Ventura Community Development Director Jeff Lambert arrived to the East Ventura Community Council meeting Thursday night early and looking a little apprehensive.

The calls and emails to City Hall from residents concerned over the pace of development on the east end have been been coming in furiously over the past few months. An item on the local NextDoor networking service posted two months ago is still in play with 124 comments.

“I know there is a lot of anxiety about the development on the east end,” Lambert told a crowd more than twice its usual size. “I’m not going to make you feel a lot better.”

Today’s building is the result of decisions that were made by the City Council and Planning Commission years ago that are now coming to fruition with the improved economic conditions, Lambert explained. Adding to the pressure to build are mandates from the state to fast-track affordable infill housing and a rental vacancy rate in the city which is only 1 percent.

“The state is about to take our power away,” Lambert explained.

Lambert detailed current projects:

Under construction:

    • Parklands Phase I – 175 apartments (moving very slowly, he noted.)
    • The Farm – 165 homes, 24 affordable apartments, with a five-acre park and tot lot
    • Darling Apartments – 43 units
    • Snapdragon Apartments Phase II – 22 affordable units

Coming soon:

    • Citrus Drive Apartments – 78 units
    • Carlos Street Apartments – 43 units
    • Parklands Phase II – 326 homes (likely not under construction until 2019.)

On land recently annexed by the city on the Santa Clara River near the county portion of Saticoy will be 417 homes, 31 townhomes, and 50 apartments. (These will back up to an industrial area which is home to trash hauler Harrison Industries and metals recycler Standard Industries.)

Newly built:
The Enclave – 91 single-family homes and duplexes, 12 of them affordable. The river development is nearly sold out.

You have to give a lot of credit to an economic development manager who can rattle off the unit numbers of all the projects in the city without notes. He’s definitely paying attention as the number of units we build is reportable to the state which is threatening action if we don’t meet our mandated numbers.

Still, as I detailed in an earlier blog, all these new rooftops are not enough to make large retailers look our way, as we are on the edge of the city. But Lambert is holding out hope for improvements to plans for a new commercial center on Wells and is working to keep adjacent land in play for commercial development.

As for roads, Lambert noted widening for Saticoy Avenue near The Farm, and improvements near the Parklands development and further down on Wells once all the construction is finished.

But the Wells/Hwy. 118 area will not undergo significant changes without cooperation from the county and state on their portion of the busy and often impacted thoroughfare which is a major truck route. It continues to be quite dangerous for pedestrians despite area plans from both the city and county which call for walkable communities there. It’s a concern.

And water? We are in a Stage 3 drought situation. At Stage 4, no new building permits will be issued.

As it always has been at City Hall, squeaky wheels get the grease. Residents should keep pointing out needed infrastructure improvements and lobbying for their neighborhoods. We also need to push the school district for new options for our east side middle schoolers, perhaps expanding a campus to a K-8.

Working together we can look out for each other.