East Area 1: Council, SPUSD Board hear
update on Limoneira development
Published:  January 30, 2015

Santa Paula City Council members and Santa Paula Unified School District Trustees learned that Limoneira East Area 1 is moving ahead with infrastructure anticipated to start this year to ready lots for home construction slated to begin in 2016.

Mayor John Procter recused himself from the discussion at the special joint meeting held January 26 at the Community Center, noting he had a conflict of interest.

Mike Penrod of The Parkstone Company, the Limoneira project manager, told the elected officials the new development would have positive impacts for Santa Paula.

The approximately 550-acre East Area 1, located east of Hallock Drive and north of Highway 126, will include not only 1,500 residential units but also a 37-acre park with sports fields - and possibly a gymnasium - that could take the traffic pressure off those living near the high school.

The development is entering the final planning phases including the supplemental EIR, city Development Agreement and full traffic study that will be jointly considered by the council and Planning Commission February 17.

Penrod noted that some changes in the plan as well as shifting most of the commercial enterprise across Highway 126 to East Area 2 caused some delay in the already long process.

Three homebuilders - whittled down from an original 41 - are now being interviewed.

“We had a tremendous amount of parties interested in Santa Paula,” especially following the Great Recession that brought the housing market to a standstill starting in 2008. 

Penrod said the plan is to “sell off finished lots to homebuilders,” who will create housing “across the spectrum” from affordable to high-end. 

But such development will be controlled: “One of the biggest things to come out of the process was to make sure our partners would have the same belief and perspective of what this community is like,” and appreciates and mirrors same.

He noted 500 lots have been “pre-sold” and there could be strong interest in senior housing, including those “snow birds” that would find Santa Paula’s mild winters a perfect seasonal escape from colder areas.

Such a market is still being examined, but Penrod noted seniors “with disposal income can be very beneficial to the community... “

Nevertheless the project is expected to generate about 655 K-8th students and about 352 for the high school and plans call for school or academy for up to 1,000 students. 

There are also discussions centered on a component for community college and universities that would occupy a learning center in lieu of having to fund their own campus space.

The Hallock District would retain the packinghouse or at least its façade and be an area for smaller retail components and condominiums or apartments; Penrod said the rest of the development would be single-family, for sale housing.

The Foothill Neighborhood would offer views of the Channel Islands and Oxnard’s Tower Club.

The 37-acre park would have 23 acres of sports fields and room for, “Something like a civic center... that is one of the legacies that Limoneira wants out of this project, to do something spectacular for the city.”

Parks and facilities could be mixed use and shared use by the city and the school district.

Penrod said Limoneira would like to see a park completed as early as five years into the project, which could reach build-out in seven years. When the park is turned over to Santa Paula the costs of maintaining and operating same will no longer be Limoneira’s responsibility.

In addition, with high school parking and traffic woes taking up an earlier portion of the meeting, Penrod said a recently completed Limoneira traffic study for the entire city could be shared.

The East Area 1/East Area 2 projects have been long in the making, but said Penrod, “We still believe this will be wonderful for the community - and we hope all see it the same way.”

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