Agoura Village Specific Plan-
In the world of 1997 as The Spice Girls were topping the charts, the leaders of Agoura Hills and a paid consulting firm conceived a seminal vision of Agoura Village. It was intended “to provide economic competition to established retail facilities in neighboring Calabasas and Westlake Village”, and to create an “entertainment and family oriented pedestrian friendly area” in which they said “residents and visitors alike could meet in the area known as the “Gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains”.
The city council and planning commission sought public input through workshops. In 2002, the council and planning commission conducted an open house during which the consultants unveiled what they called “the urban design plan”. At that time, it was announced “The development of Agoura Village will transform the Agoura Road corridor into a pedestrian-oriented center with retail shops, restaurants, theaters, and entertainment uses. Agoura Village will offer a unique shopping, dining and entertainment experience where visitors can stroll within a pedestrian- oriented village. The natural settingoffered by the surrounding oak covered hillsides, creeks, and views of Ladyface Mountainwill enhance the shopping experience and will create a “Uniquely Agoura” sense of place”.
Among other stated goals was “Natural Resource Preservation”. The AVSP called for “the preservation and restoration of natural resources such as creeks, native vegetation, trees, and unique topographical features.These were an important component of the Village vision. It said “natural resources should be integrated into the planning considerations for proposed developments in an effort to reduce the potential impacts on these resources. It said to “incorporate passive recreation and open space uses that capitalized on the area’s natural setting and proximity to surrounding open space, minimized grading and protected the natural surroundings. Graded slopes should be roundedand contoured to blend with the existing terrain. Significant natural vegetation should be retained andincorporated into the project whenever possible. It stated “retain views of the naturalsurroundings, promote the preservation of open space,incorporate new oak trees and other native species into the landscaping of future development” etc.
Even 20 + years ago when there was a tiny fraction of the traffic that exists today, it was broadly recognized that the intersection of Kanan and Agoura Road could never accommodate the volume of traffic present unless some creative solution was found. That solution was “a roundabout” like that shown in the artist's rendering below of that very intersection taken from the original AVSP.
In order to function however, a roundabout has to be large enough in circumference to mitigate the flow of traffic during peak hours. Unfortunately the landowners were reticent to dedicate enough real estate to allow the roundabout to function and the then pro-development council of that era agreed to allow developers to simply walk away from this idea. The subsequent loss of the roundabout rendered all traffic studies done to that point useless and obsolete.
As time passed it became increasingly apparent that, when it came to traffic issues that Agoura Village would create at that very critical intersection, that climate change, today’s life threatening firestorms and overwhelming floods, all of which were little understood when Agoura Village was memorialized in 2006, had not really even been considered, nor are they being considered to this day.
The original concept called for two story buildings with a maximum height of 35 feet and the second floor had to be set back from the first floor. In retail areas a sparsely used 3rd story was suggested to be used on several structures for the express purpose of providing architectural variation in height, and to encourage residents whose comings and goings would prevent these areas from becoming a ghost town after business hours.
Lights were prescribed to be soft, mellow and shielded. The original AVSP also included an entry that said “if any restricted open space” was to be encroached upon, it could only be allowed by a 2/3 vote of the residents of Agoura Hills. Neither the developers nor the city council could make such a decision unilaterally.
With pressure from developer lobbyists, Agoura Village veered precipitously off course from the original village concept.
After 9 years of planning between 1997 and 2006, due to the recession, Agoura Village came to a grinding halt. When the economy began coming back the land owners realized they had a limited period of time to secure construction entitlements before the expiration dates and began submitting plans.
In 2016 the City Council approved the Cornerstone project despite it’s lack of compliance with many of the City’s own ordinances. In April 201, STACK filed suit and prevailed. In 2018 the Cornerstone land owner/developer filed an appeal that is still pending, which is why fund raising for STACK is more important than ever.
Similarly, once the economy came back, the owner of the property at the actual "Gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains” the South-East corner of Kanan and Agoura Road which calls itself "The AVE", an acronym for Agoura Village East, had their lobbyist seek a green light. Since there was much ambiguity provided by the original AVSP, it was treated as wiggle room, and not just maximized but exaggerated to the point of exceeding original bonus incentives, which never should have appeared in the AVSP in the first place. This was an attempt to parlay anything the least bit nebulous into something much bigger, like for instance an Encino style mall exponentially larger than anything previously conceived or built in the City of Agoura Hills.
In March of 2019, SOS, STACK & PRISMM formally requested that the Agoura Hills City Council conduct a review and update of the Agoura Village Specific Plan and that, while in review, a moratorium be called on acceptance of plans for new development. While the City Council agreed to conduct a review, they refused the moratorium, assuring us in no uncertain terms that a moratorium was in no way appropriate or necessary and that no projects whatsoever are coming down the pike in the near future that might be affected by the standing obsolete AVSP. It is now early June 2019, and we are quite hopeful that this is actually the case.
Artist's rendering of the roundabout envisioned for the intersection of Kanan & Agoura Roads as part of the original Agoura Village Specific Plan. When this plan for the intersection was abandoned, nothing meaningful was implemented in its place.
Conceptual design of multi-family housing in the "village" from the original AVSP is a far cry from the highly urbanized housing concepts currently being approved by the City.
Setback and building height guidelines from the AVSP, though the plan states that "some flexibility" is allowed. Currently pending projects have utilized that flexibility.