Agoura Hills Planner Has Delicate Balancing Act By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter The city of Agoura Hills, nestled in mountains west of Calabasas, is developing a commercial core to meet residents’ needs. In that regard, it’s not unlike any other city. But, with Lady Face Mountain as its backdrop, it’s up to city planner Mike Kamino to delicately balance that commercial development with the city’s penchant for preserving its natural beauty and rural feel. After a series of workshops, the city has designated an area near the 101 Freeway to put up Agoura Village, a center that will serve as a downtown commercial core and, just as important, give Agoura Hills a sense of place. Question: What is the status of the Village project? Answer: We are in the process of doing an environmental report on the Agoura Village, and are continuing to meet with developers. We have three applications submitted since May, all mixed-use projects. There is one that is for 100,000 square feet with some units above commercial property. Another project would have artist lofts and studios above retail. The whole idea is to create a village, with people living among commercially used property. It’s more in line with a traditional downtown. We’re not trying to develop a shopping center. It’s a combination of restaurants and retail, which will attract people here in the area, plus bike shops and other places like that. We want something that embodies the spirit of a true village where you don’t have to get into your car and drive to another place. Q: Can you discuss the mixed-use concept in further detail? A: This whole trend of mixed uses and creating a new village is a new concept being renewed. It’s called “new urbanism” and is a term coined three years ago with roots in Europe and some older communities less dependent on the automobile. It was out of necessity there, but now we’re finding it’s creating more of a livable environment where people don’t have to drive to get groceries, for example. Q: How do you balance the commercial needs of the city and residential quality of life? A: This is a very important gateway to our community and instead of it developing conventionally there has to be some proactive planning in order to make the decisions the community wanted a reality. The people of the city have articulated a vision of the community and the Agoura Village plan a place to go to shop and gather. Q: What is your vision for Agoura Hills? A: My vision is that we retain the high quality of life we have here and achieve balanced growth and preserve the natural resources and open space. I get up in the morning, and that’s what I think about all day. Q: What is your background? A: I have worked for a number of cities, including the city of Ventura and the city of Bellflower. I went to University of California Santa Barbara, where I received a bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s of Public Administration from Cal State University, Long Beach. Q: What is a typical day like for you? A: I try to stress providing good customer service and professional advice and recommendation to city council members and planning commissioners so they can make sound decisions. A lot of time is spent preparing reports for commission and city council meetings. My department has seven people and all are responsible for different things. Most Innovative City Planner Mike Kamino Director of Planning and Community Development City of Agoura Hills Newcomer of the Year By SHELLY GARCIA, Senior Reporter It didn’t take long for Zaya S. Younan to become a major player on the San Fernando Valley real estate investment scene. Since opening its doors two years ago, Younan Properties Inc. has acquired 22 office buildings totaling 2.5 million square feet. Last year the company delivered to investors a portfolio of seven properties totaling 962,000 square feet, some $85.8 million in acquisitions. Younan, a former engineer who helped turn around companies that were caught in the tech bubble some years ago, said he uses many of the same strategies in real estate. The company focuses on buying distressed properties that can be renovated to increase their value, leased up and sold. Last year, for example, Younan sold Lankershim Media Center, a 73,000 square foot office building in Studio City, for $14 million, realizing a 105 percent return on investment in less than 12 months. Another Studio City building, the 27,000 square foot Promark building on Cahuenga Boulevard, was sold for $4 million, a 65 percent return on investment in less than nine months, Younan said. Although Younan Properties began by focusing on the San Fernando Valley, the company has since branched out to other areas of Los Angeles, Southern California and even to Texas. One of Younan’s most recent acquisitions is the 172,000 square foot Sepulveda Center, which the company purchased for $28 million. One of the quickest turnaround for Younan came last year when the company acquired the 210,000 square foot Hitachi Plaza building in Brisbane for $23 million and sold it five days later for $25 million. As the company has grown it has added staff and upgraded its headquarters. Younan Properties recently relocated its offices to Woodland Hills, following the acquisition of Warnerview, a 62,000 square foot building at 5959 Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Purchase price? $9.8 million.