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West Village at Calabasas Lawsuit Update - September 2023
If you are following the lawsuit the City of Calabasas has been fighting for more than 2 years, or if you read the September 8th Acorn, you know our community's fight to save the hillsides and protect open space is in peril!
You will recall the West Village project, at Las Virgenes Road and Agoura Road, was publicly opposed by the community and experts in fire risk assessment and environmental protection.
Important organizations that opposed the project on the record include the Sierra Club, the California Native Plant Society, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Save Open Space. Additional comment letters with objections were submitted from the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy, Heal the Bay and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. All of their comments are part of the public record.
Our community and City Council was clear about the concerns and environmental impacts from the proposed project and it was voted down by the City Council 5-0 in May 2021.
A preliminary ruling has been issued in the lawsuit brought after by the developer. The Court chose to consider only certain experts and completely ignored other experts. In particular, comments from the Center for Biological Diversity, from Dr. Tiffany Yap, and CBD attorneys J.P. Rose and Peter Broderick, authors of the "Built to Burn" report, on the issue of increased fire risk, ignoring the reality of a "very high fire threat" in our City.
If the West Village at Calabasas project is built, all of these facts will be our reality.
Increased Fire Risk impacts:
- Adds 495 new residents - potential sources of fire ignition. Per CalFire, 95% of wildfire ignition sources are human activity.
- Residential buildings sited in a fire-prone canyon that burned as recently as 5 years ago.
- One-way out egress onto a major emergency vehicle route that is also a major evacuation route for all existing residents in Calabasas, heavily-trafficked and gridlocked during all emergency events in the area in the past 5 years.
Detrimental Environmental impacts:
- Massive grading of 2.6 million cubic yards of dirt (no development in Calabasas has required this much earth movement).
- Bulldozing of 20 acres of open space, converting them to manufactured slopes, which is a loss of open space, and building permanent concrete ditches on the slopes.
- Burying of existing natural springs and wetlands used by wildlife.
- Reduction of Wildlife Corridor by 25% (1/4 mile).
- Removal of heritage oaks.
The ruling is not final yet. The City and Community MUST continue our commitment to oppose this project. We MUST appeal any ruling in favor of the developer's proposed project.
Contact the City Council and voice your opinion!
Let our City Council know you support continuing to fight for our hillsides, open space and public safety by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Appeal West Village Ruling” in the subject line.
Speak at City Council Meetings Anytime:
Speak at a City Council meeting either in-person or by Zoom. Meetings are the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. If a public hearing is put on a council agenda, you can speak on it directly when it comes before the council. When it's not on the agenda you can speak at any meeting during Oral Communications - Public Comment to make your voice heard.
Let’s keep Calabasas the beautiful city we all love.
Update on Story Poles for Commons Expansion from City Council vote - August 2023
At the August 9th City Council meeting, the council voted 4 to 1 to allow the developer at the Commons to move forward with a hybrid story pole plan. The developer would put up small amount of story poles, the minimum they possible could, and they would provide a virtual app to view the proposed changes virtually. We are of the opinion that there is no better way to show the community the true height and mass of a development than with story poles.
We have posted two of the few story poles so the community has a visual and context on what these are. We are not aware of the virtual app activation and will continue monitor and provide updates.
Story Poles for Commons Expansion on Council Agenda - August 2023
The City Council agenda for the August 9th meeting includes an item on story poles and The Commons expansion.
The developer is appealing a decision by the Planning Commission from early July. The Planning Commission determined that the developer install story poles that would show the height and mass of new buildings proposed. We are eager to hear the basis for their appeal.
The story pole policy allows for crucial transparency for the Community to visualize the impact of a development. We plan to attend this meeting and make public comment in support of story poles, for the Commons expansion and all development in Calabasas.
Share your thoughts with the City Council. You may send an email to email@example.com, request it be delivered to all Councilmembers. You can also speak at the City Council Meeting.
Removal of Sitting Planning Commissioner, Disturbing Times for our Community - August 2023
While the City Council was dark in July (no official meetings) and several Council members were on vacation, Commissioner Greg Byrne’s appointment to the Planning Commission was abruptly rescinded by a councilmember by whom he was appointed, without any prior warning. A rule exists whereby a councilmember who appoints a commissioner can unilaterally dismiss that commissioner without involving the City Council. This is disturbing and we recommend this rule be changed.
Members of The Calabasas Coalition filed an official public records request on this matter to the City Clerk. We were given some communications, but were informed that certain information cannot be given due to legal privilege. What we reviewed was alarming and showed the actions of a new and inexperienced Councilmember who took no direct measures to address any issues with a valued Planning Commissioner prior to removing him. The communications we reviewed makes statements that are unsupported by facts and offer no reasonable explanation. The result of this action is that our city has lost an impartial, knowledgeable Planning Commissioner.
When any Councilmember dismisses a commissioner they appointed, one naturally must wonder why this abrupt action was taken. Commissioner Byrne is a highly qualified geological engineer who is well-respected in the community and in his industry. He was thorough in preparing for meetings, asked questions directly related to the topic at hand, and made relevant comments during discussions. His expertise and experience will be very hard to replace.
We are speaking out and requesting rules related to commissioner removals be changed. We’re requesting that new rules require the matter be heard at a public hearing, and the decision to remove require a majority vote of the City Council.
We continue to unequivocally support transparency and reject hidden motives in Calabasas. If transparency in City government is important to you, we ask that you share your thoughts with the City Council. You may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, request it be delivered to all Councilmembers. You can also speak at any City Council Meeting, on any item during the designated “items not appearing on the agenda” time period at the beginning of each meeting. Calabasas is our home. The community must continue to have a say in City government making sure our voices are heard.
UPDATE on Local Control Issues - June 2023
On June 7, 2023 the City sent a letter to the developer looking to avoid public meetings with a response to their request to avoid public meetings. The letter contained the following statements:
After completing its review of the arguments made in your March 13th and May 15th letter, the City has concluded that the Project is subject to discretionary review, including review under CEQA, because it does not meet the standards to qualify for ministerial processing under Government Code section 65583.2 and the City's 6th Cycle 2021-2029 Housing Element Update.
The City will continue to work diligently to process the Project application through the public hearing and community vetting process, including assessing and applying the City's applicable standards contained in the City's 6th Cycle 2021-2029 Housing Element Update, the Calabasas Municipal Code, and applicable state laws. The City appreciates the opportunity for early dialogue regarding the Project and the City's Community Development Department staff will be in contact with your client regarding next steps for the Project`s application process.
Our City Council is supporting the position that developers must follow the process. We applaud that.
On June 21st., a full house of community members attended the City Council meeting and many spoke off the agenda on the matter of local control and responsible development. It was inspiring to see so many sharing their voice.
What will Calabasas look like if developers can avoid our community input? - June 2023
If developers are allowed to eliminate public hearings and get permits to build without City Council approval you will see bigger, taller buildings with more traffic and congestion. Calabasas will be forever changed, and not for the better.
Currently there is a developer proposing to build a 5-story, 107 unit apartment complex on our Civic Center parking lot. They are requesting to proceed with their project without public hearings before the Planning Commission or City Council. This means our city officials will have no say on this large development in our City and neither will you!
Whether you are for or against this development it doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is our voices will be silenced along with the voices of the Planning Commission and the City Council. This sets a dangerous precedent by allowing developments to proceed without any local control.
What can you do?
Contact the City Council, voice your opinion:
Send an email today to email@example.com and tell them you support LOCAL CONTROL of development in our City. Developers must be required to follow established rules and ordinances to build in our community.
Attend the upcoming City Council Meeting:
On Wednesday June 21st, plan to attend the City Council meeting in person at 7:00pm at City Hall. We are planning to have key people speak during open Public Comment. You can speak or just be there to show support the issue. If you unable to go to the meeting, you can attend by zoom. Click here for the Zoom the link: Link for Zoom Login
Send Comments to City Council
Note in Subject Line: I Support Local Control
Local Control of Over Future Development is at Stake - June 2023
State laws are becoming extremely pro-development giving developers generous concessions and speeding up the approval process by eliminating public involvement. As a result, lawyers for the developer who is proposing to build on the City Hall parking lot have recently sent two letters to the City of Calabasas stating that public hearings for this project are no longer required. If allowed by the City of Calabasas this would set a precedent that takes away local control over the future of our city.
The City Hall parking lot currently serves as parking for the Calabasas Civic Center which includes visitors and employees of City Hall, the Library, Senior Center and Founders Hall. A developer, Cruzan, is proposing to build a large 5-story structure on the parking lot called the Park Apartments. It will loom over City Hall having 1,600 sq. ft. of commercial space and 107 residential units, 21 of which will be designated affordable. The project would reduce the 126 existing parking spaces available to the public to approximately a dozen spaces. This is not enough parking for the Civic Center and it will be the end of the Civic Center as we know it.
If the developers request is allowed, public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council for public input would not be held. Permits for the project would be obtained straight from the Planning Department with no transparency and public review.
Please contact the City Council and urge them to not allow Cruzan to bypass our local laws that ensure public participation in the development process and to follow the process in place now for new and re-development in our City.
May 30th - Free Community Meeting - May 2023
Roundabout Planned - There are community concerns - April 2023
Calabasas 2023 Emergency Operations Plan - March 2023
Community Input Now Being Accepted for the Calabasas 2023 Emergency Operations Plan
The City of Calabasas is seeking input on the Calabasas 2023 Emergency Operations Plan. Public review of the draft plan is available now, and comments accepted only until Thursday March 16, 2023. You can review the 2-part plan here: Calabasas Emergency Operations Plan information page
Upcoming Community Meeting
There is a public meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 9th at 6pm. You can join via Zoom to provide feedback and get more information on the progress of this effort. Zoom link can be found at bottom of information page: Click here.
Join Your Community in this informative in person event!
Missed the in person event? Click here to watch the event: Environmental Commission Public Forum - February 23, 2023
Congratulations to the Newly Elected Councilmembers - December 2022
We congratulate Councilmember James R. Bozajian and Mayor Pro Tem David J. Shapiro on their successful re-election campaigns. We also send our congratulations to Edward Albrecht, the newest City Councilmember who won the seat vacated by outgoing Mayor Mary Sue Maurer.
This campaign included five candidates and we salute Monica Parmar and Brian Cameron, who ran excellent campaigns. The overall results were very close. View results here: LA County Vote Results
City Council Race, Vote Verified - December 2022
Calabasas City Councilmembers James R. Bozajian and David J. Shapiro have been re-elected to their Council posts, and Edward Albrecht will join them after winning a seat vacated by Mary Sue Maurer. The Calabasas City Council will certify the results at its December 14th Special Reorganization meeting at 7:00pm in Calabasas City Hall, at which time all the election winners will be sworn-in for their 4-year terms.
The Calabasas Coalition City Council Endorsements - October 2022
This November there are three Calabasas City Council open seats and we proudly endorse:
- Public Safety Commissioner - Ed Albrecht - edalbrecht2022.com
- Councilmember - James Bozajian - jamesbozajian.com
- Mayor pro Tem - David Shapiro - shapiroforcalabasas.com
All three have a distinguished record of service to the City of Calabasas.
Remember to Vote on November 8th.
All Residents Welcome - Greater Mulwood Candidate Forum - September 2022
City Council Candidate Forum hosted by the Greater Mulwood Homeowners Association. Candidates for City Council will answer your questions.
September 29, 2022 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm
The Calabasas Coalition City Council Endorsements - September 2022
For the upcoming Calabasas City Council elections there are three open seats. The Calabasas Coalition endorses three candidates:
- Public Safety Commissioner - Ed Albrecht
- Councilmember - James Bozajian
- Mayor pro Tem - David Shapiro:
All three have a distinguished record of service to the City of Calabasas.
Remember to Vote on November 8th.
Open to All City Council Candidates Forum - September 2022
Agoura Hills Calabasas Community Center Seeking Roof Proposals - August 2022
The project to replace the roof of the Agoura Hills Calabasas Community Center is in process. The City of Calabasas is now seeking proposals for qualified service professionals. Proposal information and details of the project are available here: AHCCC Roof Replacement RFP
This is an important step in moving the project forward to re-open the Community Center. We will post updates as they occur.
Below is the City's contact for additional information:
Erica Green - firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning Commission Meets on Traffic and Safety Elements in General Plan - July 2022
Updates to the Traffic/Circulation and Safety Elements in the General Plan will be discussed at this Thursday's Planning Commission Meeting. Traffic and safety/disaster preparedness are issues that directly affect all of us.
This meeting provides an opportunity for the community to see what is being proposed since the Woolsey Fire to safeguard us regarding evacuation routes, wildfire preparedness and more. The meeting will be on Zoom. Below is the login information:
Click here for Meeting Agenda and Zoom Link
Thursday, June 21st - 6:00pm
Webinar ID: 850 2262 8903
Our Endorsement of Senator Henry Stern for the LA County Board of Supervisors - April 2022
We believe Senator Stern is the best candidate for the LA County Board of Supervisors. He is a champion of the environment and understands how to balance solutions to problems while protecting our precious natural resources. His common-sense approach to issues facing LA County is refreshing just what we need right now.
Visit Senator Stern's website and review his experience, his position on the issues and the impressive list of endorsements he has accumulated: Stern for Supervisor - Los Angeles
Recently Concluded - Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Strategic Planning Survey - March 2022
Thank you to all community members who took the time to fill out the City's Strategic Planning Survey. We will post any updates or new information on its outcome when it becomes available
Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Strategic Planning Survey - March 2022
The City's survey on the 2022-23 Strategic Priorities Work Plan and associated projects is open for public input. This is an opportunity for our community to share what they feel is important for the City, and where to focus to help improve services in Calabasas.
City of Calabasas 2022-23 Strategic Priorities Work Plan Actions - February 2022
In January the City Council began the process of establishing long-term priorities for the City. For each priority there will subsequently be projects with specific and measurable goals. This is an opportunity for the City Council and staff to work with community stakeholders to define the current and future needs of Calabasas.
These six priorities were chosen. They are - - in no particular order - (1) Environmental Leadership (2) Fiscal Resiliency (3) Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (4) Recreation, Youth, and Senior Services (5) Organizational Excellence and (6) Development and Infrastructure.
At City Council meetings following release of work plan actions, the City Council created a priority list of 30 individual actions. Next steps to refine the list further, include public input via an online survey.
LA County Redistricting Update - December 2021
LA County Redistricting Map was adopted. Our community was kept together with our surrounding cities creating an acceptable district. View the map and related information here: LA County District Maps
The state and congressional redistricting process is still ongoing. Communities like Calabasas and our surrounding communities have similar needs and interests and are best served together by single representation. Review the details and express your opinions here: We Draw the Lines.
Why Redistricting Matters for our Community - November 2021
Redistricting is currently in process and it determines our representation at the state and national level.
We believe that Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village and Malibu should be kept together when boundaries are drawn. Our common interests are served by the same LA County Sheriff’s station and Fire Department. We are all located at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and we all live with the threat of wildfire.
We urge the community to get informed and send a letter to the decision makers today. These points should be brought to the attention of those making decisions as this process is only modified every ten years. The links below provide up to date information and show you where you can write to share your opinions on what's right for our communities:
Redistricting - Discussions in Progress - What You Should Know - October 2021
Every ten years, elected representatives in local, state and federal office have their boundary lines redrawn to reflect shifts in population. This process is known as redistricting. Sometimes, political boundaries are left almost untouched and in other redistricting years they can change dramatically.
The Calabasas City Council has been very proactive in making sure that the five cities that make up the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments (Calabasas, Malibu, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills and Westlake Village) remain together in the same legislative districts. These cities share common interests and when combined, equal roughly 100,000 residents. Furthermore, the COG cities are all served by the same County Sheriff's station, the same fire department, and each is located at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The five COG cities routinely work together to deal with the threat of wildfire and most of these cities are in designated Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones.
The five COG cities ARE represented by the same State Senator and the same County Supervisor and we strongly urge the Redistricting Commission to follow this concept and put all five cities in the same Assembly and Congressional Districts as well.
As a resident in this area, it is time for you to speak up and get involved in the process. The Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission (LACCRC) and the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) are always looking for public input to help draw political boundaries and so often hear only from the largest and most powerful interests.
One distinct area should be represented by one distinct voice - whether that voice is in the halls of Congress, in Sacramento or downtown LA.
Workshop: Discussion of California State Senate Bills SB 9 & SB 10 - October 2021
The City is holding a workshop for the community to learn more and ask questions. We encourage our community to get informed of these new laws, details below:
SB 9 & 10 Signed by Governor, Becomes Law on January 1, 2022 - September 2021
A brief review of the bills:
SB 9 - requires the city to approve single-family lots to be sub-divided into two lots and then permits two residential units to be built on each lot. This potentially quadruples the density on each lot now zoned single-family.
SB 10 - allows for up-zoning of lots for multi-family housing if it is a ‘transit-rich area”. This is a concern for properties along major thoroughfares like Las Virgenes Road or Calabasas Road.
In addition, the City Attorney has prepared a memorandum with further information regarding SB 9 and SB 10. Review the City Memorandum here: Public Memo re Proposed Housing Legislation: SB 9, SB 10
Proposed State Legislation Threatens Our Neighborhoods - July 2021
There are two California state proposed bills coming up for a vote in the California Assembly in the next month that will re-write land use rules and drastically change what our neighborhoods will look like. Learn more below:
SB 9 – This bill would eliminate single-family zoning in our local cities. Owners of lots zoned for single-family use could split their lots in two and then build two units on each lot. Imagine 4 residential units crammed on the lot right next door to you!
SB 10 – This bill would allow cities, among other things, to zone any parcel of land for up to 10 units of housing if the surrounding area is mostly built out with other types of development.
With these proposed bills the State would allow development that supersedes local ordinances and eliminate local control. These bills, among the many concerns, permit increased density in residential neighborhoods, zoned as single family. This affects quality of life for so many and there is not even a requirement to contribute to affordable housing. Developers support these bills because they increase their bottom line and give them free reign to build without regard to how neighborhoods will be affected. These are the points we are focusing on and encourage you to bring to the attention of your elect representatives:
• Increased neighborhood congestion:
- Changing single-family residential neighborhoods to multi-family with no oversight
- Adding more traffic to already overcrowded streets and highways
- Increasing units per lot, regardless of local zoning
- Includes no requirement for additional parking space for increased housing
- HOA's are not protected in SB9, they are in SB10, but amendments can be applied.
• Increase demand for resources:
- Increase in students in our schools. Has our school districts been engaged to determine if more students can be accommodated?
- Increase in water usage. Has the on-going drought been considered?
- We live in a Very High Fire Severity Zone and evacuation routes are already limited. How has fire safety been addressed?
Legislation with a one-size fits all plan does not work for all cities.
Your voice matters!
Jesse Gabriel - Assemblymember District 45
Calabasas, West San Fernando Valley
Online Contact Link
Richard Bloom - Assemblymember District 50
Agoura, Malibu, Santa Monica
Jacqui Irwin - Assemblymember District 44
Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks
Online Contact Link
Henry Stern – State Senator District 27
Calabasas, Agoura, Malibu, Westlake Village, West San Fernando Valley
Ben Allen – State Senator District 26
Santa Monica, beach cities
Online Contact Link
Please know this is not just an issue that concerns residents. These local organizations also oppose these bills.
League of California Cities
California Contract Cities Association
Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments
City of Calabasas
There are others throughout the state who oppose as well.
West Village Update - June 2021
The New Home Company has filed a lawsuit against the City of Calabasas. This is unfortunate but not unexpected.
Our understanding is the next step is the City will respond to the lawsuit. We will add updates as they are available.
West Village Proposal Denied - May 2021
At the May 17th Public Hearing on the West Village proposal, all five City Councilmembers voted NOT to approve the proposal. Thank you to our community for your efforts and courage to speak up about your concerns. Getting involved makes a difference.
Planning Commission - Update on Story Pole Policy - March 2021
Thank you to everyone who took the time to write about the proposed changes to the Story Pole Procedures. Mention was made more than once that many letters and emails were received. Your voice was heard!
After listening to a staff presentation and having a robust discussion the Commissioners voted 4-1 to pass their recommendations along to the City Council. The main points are as follows:
(1) Orange netting will now be used to show rooflines and the mass of a proposed project. If orange netting is not practical, then orange flags or ribbons will be used. Thank you, Commissioner Harrison, for suggesting this be part of the process.
(2) There will be signage at all sites depicting what is being proposed.
(3) The decision-making will continue to be shared by the Community Development Director and the Planning Commission as before.
(4) The clause about considering excessive financial expense of putting up story poles as a reason to get a waiver remains. Commissioner Lia strongly objected, but the clause remains in the policy.
The City Council will hold a public hearing to consider the amended Story Pole Procedures. Public comments and correspondence will become part of the record. Date yet to be announced.
City Hall Proposed Parking Lot Community Development Forum - September 2020
On September 14th the owners of the parking lot by City Hall held a community forum to get input from residents regarding early-stage plans to build apartments and retail on the site. No application for this development has been filed with the City at this point.
The overwhelming concern of those who spoke revolved around increased traffic on a two-lane street and loss of parking spaces for City Hall, Library and Senior Center patrons. The developer said he would take all the comments into consideration as they move forward. We will keep you informed if and/or when this proposal reaches the next stage in the process.
Salsa and Beer Mexican Restaurant Approved for the Former Coco's Location - May 2020
We are pleased to inform you that the Calabasas Planning Commission unanimously approved a Conditional Use Permit for the Salsa and Beer Mexican Restaurant at the former Coco’s location on Las Virgenes Road.
The site has been vacant for several years and had been considered for a preschool. The Calabasas Coalition strongly opposed this use because it borders the 101 freeway. It included an outdoor playground, located adjacent to the 101 freeway southbound on-ramp, where young children would be exposed to toxic exhaust from the vehicles. In 2018, the City Council issued a rare “Call for a Review” which resulted in the City Council voting against the project. The only City Council member voting for the preschool at the location was Councilmember Fred Gaines. He spoke extensively about why the City Council should approve this project. His arguments failed.
We are very pleased that a suitable business for the location has come to our community and we look forward to the opening of this new restaurant. It will bring needed revenue to the City and be an excellent addition to the Las Virgenes Corridor.
Avalon Affordable Housing Subsidy extended to 9/30/20 - April 2020
The Los Angeles County Development Authority, through its Emergency Preservation and Tenant Assistance Program, has extended payments for the 80 families in the affordable housing units at the Avalon Calabasas apartments.
In addition, the County can also provide one-time moving assistance payments of $1,200 for those 80 families who choose to move out between March 2020 and June 2021. This provides some time to investigate sources of funding for a more permanent solution to the affordable housing needs of Calabasas.
It’s a step in the right direction. Many thanks to all, including the Calabasas City Council and the LA County Board of Supervisors, for their efforts.
The Calabasas Coalition and No on N Protect Calabasas support those efforts.
Measure N Fails - March 2020
Our Community made it clear that Measure N was wrong for Calabasas. Thank you to all who voted and volunteered to help our effort prevail. Final Results obtained from LA Vote:
Calabasas Measure N
The Calabasas Coalition works to inform our community on development and redevelopment projects that will have significant impact on our community. We highlight concerns and provide information on how to express individual views within the City's review and approval process.
The voice of our community is significant! Follow the important issues here and feel free to contact us for more information.