The County has received an application for Ventura Ranch, a 100 percent affordable, for-rent farmworker housing complex.
Case Number: PL23-0051
Applicant: Ventura Ranch Partners, LLC
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Draft Project Description
**The project description below is still in draft format and is subject to change**
The County received applications on May 12, 2023, for a Tentative Parcel Map, and a Planned Development Permit for a farmworker housing complex called Ventura Ranch.
The Planned Development Permit would authorize the construction of a 328-unit farmworker housing complex on approximately 18 acres of the overall project site. The proposed farmworker housing complex is intended to be 100 percent affordable, to those who qualify as lower income, which is classified as individuals and families who make 80 percent or below of the area median income. The community would be designed in a Spanish Colonial style with 18 three story residential buildings, one three story residential building with a ground floor community center, and one single story community center. The project would include one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments.
The proposed Tentative Parcel Map would create a 54 acre conservation parcel to remain open space with a public trail system, an 11 acre private agricultural parcel for continued crop production, and two addition parcels that make up the 18 acre project site.
The approximately 82.9-acre project site is located at 4884 North Ventura Avenue in the unincorporated part of Ventura County, north of the City of Ventura on Assessor Parcel Numbers (APNs) 063-0-110-090; 063-0-110-145; and 063-0-110-065.
The project was reviewed by County staff and deemed incomplete on June 29, 2023. Staff is currently coordinating with the applicant on the resubmittal of the project for further review.
Draft Site Plan
**The site plan below is still in draft format and is subject to change**
Save Open Space & Agricultural Resources (SOAR) Initiative
SOAR refers to a series of voter initiative measures that have been approved by 8 of the 10 cities and the unincorporated County (Ojai and Port Hueneme have not adopted SOAR measures). SOAR measures within cities establish voter-controlled urban growth boundaries, known as City Urban Restriction Boundaries (CURBs). A city’s annexation or approval of urban development of land outside of a CURB boundary requires voter approval.
Ventura County voters first approved the countywide SOAR initiative in 1998. In general, and subject to certain exceptions, SOAR requires countywide voter approval of any 1) substantive change to the General Plan’s Agricultural, Open Space, or Rural land use goals or policies, and 2) re-designation of land with these General Plan land use designations. In November 2016, Ventura County voters renewed the County’s SOAR initiative and extended its provisions through 2050. Similarly, voters in eight of the county’s ten cities renewed SOAR initiatives adopted by the respective jurisdictions which are applicable within their boundaries. The County SOAR initiative’s Agricultural, Open Space and Rural goals and policies are included in the County’s General Plan.
The County’s SOAR measure, is included as Appendix C and incorporated by reference into the County General Plan, generally requires voter approval to re-designate land with Open Space, Agricultural, or Rural General Plan land use designations, and to amend the goals and policies for these land use designations.
SOAR and the Inclusion of Farmworker Housing
The SOAR initiative includes a purpose statement which reads “The purpose of this initiative is to continue to ensure that agricultural, rural and open space lands are not prematurely or unnecessarily converted to other more intensive development uses incompatible with the purposes of the Agricultural, Open Space and Rural land use designations. Thus, this initiative seeks to further Agricultural, Rural and Open Space objectives which could include, for example, adequate farm worker housing” (see SOAR page 3, Section 1(J)Findings and Purposes. Further, one of the agricultural goals for SOAR is to actively promote infrastructure, sized not larger than necessary for the specific project, for farm worker housing to support the continuing viability of agriculture, subject to state law, the Guidelines for Orderly Development, and applicable zoning requirements (See SOAR page 12, 3.2.1 Goals, 4(J) Agriculture)
To read the SOAR Initiative go to the General Plan Appendix C. County of Ventura (SOAR) Save Open Space & Agricultural Resources Initiative - 2050 at: https://docs.vcrma.org/images/pdf/planning/plans/Final_2040_General_Plan_docs/VCGPU_C_SOAR_Measure_C_2050_web.pdf
Agricultural Worker Housing and Employee Housing Regulations
Farmworker housing complexes are allowed with a Planned Development Permit on land designated Agricultural, Open Space and Rural in the General Plan and in the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance.
On March 1, 2022, the County Board of Supervisors adopted County-initiated amendments to Articles 2, 5, 7, and 8 of the Ventura County Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance which amended existing regulations for agricultural worker housing (which consists of farmworkers and animal caretakers) to facilitate more construction of these units. Updates to the development standards were conducted in consultation with farmworker housing organizations. This amendment was conducted in order to address a program in the County’s 2013-2021 Housing Element.
The Ordinance amended existing requirements for agricultural worker housing, added new housing options and development standards, and simplified the permitting requirements, where possible. The following four housing options are available for agricultural workers, the requirements for which are included in Section 8107-41 of the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance:
- Farmworker and Animal Caretaker Dwelling Units, which are standalone dwelling units, similar to Accessory Dwelling Units;
- Farmworker Housing Complexes, which are multiple housing units together in a development like an apartment complex;
- Farmworker Group Quarters, which are dormitory style dwellings with shared sanitation and cooking facilities; and
- Temporary trailers for seasonal and temporary farmworkers and animal caretakers, which is a motor home, travel trailer, truck camper, recreational vehicle, or camping trailer.
In addition, the amendments added a new section (Section 8107-26) in the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance for Employee Housing (which includes housing for agricultural and non-agricultural workers), consistent with State Law to implement the Employee Housing Act (California Health and Safety Code, Section 17000-17062.5), regulated by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
The adopted amendments to the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance were effective on March 31, 2022.