At the Oct. 24, Yucaipa City Council meeting, council members, excluding Councilmember Greg Bogh who was absent from the meeting and Council-member Jon Thorp, who recused himself, due to his residence being close to the project site, voted to deny the appeal request regarding the planning commission’s recommendation of the 200-unit development project even after the applicant reduced the size of the complex to a two-story and 175 units. The developer will be making revisions and returning to the planning commission at a later date.

The city of Yucaipa is responsible for providing 493 low income units and 511 moderate income units between 2021 and 2029 pursuant to the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation as mandated by state law.

City Planner Ben Matlock stated, “This is an appeal of the planning commission’s denial of a general plan amendment and land use compliance review regarding a 200-unit multi-family apartment project. This project has been submitted by Premium Land Development on behalf of Nova Homes.”

The project is located on 8.6 acres of land, just north of County Line Road between Second Street and Third Street in Yucaipa. Matlock said it did feature mostly vacant land but with four single-family residences that would be demolished for the proposed project and was surrounded by multi-family and single-family development with the exception of an elementary school nearby.

The project was reviewed by the planning commission on Aug. 3 and voted to be continued to Aug. 17, where it was ultimately denied. Concerns from the public that were voiced at the meetings were: if there would be enough parking spaces available in the complex keeping tenants from overflowing into the surrounding neighborhood; traffic that would be generated from the extra residents, especially around peak school drop-off and pick-up times; the height of the multi-story structure of three-stories and privacy of surrounding neighbors; and concerns of changing what had previously been planned by the General Plan.

At the planning commission meeting, commissioners weighed the public comments that were presented, as well as key issues as part of their deliberation leading up to a motion to deny the project. The planning commission noted that the proposed design provides a new and attractive apartment development for the city, but that such General Plan Amendments that locate high density projects within the interior of a residential block was not appropriate.

The developer planned to provide additional pedestrian improvements around the project to improve the connectivity to County Line Road including constructing sidewalks along Second Street from the proposed development to the existing crosswalk located to Tara Lane to the north, and sidewalks along Third Street from the proposed development to County Line Road.

The applicant revised the design which addressed the concerns of the planning commission and some of the surrounding property owners.

Mayor Pro Tem Justin Bea-ver wanted to clarify that the planning commission has not seen the revised plan with the two-story proposal. Matlock told him that was correct and that some of the commissioners commented that if this were to be a two-story project, it may be more palatable.

Developer Craig Heaps stated, “You don’t lose a lot with the two-story plan especially since we’re changing some of the unit mix to go with some smaller units so we can keep the volume up. The entire recreation area pretty much stays the same … There are two gated entrances which really slow down traffic as one leaves the site and this is a blocked wall community. We tried to design it with as much safety as possible.”

One of the owners, Ivano Stamegna addressed the council by saying, “As you are aware, this project was before the Planning Commission and in that meeting, the neighborhood objected to a third story. The third story blocks their view but also doesn’t represent a rural feel.”

Stamegna continued, “Based on that, we listened to them and we went back to the drawing board and redesigned our project. Today, what you have before you is a two-story. It’s more inline with the rural feeling. There were also concerns of multiple families living in one unit and so forth. There is nothing we can do about that but the association will take care of that. The management will take care of that. What you have before you, we have substituted 46 three-bedroom for one-bedroom which brings down the amount of people living in a project.”

Stamegna said he believes they have addressed all or most of the neighbors’ concerns.

There were twelve speakers regarding this subject with a time for the applicant’s rebuttal.

The developer was willing to reduce the units to 175 and the applicant stated apartments bring in families to Yucaipa as they are more affordable.

Matlock clarified some of the process and said, “With the vote related to the General Plan amendment, because we have three council members on the dais, this does require a three person vote in order to be approved.”

Mayor David Avila said, “The applicant offered to go to 175 and basically that’s the same thing as going ahead with a two-story. Let it go back to the planning commission. With this, we would be denying this appeal.”

Councilmember Bobby Duncan said, “I have to be real careful because the Senior Management of the Mormon Church comes out in public and accuses me of being somehow inappropriately associated with Premium Land Development, so I have to be careful what I say here. And the folks on the North Bench somehow think that that whole project up there is my project. Tonight a young lady stood up and said that I need to recuse myself because I’m bringing projects to the city. I haven’t brought one project to the city. I have no interest in Premium Land Development. I have no interest in this project. I have no interest in any of this. ... This is a good place for it whether it’s 150, 175 or 200, so that’s my position on it.”

This item with the amendments will be going back to the planning commission for a decision before it is brought back to the Yucaipa City Council.

This item can be viewed at yucaipa.org.

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(2) comments

cibbwin

I am SO glad the state is forcing cities like us to build this housing. If only they could force it to happen more quickly!

cibbwin

The ineffective NIMBYs elected to represent this stagnating city continue to hinder it's progress. Who cares about rural feel? This state has a homelessness crisis! Most of this city's residents cry about the ineffective state Dem government being the cause of this homelessness, yet when they try to bring more housing into this state, cities like ours turn our nose up at the efforts and vote it down.

So disappointed in this town. The homeless will continue to suffer because some poor, poor Yucaipans are scared of tall buildings and poor people.

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