Once again the three pro-development members of the Calabasas City Council voted 3-2 on Feb. 14 to redevelop the two-story office building on the Raznick property at 23480 Park Sorrento into another four-story building with 42 apartments for seniors age 55 and older plus a 1,620-square-foot retail building.
This is next door to the looming Avanti with its multiple four-story buildings on Park Sorrento.
Unfortunately, staff gave a one-sided, 1½-hour presentation promoting the development, ignoring the concerns of business owners and local residents objecting to this project.
The staff report confirmed that the area would be at least 373 parking spaces deficient, but described this as an improvement.
They also didn’t mention that winter rainstorms would easily overwhelm the project’s drainage features designed to protect McCoy Creek.
Many local businesses and thousands of residents came out against this project because of density, increased traffic and lack of parking, including the 2,800-member Calabasas Park Homeowners Association.
The issue, once again, is the same as it was for the Canyon Oaks project when this same pro-development majority of the City Council failed to listen to Calabasas residents.
For Canyon Oaks, this resulted in the “No on F” effort where volunteer residents collected the approximately 1,600 signatures needed to put the Canyon Oaks project on the ballot.
The result? Voters rejected the project by an almost 2 to 1 margin.
We have never asked for anything other than that the City Council “listen to the people.”
City Council members James Bozajian and Mary Sue Maurer chose to listen and voted against this project. They are commended for representing their constituents.
There is an election coming in November of this year for City Council. I suspect there will be a reckoning for City Council members who continue to ignore the will of the people.
Perhaps some thought needs to be given to that, too.
The Calabasas approach to development doesn’t make sense or serve its residents well.
Several years ago, the Calabasas mayor invited developers to bring hotel and car dealership projects to the city.
The city is putting up $4 million of public funds into building a parking lot for the Rondell Oasis Hotel on Las Virgenes Road.
The Raznick project on Park Sorrento is too high and too dense but creates senior housing. Calabasas could use some.
Was the Rondell hotel developer encouraged to build senior housing? That’s a potential use with a zoning change, but it’s within 500 feet of the 101 Freeway where 40 toxic pollutants known to the State of California concentrate, so that’s a problem for seniors.
Yet, there’s a development proposal for a Montessori daycare at the former Coco’s site, serving young children—also “sensitive receptors”—and it’s within 100 feet of the 101 Freeway.
I spent the better part of 2016 collecting petition signatures with a group of volunteer citizens, fighting a deep-pocketed developer. We beat that developer at the ballot box by an almost 2-1 margin and in every precinct of the city.
We said “No on F” and 4,827 Calabasas voters agreed. We gave the people a say in the matter. They said no to ripping down our hillsides, destroying our natural resources and bulldozing open space. They want responsible development.
The city’s General Plan is supposed to be the blueprint for development. Yet it’s often amended and misinterpreted to allow for exactly the opposite of what the Calabasas citizens want.
The city’s own survey confirms what the citizens want. It’s in the General Plan open space element, the hillsides development and urban design standards of the development code, and in Measure D that gives the voters final say in open space rezoning.
Next election, voters should support council members who protect the voters’ interests.