Santa Paula and Fillmore join forces to launch another SOAR initiative

April 21, 2000
Santa Paula News
Joining forces, community members in Santa Paula and Fillmore are launching an effort to place a Save Open-Space & Agricultural Resources (SOAR) land-use initiative on the November ballot. Santa Paula saw two local land-use measures fail in the November 1998 election, but believe that one measure for the mid-portion of the Santa Clara River Valley including Santa Paula and Fillmore will find success.Among the leaders of the effort are Santa Paula City Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa and former Mayor John Melton: Espinosa and Melton headed up the competing land-use initiatives in 1998 but believe a joint effort will do the trick.SOAR measures give citizens the right to vote before the council can approve urban development of land currently zoned open space and agriculture. Although two versions were rejected by Santa Paula voters in 1998, city voters approved a county-wide SOAR measure. Santa Paula has been the only city in the county that has rejected the local measure.Leaders of the new joint effort believe their chances of successfully passing a SOAR measure are better than ever: in Fillmore the City Council recently came under heavy fire from citizens outraged over its $300,000 settlement with Newhall Land & Farming Co., which plans to construct the largest single residential development in state history just over the Ventura County line in Los Angeles County. Santa Paulans have been faced with the controversial General Plan sphere-of-influence that was recently approved by the Local Formation Agency Commission.
Volunteering his services to the effort is attorney Richard Francis, the co-author with Steve Bennett - who is running for County Supervisor against Jim Monahan - of the successful city and countywide SOAR measures.Reportedly, the new SOAR measure will allow development in many of the areas included in the City of Santa Paula’s successful sphere-of-influence bid but excludes development in Adams Canyon - the most controversial area targeted for development - and about 125 acres west of the city earmarked for commercial and industrial development. Development in Adams Canyon has been closely watched by the U.S. Department of Justice after complaints that the housing would not offer affordable housing opportunities for lower income buyers.SOAR backers expect petitions to be signed by registered voters who support the effort to be available in May.

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