From the Camarillo Acorn: By Stephanie Guzman

The Camarillo City Council unanimously adopted the updated community design element of the General Plan, a report which uses detailed descriptions and pictures to show developers how city projects, such as buildings and roadways, should look. The plan was approved during the council meeting on June 27. Bob Burrow, the city’s director of community development, said the community design element was last updated in 1984.

“We feel this iteration is better as far as photos and details,” said Burrow. “It tries to capture the character of the community in terms of buildings, landscaping, scenic corridors and signage.”

The scenic highways element was folded into the updated community design element, which was designed by RRM Design Group, a San Luis Obispo-based team of architects, engineers, landscape architects and planners.

Several community members spoke during the public hearing section and expressed concerns over changes the council made after the planning commission’s draft.

The document was passed through a citizens advisory board, the planniEng commission and a City Council study session.

The Camarillo Sustainable Growth Group, which is concerned about development that encroaches on agricultural land, published an ad in the Camarillo Acorn on June 22 to point out that the council took out agriculture and open space as a land use in the document.

“There are 1,200 acres of prime agriculture land that makes up 15 percent of our total land use in Camarillo,” said Louise Roberts, a Camarillo resident and member of the ad hoc sustainable growth group. “It’s a larger percentage than Old Town. It’s mentioned a bunch of times throughout the document but not as a land use.”

Councilmember Don Waunch said the document is merely a guideline for anyone who may develop property in the future, not a bill for all agriculture land in Camarillo to be developed.

“We don’t design open space, and we don’t design agriculture,” Waunch said.

Waunch told residents that if a farmer wants to sell his or her land, the city can’t stop the farmer from selling to developers and that all projects will continue to go through the review and planning processes required by the state and city.

Councilmember Mike Morgan reminded the public that the state pressures cities to build more housing.

“We fought all these years to protect (agriculture), but it’s tough to do it,” said Morgan, who mentioned a state mandate that requires the city to build 2,400 housing units between 2014 and 2021. “It’s going to be tough to meet that number, but you have to provide land uses to accommodate that.”

Burrow said the community design element is not the land use element, the open space element or the Camarillo Urban Restriction Boundary element and does not need to repeat what is in the other documents.

“The council wanted to stay focused on the design, such as landscaping and grading and all those things that give guidance for projects,” Burrow said.