Upland Planning Commission Disallows Warehouse Near Residential Subdivisions

The Upland Planning Commission, faced with growing discontent over the city development services director’s insensitivity to the quality of life implications of the juxtaposition of incompatible land uses at various locations around the City of Gracious Living, Wednesday night denied a proposal by Yellow Iron Development to construct a 92,275-square foot warehouse on 11th Street.
That was a dramatic change from the previous planning commission meeting on November 18, when the planning commission had approved, on a 5-to-2 vote, making a mitigated negative declaration with regard to the project. That vote was seen as an indication that the project was on a trajectory toward final approval. At the November 18 meeting, the commission’s consensus was that the only issue preventing acceptance of the project and its site plan was the need for a greater definition of the nature of the operation that would be run out of the facility once the building was erected.
There were, however, issues that complicated the matter.
In April, the city council had considered and then approved two controversial projects – Bridge Development Partner’s 201,096-square-foot distribution center for on-line retail behemoth Amazon located on 50 acres north of Foothill Boulevard and south of Cable Airport and Frontier Homes’ 65 single family detached residential unit Villa Serena subdivision on 9.2 acres within a 20.3-acre site at the juncture of 15th Street and 13th Avenue within the Foothill Knolls neighborhood.
Both the Bridge/Amazon and the Villa Serena projects had been given go-ahead in a process that did not require comprehensive environmental impact reports to certify that the California Environmental Quality Act would be adhered to in their construction. Instead, those projects were subject to the mitigated negative declaration process. A mitigated negative declaration utilizes the city’s elected officials in the form of the city council or the appointed members of the planning commission to sign off on an assurance that the consequences of the project will not adversely impact the district wherein those projects are to be placed, nearby neighborhoods or the city overall, nor overwhelm the infrastructure and utilities serving the area.
In the cases of both the Bridge/Amazon and Villa Serena projects, there were significant numbers of Upland residents who believed those undertakings represented potential and real untoward impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, districts and city as a whole. They formed citizens committees – Upland Community First and Friends of Upland Wetlands, respectively – which sued the city over the project approvals, seeking rescission of the project approvals until such time as the city carried out a full-blown environmental impact report with regard to each before again considering them and granting them an entitlement to proceed. Both projects remain tied up in the courts.
Of note was that both the Bridge/Amazon and Villa Serena projects had been processed by the city’s development services/planning division, under the leadership of Upland Development Services Director Robert Dalquest. Dalquest has cultivated a reputation for indulging the development community in its efforts to obtain project approval through allowing proposed projects to proceed using the least exacting methods of obtaining environmental certification, such as a mitigated negative declaration, rather than a full-fledged environmental impact report, which is much more comprehensive and much more expensive for the proponent. Many Upland residents had, accordingly, developed concerns that the city was in this way allowing builders and the development community to cut corners with regard to incorporating into their projects elements that would eliminate, decrease, lessen or offset the impacts those developments would have on already existing and future nearby homes, businesses and properties as well as the infrastructure in the immediate area of where the new development was to occur. This included impacts on streets and traffic, air and water quality, use of utilities, and other ambient conditions.
When the city planning and development services divisions took up the application by Yellow Iron Development to construct what was described as a warehouse on the south side of 11th Street between Central Avenue and Monte Vista Avenue, a cross section of residents already had misgivings that city officials with discretion over the matter would evince greater concern for the developer and the sentiments of a decidedly pro-development city council headed by Mayor Debbie Stone than for the residents of the area. When the approval of the project was delegated to the planning commission, an appointed rather than an elected body, the distrust of city officials and Dalquest heightened.
At issue was that across 11th Street to the north and slightly to the west was the existing and nearly completed Harvest residential subdivision with 318 dwelling units, while across the street slightly to the east was the site for the approved-but-yet-to-be-initiated Enclave development, which is to consist of 192 condominiums and townhomes.
City officials had done little to notify or alarm the existing residents within the Harvest neighborhood that a warehouse facility, which could involve, variously, light industrial manufacturing activity or warehousing and distribution operations or some other type of industrial functions, was on the verge of being permitted to set up shop within shouting distance of their homes.
An issue that was not fully addressed by Dalquest and the remainder of city staff in its preparation for the documentation for the proposed project’s consideration at the November 18 meeting was the intensity of use that will take place in, at and around the facility once it is built. Based on the city staff report and Yellow Iron Development’s representations, the eventual use was to relate to some order of a distribution operation rather than a manufacturing one.
An analysis of known and indefinite factors relating to the project and the property upon which it is proposed to stand indicated that the eventual tenant would be called upon to spend roughly $92,000 in basic rent per month or $1.1 million per year to occupy the proposed building, based upon a $1 per square foot per month rental cost, which falls within the average rate in Southern California. Leasing would only be a percentage of a warehouse’s operating costs. In addition, other cost elements to open the doors of a warehouse or distribution facility and make it operational would be involved, including but not limited to the provision of utilities, purchase of and debt service for the acquisition of equipment, vehicles and furnishings, plant maintenance, insurance, taxes and personnel. These combined costs could zoom to as much as $500,000 per month. In order to meet this financial burden, an energetic and intensive warehouse operation would be required, entailing trucks flowing in and out all day long, perhaps in three shifts per day. Yet, based upon what was said at the November 18 meeting, the eventual tenant was to be prevented, from the outstart, from operating more than a very small number of trucks, including those engaged in bringing merchandise into the warehouse and vehicles loaded with merchandise being dispatched from the warehouse for either wholesale or retail delivery. This limitation seemed as if it was going to reduce considerably the number of entities that would be willing to locate on the property, since the ability to generate sufficient income as a going concern involved in warehousing and delivery would likewise be diminished, perhaps to below that which would be profitable.
During the November 18 public hearing for the warehouse project, none of the residents of the Harvest neighborhood were present to provide input or offer their reaction to the project proposal, either as a show of protest or reservation with regard to its potential impacts or support for its placement less than one-fortieth of a mile from the entrance into their gated community.
The November 18 meeting agenda entailed staff’s presentation of the project, including its recommendation that the project be given go-ahead, a public hearing in which city residents and any others could be heard with regard to the issue, a vote which was to be joined in by members of the Airport Land Use Committee with regard to a finding that the project is consistent with the Cable Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan, a vote to make a mitigated negative declaration that the project is in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, and a vote to approve the development plan for the project.
Entirely foreclosed was the possibility that a comprehensive environmental impact report for the project would be completed. Indeed, during the public hearing, Yellow Iron Development’s principal, Tony Spinrad, asserted his initial position that no environmental study of any sort was needed for the project.
This is not a 50-acre site,” Spinrad said. “There are not 1,400 parking spots on here. There are 11 truck positions, and so this isn’t going to be thousands of vehicles on the streets. This is going to be what we’ve studied. It’s a relatively small site. It’s under five acres. The building is less than a hundred thousand square feet. So initially, we came in and we were hoping to do a CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] exemption, and [Upland Associate Planner] Joshua Winter, Bob [Dalquest] and the city, they felt it was important to do the studies, and so, I think they’ve done a great job, and I appreciated working with them this year.”
In Spinrad’s parlance, the term “studies” meant data assembled for the planning commission to make its mitigated negative declaration, rather than an actual environmental impact report.
After Upland Land Use Committee Member Ronald Campbell joined with the planning commission in making a finding that the proposed project is consistent with the Cable Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan, the commission moved its focus to whether making a mitigated negative declaration was sufficient to give the project environmental certification.
The planning commission as a whole on November 18 came across as relatively cavalier with regard to its role of looking after the interests of the nearby residents who would, upon the completion of the project, have to live with its impact, though a two-member minority of that panel – Gary Schwary and Christine Caldwell – gave indication they were sensitive to the land use incompatibility represented by a warehouse being located close to more than 500 homes. Both Schwary and Caldwell opposed providing the project with a negative declaration. In her comments, Caldwell voiced the view that a warehouse proximate to the existing Harvest subdivision with its 318 dwelling units and the approved-but-yet-to-be-initiated Enclave development, with 192 condominiums and townhomes, was an incompatible use. The commission, with commissioners Robin Aspinall, Carolyn Anderson, Thomas Grahn, Serge Mayer and Patrick Shim prevailing, voted to make the mitigated negative declaration for the project.
After that vote, the discussion on November 18 turned to the approval of the development plan review for the project, which would be tantamount to approval of the project itself and permission for Yellow Iron Development to proceed. It was during his interchange with Spinrad that Schwary locked onto what for many was a troubling aspect of the warehouse project, that being the lack of definition with regard to the project itself.
We don’t know exactly who our tenant is going to be yet,” Spinrad said. “We have been talking to [prospective] tenants.”
The inexactitude of the eventual use had proven disconcerting for more than a smattering of civic activists. The zoning on the property is light industrial, which, according to city officials, would allow the warehouse, once it is completed, to house various types of operations, including manufacturing and a distribution facility, although some city residents dispute the latter. There was an incident earlier this year in which a conversation between Dalquest and the current city attorney, Steven Flower, that took place during a break at a council meeting was captured on the audio portion of the video of that meeting. The exchange between Dalquest and Flower demonstrated that neither of them were fully convinced that a distribution facility is allowable under the city’s light industrial designation. During the November 18 meeting, Steve Bierbaum, an Upland resident, suggested that the city’s light industrial zoning did not square with that of a warehouse facility, from which dozens, scores or even hundreds of vehicles might be dispatched on a daily basis, and to which large trucks, including 18-wheelers, would be making frequent deliveries. Dalquest offered a statement to indicate that the city’s light industrial zoning description could be stretched or be interpreted to permit warehouse uses.
Despite his acknowledgment that the facility was going to be some order of distribution warehouse, Spinrad attempted to downplay the intensity of vehicle traffic that use would generate. Indeed, so intent was he in minimalizing that aspect of the operations that were to eventually take place at the site, he may have inadvertently triggered scrutiny of the project that would ultimately lead to its rejection by the planning commission this week, on December 9. A representation made by both Spinrad and city staff at the November 18 planning commission hearing was that the total vehicle trips into and out of the facility per day would be limited to no more than 250. According to statements made during the course of the meeting, the “equivalent total” of vehicles anticipated at the warehouse is 214 daily, including 130 involving passenger cars and 34 involving trucks, specifically six two-axle trucks, eight three axle trucks and a quantity of 20 four-axle trucks, the last of these presumed to be 18-wheelers. That entailed what was for many observers a glaring paradox: How could Spinrad, who said he had no idea of who the eventual tenant at the warehouse would be, they asked, know how little or how much truck and delivery vehicle traffic into and out of the warehouse facility would take place?
During the November 18 planning commission hearing, Spinrad evinced a willingness to reassure the members of the planning commission that the eventual operation at the warehouse, whatever it entailed, would not be an onerous one and would not impinge on the nearby properties. In this way, the 214-vehicle/34-truck limitation claim seemed to have evolved out of an apparent concern with regard to the facility’s proximity to the Harvest and Enclave subdivisions. In a clever ploy at deflection, Spinrad offered that proposed limitation with the caveat that if the operations at the warehouse could not confine themselves to the 250 vehicle trips per day limit, either Yellow Iron Development or the tenant would be willing to be bound by a requirement to return to the planning commission to seek clearance, which might not necessarily be granted, to increase that truck activity. This immediately struck many of those in attendance at the meeting as implausible, and a manipulation of the approval process that was intended to allow a far more onerous degree of activity that would be incompatible with the project’s surroundings than was being openly acknowledged at the meeting. The developer was seeking approval of a project in which the exact nature of the operation and the precise or even approximate number of vehicles it would entail was unknown. The apparent plan was to get the planning commission’s assent for Yellow Iron Development to proceed with the project on the basis of the representation that the eventual operations at the facility would involve only a modest degree of added truck traffic, with a clause built into the project approval that would allow the truck travel into and out of the facility to dramatically escalate once the building was built and the warehouse/delivery operations were in place. The calculation was that the planning commission or city council in the future would not be likely to deny that request for an increase in vehicular intensity if that meant shutting down an operation that was up and running and employing hundreds of drivers and warehouse workers.
While few in the Upland community were focused on the warehouse proposal, the relative handful of people who were had come to the conclusion that Yellow Iron Development and Spinrad were purposefully under-representing the intensity of the future use of the property in an effort to obtain an entitlement for Yellow Iron Development to proceed. Given Dalquest’s experience and level of sophistication, it was highly unlikely that he could have misunderstood the situation or that the necessity of Yellow Iron Development’s tenant engaging in a very intensive use of the property could have escaped him. The circumstance implied that Dalquest and city staff were knowingly going along with the misrepresentation as to the intensity of use at the proposed warehouse, knowing that once operations were at full swing there, vehicle trips into and out of the facility will approach or exceed a thousand per day.
Among those addressing the planning commission on November 18 with regard to the Yellow Iron warehouse proposal was Carlos Garcia, who was elected on November 3 to fill the vacant position on the city council representing Upland’s Third District, in which the proposed Yellow Iron Development warehouse project site and the Harvest and Enclave subdivisions are located. Speaking as an Upland resident rather than in his role as councilman-elect, Garcia told the planning commission he believed the warehouse would have an impact on the neighborhood, and he expressed the view that the warehouse as proposed does not fit the light industrial business park description contained in the city’s zoning code and, as such, is an incompatible use adjacent to a residential neighborhood. Of the truck traffic the warehouse will generate, Garcia said, “There is one way in and one way out,” noting, “We have already seen 18 wheelers on 11th Street.” Garcia further alluded to the mystery relating to who will actually occupy the warehouse once it is built, saying Yellow Iron Development was “creating a project there, but do we have a tenant? There is nothing solid or concrete. There is nothing to tell us what is actually moving in there, so we can know the impact.”
On November 18, Planning Commissioner Schwary alluded to the disconnect between what Spinrad was saying he was proposing and how the project would eventually prove out once it was built. In this respect, Dalquest appeared to be providing Yellow Iron a certain degree of wiggle room by saying that if it turned out in the future that the eventual tenant needed to utilize the property with a greater degree of intensity than was being conceded that evening, the tenant would be obliged to return to the planning commission to seek permission to intensify the use.
Schwary dryly stated that such under-representations had been made to the planning commission in the past. “We’ve kind of had a crash course on this recently,” Schwary said. He then gave indication that there was, for him, too much vagary in what Spinrad and Yellow Iron were offering, which the eventual tenant at the warehouse would be able to drive, literally, scores or even hundreds of Mack trucks through on a daily basis.
I think that what needs to be done is to give a clearer, more definitive number for the residents on how many trucks are going to come in,” Schwary said.
Politely, Schwary referenced the somewhat absurd suggestion Spinrad had made in seeking to minimize the intensity of use at the 92,275-square foot warehouse building by referring to it as a “mom and pop” operation, obliquely indicating his skepticism.
I understand when you don’t have a tenant you don’t know that, but then I hear mom and pop,” Schwary said. “We need to go beyond that.”
Schwary reacted to Spinrad’s statement that he would be able to get the eventual tenant to erect signs near or at the exit from the warehouse property instructing truck drivers not to transit through the nearby residential neighborhoods or the streets adjacent to them.
You can put ups signs all you want, but we know that truck drivers will just want to get to where they go quickly,” he said. Schwary then asked of the city’s legal counsel, “Can we fine the tenant if these trucks don’t go the route?” That did not provoke a definitive response. Schwary then said, “There is no need for any residents to have trucks go through their neighborhood. I want to see a limit on the amount of trucks, but we can’t do that until we know what kind of tenant you have.”
Though the commission did sign off on the mitigated negative declaration for the project earlier in the meeting, the commission, at Schwary’s prompting, postponed until the December 9 planning commission meeting voting with regard to the development plan review for the project. Still, based upon the comments of the commissioners, including Schwary, approval of the project at the December 9 meeting seemed virtually assured, with Spinrad needing only to flesh out a few particulars with regard to the nature of the operations that would eventually be housed in the warehouse, and provide definite numbers in terms of the trucks bringing material in and delivery vans being dispatched from the warehouse.
The December 9 meeting was held remotely by means of a video/audio hook-up rather than at City Hall, in deference to the recent coronavirus pandemic flare-up. It appeared the project was rapidly advancing toward approval. It was reported that no definite tenant to occupy the warehouse had yet been found, but it was claimed that an assurance could be given to the community with regard to a reduction in truck traffic emanating from the warehouse. The estimation of 214-vehicles, of which 34 would be trucks, operating out of the facility had been scaled back, the commission was told, such that “the project would generate a total of 164 vehicle trips, inclusive of 130 passenger cars and 34 truck trips,” according to a visual display provided by Associate Planner Joshua Winter.  According to that same graphic, “Actual peak hour trips [would consist of] ten passenger vehicles and one truck trips” in the morning and “14 passenger vehicles, three four-axle trucks and one three-axle truck trips” in the afternoon or evening. Staff again recommended that the development plan be approved.
Schwary at once raised the issue of the hours of operation at the facility. The conditions of project approval put forth by staff stated that the hours of operation were not limited.
It’s not something they were willing or wanting to implement on this project because they don’t want to limit any future tenant,” Joshua Winter, the associate planner for the city who had shepherded Yellow Iron through the application process said of the request that operational hours be limited. “I didn’t want to add that as a burden in getting tenants into the building.”
For observers, the applicant’s unwillingness to specify the hours of operation was an indication that Spinrad had been prevaricating about the intensity of use the project would entail.
Schwary said some order of binding restrictions had to be placed on the trucks.  “It’s not fair to the residents to have trucks going through their neighborhood,” he said.
Momentarily diverting the focus from the hours of operation, Dalquest suggested the city could specify a truck route using instructions to the truck drivers and signage, and employ the city’s code enforcement division and fines to ensure compliance. Winter said that the fines could be imposed on the operator and property owner in addition to the drivers. Schwary countered that it was unrealistic to think that an already thinly staffed and overwhelmed code enforcement division could ride herd on all of the truck traffic emanating form the site. “I want to make sure we do everything possible to make it less of a burden on the residents,” Schwary said. ” So, I want to make sure on the front end the applicant is aware that there is going to have to be some kind of compromising operations to make sure the residents are protected to a degree.”
Upon the public hearing portion of the meeting being initiated, there was some interchange between the members of the commission and Spinrad that dwelt for the most part on the adjustments to the building design and landscaping in which the general tenor of Sprinrad’s cooperative attitude with regard to the commission’s suggestions seemed to presage approval of the project.
The proponent’s prospects turned, however, when Spinrad made the assertion that “The project is a CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] exempt site,” stating that the project was consistent with the general plan and the city’s zoning code, was contained within a five-acre site, was not a habitat for any endangered species, that approval of the project would not result in any significant effects relating to traffic, noise, air quality or water quality; and that the site would be adequately served by all required utilities and public services. Spinrad expressed his belief that Yellow Iron Development had gone beyond what was required in terms of subjecting the project proposal to the mitigated negative declaration process, which he suggested was superfluous since the project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act. This ran counter to the overarching attitude of many of the city’s residents who had taken an interest in the project. Spinrad’s faux pas in making that assertion appeared to trigger an attitudinal change on the part of the commission.
 Inadvertently, Spinrad in referencing the project impacts with regard to traffic and noise, while confidently assuming those issues had been safely put to bed, stepped on a landmine. Somewhat arrogantly, Sprinard said, “Out of an abundance of caution the MND [mitigated negative declaration] was put together and there are no significant environmental impacts.”
Spinrad was at something of a disadvantage. In providing noticing for the project application and the November 18 planning commission hearing on the project, according to Winter, between 15 and 20 homes in the Harvest subdivision had been provided with an alert that the discussion and possible action with regard to the approval of a warehouse proposal was to take place. When no residents from the Harvest neighborhood had shown up on November 18, the proponents for Yellow Iron’s project took that as an indication that there was no opposition to the project to speak of, which Spinrad this week bootstrapped up into his assertion that there were of no significant environmental impacts from the project as proposed. No further official noticing of the pending approval of the project at the December 9 meeting was given, and Spinrad anticipated that once more there would be no reaction from nearby residents. What Spinrad did not know was that between the November 18 meeting and the December 9 meeting, flyers and other informational materials relating to the project proposal had been distributed to 228 households within the Harvest neighborhood, accounting for virtually all of the completed and occupied single family units there.
While Spinrad said Yellow Iron was amenable to inserting restrictions into the leases for the warehouse notifying operators of the penalties to be imposed on those operators, trucking companies or truck drivers for utilizing any other immediate routes to the warehouse other than 11th Street or for idling their engines, he drew the line at imposing restrictions on the facility’s hours of operation.
“What are your proposed hours of operation?” Schwary asked.
“We intend to follow the required hours of operation during construction and once complete, you know, and operational, we need to maintain the ability to have 24/7 operations,” Spinrad replied.
The problem I have with that is that we can’t have trucks coming in at two or three in the morning, with lifts going on and off, and I don’t care what the decibels are, there’s got to be some kind of deterrent to [protect] the residents of the area,” Schwary said. “Are you telling me that if you don’t get a 24/7 applicant instruction, a 24/7 window, that’s a deal-breaker for you?”
“Yeah,” Spinrad said. “I think the city through code enforcement has the ability to address any noise issues, and I don’t think there will be any. So, that’s important to us.”
“So, if you were living in one of those houses, and a truck came down that street at 2 a.m., regardless of whether it was within the noise levels or not, you wouldn’t be upset?” Schwary asked. “You wouldn’t be frustrated?”
“If it was within the noise level, I don’t think I would,” Spinrad responded. “I think I’d be asleep.”
Okay,” Schwary said.
Commissioner Serge Mayer took up the issue of nighttime operations.
“When we look at the total number of trip generations in the summary, you’re able to say specifically that you’re only going to have one truck at the a.m. peak hour, and you’re only going to have three trucks at the p.m. peak hours, and you’ve got a total of 34 for the day,” Mayer said. “So that’s going to be 29 more trucks coming during the day. If we approve this as it its, you could have 29 trucks coming at midnight and be fully operating within the basis of what we’re approving here, and I don’t feel good about that. Are you at least able to give us something like, you know, 20 percent or ten percent of these may be in the evening, but no more than that?”
“I think we’ve made a pretty good faith effort on all of these conditions, and hours of operations is not something we are really prepared to limit,” Spinrad said. “It’s too limiting.”
Schwary jumped in once more. “
With all respect to you guys, you don’t even know who your tenant is yet, so you don’t know, like Commissioner Mayer pointed out, they could be coming, the majority of them, between ten and twelve at night or ten and 2 in the morning, and whether it be one truck or two, you have no way of knowing, unless you already know who the tenant is. But if you don’t know who the tenant is, you have no way of being able to address that. We have a responsibility to look at that. I am of the opinion that because of the residential proximity, we have to have hours of operations limited.”
Asked by Chairwoman Aspinall if Yellow Iron Development would “walk away” from the project if it were subjected to a limitation of the tenant’s hours of operation, Spinrad said, “I think that what we did is a conservative study, based on the square footage of the building and the anticipated use, and I don’t think it is uncommon to build a building without knowing who the tenant is. I don’t know who the tenant is, but I really want to push against limiting who that tenant could be based on cutting operational hours. We have a limit on our trips already. So, 34 truck trips – 17 in and 17 out – so, we’re not talking about a big impact. Typically, these types of tenants, they don’t want to be travelling during the peak hours, and so they will want to avoid the peak hours.”
Aspinall sought to forge some order of compromise. “
If we were limiting this as a condition to, let’s say, I think Commissioner Mayer threw out 20 percent, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., you find that unreasonable?” she asked.
I just find it unnecessary,” Spinrad responded. “I think there’s already a mechanism to address this.”
Okay,’ said Aspinall.
Statements from the public were then heard. Thirteen individuals expressed objections to or opposition to the project. Five construction union members expressed support for the project.

One resident of the Harvest neighborhood whose name phonetically approximated Kevin Salvacoeur, asked the commission, “Would you want this warehouse across the street from your home?”
Harvest resident Vivian Rusk said “I’m very concerned about… the increase in the truck traffic, truck usage, the times of the truck usage, the congestion, the noise, the air pollution, and now the applicant wants the trucks to come in 24/7. I’m concerned about us as a community and how it will affect our quality of life. I’m concerned about our children when school starts again, and the trucks going by.”
The union members said that Yellow Iron was a “responsible” company, and that the project would provide local jobs for construction workers, 
give apprentices on the job training, and would boost the economy. They encouraged the commission to approve the project.
Harvest resident Bob Wagner, said, “B
ased on what I have heard so so far from tonight’s meeting, I am totally opposed to this project, and I cannot believe that the City of Upland would grant residential permits to build 220 or 300 homes and then later permit something like this right next door.”
Lois Sicking Dieter suggested to the commission that using a mitigated negative declaration rather than an environmental impact report for the project was improper.
Timothy Cotran, a homeowner at the Harvest subdivision, said, “I believe that when these residential communities were approved and built, the minute those were approved, the zoning of the surrounding area should have been reconsidered to prevent developers from coming in and building incompatible structures alongside the residential. We’re fitting a square peg into a round hole over here. It’s just not the right spot for this project.”
Christina Cotran said, “Children will use this street – 11th Street – to walk to Cabrillo Elementary [School], which is less than a mile away, To have trucks 24/7, really with no regulation, up and down this street is a safety hazard that hasn’t been discussed. It would be ideal to consider moving this development to an area where there are not residents so close in proximity that they suffer the consequences.”
resident Karina Jane Scribner said, “I was under the impression that we were developing this area to make this area to be residential and we are moving toward an industrial setting. This is where we live. Our quality of life will be greatly affected. I think this is just not the right location for a warehouse.”
After the proponent and resident input was concluded, a discussion between the commissioners took place.
Commissioner Mayer indicated he would be able to approve the project only if it were subject to conditions the applicant was at this time not willing to accept. “I would be more favorable to a condition that would limit the amount of trucks during the evening,” Mayer said. “I understand there are emergencies that happen, maybe a couple here or there. But I want to be assured it’s not a complete night operation.”
Commissioner Caldwell said, “I have serious concerns with this project. I believe it is not compatible with the existing housing and the future housing.” She said the “intensification” of the industrial/warehouse operations in the area with the development of new housing “is unacceptable.”
Chairwoman Aspinall made a motion to approve the project as it was submitted in the resolution presented in the agenda for the meeting. No second of the motion ensued, and the motion died.
A motion by Commissioner Anderson was made and seconded by Commissioner Grahn to approve the project as proposed with conditions of approval, including a wrought iron fence and enhanced landscaping around the facility, no idling of the trucks at the facility and no more than 20 percent of the truck traffic coming into or going out of the warehouse in the hours between 11 p.m to 5 a.m. That motion failed, with Anderson and Grahn in favor and commissioners Aspinall, Schwary, Caldwell, Shim and Mayer in opposition.
Schwary then made a motion to deny approval to the development plan for the project. It was seconded by Anderson, with Commissioner Caldwell adding a declaration that “The proposed design will be materially detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare or be injurious to the property improvements in the vicinity of the proposed project.” She further referenced “traffic, a dangerous situation  with conflicts between pedestrians and trucks, the noise, hours of operation.”
The commission voted 6-to-1, with Grahn dissenting, to deny the project approval.
-Mark Gutglueck

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