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2005-10-21
Westlake Village, CA. Residents Hammer Away At Lowe’s

Some residents of Westlake Village, California think that a home improvement store will not improve their community. They have been fighting off a Lowe's store, and hope to nail the lid down on the North Carolina-based company. Here's an update from Westlake village's battle: "Westlake Village is a small, but very affluent, community off the 101 freeway in Southern California. The subject property is zoned for office not retail, but Lowes and their developer are proposing changes to the City's General and Specific Plans as well as a change to a Development Agreement that has been in place for more than 20 years. Lowes presented their "concept review" to the City Council and community at a city council meeting in May, 2005, and ever since that time we have been awaiting the Draft Environmental Impact Report. The DEIR was originally to be released in July and has been delayed several times since and is now scheduled for release "any day." Our understanding is that the traffic trip analysis is far worse than the developer expected and, consequently, they are working to modify the development or otherwise get their "spin" together before release. The issue will eventually come before the City Council. The land use committee, which serves as a Planning Board, has already publicly stated they will not make a recommendation to the Council based on the extreme sensitivity (political) of the issue. We are very concerned that 3 of the 5 council members may be predisposed to approve this development based on past comments. The City is extremely wealthy and maintains reserves in excess of $12 million. This is before the additional revenue which will be realized from pending hotel openings -- expected to generate another $1 million/year). Nevertheless, the Council is extremely greedy. The proposed development is approx. 230,000 s.f., consisting of a 160,000 s.f. Lowes and approx. 65,000 s.f. of restaurant and small shop retail. The alternative to retail is office buildings and the Lowes-supportive council members and the developer (Charles Rotkin of Rotkin Real Estate) have been making public statements attempting to scare the public into believing that office traffic will be much worse than retail (especially during peak hour weekday times). That argument is clearly absurd and we believe that's what the traffic study likely bears out. We have created major community awareness of this proposed development through postcard mailers, Homeowners Association meetings, letters to local papers and City Council meeting attendance. We also have a land use attorney, community activist (who has a very rudimentary website wlvunited.com) and traffic and economic consultants ready to pounce on the EIR when it is finally released. The community is overwhelmingly opposed to this development and it has been proposed (by one council member who is very opposed to the development, and who was the former Planning Director of a neighboring community before his election to the Westlake Council) that the development be put to a vote of the people given the enormity of this development to the community. The full City Council rejected this proposal and instead has proposed that the development be the subject of 2 "town hall" meetings to "inform the public." These
meetings have been scheduled for January 4 and 7 of 2006. We are naturally very concerned that Lowe's and the supportive council-members will use these meetings to
stack the deck, push their agenda and ultimately push the project through.

What you can do: For further information on this battle, go to www.wlvunited.com. For local contacts, email info@sprawl-busters.com. No town should change its Comprehensive Plan for a developer. The developer should fit into Westlake Village's plans, not the reverse.










 
 
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