Two self-storage development proposals led officials in Thousand Oaks, California, to enact a 45-day moratorium on new projects. The freeze will affect all self-storage permits, entitlements and licenses, according to the source.
One of the self-storage proposals now on hold is a conversion of the former corporate office for health-insurance company Anthem Blue Cross. The 230,000-square-foot building at 120 Via Merida has been vacant for more than two years. Younan Properties Inc. acquired this site as well as the one across the street at 4553 La Tienda Road, where Anthem now operates, in 2020 for $40 million. The company had already invested $200,000 in the storage project after being informed in November that self-storage would be an allowed use, according to Tom Cohen, who’s representing Younan in the application process.
Company CEO Zaya Younan claims the moratorium could cost the company millions of dollars, including $7,000 in application fees paid to the government. Younan had previously offered to build houses on the property, but that proposal was rejected last year. He said he feels the city is interfering with his rights as a property owner. Though city staff have presented him with other possible uses for the land, he claims the city isn’t considering his plans.
“We think the city is being unfair and unreasonable and, based on incorrect data, implementing this moratorium,” Younan said. “This is a major issue for us. If the city stays this course, we have to consider all alternatives. And make no mistakes, these alternatives will be harsh because we cannot afford to incur having 20 acres of land in there and the city basically unilaterally deciding on what we do even within the proper zoning.”
The second applicant proposed building a 67,000-square-foot self-storage facility at 530 Hampshire Road, which will soon be vacated by the Cancer Support Community.
The city is three years into overhauling its general plan, and officials claim they need time to determine how self-storage will fit. They believe a proliferation of self-storage could “disrupt” the vision for development over the next 25 years, said city manager Drew Powers. “Moratoriums are not something we take lightly. They are a blunt-force object,” he said.
In the past year, the city has received more applications to build self-storage in “prominent locations around town,” according to community-development director Kelvin Parker. Government officials believe the development interest in Thousand Oaks could be due to a similar moratorium that was placed on self-storage last fall in nearby Camarillo, California. “This is a good time from a planning perspective to take a step back and evaluate this moving forward,” Parker said.
Councilmember Al Adam said “drastic action” was warranted. “We already have 1.1 million square feet of storage capability in the city. I think we may be getting close to a saturation point,” he said. “They take up a lot of land. They don’t offer a lot of jobs. And the two that are pending, that’s another 300,000 square feet.”
Although councilmember Kevin McNamee’s suggested the council allow the two applications to move forward, others weren’t in favor, causing him to concede. The moratorium passed with a 5-0 vote. The council must now hold a public hearing to discuss the issue within 45 days. The moratorium can then be extended up to 10 months and 15 days, and a second time for a year. At that time, the council will need to either allow applications to proceed or change the municipal code.
The moratorium will also allow city staff to consider possible amendments to the code that would better guide self-storage development. Currently, it’s allowed in most commercial and industrial zones “by right,” as long as it isn’t within 400 feet of homes, the source reported.
Thousand Oaks has fielded at least 20 recent inquiries for self-storage development, nine of which were for vacant buildings, according to city planner Stephen Kearns. Two projects are already underway at 224 S. Skyline Drive, plus the conversion of an industrial building at 2451 Townsgate Road.
Source: Thousand Oaks Acorn, Self-Storage Applications Shelved