Keep Cornerstone’s feet to the fire


A March 13 trial date is fast approaching for Cornerstone, the first major commercial and residential real estate development planned for the Agoura Village zone.

The 8- acre, 116,000- square- foot Cornerstone project calls for the construction of seven new buildings on a scenic knoll at the doorstep of the Santa Monica Mountains. There, at the intersection of Agoura and Cornell roads, will be shops, restaurants, offices and homes. It’s the first major step toward giving Agoura Hills the one thing it has always longed for: an identifiable town center (more than just a Vons or Ralphs) that gives the city heart.

Cornerstone has divided the community ever since it came off the drawing board, and is arguably the most controversial development in the city’s 36-year history. The City Council’s vote to approve the project was 3-2 and, to this day, strong arguments can be made both for and against it.

In a way, the development represents all that is good and bad about growth in Agoura Hills: There will be exciting new opportunities for consumers and business owners but also more traffic and congestion, not to mention the continued erosion of the hills and open spaces that have long been the city’s calling card. Once those are gone they can never come back.

Opponents are nothing if not livid. Their lawsuit being heard in court next Tuesday alleges the project relies on a flawed and outdated environmental study, violates the city’s density allowances and, last but not least, leads to the removal of more than two dozen oak trees.

We stand by our opinion that the city is on the right track with Agoura Village in general. It’s not just another conglomeration of stores, and certainly no San Fernando Valley strip mall, but a tastefully planned commercial setting in the beautiful Santa Monica foothills where dining, entertainment and shopping merge with residential living. It’s an eclectic new concept that gives Agoura Hills the true town center it deserves.

All California cities—not just Agoura— are required by law to give landowners and developers a fair shake when they wish to build on their property. That means as long as a development meets general plan, specific plan and other zoning guidelines (no fudging here), it should not be denied.

Cornerstone should not be denied.

All the opponents are asking is that it plays by the rules.

We hope well-intentioned organizations like STACK (Save The Agoura Cornell Knoll) keep everyone’s feet to the fire, and that when the lawsuits are over and the construction dust settles, the residents of Agoura Hills will have something they can truly be proud of.

We’re counting on it.