The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, December 6, 1967 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette” on Page D-6. That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission.
EDITORIAL by Fred Volz
Our only protection is thru long range planning
Twenty years ago after World War II only the most far-sighted cities in California envisioned what would happen to them.
First, they took to heart the population predictions of the experts, predictions which estimated 30,000 people a day would migrate to California in the ’60’s.
Second, these imaginative communities began to make long range plans for doubled, tripled populations. Many enacted the first master plans so new developers would be forced to adhere to more than nebulous “guidelines”, or to the wishes of a current planning commission. Now, these areas have become the model communities of California, where property values are high because they are the preferred places to live. It was all done through long range planning.
Other communities couldn’t see the need for long range planning and dealt only with problems when they were pressed by developers. San Diego, for example, is still squabbling over whether it should enact a master plan. We hardly see whether it would make any difference; San Diego has been raped by uninhibited development and only massive, expensive urban renewal can salvage what’s left.
It was so easy for communities just to coast along 20 years ago (just like Ojai is now). There seemed to be enough room for everybody. Land was cheap, autos one to the family, and the vistas of the Great West beckoned to all. If a man wanted to put a gas station across from the post office, why not — the lot was obviously “commercial” and just sitting there.
Twenty years later we can see the end — there is just so much land. The frontier is gone. This is easy to see in the Ojai Valley, bounded by high mountains on three sides and the ocean on the other. Unless long range plans are made now to protect the semi-rural environment of the valley, the citrus groves and ranches will be overwhelmed and the valley will become another San Fernando.
Even in Ojai, at a time in our history when the most unperceptive resident should know better, there’s a persistent notion that a man who owns property has the “right” to develop his land any way he chooses. Not only that, but he has the “right” to do so without the government interfering, or any planning commission telling him the rules of the game.
This hangover from the Frontier came into the open recently in, of all places, the county planning commission when it was considering a golf course development which curiously had a trailer park at its entrance. The county planning staff wanted extra time to draw up long range plans for the Lake Casitas watershed, surely one of the most beautiful, unspoiled areas left in Southern California. The majority of the commission became impatient with the staff. “Why these people want to put in trailers immediately,” was the commission consensus. (We’ll bet that the developers don’t turn a shovelful of dirt in five years. They just wanted the zoning.)
Think of the valley. Think of the millions of dollars in beautiful homes, ranches, citrus groves. Think of the thousands of modest homes that represent the largest single investment of their owners.
We believe these people have rights — and joined together they represent the rights of the community. They have the right to expect from their government some guarantee of protection.
Protection of what? Why, protection of the semi-rural beauty of the Ojai Valley — the very reason people wanted to live here and invest here. Make another vast tract out of the valley and you’ve destroyed the prime value of our community.
That’s why long range planning — right now — is essential. Without it, the population explosion will destroy our environment, just as it did in countless cities who didn’t plan ahead.
We the people who live here have “rights” and it is perfectly in order for us to ask local government bodies for protection of our environment.
There is no other guarantee of protection than long range planning.