The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy and the Regent Plan for Development
July 31, 2014 - Last week Regent Properties began circulating a draft proposal to build 55 upscale homes in the hillsides above the City of Ventura, with 170 acres donated to the community as open space. The Reporter carried a story about it in its July 24 issue, with comments from community members, including VHC; I pointed out the happy prospect of our community possibly acquiring access to open space in the hills.
It’s important to understand that the VHC Board has not taken a position on the proposal, nor will it for months to come. There are multiple layers of information and official reviews that VHC members and the community will have to consider. Only then would the Conservancy Board decide whether we can in good conscience be the holders of land in trust for the community donated by Regent. As with any development proposal, City officials, most likely the City Council, will be responsible for that decision.
There are a number of technical issues that the City will likely need to study before taking action, and the California Environmental Quality Act will require an environmental review. The challenges for any residential development in our hills are fairly well known—soil stability, grading, slope, water, drainage, natural gas lines, traffic, and more. The required review will likely encompass geotechnical issues associated with slope stability, and the applicability of the city’s Hillside Management Program, adopted by the City in 1989 and part of its General Plan. Additionally we would expect individuals and groups, including residents of affected neighborhoods and the VHC membership base, to add their voices to the decision-making.
The roles that land trusts play in conservation development may include holding easements, participating in stewardship of conserved lands and/or working with developers and landowners at the pre-development and development stages to promote conservation-friendly outcomes. Be assured that the Conservancy is interested in working with Regent Properties and all property owners, as well as the City, to facilitate public access and permanently protected open space for the community. However, the Conservancy has not taken a position on the Regent proposal at this time.
President, Ventura Hillsides Conservancy Board of Trustees
If you would like to learn more about collaborations between land trusts and development projects please read this article, which was recently published in the Land Trust Alliance newsletter.
The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is a land trust operating in the Ventura region to protect and conserve open space resources through acquisition of land and easements, stewardship of protected lands, and public education about local natural resources.
Click here to read past news releases from the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy.