Santa Paula Historic Hardison Home: Planned Development of 53 Homes

By Sheryl Hamlin

Williams Homes of Santa Clarita, California hosted an informational meeting at 1226 Ojai Road from 4 to 6 pm on March 3, 2016 to show neighbors and interested parties their plans to develop the historic Hardison property. The project was named “Rosewood” because the original owner loved to raise roses. The following summary was taken from Appendix C Historic Resource which is available to download here.

history

east_house_view

Southwest view

Approximately 30 to 40 people attended the meeting. Flyers for the meeting had been distributed around the neighborhood and also posted on Facebook. Tables were set in the front lawn along with a barbecue. Guests were able to walk the property, ask questions, and eat before the formal presentation began. The sun was setting and shadows started to form on the surrounding mountains, potentially the same experience previous owners enjoyed on the site. Because of the time of day, the peak street noise was audible at all times.

presentation_lawn

Presentation on the Lawn

Williams Homes of Santa Clarita, California bought the Hardison home January 10, 2014 with the intention of developing the property into a home site. The listing provides excellent pictures of the exterior and the interior, although guests were not allowed inside the home at this particular meeting. As Mr. Williams explained, his model of development is called “infill” using “leftover pieces of land” within the city limits. Note that infill contrasts with projects like East Area I, Fagan Canyon or Adams Canyon where the land is not within the city limits and must be annexed.

The site is 19.28 acres, however 52% of the site is unbuildable because of the slope, leaving 9.78 acres for development, on which Williams is proposing 53 new homes surrounding the Hardison home in its original site along with a relocated and renovated barn on a large, three-quarter acre lot in front of a half-acre public park facing Ojai Road. The following is a photograph of the site plan showing the house and the barn which was part of the presentation. The site plan in the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) shown next does not show the location of the historic house and barn.

The colors indicate the model of the home. There are two 2-story models and two 1-story models. Although it was generally agreed that the one store models are more popular, there are only thirteen planned because they require larger lots. The north and south boundaries will have 6-foot block walls, while there will be a metal, open style fence on the east side (front) of the Hardison House facing the public park which is HOA (Homeowner Association) maintained. There are trails planned throughout the undevelopable west slope of the property which will be open to the public.

site_plan_with_house_barn_relocated

Site Plan with House and Barn relocated

siteplan_ojai

Site Plan Ojai

In the picture below, the rear (west side) of the Hardison House is shown. This is the side that will be facing Dogwood Street. There is a minimal rear yard setback planned for the house, which will put it very close to Dogwood Street and the row of 7 two-story houses.

north_side_dogwood

North view

Neighbors attending the meeting voiced concerns about loss of views, traffic on Ojai and traffic through their neighborhood. The plan, as shown above, calls for Redbud Street to open into the development immediately to the south at Fuscia Street to a development of single story homes. The developer indicated this was a city requirement, although he said another option would be a fire lane, accessible only by a fireman in an emergency. The other issue, loss of views, was expressed by the adjacent neighbors to the south whose views will be blocked by the proposed 6-foot wall and a row of two story homes. The neighbors to the east spoke to the loss of the scenic view of the ranch itself. A lengthy discussion about traffic involved the entrance at Royal Oak Place which is a continuation of Royal Oaks on the east side of Ojai Road. Neighbors said that Royal Oaks is the busiest intersection due to school and work traffic. The new development would exacerbate the traffic. The developer responded saying that six intersections were studied and the worst was actually Orchard and Ojai Road. Caltrans will have the final say, according to the traffic consultant, but it is unlikely there will be a stop light or a four-way stop.

Satellite view of site

Satellite view of site

The speakers said that the Planning Department had approved the project. But, in reality, the Planning Commission and then the City Council must approve the project, due to the exceptions in the site plan which require variances. The following chart shows the criteria on which the project does not meet expected development standards.

compliance_issues

Compliance Issues

One interesting note about the density involves “clustering” which was discussed at the meeting and is also in the MND. Because 52% of the property is unbuildable, the houses are “clustered” in the buildable part. The concept of home clustering was created to create open space and is often considered “smart growth”. But in this case, the topology of the property created the need to cluster, not altruism or environmental concerns. As the chart shows, the project is not in compliance with seven of 13 development standards regarding density. The President of Williams Homes contends that the project is “consistent” with the zoning.

When asked about the barn, the developer explained that it will be rebuilt into a garage, replacing rotten wood, on a new concrete foundation. It could be a four-car garage or a garage plus an office. The budget for this renovation is $250,000, according to the developer. The house and barn will be priced above $750,000, they said. The house will be sold “as-is”. There are no plans to renovate the historic house other than to solidify the barn after it is moved. The other homes will be priced in the $400,000 to $500,000 range, to which one resident said that most people in Santa Paula could not afford such homes, so they will attract out-of-town commuters, in other words, new residents to Santa Paula who commute out of the county for work. The average lot size is 5665 square feet.

Mr. Williams said that each home would bring the city of Santa Paula $50,000 in development fees, thus a project of 53 new homes would bring $2,650,000 over the course of the project, unless, of course, the developer negotiates a special package.

Water was discussed. Mr. Williams said that new homes are water efficient and that the city of Santa Paula had already factored in home development on this site in its master water usage plan. The site preparation would take up to 8 months for grading and infrastructure. They hope to start in 2017 with a two year construction period. Williams Homes, he said, warrants the homes for ten years, which is a very popular feature.

Noting the original double-hung windows and lovely sun-room in the house, Williams said that the new vinyl windows were more efficient, quiet and less maintenance, although he realized the design differences.

Sun room Corner Windows

Sun-Room Corner Windows

The final day for public comment is March 8, 2016, but the public will be able to make further comments when the Planning Commission hears the project. The target date is April 26, 2016 to the Planning Commission.

Questions for the Planning Commission:

  • Should the home calculation be based on usable area rather than the total lot size?
  • With seven criteria substandard, does this make for a unique and livable neighborhood?
  • Who will buy a historic mansion surrounded by tract homes?
  • Could someone buy the historic home for condo potential or apartment conversion?
  • Are two story homes compatible with neighboring one-story homes?
  • Should Fuscia be closed?
  • Is one way of ingress/egress enough for safety?
  • Who will maintain the historic home during the time of construction and while it is available for sale? Who will monitor compliance?
  • Planning should provide the Commission with a complete breakdown of all fees to be levied on this project prior to their meeting.
  • Could Williams Homes provide an architectural rendering showing the row of 7 two story homes and the back of the Hardison home?
  • Who will provide security into the undevelopable west slope? Will it be open 24 hours a day?
  • Are neighbors concerns about loss of views valid?
Old Cactus Tree

Old Cactus Tree

Two members of the Santa Paula City Council, Mayor Hernandez and Council Member Procter, were present. The ancient cactus tree shown here is located on the proposed Rosewood  Street.

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For more information about the author, visit sheryhamlin.com

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