Thousand Oaks just wants to have fun

Young adults weigh in on new Thousand Oaks Boulevard project

Misha Goetze Madeline Reali Bridgette Creamer

Josh Rice, 25, has lived in Thousand Oaks, CA for about fifteen years. Rice, along with hundreds of other citizens, pass by Thousand Oaks Boulevard every day on their way to work and not much has changed in the last few years. The buildings, businesses, and stores that occupy the busy street have remained relatively the same with little aesthetic upgrades being added. That is about to change as the city looks to the future with a new development plan in place that has the local community buzzing with excitement.

“The current landscape and layout hasn’t changed much over the years,” Rice said. “It will be nice to have more modern looking buildings that can revitalize the street.”

Before and After of Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Photo courtesy of Thousand Oaks.

The Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan was passed and adopted by the city council in October 2011, and the plan has moved forward with increasing detail over the last several years. According to the public document detailing the plan, the purpose of the rejuvenation of Thousand Oaks Boulevard is to“enhance the quality of life within the Specific Plan Area by encouraging pedestrian-friendly design, project amenities, street beautification, and sufficient parking.”

Also detailed in the Specific Plan is the addition of more restaurants with emphasis on outdoor seating, businesses that encourage nighttime uses, the addition of more public transit, planting colorful foliage and adding focal points such as sculptures and fountains to beautify several different areas and streets along Thousand Oaks Boulevard. New residential areas are also a prime focus and will include multi-family units with a minimum density of 10 dwellings per net acre. The maximum density shall be 30 dwellings per net acre.

Kevin Stolt, 26, believes that Thousand Oaks would benefit visually from updating its architecture and the economy would benefit from the possible influx of new businesses.

“I think there are a lot of portions of Thousand Oaks that are stuck in an older time zone,” Stolt said. “It’s more of like a 1970’s or 1980’s kind of thing going on. There’s just not a lot of character involved in a lot of the structure around Thousand Oaks. So, implementing a restructuring, or a face-lift, I think will not only increase business flow, but success of all of the businesses around it.”

The most recent and biggest addition up to date was approved by the city council in early October of this year according to a news story in The Acorn,“142-unit, 4-story development clears first hurdle.” A four-story 142-unit building at 299 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. with up to 12,000 square feet of commercial space in addition to one and two-bedroom apartments is slated to begin building. This massive project is a prime example of the types of improvements that Thousand Oaks residents can look forward to as more projects are considered and approved.

Before and after picture of Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Photo courtesy of Thousand Oaks

Sally Keil, 59, and her daughter Rachael, 24, both look forward to being able to spend more time nearby, while also boosting the local economy.

“I think that it would be a good idea because it has the potential of getting more people to spend time in Thousand Oaks rather than going to Ventura or (Los Angeles),” Rachael Keil said. “Plus it will create more of a community.”

Sally Keil echoed her daughter’s thoughts by explaining that it will be a great place to be able to socialize and congregate.

“A brewery would be great,” Sally Keil said. “It would give our family and friends new places to frequent that would help the revenue in Thousand Oaks.”

Stolt, considering the drawbacks of such a massive change in Thousand Oaks, believes that perhaps the new development plan may drive up the price of living in the area.

“Southern California is already so hard to financially survive inside of, and to revolutionize and modernize all of these buildings and all of these complexes is only going to skyrocket the value of everyone’s houses,” Stold said. “So, a lot of people will benefit from it, I can tell you that much, but those who are trying to move to Thousand Oaks to start a family are going to end up moving to The Valley or moving to Fillmore or Simi… because they’re not going to be able to afford living out here.”

Overall the feedback and responses to the new Thousand Oaks downtown are positive and residents are excited for what is to come. The Mayor of Thousand Oaks, Claudia Bill- De La Pena thinks the project will be just what the city needs, and will add a zest to the community that a large portion of the neighborhood is craving.

“(The) Thousand Oaks Boulevard Specific Plan is meant to revitalize an area along the significant Thousand Oaks Boulevard,” Bill- De La Pena said. “This plan is to make it look better and to increase nightlife and outdoor eating in this area, as well as to make it more pedestrian- friendly.”