Possible Tiny Home tracts

CALIFORNIA CITY – A discussion item to identify potential tracts for designation as Tiny Home Districts and selection of a new vice chair were the only agenda items for the Jan. 21 Planning Commission meeting. A public hearing on a delivery only cannabis retail business was pulled at the request of the applicant.

Identification of parcels of land that are appropriate to be designated as Residential Tiny Home Districts was presented by city staff.

“For the public, tonight is a discussion item only we will not be taking any action,” said Chairman Jim Creighton. “We may direct to staff for some further review or some further instructions, but tonight is discussion only.”

Planning and Economic Development Administrator Shawn Monk said nine tracts had been identified as potential Tiny Home districts.

“They’re basically around the perimeter, all except the west/southwest portion of the city,” he said.

Tracts 2898 and 2528 are located just south of the California City Municipal Airport; tract 2812 is bordered by Minidburu Boulevard, Neuralia Boulevard, Rusche Boulevard and Lindbergh Boulevard; tract 2967 is south of California City High School, bordered by Poppy Boulevard, Rusche Boulevard, North Loop Boulevard and Hacienda Boulevard; tract 6388 is the Legends development, bordered by Lake Shore Drive, North Loop Boulevard and Randsburg Mojave Road; tract 3151 is the mobile home park off Randsburg Mojave Road and North Loop Boulevard; tracts 2630, 2404 and 2223 are south of the city in an area between Sequoia Boulevard, Carson Drive and Arnold Drive; tract 2530 is also south of the city, bordered by Sequoia Boulevard, Hacienda Boulevard, Sylvan Avenue and Lasky Street.

“If you look at the recommendations for TH districts, there are several that are high and a few that are medium,” said Monk.

Staff ranked each of the tracts based on proximity to utilities, proximity to major streets and if Subdivision Deferred Improvement infrastructure funding was available. SDI tracts have funds designated for future improvements that are kept separate from other revenues.

Tracts 2528, 3150, 6388 and 2967 were rated highest by staff, with 2812 and 2898 rated next highest.

Big West Corp. President and CEO D.J. Twohig also submitted a list of recommended tracts, which differed in ranking from city staff, as well as tracts not included in the city’s list prior to the meeting. Twohig’s highest recommendation was for tract 2223, with tract 2404, 2528, 2630, 2812, 2898, 3061, 3062 and 3198 rounding out his picks. 3061, 3062 and 3198 are in the Second Community area, nearest Borax Bill Park.

“The roads are already engineered, this is not a future subdivision this already exists, all we’re simply doing is reducing the footprint by reducing the footprint,” said Twohig during public comments. “By reducing the footprint, we have the opportunity to market and attract minimalists that will use a smaller power load demand, with solar and battery backups, which is the new trend. Because of the battery backups are so sufficient now that you don’t need to spend a lot of money and you can power up a home here.

“Over 100 tracts of land in the city have no power and because you have 100 tracts of land it’s very important that the Planning Commission thinking about other identifiable uses, that’s your responsibility.”

Kristy Mundt said she has been attending Planning Commission meetings on this issue for three years.

“I do believe it is the future of not only our city but our nation,” she said. “We have to be environmentally friendly and aware. Why limited this. We need to open this up to as many of those that you deem accessible, we don’t need it to be just one place in town. If we restrict it to one area, we’re cutting off our nose to spite our face. We need this, there’s nothing going to happen to this land if we don’t do it for off-the-grid living, tiny home living and environmentally friendly living. Because right now, we’re not getting any more electricity, we’re not getting any more gas lines, and it’s not going to improve any.”

Resident Illona Eubanks, who said she was considering buying a tiny home in another area several years ago, spoke in favor of not limiting development.

“I think this is a fantastic idea for humanity,” she said. “As long as we don’t overburden the people who may be interested in buying these with rules and regulations and turning it into a very, very defined setting.”

Businessman Raj Mliian also urged the commission to be less restrictive.

“I think that it won’t hurt to say yes to as many tracts for tiny home communities, but it will hurt to say no or reduce the number of tracts for tiny homes,” he said. “I’m not a landowner I don’t have any property there, but I do see the benefit of having as many viable tracks for Tiny Homes there. That will help the city grow and I think that’s very important. If we say no to it and reduce it, you’re actually stopping the growth of the city, and it’s time that we all get together and do something to actually make the city grow.”

Mariah Dodson said she had helped put together a study on Tiny Homes in other communities three years ago that was brought to the commission and could provide that information again.

“I definitely would recommend moving forth with nominating multiple tracks so we do not bottleneck the Tiny Homes here,” she said. “You guys have a big decision here and it’s super, super exciting but as you know this is the future and your community is complete in complete support of your decision.”

Commissioner Richard Macedonio spoke in favor of limiting areas for development of Tiny Homes.

“I think that if we go for more than the one or two parcels, I think it’s a big mistake,” he said. “It’s going to be a big struggle to get Tiny Homes built. People are not really clamoring to get into Tiny Homes.”

Commissioner Ron Hogan said he would consider multiple tracts as long as it did not adversely affect existing home owners’ property values.

“I will not take people’s property values that they have now that they paid $200 to $300,000 homes and put a home that’s $100,000,” he said. “I will not destroy people’s homes values.”

Creighton said he was not subscribing to either school of thought regarding limiting or not limiting potential tracts for development, but was opposed to using them as infill for neighborhoods.

“As long as if I’m sitting anywhere in this dais or anywhere in that audience, I will emphatically oppose infill of Tiny Homes, where there are conventional sized homes,” he said. “I will emphatically oppose it.”

He recommended that staff compile all the comments and include them in a summary for the next discussion on the subject.

“I don’t see this coming up for discussion until there’s an action by Council on the resolution,” said Creighton. “Then, I agree that if we have a joint meeting with council at that point – if they have said yes to the ordinance. Keep in mind that this commission is an advisory body to the Council. We don’t make policy, we simply recommend. So we will work under their direction.”

In other business, Macedonio was appointed vice chair for the commission, replacing Inge Elmes who resigned the commission after taking a job as Off Highway Vehicle Program manager for the city.

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