From the Thousand Oaks Acorn:
Boulevard ad hoc committee gets down to business
By Anna Bitong
City leaders began discussions about how to jump-start the revitalization of Thousand Oaks Boulevard this week.
One idea: to allow more onstreet parking along the thoroughfare.
Councilmember Andy Fox presented the idea June 22 at City Hall during the first meeting of an ad hoc committee formed to help guide the redevelopment of the boulevard according to the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan, adopted by the council in 2011.
Also at the meeting: Councilmember Al Adam, City Manager Scott Mitnick, Community Development Director John Prescott, Economic Development Manager Haider Alawami and City Attorney Tracy Noonan.
Fox asked the committee to observe what other cities have done to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown and how they manage traffic. A goal of the specific plan is to create a thriving downtown with mixed use that encourages people to walk, shop and eat at businesses along the boulevard.
“We want a neighborhood feel right on the 50-yard line, across from the Civic Arts Plaza,” Fox said, adding, “The misnomer was this (downtown) was going to be three miles of the boulevard, and that’s clearly not what’s going to happen.”
Parking on the boulevard
Fox said creating more parking spaces along the boulevard, not parking structures, would attract new restaurants and encourage night activity. He asked for a staff report with parking options that the council can consider.
“Common sense dictates we probably can allow on-street parking because there’s nobody parking on the boulevard,” he said. “(That) lends itself to more restaurants and the kinds of uses that we think will complement mixed-use.
“I’ve heard anecdotally, ‘We’d like to open up a restaurant, but parking requirements don’t allow for it because there’s no on-street parking. So instead, I’m going to do a dry cleaner.’ We don’t need that.”
“From my dealing with business owners and property owners, they’re looking for that additional few (parking) spaces to make a restaurant project work,” he said.
At a future meeting, the committee will review a parking management plan for the boulevard from San Luis Obispo-based RRM Design Group. The Thousand Oaks Boulevard Business Improvement District commissioned the study.
Housing on the boulevard
Mitnick said the zoning on the boulevard—which currently allows construction of about 200 additional housing units—does not allow “the notion of having wall-towall housing.”
Upcoming housing projects may include one proposed by Beverly Hills-based developer Cambra Realty, which revised its plans to build mixed use on a vacant lot at Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Hodencamp Road, Prescott said.
The developer, which has submitted a pre-application, wants to build a mixed-use complex and a medical office building. It’s now also asking to build an assisted-living facility instead of a previously proposed stand-alone residential building.
“That was due to concerns whether they’d be able to get the Measure E (housing) allocation, because there are not that many units available for the boulevard,” Prescott said.
The developer has not yet filed an application, he said.
“(They are) waiting for more feedback from staff,” Prescott said. “We want to make sure whatever we say and do is consistent with the thinking of the committee.”
Construction has yet to begin on a 36-unit apartment project behind Instrumental Music and a 26-unit townhouse project on Clay Court, south of the boulevard.
Such units are in high demand, Prescott said.
“We had an extremely low residential growth rate in Thousand Oaks,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in residential projects and not too many places to put those. The boulevard is attractive to residential developers.”