It’s slow and go for Agoura Village

City wants attractive new town center, but residents are pushing back

After more than a decade on the drawing table, the Agoura Village plan is coming into focus, but not all residents are liking what they see.

Issues surrounding the proposed retail and residential development that will give Agoura Hills a new town center continue to plague the City Council, including questions about increased traffic in an already congested part of town, what to do about the relocation of many old oak trees in the area, and how to deal with other aspects of a building footprint that nudges the sensitive Santa Monica Mountains.

Agoura Village is positioned on Agoura Road east and west of Kanan Road.

Plans call for a pedestrian- friendly design that mixes retail, office and residential real estate in a setting that respects both the urban and rural roots of the area.

But in a city that bills itself as the “gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains,” the challenges are daunting.

At an Aug. 23 council meeting, a proposal to build a bridge that shuffles pedestrians over the top of Kanan Road came under attack.

“I was going to fight for the bridge, but clearly it is not wanted,” Councilmember Illece Buckley Weber said.

The intersection at Kanan and Agoura roads is already a nightmarish scene, former mayor Louise Rishoff told the City Council, and a bridge might exacerbate the problem.

“Agoura Village has a lot of people scared to death,” Rishoff said. Some feared the bridge could block the view of city’s famous landmark, Ladyface Mountain.

Cornell resident Steve Hess, a longtime environmental watchdog in the area, asked to see 3-D models of the development, bridge and other projects coming down the pike, including an L.A. Fitness club and a hotel.

Ted Snyder, a developer who owns property in the village area, said sidewalks need to be configured to keep pedestrians away from the edge of the street. He also didn’t like the bridge.

Jess Thomas, president of the Old Agoura Homeowners Association, isn’t happy with the plan on many fronts.

As a member of many committees in the planning stages of Agoura Village, Thomas said the Cornerstone Development, the first major business and residential component of the village at the corner of Agoura and Cornell roads, does not follow the “contours of the land,” a requirement of the Agoura Village Specific Plan which governs the village development.

Cyrena Nouzille, owner of Ladyface Ale Companie, said she thought the city was done “tearing up” Agoura Road, referring to the city’s $19-million road widening project that was completed one year ago.

“Why didn’t we do it right the first time?” the restaurant owner asked.

Former Mayor Joan Yacovone worried that the Agoura Village development will place oak trees in harm’s way.

“We have to honor the oak trees,” Yacovone said. “For you to not use creative design to save the oak trees is an affront to the city.”

Six majestic oaks and 15 smaller oak trees are slated to be moved when the Cornerstone development gets underway, Buckley Weber said.