By Mary M. Long
The Ojai Planning Com-mission met Wednesday with interim city manager John Baker to discuss the following issues.The proposal to install a vault rest room at Sarzotti Park had been continued from the Aug. 4 meeting to study the cost effectiveness of putting a standard sewer line in instead of a self-contained rest room. The vault rest rooms are pumped out at a cost of $350 per clean-out. Bob Daddi pointed out that the capacity of the tank could be reached in one day during an event the size of Ojai Day. While the stumbling block was the price of upgrading the sewer line to handle the larger rest rooms, this turned out not to be an issue when the independent company, AM PM Rooter & Plumbing, inspected the existing line and found that was in good condition. Daddi, acting on behalf of Skate Ojai is looking into the possibility of a sewer hookup for the new Skate Park rest rooms and will be negotiating to reduce fees for the installation. The Hummingbird Inn was approved as a Best Western Motel, which created a bit of concern from both citizens and commissioners. The Planning Commission had thought that the approval would come to them as an agenda item, and seemed surprised that Baker had approved it. Baker made it clear that he, consulting with city attorney Monte Widders, was operating by the book and his decision was in keeping with the tenants of the Chain Store Ordinance. The Best Western motels do not qualify as chain stores according to the current Ojai Chain Store Ordinance. The property on the corner of North Montgomery and Franklin Street which was acquired by the city came up for discussion. The city is interested in possibly using it for the construction of affordable housing. While it is zoned R-2, it has been considered for as many as four units. Commissioners John Mirk and Cortus Koehler expressed their concerns about having that kind of density on that property. “I don’t want to put the city in the position of over-developing this property,” said Mirk. Koehler also handed out a list of citizen groups which he felt should receive the first consideration for affordable housing which included veterans, military families, city employees and seniors. He also feels that affordable housing should include the consideration of rehabilitating older houses, which will help preserve existing homes. Baker reminded them that the future of the property would probably be driven by the economy and that with less density than four units it would probably not be feasible to develop it for affordable housing. The subject of publicizing subcommittee meetings was the most debated topic of the evening. There are two new subcommittees. One is the subcommittee to study the state ordinance requiring cities to follow the state model for water-wise landscaping. Commissioner Kathy Nolan is the chair for that subcommittee and Commissioner Susan Weaver also sits on that committee. They are working to come up with an “Ojai compatible” ordinance which will then go before the Planning Commission and City Council to meet the state requirements on water conservation. The second subcommittee is the Complete Streets Committee which will study the suitability of streets for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists in compatibility with the Circulation Element. Since the subcommittees do not fall under the Brown Act they are not legally subject to noticing requirements. However it was the decision of the commission to exceed the requirements and the discussion was on how to notify the public. It was decided that the notices will be posted on the chamber door, the city website and will be published in the Ojai Valley News, as well as Channel 10. Baker also recommended mass e-mailing notices to interested parties. Those who wish to be placed on the e-mail list need to contact the Community Development Department at 646-5581.