November 30, 2017

Saving Triangle Ranch Will Benefit Agoura Hills

In 2002, Cal Trans rated the Kanan/101 interchange as providing "Level of Service F” – the lowest/worst.  Because the interchange was constrained by existing businesses, the best redesign could only reach "Level of Service C,"  at an estimated cost close to $32 million.  Even with the help of L.A. County, private funds, and the State, the City of Agoura Hills could not hope to pay for a bigger interchange - not then and not now.

In addition to existing traffic and projected normal growth inside Agoura Hills, the city feared additional traffic burdens from the planned Triangle Ranch development just beyond the city's southern border.  Homes south of the freeway depend on services (schools, shopping, medical care, roads, etc.) inside our city, but even if the area was annexed, residential tax revenue is insufficient to pay for the needed services. 

The City also designated itself as “Gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains.”  Past City Councils felt strongly that the hills, canyons, and oak groves of the mountains must be preserved for future generations. The development of the original Agoura Village Plan, in part, reflected that vision. 

Our City has historically and proudly taken the lead in preserving large portions of the Santa Monica Mountains.  This includes Chesebro and Palo Comado Canyons, Ahmanson Ranch, Chesebro Meadow, the Abrams property with its wildlife corridor, and acres of scenic mountainside on the north face of Ladyface Mountain.  We were the first city to contribute toward the purchase of King Gillette Ranch, even though it was well outside our city limit.  There is now an opportunity to save Triangle Ranch as part of a coalition of park and public agencies. This property is on our southern border and is bounded on 3 sides by designated open space.

Does Agoura Hills have the money to contribute?   Yes. The City budget maintains a very healthy "General Fund Reserve,” which by policy should be not less than 40% of the annual Operating Budget.  This year, and next year, the Reserve is at 67%, with over $10.5 million dollars on hand.

There is ample reason for the city to step up once again and participate in its “Gateway” role:

1.  Eliminating car trips from the massive Triangle Ranch project should extend the useful life of the current 101 interchange.

2.  An investment of  $1.5-$2 million today is tiny when compared to another interchange do-over.

3. The acquisition of the property insures that Agoura Hills will have an urban growth boundary on its southern border instead of urban sprawl. 

4. But the best reason is that the city is the Gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains. A hundred years from now, people will be grateful that we had the foresight and the courage to preserve this beautiful, pristine and irreplaceable mountain hillside for all future generations to enjoy.

The City of Agoura Hills needs to step up and be the Defender of the Mountains. 

On December 13, the City Council will discuss the request from the MRCA for funding to help buy the Triangle Ranch. You can be there and have your voice heard - 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday, December 13, 2017.