The planning commission met on Dec. 18 and 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 in Yucaipa.
The property that was discussed is currently vacant and slopes towards the channelized creek at the south end of the site. The area is surrounded by residential uses and the fire station to the north and east, a mobile home park to the west, and multiple family units to the south.
“The purpose of the general plan amendment is to essentially allow one set of development standards to encompass the entire property so that as a designer project, it does have a more uniform layout as part of that design,” said Benjamin Matlock, Associate Planner.
“The proposed project consists of a Conditional Use Permit and the site plan is laid out with 44 units looped around a central driveway that connects off Fifth Street, along the southern portion of the site and then loops around through the site with a number of units within the middle of the looped driveway and the rest along the periphery of the site … so the project is designed to emulate a traditional single-family two story homes with three different floor plans,” said Matlock.
The three different home plans have been designed with a traditional front facing garage. A six-foot tall vinyl fence is proposed to surround the site. The homes would be arranged along a looped private street network that would connect the entrance for the development along Fifth Street. The private street has been designed to provide 32 foot of curb-to-curb asphalt, which would facilitate two-way traffic and street parking, and also feature a five-foot sidewalk that would provide pedestal connectivity to the recreational features provided in the development. In addition, the proposed project would complete the street improvements along the project frontage of Fifth Street, including curb gutter, sidewalks, and matchup paving, and would include any gutter transitions to the adjacent properties.
The site has been designed to maintain historic flows and includes measures that will ensure that the project complies with the on-site water retention and city’s water quality requirements. The overall drainage of the site utilizes the proposed grading to facilitate the movement of water towards a landscaped detention basin at the southern portion of the site. The retention basin overflow is proposed to be contained in a storm drain pipe mounted to the existing San Bernardino County Flood Control District (SBCFCD) channel.
Private amenities of the development are provided as part of the project and will include a tot lot play area, picnic areas, open space and common area landscaping, private streets, and guest parking within the private street network. Each residential unit is also provided with a private yard.
“Condominium projects for the detached single-family condominium projects have been built in the city before … and have been very successful,” said Matlock.
R.C. Hobbs Company has submitted an architectural design packet for the proposed subdivision review with three different floor plans with 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. The developer is requesting the planning commission to approve the architecture at this time as required in the conditions of approval and then be sent to the city council for approval.
“We did receive a few different comments on the project. There were several responses received from surrounding property owners during the project notice period of the project as to when it was going to be completed and noting just general concerns about the increase of density and a preference to maintain a rural atmosphere. It should be noted that there are other higher density projects within the immediate vicinity of the project including the mobile home park so there are other similar type of comparable density projects adjacent to the project. The city did also receive a comment letter from an organization on the initial study following the public comment period,” said Matlock.
Matlock went on to say, “Some of the key issues raised in the comment letter was a concern over condominium projects themselves, as well as phasing for projects. The city has had projects where one phase finishes and the second phase occurs, so it does allow in the city’s experience, anywhere between 10 to 20 units for single-family type projects to be built … so it is a pretty common occurrence for residential projects. As a general plan amendment it does require the city council approval for the project, so at this time the planning commission would need to make a recommendation for city council’s consideration.
“I think the project looks great and you always bring beautiful projects to the commission,” said Aron Wolfe, planning commissioner.
Some of the concerns of the commissioners were the traffic flow in the area, the safety issues due to a downhill grade and the cars already driving fast in that area.
“To answer the question as to whether the traffic impacts were reviewed the answer is yes,” said Fermin Preciado, Director of Public Works/City Engineer.
Preciado went on to say, “There were some mitigation measures that are required for the project. To speak specifically regarding the south bound approach on Fifth, the project is conditioned to widen Fifth Street to its ultimate condition with the curb face being 32-foot from the center line which is our standard for an arterial street where you have two lanes in each direction and a continuous turn lane. Fifth Street is already widened to the ultimate in front of the fire station. Right now as you make that curve to the left, if you are going south, it does taper down to one lane but as I mentioned, this project will widen the street to its ultimate condition so you will essentially have two lanes and then it will taper down to one lane just before you get to the bridge at Wildwood Canyon Road.”
Another issue that was brought up was traffic speed. “The speed issue is something that happens all over the city and because you have the traffic signal, and the fact that you have both a vertical and horizontal curve before you reach the driveway and if you notice the driveway is on the south side of the property, all of this will essentially increase the site distance. If you are going south and you make that turn on that curve, there are a few hundred feet before you reach the driveway so you are able to see the cars that are slowing down to turn right on that driveway. The project is conditioned to widen the street to address that situation. Some may say that we are just pushing the issue further south because now you are tapering back to one lane down near the bridge. The location of the driveway was one of the things that we reviewed when we were reviewing the site plan,” said Preciado.
“So if cars traveling north, want to make that left hand turn (into the driveway), are they going to have to stop and wait for all the southbound traffic to go by and then all that traffic behind them is going to back up,” asked Wolfe.
“We do recognize the potential delay that occurs and it is a condition that is not unusual on this type of roadway throughout the community so we haven’t in the past added unique or special left-turn pockets,” said Paul Toomey, Director of Community Development.
Toomey went on to say, “One other example to consider farther up the street, as you are headed north, is a series of single family homes that has driveways that are being accessed. For those homeowners, who turn right with the flow of traffic and those that turn left opposite the flow of traffic, it is more similar to what you (Wolfe) were describing. I don’t believe we have much in the way of an accident history at that location, south of the intersection … The issue is about site distance and being able to react in time,” said Toomey.
“The overall peak traffic flow is pretty minor given the distribution of the trips that were incorporated into the design to ensure that the driveway location allows the greatest opportunity for cars entering and leaving the development to be able to see the other cars along Fifth Street and to be able to respond accordingly. That was included as part of the project design and the review for that,” said Matlock.
“Is there room on Fifth Street to put in a center lane to pull in to allow those residents to make a left-hand turn … with the widening we are going to do,” asked Wolfe.
“Because there is no widening being conditioned across the street, it wouldn’t allow for that with our standard street section,” said Preciado.
Toomey added, “Essentially 44 homes generate roughly 10 trips per home all day and that is not 440 cars coming out of the driveway at one time. There is a percentage of those cars that leave under peak hour conditions and is typically about 10%. Over many decades of traffic engineering studies, that has been the analysis.”
There will be an association to maintain the dog park, the park, and the private streets in this affordable housing development.
There was a unanimous vote to approve and send to city council for review.