Almost 150 concerned residents showed up at a community meeting last week at the Calabasas Senior Center.
At issue is a proposed development directly west of the center, on the south side of Park Sorrento between the Civic Center and the Hilton Garden Inn which abuts Parkway Calabasas.
Cruzan Co. is proposing to build a four-story, 107-unit apartment complex on the site, with two levels of subterranean parking.
Residents and Senior Center staff have two main concerns about the project: The new complex will infringe on what the Senior Center and City Hall, including the library, now use as a parking lot, reducing the number of available spaces from 182 from the shared portion to approximately 14. Another issue is safety, in that the access and egress from the subterranean parking structure is now designed to be through the pathway of those reduced spaces, increasing the traffic flow in that narrow aisle.
Senior Center members, who are mainly elderly, often carry art supplies, yoga mats and other material from their cars into the center; and a concern is the distance from street parking or off-site parking they have to traverse to get to classes or events, at night or in summer daytime hours when temperatures reach over 100.
The 55-acre parcel that encompasses the Senior Center, the City Hall, the hotel and The Commons shopping center was originally owned by Ahmanson, who initially had plans for two million square feet of development on the property, with five- and six-story buildings. The original cityhood committee opposed the massive Ahmanson development. Their talks with Kilroy Realty, which had a much smaller plan in mind, was one of the prime motivations for the formation of the city.
Kilroy, developers of airport centers in California, built the two office buildings on Park Sorrento, and sold approximately 97 acres to Caruso to start building The Commons. The City of Calabasas purchased almost eight acres from the south side of Park Sorrento to the back hill for the civic center.
At the same time 18 acres were donated under a conservation easement for open space.
According to documents reviewed by Valley News Group from the City, at the time of the Kilroy development, named the Calabasas Park Centre project, parking conditions were approved that set up shared parking agreements, not just between the City and Kilroy’s office buildings, but the hotel and The Commons as well.
According to Michael Klein, City of Calabasas Community Development Director, Reso-lution 97 471 of the master conditional use permit for the entire Park Centre area designated that everything from Parkway Calabasas to Park Granada was shared parking. It approved the framework for the entire Park Centre, allowing traffic counts of no more than 15,655 trips per day to the entire center, and designated the maximum build out of a certain number of parking spaces. Though each project (The Commons, Hilton Garden Inn, etc.) had its own set of permits, parking across the 55 acres was open to everyone, with the thought that more night traffic at the shopping center could take advantage of office parking that was busier during the day and vice versa.
The only relevant parking information we found in the documents offered, “Shared Parking Reduction. Non-residential parking facilities may be shared if multiple uses cooperatively establish and operate the facilities and if these uses generate parking demands primarily during hours when the remaining uses are not in operation (for example, it one use operates during evenings or week days only).”
At original meetings to develop the Senior Center, then-City Manager Tony Corrales was clear that the city did not own the parking lot, and that Kilroy could fence it off if they wanted to.
Evidently there were big conversations about parking and there was hesitation moving the Senior Center forward due to the parking. In the documents provided Valley News Group by the City there is no specific agreement between Kilroy and the City regarding the shared parking lot between City Hall and the Hilton Garden Inn.
Which brings us to today. Kilroy sold the remaining parcel, which includes the parking lot, to Cruzan Co., who is planning the proposed development with its encroachment on the existing parking.
Klein has said that the City is aware of the Senior Center’s concerns, and said they have told Cruzan to build as many spaces as they possibly can. With 107 units they are required to provide 136 residential parking units; right now Cruzan is proposing 172. “We’d like to get the number closer to 200,” Klein told Valley News Group.
He said that the city is also looking at managing parking around the city center for the seniors, which could include using other parking lots for Senior Center parking, or implementing shuttle or electric cart services to transport them back and forth. “We understand that the main issues are mobility and distance,” he said.
Klein also emphasized that the Cruzan project is part of the Housing Element instituted by the City in March 2022, which required them to identify key sites within city limits that could accommodate additional housing. It’s a state mandate requirement for additional low-income housing.
“Housing has to go somewhere and this site was identified as an ideal location for infill development to carry out the goals of the housing element,” Klein explained. “Where else can it go? Community input during development of the housing element was clear that people do not want to see properties along Mulholland Highway and Las Virgenes Road up zoned for more dense housing.” Valley News Group reached out to Cruzan for this article but was unable to speak to a representative before publication.