Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cottages To Be Converted To Condos

Aliso Street project gets Planning Commission OK

By Nao Braverman
Ojai’s planning commissioners are granted the delicate task of advising developers on how to tailor their projects to fit the city’s character and cater to its needs.
Balancing Ojai’s sense of community and small-town feel, commissioners adopted Richard Colla’s design review for his proposed Aliso Street condominium development at Wednesday night’s meeting, but asked him to ditch plans to build a gate that would separate the complex from the rest of the neighborhood.
In many ways, Colla’s proposed at “Cottages Among the Flowers” on 312 W. Aliso St. is exactly what Ojai’s commissioners look for in a development.
Instead of building 10 new units which would increase the density and, consequently, traffic, Colla is refurbishing and expanding eight units in his seven existing cottages and building only two more to make 10 quaint, but reasonably modern, condominiums.
Built in 1929 by noteworthy Ventura County architect Harold Burkett, the existing cottages are a historical landmark and one well worth preserving, said the project architect Marc Whitman. Colla, who purchased them about 18 years ago, said he recognized their aesthetic value but wanted to redevelop them to accommodate modern lifestyles. That meant expanding them to a reasonable size and upgrading amenities, while keeping their vintage look. But in order to make the project cost effective he would have to build two more units, he said.
The project proposal also called for a gate on the west side of the complex which was rejected by most commissioners.
Though Colla said that the gate was intended to provide a safe atmosphere for residents, commissioners retorted that Ojai generally rejected gates as a precedent because they have an unwelcoming and exclusive feel.
Moreover, despite the general perception, statistics have shown that gates don’t actually deter crime and sometimes encourage it, said Commissioner Susan Weaver.
The projected review was adopted by the commission with a request for a better landscaping plan, with particular consideration for the property’s many oak trees and no electric gate.
Two commissioners, John Mirk and Paul Crabtree voted against adoption of the project’s design review, because they felt it needed more work.
Also at the meeting, planning commissioners approved a .25 square foot increase Ron Polito’s project on the corner of Cañada Street and Ojai Avenue, as well as a multi-tenant sign for four of the tenants. Jim and Rob’s Fresh Grill, Noah’s Apothecary Natural Pet supplies, moving from its East Matilija location, and a new coffee and tea shop, among others, will occupy the new business complex.
The design review permit for the installation of a pre-fabricated metal storage and maintenance building for the Ojai Valley Community Hospital was also approved after a relatively agreeable meeting with neighbors. The hospital staff agreed to build a precast concrete fence to function as a noise and visual barrier to shield the facility from neighbors.
The fence is expected to provide a sound barrier equivalent to that of a concrete block wall, according to planner Kanika Kith. Gary Wild, CEO of Community Memorial Hospital that partners with the Ojai Valley Community Hospital, said that staff was committed to making sure that garbage and recycle pickups did not occur early in the morning, which has been a continual cause for complaint from neighboring residents.


Anonymous said...

Sounds good to those who are in the market for something in the $800K range, but how about those
with fixed income, single parents with kids, or others barely hanging
on to the last of the affordable housing in Ojai. Oh well- let them eat cake, as her heighness said.

furry herbalist said...

I don't remember any type of price being discussed at the Planning meeting, so how do you support the idea that these improvements will somehow add up to a $800K price tag?

I was very impressed with the concern the owner was showing for keeping the price down while still preserving the historical buildings. He is planning a phased-in reconstruction so that no one will be forced out of a rental. This is exactly the type of landlord Ojai should be happy about.
B Dawson

Anonymous said...

The condo project is not really being built, but "phased in" reconstruction and no one is being forced out of a rental? Golly gee whiskers. Right- and the truth is always told between the hours of nine and five. PL

Anonymous said...

I heard that the property owner told his tenants years ago that this was coming someday. Anyone else know what the story is?

furry herbalist said...

According to the discussion at the Planning meeting the owner started talking with the City back in 2004 about what would be involved in the re-do.

Given the condition & age of the buildings, it should come as no surprise to anyone that eventually some sort of restoration would be necessary. Very few renters would want to stay during that type of construction in any size building let alone a one bedroom that hardly has enough room to cook a meal in.
B. Dawson

Anonymous said...

Very few renters want to stay
there during construction? Would they be moved to one of the other vacant condos in town that are not selling? Maybe they could be persuaded to cook under a bridge somewhere or follow the winter rotating shelter program...

furry herbalist said...

To Anonymous 10:28..."Always with the negative waves, Moriarity!" (in case you're not old enough to recognize the quote, it's from Kelly's Heroes).

As explained at the Planning meeting, the owner is planning on re-doing as tenants leave of their own accord.

This may be an inconvenient truth for those who choose to believe that tenants don't matter to landlords and that anyone who owns property is inconsiderate, evil and greedy.

Is the property owner fibbing? Time will tell, but If he does nothing, the eviction notice could be coming from the City due to unsafe living conditions. Then there would be complaining about the squalid conditions renters are forced to endure due to the inaction of landlords.

Does anything that gets refurbished in Ojai meet with y'all's approval? Really, is there? I'd like to know.

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

Rentals to condos. What would the great James Hatch say about this? James, we need your help!!!

Anonymous said...

jim hatch was arrested in gang sweep.

Anonymous said...

They plan to cut down Oak trees. The construction will effect root systems. I thought Oaks and Sycamore Trees were protected?
This is a step toward turning Ojai into another Orange County.
Everything has a price tag.

Anonymous said...

Jim was arrested?

What gang is he a part of?

What will come of his campaign?

Press Secretary for James Hatch said...

James Hatch has only five minutes a day to write from jail, but he will.

James Hatch said...

Prison's a tough row to hoe. James Hatch is not a real person. He is a stellar individual. James Hatch knows the truth. The truth is that Ojai needs a new policy. The new policy is embodied by the messages of James Hatch. Keep believing.