In a stunning move, Calabasas says, “not so fast” to a major developer.
A resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Calabasas recommending to the City Council certification of a Final Environmental Impact Report was rejected by a 3-2 vote in regard to the “West Village” development in Calabasas.
The “No” vote occurred on July 18, after more than two hours of deliberation by the five Commissioners, where the debate centered around the lack of mitigation for a significant historic landslide on the south side of the vacant property.
The commercial and residential development being proposed by The New Home Company calls for 180 condominiums and a 5,800-square-foot retail center on the 77-acre property located at 4790 Las Virgenes Road at the eastern end of Agoura Road.
The development also includes 18 condominiums for low-income families.
According to Joseph Chilco, a long-time Calabasas resident and member of the Volunteers For Responsible Development, who is opposition to the development, “the applicant is under no obligation to come back with an alternate plan.”
“Even if they want to appeal the Planning Commission decision, they’ll have to wait until the Commission votes on the Resolution to deny recommendation,” Chilco wrote in an email. “I’m sure they’re considering their options as to how to proceed. However, the proposed development will not be recommended for approval by the Planning Commission; the 3-2 vote confirms that.”
According to a written staff report by Glenn Michitsch, Senior Planner, City of Calabasas, “development of this project would require a significant amount of remedial grading to reshape the land to stabilize a landslide hazard area on the southern portion of the site.”
The Calabasas Coalition also opposes the development, on the basis of its environmental impact.
“West Village at Calabasas violates Protected Open Space,” wrote Monte Nido resident Stephanie Abronson of Equestrian Trails, Inc., Corral 36. “Most of us want “No” development on this dedicated Wildlife Corridor in Open Space. We also want a multi-use parking area for several large horse trailer rigs and school buses and plenty of room for parking for hikers and bikers (human-powered only). Of course a bathroom and potable water would be nice with this Trailhead Parking area.”
Concerns about fire safety and traffic congestion were also major concerns regarding the “West Village” development.
The Calabasas Coalition included in an email that “CalFire has assigned the City of Calabasas its highest Fire Danger Rating, meaning Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.”
“Putting hundreds of people in a box canyon in a severe fire zone is just irresponsible to me,” said Planning Commissioner Michael Harrison during the meeting. “To me, this project destroys the environment.”
Yet, the general consensus among the commissioners was that The New Home Company needed go back and present an alternative plan that would mitigate the historical landslide and other environmental concerns.
“Something is going to be built here,” said Commissioner Peter Kraus. “It depends on what form it will take; whether it will meet with the recommendations of the General Plan [because] currently it does not comply.”
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning Commission for the City of Calabasas is August 1. For more information, go to www.cityofcalabasas.com/commissions/planning.html.