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Ventura Ranch farmworker housing project moves forward in approval process

The software for the 328-unit Ventura Ranch Housing Project on an 82.9-acre unincorporated web site north of Ventura was deemed full as of Wednesday, shifting it forward in a prolonged approval process.

The project at 4884 N. Ventura Ave. would assemble a posh with 18 three-story residential buildings consisting of one-, two-, and three-bedroom flats for farmworkers and their households. The web site will even have a neighborhood middle and 585 parking areas.

Ventura County’s Planning Division stated {that a} full software implies that the county “has the required data crucial to guage the project for environmental impacts and for consistency with the (county’s) General Plan and relevant ordinances.”

The software was resubmitted final month after three previous attempts were deemed incomplete.

Lisa Woodburn, the civil engineer for the Ventura Ranch project, stated that the most recent replace was about offering the county with some extra clarifications. The subsequent step in the process is an environmental evaluation by way of an Environmental Impact Report or EIR.

During the environmental process, a public assembly will probably be held to debate the proposed project’s scope and any attainable environmental impacts with members of the general public. Woodburn added that the general public can ask that sure objects be included in the environmental evaluation.

Notification of the scoping assembly’s date, time, and site will probably be mailed to adjoining property house owners.

Woodburn stated that after the environmental doc is ready, it will get launched to the general public and there is time for feedback and responses to remark. Then, the project goes to the planning fee.

Residents hope their voices will probably be heard

Since the start, the project has faced opposition from the residents of Valley Vista, a neighborhood between Ventura and Ojai and subsequent to the project. They worry the project will trigger or worsen present environmental, visitors and security issues.

Sarah Swidler, a Valley Vista resident who lives on Floral Drive, began a petition in September 2023 to cease the event at “its current size and scale.” The petition has garnered greater than 1,300 signatures as of late April on the web site change.org. However, the location doesn’t checklist signer’s names and doesn’t specify the place they live.

Swidler stated it is disappointing that the county has conditionally accepted Ventura Ranch, a minimum of for consideration, “which seems wildly imprudent for the location.”

She stated the residents have been elevating their voices from the beginning as they imagine that public views should not thought of as soon as such initiatives progress additional into the planning process. However, she stays hopeful that their voices will probably be heard because the project moves to the following analysis levels.

According to the developer, main resident issues had been addressed throughout a redesign however there are limits to incorporating suggestions whereas working inside county rules.

“We’re most happy that we got a chance, even though we weren’t obligated to, to go out to the community and get feedback from them, and then successfully incorporate that into the development early, where we have that flexibility as opposed to getting to a place of completeness,” stated Alex Pratt, vp of improvement for AMCAL, the corporate constructing Ventura Ranch and a sister project Somis Ranch in Ventura County.

Fire security issues about Ventura Ranch

One of several signs hangs near the entrance to Valley Vista neighborhood north of Ventura. A proposed farmworker housing development nearby has raised concerned from current residents.One of several signs hangs near the entrance to Valley Vista neighborhood north of Ventura. A proposed farmworker housing development nearby has raised concerned from current residents.

One of a number of indicators hangs close to the doorway to Valley Vista neighborhood north of Ventura. A proposed farmworker housing improvement close by has raised involved from present residents.

Steve Bostock lives on East Bounds Road with an 8-inch wall separating his property from Ventura Ranch.

“I’m against this proposal more than anything,” Bostock stated. “I believe that the safe housing practices for farmworkers are being neglected by AMCAL. Their ethics are terrible, even thinking about putting this project 100% surrounded by very high fire hazard severity zones shows they are more for profits.”

In a earlier interview, Bostock additionally talked about that timber behind his yard fence had been on hearth in the course of the Thomas Fire, which tore by way of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in 2017. He is apprehensive about future hearth emergencies in the realm.

According to a CalFire map detailing Fire Hazard Severity Zones, the neighborhood is surrounded by “very high” severity zones. However, the company categorized 96% of rural Ventura County in “very high” fire zone final 12 months.

Another neighbor has comparable issues. Linda Bellamy lives on Floral Drive and has resided in the neighborhood for 37 years.

“We don’t even have adequate fire protection around here,” Bellamy stated. “The fire stations are like 4 miles (away) in both directions.”

How Ventura Ranch could assist farmworkers

Gabrielle Vignone, govt director for the House Farm Workers nonprofit, stated that these initiatives open up farmworker housing to folks with or with out authorized standing.

“That is very important because we do have farmworkers who do not have the legal status and still need the affordable housing,” Vignone stated.

House Farm Workers, which works to enhance reasonably priced farmworker housing in Ventura County, estimates that the county has a inhabitants of over 41,600 farmworkers.

In 1998, voters in Ventura County first accepted the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources, or SOAR, initiative, which limits city progress by requiring voter approval to designate agricultural land for different makes use of. However, the up to date model of SOAR permits agricultural employee housing complexes as a permitted land use. As such, the Ventura Ranch housing project wouldn’t require a SOAR vote, based on the county planning division.

“These are the types of developments that I think the original SOAR advocates would be OK with,” stated Maria Navarro of Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy. The Ventura nonprofit works towards social, financial and environmental justice for working class and immigrant communities.

“They’re the ones these exceptions are made for precisely — farmworkers who are working around the fields,” Navarro stated.

Dua Anjum is an investigative and watchdog reporter for the Ventura County Star. Reach her at [email protected]. This story was made attainable by a grant from the Ventura County Community Foundation’s Fund to Support Local Journalism.

This article initially appeared on Ventura County Star: Ventura Ranch housing project moves forward in approval process

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