Yucaipa City Council continues discussions on permit for a 44-unit detached condominium project on Fifth Street

The land on Fifth Street in Yucaipa, south of the fire station, where the 44-units will be built.

At the Jan. 13, Yucaipa City Council meeting, the council reviewed and discussed a minor general plan amendment to permit a 44-unit single family residential condominium project to be located on the vacant property directly south of the city fire station at the southwest corner of Fifth Street and Wildwood Canyon Road. The proposed project was reviewed at the Dec. 18 regular planning commission meeting with the planning commission voting 5-0 to recommend approval of the project by the city council.

The discussion at the planning commission meeting focused toward the street improvements that are proposed along Fifth Street. A concern regarding pedestrian safety within the development was also discussed with a condition to be added to the proposal that the applicant work with the Public Works Department to implement any needed traffic calming measures within the development. These methods may include a painted sidewalk, speed bumps, or curb extensions that extend the sidewalk into the parking lane in order to further narrow the roadway and provide additional pedestrian space at key locations. 

R.C. Hobbs Company has submitted an architectural design packet for the proposed subdivision review with three different floor plans and two different architectural styles proposed, French Style and Spanish Style. The company also submitted conceptual landscape architecture design for the overall site and fencing plans for a decorative block wall along the frontage, vinyl fencing along the majority of the perimeter of the site with some block walls along the adjacent properties.

“A fencing plan which features block walls on the majority of the frontage along Fifth Street, vinyl fencing along the interior of the site, as well as the northern and western perimeter of the site is planned. A tubular steel fencing along the southern perimeter of the site is also planned,” said  Benjamin Matlock, associate planner.

Matlock added that, “It should be noted, for clarification, the design guidelines do identify that block walls are the preferred perimeter wall type but does defer the actual materials and approval to the hearing body for their consideration. This project was actually deemed complete prior to the adoption of the city wide guidelines. The project was evaluated at the time of being deemed completely pursuant to the housing accountability act. The project did conform to the standards that were in effect at the time of being deemed complete.”

Councilmember Dick Riddell brought up some of his concerns about the project and one being that if there were a fire there was only one outlet for residents to escape safely. “I would like to see an emergency exit (by lots 17-19) as there is an opening there for an emergency exit to the road along the flood control on the south side. (If there were a gate there) It would only be used in case of an emergency,” said Riddell.

Craig Heaps of Premium Land Development was present to speak at the podium and said a gate for emergency only would be fine.

“My other concern is that there is an excessive change in elevation between the project and the fire station. I understand there are a couple retaining walls, is that sufficient to hold back all the dirt and was that looked at pretty thoroughly by our engineering department,” asked Riddell.

“We had a geotechnical engineer that read the test out there so we know what we are dealing with regarding the soil. Also the grading plan is in plan check now which addresses all the changes in elevation. I know that based on what the engineers are doing that we are in good shape there and we will be able to tier it down,” said Heaps.

“I’m assuming our engineering department is satisfied with the retaining walls there,” said Riddell.

“I agree that with this project because of the way it is situated with a mobile home park off to the west, and the fire department up above with a slope, that a block wall around the perimeter of this particular project is the most appropriate wall to put in,” said Councilmember Denise Allen.

“I would prefer a block wall if possible,” said Riddell.

Heaps noted that with the change in grade on the north side that would be handled by block walls and beyond that would be the vinyl fencing.

Allen mentioned that she felt in this particular case the block wall would be a very valued amenity for the people who purchased these houses as well.

“I tend to agree, in my former life, we used to require block walls between any fire station and development and it is just good for security for personal vehicles that will be left for extended periods of time, plus any equipment that is in there. It is just a policy we established and I think it was relatively consistent here at one time too,” said Mayor David Avila. 

“My only concern is the separation, just like on the last development that we approved and the approval was just as long as there was a barrier between the project and the mobile home park. I think we should be consistent with what we did on the other project here,” said Councilman Greg Bogh.

Riddell moved that the public hearing be closed but give staff an opportunity to address the additional documents and give council feedback in a future meeting. The item will be brought in front of council in February.

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