I want to commend AM on her detailed and thorough posts. She has clearly done her homework and makes compelling arguments. In fact, she has provided a lot of documentation which helps to make the case that the Moradian’s have not been victims but instead complicit in the outcome via a series of poor investment decisions. Thanks for the info AM.
Jess claims she’s not being paid by Moradian but fails to mention she’s the the Director of Marketing at PR firm Mustang Marketing, who’s client list includes the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association, who’s president is Shawn Moradian. She also received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Moradian’s wife in for her failed 2022 bid for Ventura County College Board. (This is not the first instance of Moradian using family members, with different last names, most of which have no connection to the Conejo Valley to contribute to other campaigns he supports. This is not illegal unless it can be proven he funneled the money through them. Let me be clear I am not making this accusation. I’m only questioning the ethics of this practice)
FIRST let’s talk about the easement which arose from the Fox Meadows 1977 EIR. It stated, “the flood control district would request that the “cut” area be encumbered by a flowage easement until such time as the flood control project is completed” There is no reference to this being widening of the channel at Borchard nor the completion of the overpass upgrade. In fact, that same document included a detailed 1976 report of the improvements needed with three options. One was lining the entire 4 ½ miles of the channel, and it was deemed economically unfeasible. Two other options required adding dams or retention basins throughout the area. The projects upstream of the property have been completed. This includes three detention basins in Dos Vientos, and another near Reino/Kimber Dr. The Borchard/101 interchange does provide some control, but the bridge blocks some of the downstream flow from the Borchard property. The bridge was built with the plan that this blockage could be removed if needed, but a detailed study of the downstream flow would need to be conducted at the expense of the developer which would be costly.
CONCLUSION – There is no evidence that the Borchard/101 interchange mitigates the flood potential to an extent that justifies removal of the easement.
Second, let’s talk about the allegation that the 2013 flood storage volume of 250-acre feet required by the County was engineered by Linda Parks directing staff. That is absolutely false. Supervisors are not able to “direct” staff. The only exception would be if the entire board voted on it and there would be a paper trail. There is none.
I spoke with Jeff Pratt, Director of Public Works who set the 2013 volume at 250-acre feet. This is what he said occurred: Prior to this time the County had never set a volume for what was needed on the easement. The numbers reported by AM came from hydrologists working for the Moradians. Shawn Moradian contacted the
Watershed District and demanded a number. However, he refused to pay for the study to present to the County. Therefore, the County did some modeling to see at what point the spill from this property would overflow onto the highway, using conservative calculations because the owner would not provide a study, and it certainly
wasn’t the taxpayers responsibility to pay for it. Also Mr. Pratt confirmed that to suggest Linda Parks had something to do with this was preposterous.
CONCLUSION– Mr. Moradian drove the County to come up with a number with his demand yet wouldn’t provide hydrology analysis. Without him this 250-acre feet number would never have existed.
So, with all that let’s go through some of the history AM provided and see how the Moradians’ own poor investment decisions led them to where they are today.
Wait, I have to correct another error in her blog. They didn’t pay $1.8M for the property originally. I went to the County assessor’s office in February 2023. In 1978 prior to the purchase the assessed value was $322,000. In 1979 the assessment was increased to $800,000. Prop 13 sets the assessment at the purchase price so we can conclude the original purchase price was $800,000. In 1990 the property was deeded to Borchard Village Partners. The Moradians owned 2/3 and Younes and Soraya Nazarian owned the other 1/3. In 2011 they bought out the Nazarians’ 1/3 interest for $1.2M. That would have placed the total market value then at $3.6M, an
amount that is strikingly close to the 2010 $3.4M appraisal done on behalf of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC). AM mentions an appraisal the Moradians had done in 2006 which valued the property at $28M, yet AM didn’t provide any documentation to show this. Why she was so free with other documentation that supported his claims?
I will also point out that while Moradian is arguing the value of his property this 2011 buyout meant his assessed property value was increased to $1.2M because of it. Yet in 2016, he filed an appeal with the tax assessor and convinced them to lower the value to $535,000. So, which is it, $28M or $535,000? Can’t have it both ways.
HERE’S THE HISTORY OF THEIR DECISIONS
INVESTMENT DECISION 1
1978-Nasser Moradian purchased a property that had an easement that granted broad control to the County, based on his EXPECTATION that flood control projects would be completed that would allow release of the easement. A $25M Bond issue for these projects was approved in 1967. They had no guarantees, nor did the easement promise this.
INVESTMENT DECISION 2
1980- $4.6M of the 1967 Bond Issues were still unsold. The County reached out to Nasser Moradian asking if he would like to purchase the remaining bonds pointing out “we will be unable to complete all the projects originally identified in the bond project” and “one of the remaining projects would substantially benefit development of your property” and “in the decision making process for expenditures we will give consideration to purchasers when recommending which project should be financed” He did not buy the bonds.
INVESTMENT DECISION 3
1990-The Borchard Villas concept was being reviewed. The concept included setting aside 13 acres for a retention basin. The County stated that they agreed “in concept” that it was doable, and they would recommend quit claiming the easement over to the City, but a couple of issues still needed to be resolved “including review
and acceptance of additional engineering details”.
1992-The Borchard Villas concept moved forward and was due to be presented to the Planning Commission on July 20th using the 13-acre storage basin. However, on July 17th, the County informed the City that they “were not willing to maintain the pumps and detention basin”, which would make sense since in 1990 they talked about in theory quit-claiming the easement to the City which would make the City responsible. However, that same letter also stated they had been working with staff on an off-ramp project that might eliminate the need for that basin. They also noted that consideration should be given to requiring the developer to contribute to this project. Moradian saw the potential for not having to give up 13 acres of his property and pulled his application. Who knows what would have happened if he’d followed through. Borchard Villas may have been approved and built.
INVESTMENT DECISION 4
2000-2003 Funding for the off-ramp is finally provided and construction is completed in 2003. This did, in fact, cause large amounts of water being released by Telair into the channel to back- up onto the Borchard property, due to damage to the channel during this construction. No arguments here. A lawsuit was brought by Moradian against the City of Thousand Oaks, Telair and Caltrans in 2006. The suit was settled (some in Moradian’s favor and some not) and remediation measures were required that were completed by 2013.
2010-2013 Moradian pressed the County to go on record of providing a number of what the storage requirement of the easement needed. Prior to this, the County had never named an official number. In 2010 the prior director of the Watershed Protection District did issue a letter to the appraiser as part of the SMMC’s appraisal process stating, “estimates based on FEMA’s flood rate insurance maps said the parcel’s volume could range from 160–335-acre feet” However, Moradian refused to have a detailed analysis done to present to the County. That would have been the norm, as it’s not the taxpayer’s job to pay for this. So, based on his insistence that the County name a number and unwilling to provide an analysis, the County modeled using conservative methods.
The modeling sought to find at which point flowage from the property would spill onto the highway. That modeling is where the 250-acre feet came from. Linda Parks had nothing to do with this. County Public Works Direction Jeff Pratt (who agreed I could use his name) gave me the background on this. So, as they say, Moradian was “hoisted by his own petard”. He forced the issue but wouldn’t pay for the study.
I didn’t go into the many discussions in her blog about Wetlands, “Karens” and chocolate penises. They aren’t relevant and seek to just muddy the waters. The final truth is no one has actually prevented Moradian from developing his property. He has actually never gotten to the point of filing an application with the City, instead deciding at various times to pull out or not proceed. The City and County can’t deny something that hasn’t been asked for. It still boils down to a developer has to spend the funds, do the work, present a plan and the studies which he has not done. Also let’s remember that 45 years have elapsed since this property was purchased. Plans that may have been approved 20 years ago may not be approved now. Climate change, FEMA and science have evolved, and standards have changed considerably. So, let’s put this where it belongs. At least 4 MAJOR INVESTMENT DECISIONS. They are not victims, and there certainly has never been a conspiracy.