City Council decides a deal’s a deal

March 03, 2000
Santa Paula City Council
The City Council decided a deal’s a deal and voted to hold a developer to original plans for custom hillside residential construction. The full council, except Robin Sullivan, who was absent from the meeting, voted not to allow a variance to the conditional use permit governing the square footage of homes to be built on pads created as part of the Vista Pointe development.Limoneira Co. and developer Priske-Jones had sought a CUP modification on nine lots slated for custom home construction; the original agreement was that each home have 3,000 square feet of living space, but the request sought the same square footage for the home and garage.The issue had been continued from the Feb. 7th council meeting when several residents of Hillsborough Estates spoke against the CUP modification.The staff report by Planning Director Kathleen Mallory noted that the average size home in the Hillsborough development is 2,584 square feet; the average for the Vista Pointe development is 1,817 square feet; and the average for Vista VIII is 3,298 square feet.“Additionally, the developer may not be having difficultly selling the lots based upon the required home size,” but lot size itself, ranging between .77 to 4.63 acres, Mallory told the council.Several residents of the Hillsborough development expressed their concerns and outrage over the proposed change in plans, noting that the size of the homes on the nine lots - proposed as a buffer between Hillsborough and the less expensive Vista Pointe - had been negotiated and agreed to. In addition, critics noted, the pads for the proposed homes were graded to suit a smaller home at each site.Pierre Tada, president of Limoneira Co., was asked to comment and said that many who have looked at the lots have expressed interest in constructing a smaller home. In addition, smaller home construction would negate building two-story structures on the hillsides. “The bottom line is that we understand the agreement, we are not intending to violate any trust, but it’s been a real challenge,” after five years to sell the lots and plans that adhere to existing graded pads.
“My concerns are at one time we had an agreement,” and square footage should not now be reduced, said Councilman Jim Garfield.Vice Mayor Don Johnson, who with Laura Flores Espinosa was on the council during the negotiations, said “I just simply cannot go along with changing the square footage; I voted on the project due to the agreement and will not back down on that.”“I was on the Planning Commission when this was first brought up,” said Mayor Rick Cook. “. . .it’s kind of like saying let’s see what we can do now and then changing it. The developer has a lot of money invested in it, as do the homeowners. My opinion is to hold them [the developers] to their agreement.”Espinosa noted that several Hillsborough residents had suggested compromise during the Feb. 7th hearing. But the “primary reason” for her vote to uphold the requirements is that “developers have a way of going to cities and asking for modifications that not always benefit the city.” Although she would have like to see “negotiation and consensus” it’s “important to hold the developer to the terms.”

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