By Mark Gutglueck
Mired in one intractable lawsuit over a large-scale warehouse they approved last April and having narrowly sidestepped another legal challenge last month only by balking at approving another controversial warehouse project, Upland city officials this week initiated the process of tightening the standards and criteria the city will apply in considering and giving go-ahead to such projects in the future.
Nevertheless, the city council left unaddressed the vexation at the very heart of the issue, which consists of questionable action perpetrated by past officials which allowed residential developments to be located within an industrial zone, creating a juxtaposition of mutually incompatible uses that City Hall appears unequipped to resolve. Still bedeviling the city are flaws in the city’s general plan, last updated in 2015, which embody potential clashes in land use that will subject current or future residents to an unhealthy living environment and undercut the reputation and authority of city officials.
As such, dual specters hang over the issue of intensified development of so-called light industrial facilities/distribution centers/warehouses in the City of Gracious living. One of those is what many consider to be the incompatibility of such operations with surrounding or nearby residential neighborhoods. The other is the destructive impact transportation-intensive warehouses or distribution centers will have on the city’s infrastructure, most notably its roads.
When the city council as it was then composed approved the project that is now the object of ongoing litigation, its members clearly understood that a significant cross section of the community was opposed to allowing the project to proceed. What they did not fully comprehend was the depth of the resentment that approval would engender. In the face of that resident discontent, one of the council members who supported the project’s approval opted to leave office and move out of the state. The mayor who supported allowing the large-scale warehouse to be built was voted out of office in November. Moreover, the willingness of city staff to allow the approved but now legally-challenged project to be subjected to a far less vigorous environmental certification process than is common with projects of its significance and scope has filled the atmosphere in and around City Hall with an air of distrust, with suggestions abounding that something untoward occurred by which inducements, i.e., bribes of some form or another, influenced the decision-making process related to the project.
The project, Bridge Development Partner’s proposed 201,094 square foot distribution center intended for occupation by retail behemoth Amazon, was approved by the city council in a 4-to-1 vote, with Councilwoman Janice Elliott dissenting and Mayor Debbie Stone, and councilmen Rudy Zuniga, Bill Velto and Ricky Felix prevailing. The meeting at which the approval was given, held on April 1, 2020, was conducted outside of a public venue. The council members participated by means of an electronic hook-up in an effort to comply with Governor Gavin Newsom’s mandate to avoid large public gatherings in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Despite city residents protesting the conducting of the meeting relating to such a hotly-contested issue by means of teleconferencing and the public’s participation being limited to phoning in their comments, the council proceeded with the hearing.
The 201,094 square foot structure, known as the Bridge Point Project, is proposed for construction on 50 acres south of Cable Airport, west of Benson Avenue, north of Foothill Boulevard and east of what would be the logical northward extension of Central Avenue. Rather than requiring that Bridge Development Partners complete a comprehensive environmental impact report for the project, the city, under the guidance of Community Development Director Robert Dalquest, utilized environmental studies completed for the proponent to form the basis of the city’s environmental certification of the project, which was made by a mitigated negative declaration.
A mitigated negative declaration is an environmental review determination made by an elected or appointed board of a governmental agency in which administrative and land use authority has been entrusted certifying that the environmental impacts from a project will be mitigated by the conditions of approval for that project. This contrasts with an environmental impact report, which delineates not only the impacts in detail but spells out explicitly what the mitigation measures for those impacts will entail, and requires the cataloging of viable alternatives to the proposed project.
The project’s opponents cited a bevy of objections to the project. One of those was the amount of traffic the project would generate, potentially jamming Foothill Boulevard, Benson Avenue, 16th Street, and Central Avenue during the morning and evening rush hours. Another concern was exhaust from the trucks and other delivery vehicles that would be part of the distribution center’s operations. The wear and tear those vehicles would have on the city’s streets was another source of citizen disquiet. Of major concern was that the site where the project is to be located represents potentially prime commercial property, with easy access to the main thoroughfare of Foothill Boulevard, and that it would not be utilized commercially. This consideration is exacerbated by Amazon’s business model, which involves retail sales that forego the collection of sales tax, such that the project would represent no income to the city. In approving the project, the city council signed off on a development agreement which was to confer on the city $17 million in infrastructure damage offsets and payments in lieu of sales tax. Nevertheless, the project’s critics maintained, the damage to the city’s streets and roads over the 50-year lease that Bridge Development Partners had on the ground upon which the warehouse was to be built, which reflected the anticipated life of Amazon’s presence at the warehouse/distribution facility, will likely require constant refurbishing and maintenance of the city’s transportation infrastructure which will exceed in cost the $17 million Bridge Development Partners is committed to pay the city in the development agreement. Project opponents further asserted that the zoning of the property – light industrial – did not permit a warehouse or distribution center to be developed there. Another issue was that the plans approved by the city council on April 1 of last year specified that 1,438 parking spaces were to be incorporated into the completed project, a number far in excess for what would typically be needed in the operation of a 201,096 square foot warehouse. This was an indication that Bridge Development Partners at some point intended to enlarge the facility, perhaps to the extent that it would involve 970,000-square feet under roof and three separate structures, as the company had originally proposed when it previewed the project to the community in June of 2019. The resultant intensity of use from such an expansion would likely trigger infrastructure creation, maintenance and refurbishment costs to the city exceeding $100 million over the 50-year ground lease for the project.
Of note was that prior to the April 1, 2020 city council vote to approve the project and the development agreement, the Upland Planning Commission, with then-Commissioner Alexander Novokov absent, on February 12, 2020 had considered the project and voted 3-to-2 in recommending that the city council not approve project. After two weeks during which the commission members were intensely lobbied, the commission on February 26 met once more to consider the project, this time with Novokov present. Despite Novokov casting a vote against recommending approval of the project, two of the commissioners who had voted against the project previously – Gary Schwary and then-Commissioner Linden Brouse – switched their votes, such that in a move unprecedented in Upland’s history, the planning commission reversed itself, voting 4-to-2 to recommend that the city council approve the project.
The firestorm of controversy that followed the city council’s April 1 vote, which entailed widespread suspicion that the decision-making process for the project had been tainted by graft, collusion and bribery, resulted in the city council ducking for cover. At the last regularly scheduled council meeting that month, the council asked city staff to examine the city’s regulatory requirements for warehousing based on multiple issues, including whether the city’s definition of warehousing needed to be defined in more detail and where warehousing should be properly located, along with what offsets warehouse developers should provide in conjunction with such undertakings.
The following month, with accusations that city officials had been paid off to forego subjecting the project to an exhaustive environmental impact report and approve the project over substantial resident opposition, City Councilman Ricky Felix abruptly resigned and moved out of the city on May 31.
In the weeks after the council’s approval of the project, a group of citizens, convinced that Dalquest as the city’s community development director had fallen short of protecting the city’s residents from the onerous elements and consequences of the Bridge Point/Amazon project, formed a public action committee dubbed Upland Community First.
On July 15, 2020, Upland Community First, represented by attorney Cory Briggs, filed a petition for a writ of mandate, naming the City of Upland.
A writ of mandate is an order issued to a public agency or governmental body by a judge to perform an act required by law when it has neglected or refused to do so.
The filing contended that the members of Upland Community First as well as other residents of Upland opposed to the project had their fair hearing and due process rights violated on April 1 when the hearing relating to the project occurred via teleconference, and that there are other defects plaguing the project approval. The impacts of the Bridge Point Project will be onerous, according to the petition for a writ of mandate, and the use of a mitigated negative declaration for the project as opposed to a full-blown environmental impact report provided the residents of Upland with inadequate safeguards against those impacts.
“Whenever a project proposed to be carried out or approved by a lead agency has the potential to cause an adverse environmental impact, the California Environmental Quality Act prohibits the agency from relying on a negative declaration,” the petition for a writ of mandate states. “Instead, the California Environmental Quality Act requires the preparation of an environmental impact report to identify and analyze the significant adverse environmental impacts of a proposed project, giving due consideration to both short-term and long-term impacts, providing decision-makers with enough information to enable them to make an informed decision with full knowledge of the likely consequences of their actions, and providing members of the public with enough information to participate meaningfully in the project’s approval and environmental-review process. The California Environmental Quality Act also requires every environmental impact report to identify and analyze a reasonable range of alternatives to a proposed project. The California Environmental Quality Act further requires every environmental impact report to identify and analyze all reasonable mitigation measures for a proposed project’s significant adverse environmental impacts. An environmental impact report must be prepared for a proposed project if there is a fair argument, supported by substantial evidence in the administrative record, that the project may have an adverse environmental impact; stated another way, a negative declaration may not be used unless the lead agency determines with certainty that there is no potential for the project to have an adverse environmental impact. By way of example and without limitation, the administrative record is replete with evidence that the project will result in significant traffic, air quality, and noise impacts, among other environmental impacts. The project will also result in cumulative impacts unaccounted for in the mitigated negative declaration. The project’s significant direct, indirect, or cumulative adverse impacts on the environment give rise to respondent’s legal obligation to prepare an environmental impact report. Respondent’s failure to prepare an environmental impact report is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.”
The hopes of Bridge Development Partners and Amazon that enough of the project would be completed by November 2020 so distribution from the Upland warehouse could take place for the Christmas 2020 shopping season were dashed when the court granted a motion for a temporary restraining order preventing work on the project from proceeding while the lawsuit is heard. The project remains on hold while the lawsuit continues.
Despite the city council’s request last April that Dalquest and the rest of the city’s community development and planning divisions look into the city’s standards and regulations relating to warehouses in the city, that report was not forthcoming for more than eight months. Meanwhile, another controversial warehouse/distribution facility proposal was wending its way through the Upland planning process.
Yellow Iron Development and its principal, Tony Spinrad, sought permission from the city to construct a 92,275-square-foot warehouse on a 4.9-acre site on the south side of 11th Street between Central and Monte Vista avenues on the western edge of the city in what is referred to as the College Heights. The property was zoned for light industrial use, which city officials maintained would allow a warehouse or distribution facility to be built there.
Complicating that matter, however, was that the 92,275-square foot facility, the site plan for which included 11 truck bays and two other truck loading facilities as well as parking spaces for 202 vehicles, was proximate to to the Harvest residential subdivision, which lies on the north side of 11th Street immediately to the west, and the Enclave residential development site, which is on the north side of 11th Street to the east. The Harvest project, comprised of 318 dwelling units, is largely completed and over 200 of those homes are now occupied. Work has yet to begin on the Enclave project, to entail 192 townhomes and condominiums, with construction slated to begin later this year.
Despite the controversy and legal challenge the Bridge Point/Amazon project had engendered when the city sought to substitute a far less exacting mitigated negative declaration for a full blown environmental impact report relating to the project, Dalquest and the remainder of the Community Development Department and the planning division once again sought to move the Yellow Iron Warehouse Project through the environmental certification and project approval process without requiring an environmental impact report, instead using a mitigated negative declaration. Just as they had with the Bridge Point project, the city’s planning and community development staff members recommended that the city’s decision-makers give the Yellow Iron undertaking go-ahead.
With the city council having been bitten with a lawsuit over its approval of the Bridge Point Project, Dalquest sought to unburden them of the trauma they had experienced previously by deferring the matter entirely to the planning commission, which was to take on full land use authority at its November 18 meeting and consider the project, including signing off on the mitigated negative declaration relating to it. The decision to hand decision-making authority with regard to the Yellow Iron project over to the planning commission appeared particularly calculated in that Mayor Debbie Stone, who had supported the Bridge Point Project and had overridden citizen requests to postpone the hearing on the project until a traditional meeting in which residents would be able to fully participate in the process could be held, was voted out of office on November 3, the same day on which two new members of the council, Carlos Garcia and Shannan Maust, who had gone on record as opposing the Bridge Point Project, were elected to the council.
At the November 18 planning commission meeting, the Yellow Iron project appeared to be on a trajectory toward certain approval. No residents from the Harvest subdivision spoke in opposition to the warehouse proposal. On a 5-to-2 vote, the planning commission approved making a mitigated negative declaration regarding the project’s environmental issues, with commissioners Robin Aspinall, Carolyn Anderson, Thomas Grahn, Serge Mayer and Patrick Shim prevailing over commissioners Gary Schwary and Christine Caldwell. After that vote, the discussion turned to the approval of the development plan review for the project, which would be tantamount to approval of the project itself. It was at that point that an exchange between Schwary and Spinrad revealed a certain lack of clarity as to what the project was to consist of.
“We don’t know exactly who our tenant is going to be yet,” Spinrad said. “We have been talking to [prospective] tenants.”
While acknowledging that the facility was going to be some order of distribution warehouse, Spinrad attempted to downplay the intensity of vehicle traffic the facility would generate. 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 was to be 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 those presumed to be 18-wheelers. That entailed what was for at least some observers a glaring paradox in that Spinrad, who said he had no idea of who the eventual tenant at the warehouse would be, was simultaneously able to predict how much truck and delivery vehicle traffic into and out of the warehouse facility would take place. 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.
At Schwary’s prompting, the full commission held off on approving the development plan for the project, asking that Spinrad return at the commission’s next meeting where he could flesh out in greater detail the full extent of the project. The expectation at that point was the project would be given go-ahead when the commission next convened.
By the time of the commission’s next meeting, held on December 9, word had at last spread among the residents of the Harvest subdivision that a warehouse project virtually next door to where they lived was on the brink of being approved by the city. Several of those residents at that point weighed in against the project, expressing their belief that the warehouse was incompatible with the nearby residences. Additionally, a city resident, Alipio De Veyra, represented by attorney Cory Briggs, came forward to appeal the commission’s approval of the mitigated negative declaration for the project. Ensuing from that appeal were a host of further of considerations and implications. One of those was the prospect of further litigation. As of December 9, the City of Upland was a defendant in 55 legal cases brought against it. Word on the street was that upon the Yellow Iron warehouse project gaining approval, a 56th lawsuit, citing that approval of the project without a full environmental impact report as a cause of action, was going to be filed against the city.
At the December 9 meeting, first Schwary and then other members of the commission, including Aspinal and Mayer, raised the issue of the warehouse’s hours of operation, the upshot being that they wanted an assurance that the residents of the Harvest and Enclave neighborhoods would not be subjected to the sounds of trucks being loaded and driven into or out of the warehouse facility between, variously, the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Spinrad said he was unable to offer any such guarantee.
After reiterating that he did not yet have a tenant lined up, Spinrad said, “I really want to push against limiting who that tenant could be based on cutting operational hours. I just find it unnecessary. I think there’s already a mechanism to address this. Typically, these types of tenants, they don’t want to be traveling during the peak hours [i.e., morning and late afternoon rush hours], and so they will want to avoid the peak hours.”
Citing Spinrad’s intransigence on accepting a limitation on the hours of operation, the planning commission voted 6-to-1, with Commissioner Grahn dissenting, to deny the project approval.
This week, nearly nine months after the city council as it was formerly composed asked Dalquest and his staff to report on whether changes to the city’s regulations with regard to warehouses to be build in the city were in order, Dalquest made that report.
He told the council that there are ten properties with light industrial or general industrial zoning where a warehouse could be built, nine of which were large enough to accommodate a structure of 50,000 square feet or more. Typically, Dalquest said, a 50,000-square-foot warehouse would involve operations involving 17 truck trips daily or more.
There ensued some discussion on the question of whether the Upland Municipal Code permits a warehouse or distribution center to locate on a property zoned for light industrial use.
In the Upland Municipal Code, where the term light industrial is defined and described, no reference to warehousing is made.
Councilman Carlos Garcia said, “The definition doesn’t reflect what the code is stating.”
Dalquest responded, “The definition in the zoning code is a very broad definition. It lists some uses but it is not limited to what is listed.”
Nevertheless, at one point, Dalquest appeared to be using circular logic in lodging his interpretation that warehouses are permitted within light industrial zones. “Warehousing would fit under the warehousing listing in the zoning code,” he said. It was unclear whether he had misspoke in his second use of warehousing in that statement. Moments later, he said, “You could also consider warehousing as fitting within a very broad definition of warehousing.”
Dalquest said the term light industrial equates to clean industrial as opposed to heavy industrial, which could consist of operations involving smokestacks. Light industrial zoning, as does general industrial zoning, he said, allows operations with a substantial transportation component, such as warehouses. While the definition of light industrial zoning in the city’s municipal code does not specify warehousing, according to Dalquest, tables in the Upland Municipal Code show that warehouses are permitted within light industrial zones.
City Attorney Steven Flower said the controlling portion of the municipal code document relating to what uses could take place in various zones, including industrial zones, were the document’s tables, one of which, he said, indicates light industrial uses could include a warehouse.
An element of the discussion centered around the circumstance along 11th Street.
Dalquest relayed to the council the dilemma of the city having permitted Lewis Homes, the applicant in both the Harvest and Enclave projects, to “encroach” into an industrial zone. That took place well prior to Dalquest coming to the city, under the watch of his predecessor, Jeff Zwack. Both Dalquest and Mayor Bill Velto evinced a belief and attitude that the city and the Harvest and Enclave residents would need to live with the preexisting industrial zoning that surrounds those two residential subdivi sions, and that the zoning should be perpetuated. Whenever the discussion appeared to be on the brink of veering off into a serious consideration of changing the designation on the undeveloped industrially-zoned properties along 11th Street to residential, Velto and Dalquest would steer the council away from that option.
Councilman Carlos Garcia, in whose District 3 virtually all of the undeveloped industrially zoned properties lie, and Councilwoman Shannan Maust came closest to suggesting that a change in the industrial zoning should take place when the council momentarily alighted on the issue of incompatibility between the proximate light industrial and residential uses.
“The confusion for me is, going back to our recent example of a 96,000-square foot building in a light industrial area, our code now reads that I cannot create noise, odor, vibration or other similar impacts,” Maust said. “How do we get around this? Clearly, a 96,000-square foot [building] in a light industrial [zone], across the street from a residential [neighborhood] is going to produce that. What I am asking is how do we self-correct, amend the municipal code to protect residents, not make it too hard on the businesses, because, just in that alone, it’s contrary to what the developer was bringing?”
Garcia noted that a lot of the areas the city deems to be available for warehouse development are in District 3.
“If you look at the College Heights area, this is historically where industry moved over the decades,” Dalquest responded. “So, for the most part, this was all industrial zoning for many years. It was only ten or 15 years ago, when Harvest and more recently the Enclave kind of encroached into this industrial area. For the most part, the College Heights area is where industry has been for many decades.” The “majority” of undeveloped parcels in that area, Dalquest said, remain zoned for industrial use.
“So I understand the fact that that’s the way it was before, but we also have now tenants within those communities,” Garcia said. “So this mix of new housing… it’s in an industrial area. I think what ultimately worries me [is] we’re allowing opportunities for warehouses to be built, and we don’t know who is going to go in them. You are building things where we have no potential for knowing if X, Y and Z are going to go in for sure. I think we need to pay attention very closely to some of these communities that are being built, such as the expansion of Harvest and the Enclave, which is coming as well.”
At that point Garcia obliquely suggested that the zoning in the areas in the city immediately proximate to existing residential areas be changed from industrial to residential.
“I think this is very important, and I hope the planning commission is listening,” Garcia said. “We live here. I’m responding to what a large number of my constituents have said, that this can’t be a dumping ground. We’re not a dumping ground.”
Velto suggested that the city’s industrial zoned areas remain slated for industrial use, even if they are flush up against a residential neighborhood. He mounted a defense of the city not requiring developers to disclose, prior to being granted an entitlement to build, the precise scope and nature of what they are proposing.
“I think the difficulty’s going to be… what the zoning is and what it allows already,” Velto said. “I think there’s a fine balance. The difficulty is when you start talking about build to suit, if somebody comes in [and] they want to develop what is allowable on there, sometimes they don’t even have a tenant in mind. They’re just a developer, a business, a property developer. So, sometimes businesses don’t want to say they’re coming in there yet, because of… the competition. So, we have to look into that and find out what is the best use, the highest and best use of that property. That’s what the planning commission does. That has to be looked at.”
Councilwoman Janice Elliott said she wanted to see land use decisions that were consistent with the city’s general plan.
This pivoted the discussion toward limiting the size of any warehouses that were proposed and approved and also imposing on them conditions of approval instead of changing the city’s zoning map to prevent incompatible uses from being juxtaposed.
Dalquest at one juncture sought to dissuade the council from imposing limitations on the sizes of warehouses.
“One thing you might want to consider… rather than a universal threshold based on building size [is] to require a conditional use permit,” Dalquest suggested. “There might be some instances where a 90,000-square foot building within the heart of an industrial area would be okay, but you could have a conditional use permit requirement if a warehouse was within a certain distance of a residential development.”
In this way, Dalquest appeared to be lobbying for avoiding a defined limitation on warehouse sizes in general, which would allow such operations to continue to exist in industrial zones untainted by intruding residential uses.
Mayor Velto asked, “Can we limit the amount of vehicle traffic from any site? Are we allowed to limit vehicle traffic from a site, as far as trucks? Can that be done?”
Before Dalquest responded, Elliott said, “It’s hard to enforce.”
Councilman Rudy Zuniga inserted, “We did it with Bridge.”
Dalquest, responding to Velto, said, “Talking about warehouses as a permitted use, we do not have any metrics that would restrict the operations of that type of use, so that would be something that would be highly unusual.”
Such conditions could be superimposed on project approvals by including an augmenting agreement, Dalquest said. “If you have a development agreement, now, then you can provide some of those kind of operational restrictions,” he said. “But absent the development agreement, having a use that is permitted by right, I don’t think you could limit the truck traffic. You might be able to limit the hours of operation when trucks come in.”
City Attorney Steven Flower hastened to add, “To require development agreements on all projects would be problematic.”
There ensued discussion, in large measure prompted by Councilwoman Elliott, relating to limiting the sizes of light industrial uses going forward. Gradations in that discussion specifically consisted of structures under 25,000 square feet, those between 25,000 square feet and 50,000 square feet and those over 50,000 square feet.
Dalquest told the council that if any of those limitations are codified, that would mean that existing warehouses or light industrial operations with square footages exceeding the limitations would no longer be in compliance with the municipal code, such that they would become legal nonconforming uses that would be subject to an amortization process by which those operations would need to vacate after a given number of years.
As the discussion was winding toward a conclusion, Councilwoman Elliott made a motion that city staff formulate language to be adopted in the municipal code that provides for warehouses of 25,000 square feet or less being permitted in light industrial zones and warehouses exceeding 25,000 square feet being prohibited in light industrial zones. Elliott’s motion also called for amending the Upland Municipal Code so that in the city’s commercial/industrial mixed use zones, warehouses of fewer than 25,000 square feet would be permitted by right, warehouses ranging in size from 25,000 square feet up to 50,000 square feet could be built subject to a conditional use permit and no warehouses exceeding 50,000 feet could be constructed. Elliott’s motion further stipulated that in the city’s general industrial zone, warehouses under 50,000 square feet would be permitted by right and a conditional use permit is to be required for warehouses between 50,000 and 100,000 square feet, while warehouses exceeding 100,000 square feet would not be permitted. With regard to warehouses in commercial/residential and commercial/office mixed use zones, no warehouse over 25,000 square feet could be developed and those of 25,000 square feet or less could only be constructed pursuant to the granting of a conditional use permit.
City Attorney Flower emphasized that the city council’s vote Monday night did not amend the city code, but rather initiated the process of making the code amendments proposed by Elliott. For the municipal code to be changed, the language of the new code must undergo presentation to and an examination by the public, and an environmental review which is to include a vetting by the planning commission. Thereafter, the code amendments are to return to the council for adoption.
The council voted unanimously to approve Elliot’s motion.
Asked if she believed the council’s action this week addressed her concerns relating to the warehouse project’s in the city, Elliott told the Sentinel that “The tables pertaining to permitted land uses in the Upland municipal code need to be updated to reflect the changes we agreed on. I made my motion to limit warehouse activity in Upland to reflect our residents’ concerns that large warehouses bring unwanted truck traffic and provide few quality jobs. Accordingly, large warehouses are not compatible with our general plan or our five-year economic development plan that was recently adopted. It appears to me that we will be required to use available land for housing purposes, wherever possible.”
Elliott said, “What was not addressed and needs to be addressed in the process of amending the zoning ordinance is the issue of existing warehouses that would be made nonconforming by the new requirements. It would be my preference that these businesses would be ‘grandfathered’ to allow for ongoing activities. It was my intention to only limit future large warehouses.”
In response to the Sentinel’s inquiry as to whether he was satisfied with the council’s action this week, Garcia said, “As of now, yes. To me, it felt like a good compromise, without saying there can be no warehouses anywhere in our city.”
Still the same, Garcia said, the city needs to come to terms with incompatible land uses that currently coexist side by side, and ultimately adjust the zoning in such spots or introduce buffers between the conflicting uses.
“We need to look closely at these conflicts between residential and industrial uses that are on top of each other,” he said. “To have existing houses right up next to a factory or industrial use is not good planning. We need to be smarter about that. It is going to cost us if there is a mishap, like a kid running across the street and getting run down by a truck. We should make preventing something like that occurring a priority.”
Garcia questioned whether the adopting of new square-footage restrictions on warehouses going forward would retroactively apply to existing warehouses, as Dalquest said. Like Elliott, Garcia said he did not intend to apply the standards being formulated for future warehouse projects to warehouses that are already in place and nowhere near residential neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, Spinrad has appealed the planning commission’s denial of the Yellow Iron project to the city council.
By Mark Gutglueck