Dear Open Space supporters:
If you haven't already, please email the Board of Supervisors today and ask them to support new Open Space protection standards at their March 2nd board meeting. If you've already sent emails, thank you! We are also hoping to have a strong turnout of SOAR supporters at the Board hearing at 1:30pm on March 2nd in the Hall of Administration at the County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria in Ventura. Please attend and make your voice heard!
The proposed new standards will restrict all Assembly Uses in the Open Space zone, to protect open space and preserve it for its intended uses: passive recreation, protection of natural resources, and stopping sprawl between cities. Assembly Uses are not compatible with open space and there are adequate alternative lands on which Assembly Uses can be accommodated. The new standards will ensure consistent treatment of all Assembly Uses and eliminate problematic loopholes that undermine reasonable regulation of Open Space use.
The intent of Open Space zoning is to protect natural resources, stop sprawl, and have lands available for passive recreation. The standards are an offshoot of a proposed project by Cornerstone Church to put a church, amphitheater, warehouse and college and offices with a 2,000 car parking lot on land zoned open space in the Tierra Rejada Valley.
The County had to allow Cornerstone to apply to build because it was faced with a legal challenge due to a Federal law called RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) that our County was clearly violating with its open space zoning ordinance. RLUIPA is an equal terms provision that says you can't prohibit religious assembly uses in one zone if comparable non-religious uses are allowed in that zone. The County has allowed colleges, camps, but not churches and other religious institutions in open space so we had to let Cornerstone proceed with their application. After accepting the Cornerstone application, the Board of Supervisors established a moratorium on open space uses while they looked at how to better protect these lands that are so valued for keeping our cities separate from each other and protecting agricultural lands and the environment.
On Tuesday, March 2nd the Board of Supervisors will be looking at approving new standards for the open space zone that restrict all assembly uses -- not just religious ones. That way we won't be discriminating. The new standards better define what is an assembly use and then restricts all Assembly uses (except existing ones) from the open space zone. It also restricts bright lighting and offers some flexibility for existing uses.
The property rights group that is targeting SOAR and candidates such as Linda Parks who support protecting open space will be coming to the hearing loaded for bear. To get your voice heard and help support the new open space standards, please come to the hearing if you can. The meeting is at 1:30 in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at 800 South Victoria, Hall of Administration. If you can't come (and even if you can), please consider emailing the Board members at:
A blind copy to us on your emails will help us get a sense for how much input the Board is getting from SOAR members.