2008-03-27 / Front Page

City of T.O. has already spent $100,000 on Measure B studies

By Nancy Needham nancy@theacorn.com

By Nancy Needham  nancy@theacorn.com

Measure B, the Land Use Traffic Initiative that will be on the June 3 ballot, has already cost Thousand Oaks taxpayers $100,000, according to City Manager Scott Mitnick.

If Measure B passes, it will require a majority vote to approve large development projects if traffic will be increased because of construction or afterward, even if the traffic surge can be mitigated.

To help City Attorney Amy Albano with legal issues concerning the measure--and possibly another initiative, still in the petition stage, pertaining to the zoning of mobile home parks in the city--the council voted 5-0 to approve $25,000 for legal services.

Before voting affirmatively, Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña questioned the need for the money.

"My fear is that we're spending more taxpayer dollars to fight two initiatives. That is my concern," Bill-de la Peña said.

Mitnick said the City Council and city staff haven't taken a position in favor of or in opposition to Measure B, though certain individual council members have expressed their personal opinions.

Albano assured Bill-de la Peña that her legal work has nothing to do with fighting the two initiatives and said she's not doing any illegal or improper work in the initiative arena.

Albano said she needed extra legal assistance because it's nice to have backup.

Mitnick said the city is neutral and objective on the initiative issues.

After the March 18 council meeting, city spokesperson Andrew Powers provided information on how much the city has paid for analyses and fees in regard to the initiative.

Hard costs spent by the city to date include a $70,000 impact analysis, $10,000 traffic analysis and outside legal fees of about $8,600.

Also, a significant amount of staff time has been expended by the city. The clerk's department has had to process and validate the petitions and resolution. The city attorney's office has conducted research and written the ballot title and summary, along with an impartial analysis to be on the ballot.

The community development and public works departments gathered, analyzed and provided data for the independent and traffic analysis reports.

Powers said it's too soon to speculate how much it will cost the city for the mobile home park measure if it gets enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Powers also declined to speculate how much the city might have to spend to defend the measures in court if they pass.

At a previous City Council meeting, former city manager Grant Brimhall said Measure B is financially backed by the Do-it Center to keep a competitor, Home Depot, from building at the former Kmart site on Hampshire Road in Thousand Oaks.

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