Large home approved for Mount Clef Ridge wildlife corridor

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Source of this article – Thousand Oaks Acorn, October 12, 2006

Construction of a luxury home–surrounded by the recent city purchase of $2.5 million of preserved open space–was approved by the Thousand Oaks planning commission on Monday evening.

Now a two storey, 6,000 square foot house, with two garages, totaling 1,700 square feet can be built.

The home will sit on a hillside with a wildlife corridor deemed so important it prompted the largest open space purchase in Thousand Oaks’ history.

In June, the City Council approved the purchase in order to preserve 19 acres on Mount Clef Ridge that included three of four single-family home lots. In 1974, the planning commission had designated all of the lots as Hillside Planned Development-Single Family Dwellings.

Two years ago, city officials began what turned out to be 18 months of negotiations with the developer to preserve and protect a wildlife corridor, said Mayor Dennis Gillette.

“We were told the purchase of three lots would be more than adequate to protect the wildlife,” Gillette said. “We did not want to spend money we didn’t have to spend.”

The property owner wanted to develop one lot, and the city was told purchasing four lots would be unnecessary, Gillette said prior to the planning commission meeting.

City planners presented information at the meeting supporting the city’s decision to buy only three of the four lots. Experts on animal habitat corridor linkage had been consulted as were officials from the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Park Service, said senior planner Greg Smith.

This home will complete the development in that area and will include a 1,000 foot long driveway. The property owners didn’t ask the city for any waivers to build on the land.

Senior planner Ed Rinke noted the home submitted by landowners Michael and Sharlene Dubin was comparable in size to other homes in the area. About 4 acres of the property will be preserved as open space.

Mark Burley, chairperson of Save Our Ring of Green, a nonprofit environmental group, hopes the issue isn’t over. “We’re working with other groups to try to come up with the funding to purchase the lot,” said Burley.

If the lot can’t be purchased, he said, the value of the other three lots will be negated or greatly reduced.

“The wildlife corridor needs to be a minimum of 1.2 miles wide, and it’s already down to a several hundred feet,” Burley said.

The corridor, reaching from Point Mugu to the Los Padres National Forest, comes to a choke point in this area of Thousand Oaks, he said. Without this habitat link, animals such as mountain lions, coyote, deer, bobcats, raccoons and possums are affected, as are plants and birds, Burley said.

Property owner Dubin said he doesn’t plan to wait and see if groups opposing this development can raise the funds to buy the property before he starts building his home.

He planned to build in Thousand Oaks years ago so his children, who were then elementaryschool age, could go to Conejo Valley schools, he said. Now they’re in high school. He wants to build his home before they are completely grown up.

“It looks like a hotel on a hillside,” said Planning Commission Chairperson Janet Wall, who cast the only vote opposing the project.


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