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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Seeking options for Oak Park eruv

By Eli Eisenberg
February 2, 2007

Re: your Jan. 21 article, "Oak Park orders boundary removed":

I read the Sunday article in The Star about the eruv in Oak Park, and I believe it contained some inaccurate information. I don't know exactly what Tom Block said to The Star or if he was misquoted or simply taken out of context, but as a member of the Conejo Eruv Committee, I have a different understanding about our position than the one presented in the article.

The article made it seem like we only care about some overlooked details in the permitting process and intend to charge forward with the eruv in Ventura County. That is simply not the case.

Members of the Conejo Eruv Committee are deeply sorry for mistakes that were made and for the way in which the eruv was put up in Ventura County in a manner that, we agree, was aesthetically unpleasing. Our contractor represented to us that no poles would be installed and that only existing structures and light standards would be used and that the fishing line would be virtually unnoticeable.

When we saw it ourselves, we were embarrassed and upset at the job that was done and took steps to rectify the situation even before we were aware of any complaints from neighbors. While, at that time, we didn't anticipate the full extent of the reactions of the neighbors, we nevertheless realized that corrective action would be required and told our contractor that we'd need to come up with an alternate plan.

Subsequently, we learned that the approval that we had from the county was being revoked because Southern California Edison's paperwork was limited to the city of Agoura Hills and didn't cover the entire eruv based on the map we submitted with our application. Accordingly, we were told the eruv was not in compliance with the county permit.

The eruv committee recognizes that lack of a valid permit is not the main issue here, and that is not the primary reason we directed our contractor to take it down. The bottom line is that this was done in a way that was offensive to the residents of Oak Park, and that they were not given an opportunity to weigh in on the eruv prior to its construction. Those are the reasons we directed our contractor to tear down the eruv. The Star article makes it seem like our only concern was the permit issue and that we don't care about the concerns of residents or the aesthetics of Oak Park, and that simply is not the case.

Jan. 19, as a response to the requests of Supervisor Linda Parks and the residents of Oak Park, we ordered the contractor to take the eruv down wherever it was constructed in Ventura County, and he promised us to have it removed by the end of the weekend. In doing so, we hope that the community would recognize that we regret the mistakes that were made and that our No. 1 goal is to be good neighbors and citizens.

I want to make it very clear that we are not charging ahead, as the article implies. We do not have a plan at the present time for moving forward with the eruv in Ventura County, but we would like to establish a task force for the purpose of exploring alternatives that would be acceptable to the members of the Oak Park municipal advisory committee and the residents of Oak Park.

In so doing, we hope to demonstrate good faith and to prove that being good neighbors is our primary concern.

— Eli Eisenberg, of Agoura Hills, is a member of the Conejo Eruv Committee.

(An "eruv" is a religious boundary created to encompass an area in which Orthodox Jewish families can perform tasks typically banned during the sabbath. — Editor)

Copyright 2007, Ventura County Star. All Rights Reserved.

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