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Hundreds of West Hills Residents Oppose Affordable Housing at Ranch Site

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A standing-room-only crowd of local residents jammed into a meeting of the West Hills Neighborhood Council’s Zoning & Planning Committee to learn about a proposal to build a five-story “affordable housing” apartment building on the site of the recently demolished Circle S Ranch farmhouse.

More than 150 people attended the June 11 meeting at Chaminade College Preparatory High School, adjacent to the historic Circle S Ranch site on the southeast corner of Saticoy Street and Woodlake Avenue. (Chaminade, which has plans to develop the current Fields Market shopping center on the northwest corner, is not involved in the Circle S plan.) In addition, approximately 150 other West Hills stakeholders viewed the meeting online.

Many of the attendees voiced opposition to the project, which they said was inappropriate for the neighborhood of single-family homes surrounding the site. They cited traffic congestion and potential negative effects on local property values, among other concerns.

The meeting was led by Bill Rose and Charlene Rothstein, co-chairs of the WHNC’s Zoning & Planning Committee. Rothstein also serves as president of the WHNC Board of Directors.

Rose and Rothstein provided details of the tentative development plan submitted by members of the Ross family, which owned the 1920s-era Dutch Colonial Revival farmhouse for several decades before demolishing it in early June. 

The proposal includes a structure containing 324 units housing as many as 900 tenants ages 55 and older, with parking on the ground floor. The plan would take advantage of density bonuses allowed under current California laws enacted to facilitate the building of affordable housing. The applicants have until Sept. 16, 2024 to submit a formal plan for the development.

Rose and Rothstein said the definition of “affordable housing” in the plan was unclear at this early stage of the proposal.

Several attendees advocated an organized community effort to oppose the development. Such an effort could include hiring a land-use attorney and circulating petitions to submit to representatives in state and local government.

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