CALIFORNIA CITY – Planning Commissioners heard discussion on potential zone changes along California City Boulevard, while a public hearing to approve a parcel map for CoreCivic was tabled until June 16. A Local developer also asked for consensus from the commission to move forward with plans for a combination gas station/convenience store on South Loop Boulevard.

City Planner Shawn Monk presented information on the zone changes to O/RA Zoned lots (Controlled development Public Parks and Recreation or Public Schools) to zones which will allow growth to the city.

“In September 2019, Local Restaurant owner Cathy Yip inquired about a zone change for her property located on the south side of California City Boulevard, between Grant Avenue and Maverick Boulevard. Her hope was to present the request before Planning Commission in early 2020 for consideration of the zone change. However, all came to a halt due to COVID-19.

“Since then, staff received an additional zone change request from Krgatbashyan Siranush, owner of two parcels that are also located south side of California City Boulevard, between Grant Avenue and Maverick, west of the Cathy Yip’s parcel.

“These requests sparked a staff discussion regarding a potential city initiated zone change similar to the Airport Area Zone Change of 2019, but on larger scale which will merit multiple discussions from Commission.

“Community Development is always looking for ways to expand our city’s local economy and employment base. Therefore if the Planning Commission grants further consideration and discussion of this item, staff feels it will potentially set a foundation to allow multiple city departments to work together to expand infrastructure and further city development.”

Monk identified several parcels which could benefit from changes.

“If you notice how large some of these parcels are, that’s really what Cal City is starving for,” he said.

City staff took the opportunity of the two requested zone changes to compile a current inventory of the city’s M1-industrial zoned parcels.

According to Monk, Development of any type has a multitude of requirements that must be meet before an application is accepted and approved. Two minimum requirements that can be overlooked and misunderstood are the following:

• Water access for fire department and

• Legal access

California City currently has a total of 951 M1-Industrial lots, totaling 8,633.8 acres. Out of those 951 lots, 561 (2,826.6 acres) have legal access, and 465 (1,892.5 acres) have water readily available at the site. The M1 Lots that have both water and legal access total to 459 (1,663.8 acres). That means that currently, 48% of all M1-industrial lots in California City meet the requirements to be feasible for development today, said Monk.

Staff has identified 99 lots, totaling 960.6 acres for this potential zone change discussion. A mix of zone changes, not just M1-Industrial should be considered. All 99 lots have legal access, and a high priority water line extension from Baron Boulevard, west along California City Boulevard to Wonder Acres is planned for the future that will provide water for all 99 lots identified. This will also provide much needed City water to Wonder Acres, creating a catalyst for even more development in the State Route 14 and California City Boulevard interchange area.

Public Works Director, Joe Barragan, stated that by encouraging development along this section of California City Boulevard it will shorten the completion time the water line.

Staff has included the direction to square off lots on the south west corner of Mendiburu Road and Neuralia Boulevard that was previously directed at the Feb. 4, Planning Commission meeting.

As was done in the past with the City Initiated Rezoning , Staff is recommending the city take the lead on this and proactively rezone the south side of California City Boulevard, between Baron Boulevard, and Sanders Boulevard. These zone changes will be subject to California Environmental Quality Act and will require a general plan update.

Planning Commissioner Richard Macedonio questioned how the changes would fit into the city’s General Plan.

“Don’t we have to follow some guidelines of the General Plan and cannot just arbitrarily change (zones),” he said.

“I think the overarching purpose of the General Plan is that we do this in the best interests of the city,” said Planning Commission Chair Jim Creighton.

Commissioners said it appeared little thought was previously given to ensure parcels had access to needed utilities and access to roads.

“You dictate where the General Plan goes,” said Monk. “You guys write the plan, and I’ll tell you, this plan needs some work.”

He explained that zone changes necessitate a General Plan update and current law restricts updates to only four per year. Much of the city has been zone O/RA which is a holding zone of sorts, so any changes will need updates to the General Plan.

Macedonio suggested having regular meetings, at least one a month, without cancellations.

“We may not have a specific thing to talk about, but we can brainstorm about what our ideas are regarding the city,” he said. “We haven’t had a meeting in … awhile … I don’t think that’s productive, because we get out of the groove. We gotta be productive at some level, even if it’s a micro level.”

Monk said the intention is not to rezone the entire area to M1, but identify other potential uses for parcels.

After lengthy discussion commissioners voted to hold off on further action regarding the larger zone changes. Direction was given to staff regarding bring a similar zone change for parcels near the California City Municipal Airport.

In other business, local developer Jerry Heller sent a request to the commission regarding plans to bring a combination Chevron gas station and convenience store to 20624 South Loop Boulevard. He was requesting feedback and comments from planning before moving forward with the project.

Commissioners said they thought it would be a good development for that area of California City Boulevard and said they had no opposition to the project moving forward.

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