City needs to find room to grow

I’m glad to see the acorn state (editorial, Sept. 16) that adding new housing and avoiding fundamental change to our city are not mutually exclusive positions.

As to your statement that the current standards have served our city well, I contend that while they have served to keep the city full of trees and open space, they have not served the need for housing or the creation of a stable customer base for businesses to thrive here.

Thousand Oaks should condition its slow-growth policies on evidence that more development is not needed; where and when that evidence says otherwise, as it has for years, the city should be willing to adjust its approach to meet the needs of the moment.

As cities throughout the state have failed to do this from the 1980s up to this point, the state has prescribed its own changes to attempt to meet those needs by allowing a slight increase in density throughout a spatially broader area (SB 9, allowing one residential lot to potentially be turned into four housing units) as well as policies that recognize untapped housing potential in our commercial zones (AB 2011).

I would also like to note that these state laws do not emerge in an instant out of the ether—they take years to navigate the political process in Sacramento. This has been a long time coming and should continue until it’s no longer necessary.

If we want local control over housing returned, all of our communities must demonstrate an ability to adequately respond to the housing needs—especially those of below-market-rate current and potential residents—within them and a willingness of local residents and leaders to stand up for projects that meet those needs, even if it means accepting local changes they’re not comfortable with.

That means residential neighborhoods, which constitute most of our communities’ land, as in other communities, must add some capacity for growth. And it means we must make space available for denser housing types outside of our single-family neighborhoods.

What makes this place special will still remain.

Jackson Piper
Newbury Park

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