Leaders should stay true to city's vision, goals – Thousand Oaks Acorn

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Last week, the Thousand Oaks City Council approved a proposal for a multistory apartment building at The Lakes. Receiving strong support, this project is ideal in many ways.
This project will take the place of an underused parking lot, and it is set back from the boulevard, situated next to the Civic Arts Plaza.
Cons include the fact that no affordable housing units were a part of this deal; instead, there is a community benefits payment plan that spreads out payments to the city over nearly 40 years— with no specifications on the use of the funds.
It could have been negotiated as an upfront payment and specifically earmarked for affordable housing.
Supposedly, there are instruments in the pipeline that might make it more likely to get affordable housing built eventually. The city says that it will update its outdated inclusionary housing ordinance, which never had “teeth” for building affordable housing anyway.
The city is also midway through the process of updating its housing element/general plan. Yet a project was just approved that had no affordable housing requirements attached.
Why push this deal through when we are so close to creating more concrete plans/goals for future development in T.O.? It’s unclear as to why it was pushed through so quickly, and it’s disappointing that council members did not insist on more time.
I encourage city leaders, as we overhaul our city’s general plan, to create a vision alongside clear policies for the development we need in Thousand Oaks (universal design standards and updated inclusionary housing ordinance, for example).
The vision should align with the city’s No. 1 goal of creating “a more equitable, accessible, safe, welcoming, and inclusive government and community.” We can make sure the Thousand Oaks of the future is vibrant, inclusive, accessible and diverse, but we have to set our intentions, and plan for it with actual policy.
If our city’s leaders don’t start committing to putting such clear and visionary policies in place, we will continue to get deals that don’t create the housing needed for residents requiring better affordability and accessibility.
Lisa Powell
Thousand Oaks

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