Thousand Oaks Boulevard business owners and the City have looked into how to revitalize and beautify the corridor and create a pedestrian-friendly destination for years. In 2005, the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Improvement District (BID) was formed and business owners voted to fund a Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan (in accordance with Section 65450 of the California Government Code) that would lay the foundation for future Boulevard modifications and development.
The purpose of the Specific Plan is to create a unique and identifiable commercial corridor for Thousand Oaks that is an economically viable, self-sustainable and pedestrian-friendly destination. It includes refinements to existing regulations where necessary to further the community goals and vision.
The proposed Specific Plan covers a 345-acre area located along and near an approximately 3-mile stretch of Thousand Oaks Boulevard, roughly from the Moorpark Road to Duesenberg Drive, covering about 1.8 million sq ft of existing, mostly retail and office, commercial development. The T.O. Blvd Specific Plan does not include the separate 24-acre Civic Arts Plaza Specific Plan.
The City estimates that future development within the Specific Plan area is about 1.2 million sq ft of non-residential building floor area, including 861,000 sq ft of retail space, 259,000 sq ft of office commercial space and 88,000 sq ft of industrial space. Of this, 489,500 sq ft of retail space and 122,000 sq ft of commercial space, plus 375 apartments, is anticipated to be part of the Specific Plan. As a comparison, The Oaks mall is about 1.3 million sq ft.
This fall, public hearings are anticipated at Planning Commission, and then City Council, to consider adoption of the proposed Specific Plan.
The City of Thousand Oaks has made available the Draft Specific Plan dated 4/27/09 (216 pages), a Draft Environmental Impact Report dated May 2011 (532 pages) and Draft EIR Appendices (474 pages). Ouch, thats's a lot of reading! You can access them online at www.toaks.org or order a copy of them for your bookshelf.
Some Specific Plan highlights are provided below. What comes to mind as I read through this is the Old Town Camarillo Revitalization Effort that has been going on since 1999.
- There are currently over 300 parcels and 200 parcel owners in the Specific Plan area.
- According to some city "attitude surveys" some say “downtown” is 20 to 40 years behind many other communities of our size.
- Priorities of the Specific Plan are to improve parking, build more crosswalks and have more public spaces available in the TOB corridor.
- The Plan calls for a more "inviting" pedestrian-oriented streetfront atmosphere, including outdoor dining, expanded sidewalks and public plazas.
- Projects over 30,000 sq ft must allocate .5% of building cost towards public art.
- A variety of eclectic storefronts are encouraged.
- The Plan narrow traffic lanes from 12 to 11 feet as a traffic "calming" measure.
- Class II 4 foot bike lanes are added (currently this is a Class III "share the road" area).
- Expand 10 foot sidewalks with a 5 to 10 foot "dedication" or easement.
- Benches every 300 feet, extra planters, encourage parking lots in rear portion of properties and other aesthetic improvements are called for.
- "Enhanced Pedestrian Nodes" consisting of sidewalk "bulb-outs" placed at selected intersection to provide additional pedestrian space and reduce the crossing distance for the pedestrian.
The Specific Plan includes an "Incentives Program" where points can be earned for "desired elements" that can be exchanged for "incentives." For example, 1 point is given for a) lot consolidation to create minimum 1/2 acre parcels, b) providing 25 extra public parking spaces and c) building 10% more public housing than required. 1/2 point is given for a) LEED certification, b) providing pedestrian node improvements, c) building retail/commercial services on multiple building levels and d) providing enhanced public exterior spaces. In exchange for 2 points earned, a builder can add 10' of building height above the 55' standard, up to 75' and 6 stories of total building height.
The Specific Plan EIR is an extensive report that points out all the potential environmental impacts of the Specific Plan, ranging from Class I "Significant and Unavoidable" to Class II "Less Than Significant Impact with Mitigation" and Class III "Less Than Significant or No Impact." Class I impacts that are largely unavoidable are air quality (greenhouse gases) and traffic. As for traffic, the EIR notes that the intersections of Rancho Road and Hampshire Road with Thousand Oaks Boulevard would require widening that would require the acquisition of additional right-of-way from adjacent developed properties. This would eliminate existing landscaping and would potentially conflict with objectives of the Specific Plan to maintain onstreet parking and create a pedestrian-friendly environment.
This should give you some basics about the Draft Specific Plan. For much more detailed information, visit www.toaks.org/government/depts/community/planning/thousand_oaks_blvd_specific_plan.asp or call the City of Thousand Oaks Planning Department. We'll definitely be hearing more about this topic soon...