Thousand Oaks Council Reviews Projects — Remembers First Female Mayor
By Kevin Harris
On Tuesday night, February 14, 2017, the Thousand Oaks City Council met to discuss and vote on city business, before adjourning to enjoy Valentines Day cheer with family and loved ones. In a much more streamlined and focused session than the previous one (Jan. 24, 2017), the Council accepted a detailed project update on sidewalk and bike lane additions to Westlake Boulevard in Westlake Village; voted on new, or reappointed committee members, and gave a touching tribute to former city mayor and council member Frances K. Prince.
Westlake Boulevard Sidewalk Project Report – Project Update
Item 9A was the session’s primary issue. The update report was presented by City Engineering Division Manager Nader Hadari. This project will add crucial sidewalks, bike lanes and other improvements to the heavily-used area just South of the 101 freeway off of Westlake Boulevard. The report covered proposed costs and timelines, among other things.
Before the council voted unanimously to receive the report, Mayor De La Pena publicly thanked the three local home owner associations (out of four) who worked with the city on the project, those being Westlake Bay, North Shore HOA, and Village Glen.
Appointing and Voting on Committee Members (and the Revitalization Debate)
Item 9B, chaired by Community Development Director, Mark Towne, centered around the appointing of two City Council Members to the Downtown Revitalization Ad Hoc Committee. As with any discussion on the downtown revitalization, however, it opened up somewhat of a debate.
Citizen speaker Nick Quidwai, Executive Director of Concerned Citizens of Thousand Oaks, and a regular citizen activist at council meetings, believes developing downtown is not needed now and is a waste of taxpayer money. “When will the city’s love affair for the boulevard be over? I guess never, so long as there’s free money available,” he told the council. “For the life of me, I can’t understand why these plans aren’t being abandoned, and let the Chamber of Commerce, the business people, handle it,” he added.
Quidwai also said he opposes the Revitalization Committee because he believes it will place the “peoples’ business” behind closed doors.
Council Member Joel Price, however, countered that the Committee is merely “facilitating the process,” after nominating Council Members Andrew Fox and Al Adams to the Committee. There were no objections to the nominations, and the Council voted unanimously to approve both members’ nominations.
Items 10A, B & C had Council Member Al Adam reappoint his previous appointees to their respective committees. Doug V. Nickles will serve on the Planning Commission until 2020, and Michael Rieder will serve on the Traffic and Transportation Advisory Commission until 2020. Additionally, Council Member Rob McCoy reappointed Thomas Gregory II to the Traffic and Transportation Advisory Commission, also set to serve until 2020. The Council voted to approve all three unanimously.
Item 10D: Some interesting Council discussion took place after Council Member Rob McCoy appointed Don E. Lanson to serve on the Planning Commission until 2020. Mayor De La Pena recused herself from the vote, because, according to her, Mr. Lanson owns a lot of property on Thousand Oaks Boulevard, and him serving on the Planning Commission presents a conflict of interest. Other council members then pointed out that Lanson’s appointment was fully approved by the city attorney and is completely legal.
Mayor De La Pena agreed that legality was not a problem with his appointment, but that due to the appearance of a conflict of interest, and because she did not want to vote against fellow council member McCoy, she would refrain from voting on this appointment. The Council voted 4-0 to approve the nominee, with the Mayor abstaining.
City Manager Compensation
The Council voted unanimously to approve the base salary for City Manager Andrew Powers at $230,772. That amount remains unchanged from his previous contract.
Frances K. Prince Memorandum
Before the meeting adjourned, the Council memorialized former Mayor and Council Member Frances K. Prince, who passed away on February 6, 2017, at the age of 79. Mayor De La Pena read an impressive list of former Mayor Prince’s accomplishments, including being the first woman on Thousand Oaks City Council and the first female Mayor; she spearheaded the campaign to construct the CivicArts Plaza; she served on the Planning Commission and numerous other city committees; and she was President of the Wildwood Park HOA – where she gifted 11 acres to the park, which became “Wildflower Playfield.”
Frances K. Prince was an integral part of Thousand Oaks history, and is survived by her brother, three children, four grand children, and was preceded in death by her husband.
To watch the City Council meeting online, go to: http://www.toaks.org/departments/city-manager-s-office/public-information-office/totv/watch-videos. Then scroll down to “available archives” and click on “city council.”
Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists having worked for the LA Times and Newhall Signal. He is now also a Realtor and videographer, and lives with his two children in Thousand Oaks