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Friday, Aug 19, 2022
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Ahmanson

By SHELLY GARCIA Staff Reporter The controversial Ahmanson Ranch project, a $1 billion development that would sit at the eastern border of Ventura County, has hit yet another obstacle the brick wall that is known as Los Angeles. L.A. city and county officials, who have tried unsuccessfully to block the project in the past, discovered a new way to delay it. They recently won approval to postpone a decision on the removal of a group of oak trees that sit in the path of a roadway to connect the development to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Planning Commission has delayed a decision on removing the trees until Oct. 13. Some opponents of the project see the so-called “oak tree permit” as an opportunity to derail it. “There are simply no positive aspects of this project for my constituents,” Los Angeles City Councilwoman Laura Chick said in a statement. “I must support all measures which would slow or stop this project.” The development, which would include more than 3,000 homes, two golf courses and a 300-room hotel under the current plan, would be located within Ventura County, but the entrances and exits as they are now planned would run along Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Los Angeles County and Victory Boulevard in the city of L.A. The oak trees would have to be removed in order to connect Thousand Oaks Boulevard to Ahmanson Ranch. Opponents fear that the roadways, if connected to the development, would not only result in major congestion for commuters who live in Ahmanson Ranch, but would also be used by L.A. County residents as an alternative route to the Ventura (101) Freeway, increasing congestion even more. “Basically, the problem is that the project is in Ventura County but every one of its traffic impacts is in Los Angeles County or Los Angeles city,” said Ginny Kruger, assistant chief deputy to County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who, along with Chick and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Woodland Hills, supported the postponement. Although H.F. Ahmanson & Co., which was acquired by Washington Mutual late last year, has been required to pay for traffic mitigation for L.A. County and city, officials said the funding is not sufficient to solve the potential traffic problems. “We don’t have the funding to add a lane to the 101 or make a direct linkage (to the freeway),” said Kruger. “There does not seem to be a way at the present time to alleviate the impact of z traffic.” Z traffic refers to the use that the roadways would get from local travelers within Los Angeles. Officials at Washington Mutual and Ventura County said they expect no major problem from the latest snag. “We are going to meet the requests of the Planning Commission and make the changes they’ve requested, and we anticipate their approval,” said Tim McGarry, a spokesman for Washington Mutual. Ventura County officials, who estimate that the Ahmanson project will result in a cumulative tax surplus for the area of $35 million over 30 years, are also optimistic. “This is an oak tree permit. Either they’ll issue it or they won’t issue it,” said Dennis Hawkins, county senior planner. “I don’t think a delay of a few months is going to alter very much the developer’s plans.” But others said the oak tree issue could have a larger impact on the development plans. “If the permit is denied, the project would have to be re-planned or downscaled, which would be a victory,” said Vince Curtis, assistant director of Save Open Space, Santa Monica Mountains Area, an environmental group that has staunchly opposed the development. Save Our Space currently has three lawsuits pending against the development, contesting issues ranging from water rights to potential contamination issues from a nearby Rocketdyne facility, said Rosemary Woodlock, an attorney for the group. Among other things, the group is asking for additional environmental studies on the land.

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