulconer recused himself from the meeting.
“When we make the formal review of the project, we’ll have all the parking required per the current code,” Faulconer assures.