Zone changes

CALIFORNIA CITY – Two rezoning public hearings were the main items for the California City Planning Commission on Sept. 3.

A request to rezone and amend the General Plan for 147 parcels on 50 acres known as the Airport Area Rezoning Project was subject of the first public hearing. The change would result in parcels changing from Community Commercial to Light Industrial, from High Density Residential to Community Commercial and Medium Density Residential to Community Commercial. The area is roughly bordered by Yerba Boulevard, Mitchell Boulevard and Rickenbacker and Icarus Courts, with California City Municipal Airport property to the north of the area.

Community Development Director Matthew Alexander said several property owners had come forward in the previous two years to request zone changes in for individual parcels the area, mainly to allow potential for marijuana cultivation and related activities. The city’s municipal code only permits those activities in areas with the Light Industrial and Research zoning.

“In order to move forward with the cannabis industry, it’s necessary to have M-1 zoning and in order to do that individuals would again have to go through a very rigorous process first before the Planning Commission and then the City Council.”

Alexander described the process as a cumbersome way to move forward. The commission provided direction to staff to look at different areas of the city that might lend themselves to rezoning an entire project area instead.

“Some of the criteria are first of all, you be looking for property that does not encroach upon existing residential development and if you look at it, there’s nothing there that is existing residential,” said Alexander. “Other criteria would be that property should be vacant. Other criteria would be the property should be proximate to good roadway access. Certainly, Mitchell is the primary, Lindberg as we mentioned bisects the study area. Mitchell runs up to the airport and actually accesses this property to Cal City Boulevard. So the roadway access is good.”

The property area is also close to utilities and will offer opportunities for multiple property owners to facilitate development in the area.

“That’s what we’re looking at, rather than keeping it in the hands of just a few, opening up the opportunity to actually expand the industry.” said Alexander.

Changing an area just south of Lindberg from residential to commercial would also help provide the necessary buffer between cannabis development and residential areas. Planning and Economic Development Administrator Shawn Monk also noted that there were already 11 developers who have submitted site development plans for the area, pending the zone change.

After comments from the public and questions and comments from members of the commission, the change was approved unanimously.

The second public hearing was a request by Canna Systems Corp to rezone a 120-acre parcel on Hyundai-Kia Boulevard, north of State Route 58 from Open Space and Residential Agriculture to Light Industrial and Research. The parcel is served by newly installed Southern California Edison infrastructure for power, but Canna Systems also said they have the ability to create a self-sustaining micro grid. Water is available via the Hyundai-Kia test track development.

Canna Systems provided a conceptual site plan to demonstrate the feasibility of developing the property for its intended use.

“This application is intended to go after industry (development),” said Canna Systems representative DJ Twohig. “Cannabis is a byproduct of industry. The property owner is very cognizant of what Kern County represents in terms of logistics. Highway 58 in California City could be a tremendous location for future logistics potential. Industrial uses here are not necessarily targeted at cannabis, although cannabis could certainly be one its uses. More importantly is that the developer is looking at a return on investment. If a viable user will come along and participate in this particular location, the potential is for all sorts of beneficial industrial uses for California City.”

Following public comments and commission comments and questions, the change was approved unanimously.

Both projects will require formal approval by City Council before moving forward.

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