I spent some time researching various elements related to land use and development in Thousand Oaks. This is such a dense (no pun intended) topic that I think it can be really hard to understand the land use map discussion currently happening, and equally, feel really overwhelmed. And when you're overwhelmed, and you don't know what questions to ask, and you don't want to look uninformed, you hunker down to either "Camp A" or "Camp B" because it might be all you know.
So, with that in mind, I wanted to share my research. I structure out my research like I'm going to use it to create a piece, because that's how I can best structure my thoughts. I am in marketing after all. I'm always thinking: how can this be communicated more effectively? How can this dense topic be digestable? If I knew nothing, what would help me?
NOTE: This is lengthy. There is a TIME-SENSITIVE call to action, so scroll to the bottom if you don't feel like reading all of this upfront.
Let's start with a basic overview, for background purposes:
As far back as October 2019, the City of Thousand Oaks began its public campaign to encourage awareness about the General Plan Update. I know this because they were holding pop-up booths at various community events I attended.
“The General Plan is the planning and policy document that guides development, enhancement, and conservation in Thousand Oaks. Its purpose is to establish the community’s vision for how it will evolve in the years to come and to put tools in place to implement that vision. The General Plan lays out specific goals and policies that set the stage for future social, economic, and physical development of the City in support of the vision. As such, the General Plan is often referred to as the “blueprint” for the future of the community. California law requires every city and county to adopt a General Plan.”
You can keep up to date with ALL components of the General Plan — workshops, surveys, etc., on the City's TOAKS2045.org website dedicated exclusively to this issue.
In an effort to encourage participation and educate the community, the City has used social media, placed print ads in local media, held pop-up events, and hosted community workshops and open hours for the City’s residents to attend and engage in. Additionally, they created a General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC).
The GPAC is a diverse twenty-four-member committee composed of residents, business owners, educators, students, and other members of the Thousand Oaks community who will meet and collaborate to provide insight throughout the City’s General Plan Update process.
One of the components of the General Plan covers Land Use.
The City presented three alternative land use maps for consideration, known as Alternative #1, Alternative #2 and Alternative #3 in the Round 1 Survey that city members were encouraged to fill out in Feb/March of this year.
To generate community feedback, the City and its consultants took the following efforts:
• 2,500 Hard copy flyers and 200 surveys distributed.
• Hard copies of survey and briefing book were hand delivered by request.
• Four 2-hour office hours sessions.
• One virtual public workshop.
• Virtual presentation to 28 separate community organizations, non-profit organizations, businesses and business owners, citizen committees, Homeowners Associations, student organizations, residents, and other stakeholders.
• Eight email campaigns with information on how to participate and direct links to the survey.
• Paid advertisements in a local newspaper.
• Social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
• Direct emails to dozens of separate community organizations, charities, assisted living centers, and service providers.
The results: • 2127 total survey responses
So, to be clear, if someone tells you that the city is pulling a "fast one" on you. They aren't.
As a result of the first round of surveys, the City released a new “preferred” alternative land use map that is a mashup between Alternatives #1 & 3 for review, along with a new survey to garner feedback to the map.
I went ahead and started a "Did You Know" structure to help me break out chunks of information that were helpful. Information from the below is pulled from these sources:
About the T.O. Boulevard Specific Plan
Did you know that …
About the City’s Land Use Alternative Round 1 Survey Results
Did you know that …
About the City’s New Preferred Land Use Map Alternative
Did you know that …
Rancho Conejo/Borchard site (also referred to as the "Alice" property)
Did you know …
CALL TO ACTION for Monday, April 26, 6 p.m. Planning Commission Meeting
Agenda Item: 8A - General Plan Update (GPA 2019-70760) – Consideration of the Preferred Land Use Map
You may participate in the meeting by submitting your written comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (please indicate the agenda item number in the subject line). To give the Recording Secretary adequate time to provide your comments to the Commission, please submit your comments prior to 10:00 a.m. on the day of the meeting.
If you would like to speak on an agenda item, please follow the link: Click to Request to Speak or advise email@example.com or call (805) 449-2500 no later than 10:00 a.m. on the day of the meeting.
Planning Commission Members:
Nelson Buss, Chair
David Newman, Vice Chair
Don Lanson, Commissioner
Justin Link, Commissioner
Sharon McMahon, Commissioner
Here's the beginning of the letter I emailed the Planning Commission this evening:
Good Evening Members of the Planning Commission,I appreciate your time in reading my written comment — I know you must be inundated with emails related to the current land use planning as part of the General Plan. Your work and consideration is appreciated.
I’m writing to you to express my support for ensuring two key points:
1. Please recommend that any approved land use map respect the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan that was approved by the council first in 2011. It is to my understanding that members of the Business Improvement District have been paying tax assessments for a decade now, as part of this council-approved plan. Any new map approved must first and foremost, honor the guidelines of this plan, and also — not pit BID members against one another by allotting members varying degrees of density build. This does not foster a neighborly environment.
2. Please zone the Rancho Conejo “Alice” property for mixed-use residential. Split zoning, or residential zoning only, does not meet the needs of our community. As the last largest parcel of undeveloped land, this site was designated as an opportunity site for a reason. Reasonable development that helps revitalize the community, bring in additional tax revenue, and provide varying types of housing for members of our community at all levels of income, is so critical. We cannot afford to waste this space.
I used the rest of the letter to share some personal stories related to my decision-making.