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Articles

Planners Weigh Mallory Project

By Sondra Murphy

Besides periodic calls for increased affordable housing in Ojai are the voiced concerns about how development impacts both the budget-conscious resident and the habitat we all admire. Mixed in are concerns about state mandates to increase the city’s affordable housing by 427 units and whether our water supply will accommodate it.
And then there is Mallory Way: 25 bungalows built as an auto court in the 1940s that have remained so rural in appearance, they served as the backdrop for the 1997 Oprah Winfrey TV movie, “Before Women Had Wings.”
In 2003, a development plan first appeared before the commission as a condominium project called “The Bungalows of Ojai.” Designed by local architect Marc Whitman, the Craftsman-style project initially received positive reactions from planning commissioners, though the trading of 25 affordable — by Ojai standards — studio or one-bedroom units for market-rate units was acknowledged at the time.
The controversial project packed Planning Commission, City Council and Historic Preservation Commission meetings with protestors for years and served as platforms for three vocal council candidates during the 2006 election. Opponents of the Mallory Way project had two primary concerns: the historical significance of the cottages and the local need for affordable housing.
The property was purchased in 1997 by Matilija Investment Property, LLC. Brian Cearnal of Cearnal Adrulaitus, LLP represented the owners Wednesday as the continued design permit review came back before the Ojai Planning Commission meeting. The chambers were full, but few spoke on the matter, and those were City Hall mainstays Scott Eicher, Suza Francina and Len Klaif.
Now bearing the moniker “Bungalows at Mallory Way,” city planning consultant Abe Leider presented the staff report for the project, which is to demolish 18 existing low-income rental cottages on the 3.58-acre site and replace them with 23-unit, two-story condominiums, for a total of 30 units. Unit sizes range from 1,974 to 2,065 square feet for seven duplexes and nine single-family structures.
Public speakers and commissioners raised sustainability issues. Since the project was begun seven years ago, concepts about green building and changes in streetscape or landscaping have developed in the city. Overall, the plans reflected past suggestions in these areas. Cearnal presented a slide show of the plans and explained how the owners mapped the existing trees, prioritized native plants and redrew the unit plots around them.
Of the 84 trees currently at the site, the proposed project would remove 47 and replace them with 116 new ones, including native oaks. The property would

Besides periodic calls for increased affordable housing in Ojai are the voiced concerns about how development impacts both the budget-conscious resident and the habitat we all admire. Mixed in are concerns about state mandates to increase the city’s affordable housing by 427 units and whether our water supply will accommodate it. And then there is Mallory Way: 25 bungalows built as an auto court in the 1940s that have remained so rural in appearance, they served as the backdrop for the 1997 Oprah Winfrey TV movie, “Before

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