After initially being denied approval by the planning commission last month, Yucaipa City Council approved a conditional use permit and general plan amendment for a residential development at the corner of 12th Street and Avenue D, adjacent to Dunlap Elementary School.
The item was subject to a lengthy discussion and was passed by a 3-2 vote. Mayor Bobby Duncan, along with Councilmembers Denise Allen and David Avila, voted for approval, while Councilmembers Greg Bogh and Dick Riddell voted against.
The project, which was proposed by local developer Craig Heaps, includes 61 single family detached condominium units built on an area of about 9.5 acres. The Planning Commission, along with local residents, voiced concerns about traffic and the development’s compatibility with the surrounding area and voted 4-3 against its approval.
Jeff Neeley, a longtime Yucaipa resident who lives near the proposed development, expressed his concerns during the item’s public comment period.
“I’m not opposed to growth or good development, but I am worried that what is happening to my area, the Dunlap area, is that the flood control is opening the floodgates to high density development,” Neeley said, referencing the construction of recent flood control infrastructure in the North Bench that has reduced the flood risk in the Dunlap area. “I ask you to support the Planning Commission, to deny this project, bring it back, and refocus it.”
According to a report presented by city staff to the council, “the flood zone has been reduced as a result of a variety of city-wide flood improvement projects, which in addition to life and safety benefits, has allowed for potential development opportunities to occur on underutilized parcels.”
John Rominger, also a Yucaipa resident who lives in the vicinity, disputed concerns about traffic and expressed enthusiasm about the project amidst what he viewed as underdevelopment of the Dunlap neighborhood.
“I don’t understand why this is becoming a big deal,” he said. “No one (I’ve spoken to) has a problem with this project. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea.”
Councilmember Riddell said that he had “problems with this density.”
“I think it’ll just go from here and grow into apartments,” he said.
“There’s a huge problem in California with housing,” said Mayor Duncan in support of the item. “The state has mandated that certain cities fulfill certain responsibilities about responsible development and responsible housing. We have to take into consideration that, if we don’t allow certain types of development in our city, then they will take away our right to (review projects).”
Duncan mentioned the Orange County city Huntington Beach, which is currently being sued by the state for allegedly failing to build affordable housing.
“We do not want to get ourselves in that position,” Duncan said. “We need this type of housing.”
“I think a lot of people’s kids have moved out and they cannot afford to live in this community because we do not have entry level housing for our kids to be able to stay here when they are starting out on their own two feet,” Councilmember Allen said. “So I am in favor of the project.”
“I’m definitely for the development in the Dunlap area. I think it’s needed,” said Bogh, who voted against the project and whose district includes the proposed site. “But the Dunlap area is not going to solve the housing issues of California either, so I don’t quite understand that argument. To me it’s about density.”
The project is estimated to generate about $930,000 in development impact fees.