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Planning Commission



JANUARY 17, 2006


The Regular Meeting of the Planning Commission of the City of Highland was called to order at 6:08 p.m. by Chairman Haller at the Donahue Council Chambers, 27215 Base Line, Highland, California.

Present: Commissioners John Gamboa and Gina Birnbaum, Vice Chairman Randall Hamerly and Chairman Richard Haller

Absent: Commissioner R. Paul Scott Commissioner (arrived at 6:11 p.m.)

Staff Present:Rick C. Hartmann, Community Development Director

Lawrence A. Mainez, City Planner

Ernie Wong, City Engineer

Bruce Meikle, Associate Planner

Kim Stater, Economic Development Specialist

Debbie Chapman, Fire Marshall

Linda McKeough, Administrative Secretary

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Chairman Haller.


There was none.


3.1 Minutes of September 6, 2005, Regular Meeting.

Approved, as submitted.

3.2 Minutes of October 4, 2005, Regular Meeting.

Approved, as submitted.

3.3 Minutes of November 1, 2005, Regular Meeting.

Approved, as submitted.

3.4 Minutes of November 15, 2005, Regular Meeting.

Approved, as amended.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding the Community Input portion of the Meeting threatened legal action against the City or Entity to pursue condemnation of property.

Near the bottom of the Page 1, the following verbiage was added:

"Mr. Kenley then threatened to take legal action."

3.5 Minutes of December 6, 2005, Regular Meeting.

Approved, as submitted.

Note: Commissioner Scott arrived at 6:11 p.m.

3.6 Minutes of December 20, 2005, Regular Meeting.

Approved, as submitted.

A motion was made by Vice Chairman Hamerly and seconded by Commissioner Birnbaum to approve the Minutes of September 6, October 4, November 1, December 6, and December 20, 2005, as submitted, and the Minutes of November 15, 2005, as amended.

Motion was unanimously passed on a 5 - 0 vote.


4.1 Conditional Use Permit Application 05-001 which proposes to construct and operate an eight (8) unit Senior Housing Apartment Complex within the Base Line Commercial Zoning District. The proposed Project is an approximate 0.5 acre Site consisting of three adjoining vacant parcels located at the northwest corner of Base Line and Olive Street (APNs: 1191-381-19, -20, & -21). Representatives: Mr. Clovis A. Wellington and Dr. Leona Williams.

Commission Chairman Haller introduced the item and called for Staff's presentation.

Associate Planner Meikle gave the presentation from the Staff Report. He explained the Project's location, what the Applicants are proposing, a brief overview of the proposed Senior Housing Project, how the City Council also has to review the proposed Project, and if the Project is approved by Council, there would be a Qualifying Residents Agreement in place for fifty-five (55) years from the date of issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for the proposed Project and the Applicants would have to comply with restrictions, such as residents being 62 years old, or unless a person is a caregiver for the senior resident(s). Associate Planner Meikle further explained in order to promote senior housing, there are concessions needed and there are Zoning issues which will be otherwise tight i.e. setback issues, outdoor open space, private open space, landscaped setbacks, reiterated the Qualifying Residents Agreement the Applicants have to sign and summarized the seven (7) regulatory concessions to the Commission. He further stated the proposed Plan is tight and in order to proceed as a Senior Housing Project, the Applicants need the concessions.

Staff distributed revised documents to the Commission including portions of revised PC Resolution No. 06-001, Conditional Use Permit Findings of Facts and added an additional Planning Condition of Approval No. 29. City Planner Mainez explained the distributed documents included language regarding the General Plan Update for the property, the consistency of the Findings and of the Land Use Designation. He reiterated the proposed Project will then be forwarded to City Council for consideration and Staff's presentation was then concluded.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had questions of Staff. Hearing none, he then asked if the Applicant would like to make a presentation.

Dr. Leona Williams, 1790 Washington Street, Riverside, California, who is the co-Applicant, addressed the Commission. She stated she is one of the Applicants for the proposed Project and is delighted to be here tonight and has held steadfast to bring this Project online. As a property owner, she wants to enhance the City and is an integral part. Dr. Williams further explained she has reviewed the packet and is supportive of Staff's recommendation, will abide by the Planning Commission and City Council direction and asked the Commission to consider favorably and approve the proposed Project.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had any questions of the Applicant. Hearing none, he asked if Mr. Wellington (who is the co-Applicant) would like to make a presentation.

Mr. Wellington respectfully declined Chairman Haller's invitation.

Chairman Haller then opened the Public Hearing and called speakers up to the podium one at a time who had submitted a Speaker Slip in order to be heard and provide comments / testimony to the Commission.

Mr. Ken Cottrell, 7720 Central Avenue, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. He stated he has resided there for 45 years and is opposed to the proposed Project. He asked the Commission if the Commissioners had seen any pictures of the buildings that are to be used for the Project.

The Commission responded there were photographs provided at the Study Session.

Mr. Cottrell continued stating how the other structures (where these two buildings are proposed to be relocated from) were "pushed down" and how some were rehabbed, but still the structures are old buildings. He stated the buildings were built in 1968, the buildings were not attractive then and they are not now either. The buildings are large structures. The City of San Bernardino had razed most of the structures (from the Arden / Guthrie area) and how the Applicant wants to move two of those buildings over on a lot that is too small and the buildings will not fit. There are supposed to be four (4) units in each building. There is no place to park on the street, or in the alley. The traffic signals located on Cunningham will be going on/off and the units will probably turn into Section 8 housing. The seniors that are in the complex on Central Avenue (Jeffrey Court), there are grandmothers living there who are taking care of her grandchildren and now the daughter has moved in, and now the complex has to be gated. Mr. Cottrell further explained behind him are four (4) chicken coops (that have been turned into apartments) and have been constant problems with the residents' relatives (not the residents themselves) and the proposed Project will not add to the City and is a disaster. Mr. Cottrell then thanked the Commission for its time.

Ms. Fay Jure, 7262 Olive Street, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. She stated this testimony is in addition to the letter that was sent to the City protesting the proposed Project on March 10, 2005. She further stated the City provided funding when Jeffrey Court was built. Complaints in the past were with unsupervised children within the complex in the Jeffrey Court project. Those apartments were turned into a slum and had absentee landlords and not enough Code Enforcement officers. The Property Owner / Applicant (Dr. Williams) lives in Riverside County and the only time the property is cleaned up is when the Property Owner (Dr. Williams) is notified and is that the type of landlord that she will be. Ms. Jure explained how Staff advised her of the Base Line Commercial Designation. By the original City Council in 1987, it was that Council's direction to set the Base Line Commercial Designation apart from other Designations. The current City Council has not considered the General Plan Update. The Conditional Use Permit (CUP) Application needs a Zone Change, there are eight (8) units to the one-half () acre. Second story homes are not allowed across the street, so why at the proposed location and stated the northwest corner is an ideal location for businesses (Base Line / Olive). Ms. Jure continued by stating Highland has enough residents located in that area, with the cars (from the proposed Project) the vehicular exhaust will be spewing out and into her kitchen window and spa. On some of the existing buildings (in Arden / Guthrie area) clothing are hanging on the banister railings. She then asked about where the dumpsters were to be located on the Site Plan. She and her neighbors have patios, outdoor living areas and would be smelling the dumpsters, the rent would be cheap and the Property Owner / Applicant could care less. She further stated how crime gravitates towards / around apartments. Ms. Jure has talked with the local residents and her neighbors feel the same way (as she does) and not have the "monstrosities" located there. She then thanked the Commission for its time.

Mr. David Harkey, 7502 Victoria Avenue, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. He stated that he has resided in the area for fifty (50) years, and lives around the corner from the proposed Project on Victoria Avenue There are two (2), seven unit apartments near his house and gave the historical background of them including prior to 1980, Mr. Ed Jones, a San Gorgonio High School Vice Principal had owned them. In 1980, someone in Los Angeles had acquired them and the apartments were okay. After 1980, drugs appeared to be brought in. Mr. Harkey stated currently, the apartments are not too bad. He also gave a historical background of how structures located in the Temple / Victoria Avenue were rehabbed approximately three (3) years ago, yes, permits were obtained, but the rehab project was a shoddy job. Mr. Harkey said how the Ward Street apartments were torn down, but yet they were identical for Medium Density Residential Designation. The proposed Project is incompatible with the surrounding areas and realizes with Staff's recommendation, but does not help. With regards to the Project being called an "infill" project, he is still opposed to the proposed Project.

Mr. Absalom (Abe) Gomez, 7323 Marshall Court, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. He stated he resides across the street. He has seen eighty-six (86) single family homes built in the area in one and one-half (1) years. He realizes the homes are not located in the East Highlands Ranch (EHR) area, he is proud of owning his own home and there is no pride in apartment ownership. There is Neighborhood Watch cells in the area and they are vigilant. When you bring in apartments, you cause problems. Mr. Gomez further stated The Sun newspaper had recently ran an article indicating issues and that he and others are opposed to the proposed Project.

Chairman Haller asked if anyone in the audience would like to speak on the item.

Mr. Ken Cottrell returned to the podium and gave further testimony stating how last year, three (3) new homes were constructed for $300,000 each and are nice, there are two (2) new ones located on Bruce and one on Olive, why clean up the area and then bring in two (2) old buildings.

Chairman Haller asked if anyone in the audience would like to speak on the item.

Ms. Lupe Gonzales, 7339 Marshall Court, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. She stated how she had bought a new home in the area and is also opposed to the proposed Project. She further stated she would not let her grandmother live in the proposed units. She then asked how much room would a person have in order to back up in the driveway. Ms. Gonzales indicated she moved to Highland because she loves Highland and suggested that Highland needs nice restaurants and businesses.

Chairman Haller asked if anyone else would like to speak on the item. Seeing none, Chairman Haller asked if Dr. Williams had any final comments and further asked about how the proposed Complex would be managed.

Dr. Leona Williams responded the proposed Complex is not the only complex she has. The others are well maintained and occupied and there are no complaints. Dr. Williams further stated the proposed Project will enhance the neighborhood and ensured the negativity would not happen. There is a three (3) year waiting list for senior apartment living in Highland at Jeffrey Court.

There being no further testimony, Chairman Haller closed the Public Hearing and opened the floor for discussion amongst the Commissioners.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding the R3 Standard Type for Maximum Density Standards required / Permitted by Code is nine (9) dwelling units per the half acre, how in 2003, a similar senior citizen housing complex project was approved to be located on Base Line and Lillian Lane (Dr. Pam Miller's project) and the R-3 Zoning is consistent with both Dr. Miller's and Dr. Williams' site. Constraints on the proposed setbacks are also similar to Dr. Miller's concessions and area, but Dr. Miller also received a density bonus and able to get ten units to the acre. Staff added that Dr. Miller's project will be new construction while Dr. Williams' proposed Project are relocatable units and it is more difficult to fit the existing buildings on-site and that is why they need the concessions provided by the Qualifying Residents Agreement.

A question was asked by Vice Chairman Hamerly regarding if there was a cost analysis conducted between cost of rehabilitating and moving the existing structures versus the cost of new construction. Staff responded not from the City's perspective, the Project was reviewed from a land use perspective. Vice Chairman Hamerly further stated an overall impression is squeezing the relocated structures into a small area and if the Applicant would build-to-suit units, may get better features. Staff reiterated a cost analysis was not done by Staff.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding two-story elements located on corners, streetscape is more open with single-story units and how at one of the Study Sessions regarding the Town Center, there was a proposal for two-story elements on Base Line and Church Avenue. The new Gardner Tract located on Base Line, west of Victoria Avenue, has nine (9), two-story residential units. Access for the proposed Project would be off of Olive Street with secondary access to the alley.

Comments were made by Commissioner Birnbaum that residential and business areas are a lot different and how the proposed Project does not fit and does not meet all of the City Standards and setbacks.

A question was asked by Commissioner Scott about the goal how this proposed Facility will meet all of the Building and Safety Code requirements. Staff responded the Facility will have to comply with current Building and Safety Code requirements. Another question was asked regarding if the structure's interiors would meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements i.e. doors, hallway widths, etc. Staff responded the Applicant has an architect present and Staff reiterated this is a land use issue /decision and Staff has not looked at detailed structural drawings.

A comment was made by Commissioner Scott this appears to be the first time the Commission has not heard any positive comments on a proposed Project. Another comment was made by Vice Chairman Hamerly regarding if these Senior units would have ground floor elevations and would one hundred percent (100%) or a percentage be ADA compliant. Staff reiterated this Application is a land use issue and Staff does not have that level of detail.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding what transpired at the Study Session, the Commission's concerns how the buildings will plot on the property and the Applicant seemed to address the issues. A comment was made by Chairman Haller stating he is still unsure if the structures will fit on the property and commented it might be better if the structures would go on a larger site and not be a "shoe horned" fit. There is no recreational area, limited open space and the need to try to accommodate the senior residents, and reiterated still unsure if appropriate for this site.

There being no further comments or testimony, Chairman Haller called for the question.

A motion was made by Commissioner Birnbaum and seconded by Commissioner Gamboa to recommend denial of the Project.

Staff suggested a proposed Resolution for Planning Commission action to recommend to the City Council denial of the proposed Project be brought back at its next Meeting for consideration.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding the Commission's concerns regarding the following: 1) common open space / recreation area; 2) accessibility; 3) parking; 4) setback issues; 5) plotting, and; 6) lot coverage.

Staff asked about the proposed Project meeting the City's Code and Standards. The Commission responded it might be amenable to waive the side yard setback, if there were not so many exceptions. If there was sufficient open space, patios, yards, there may be a compromise and stated it appears there is a lot of giving up (from the City) without compensation (from the Applicant / Project) and stated it appears there is not enough room to locate / place the units on the property. Staff asked the Commission if it would accept and taking the Commission's concerns to the City Council and both Commissioner Birnbaum and Commissioner Gamboa agreed to amend their Motion.

Dr. Leona Williams explained her Architect is not present to explain the redesign, patio, recreation area, but a member of her design team, Mr. Jay Nelson is present to explain to the Commission the architecture and would love to see the proposed Project proceed.

Staff responded procedurally, this is a Public Hearing item and the Commission has closed the Public Hearing portion. In order to take further testimony, the Commission would need to reopen the Public Hearing, and it is the Commission's discretion whether or not to move forward.

Chairman Haller asked what is the Commission's desire. The Commission concurred to let the Commission's Motion stand and reopen the Public Hearing. Chairman Haller then reopened the Public Hearing in order to take additional testimony.

Mr. Jay Nelson of Steven-Paul-Murray Architect, 370 West Sixth Street, San Bernardino, California, who is the Applicant's Architect Representative, addressed the Commission. He explained the design of the proposed Project, and the Commission's concerns are valid and resolvable. The Applicant is willing and able to make the proposed Project work. The last items added regarding private space, activity area, interiors, garage area, the architectural design is a given. The proposed Project will look and comply with current Codes. The Applicant will be refacing the buildings. The structures will have a Craftsman colors and design and reiterated the Applicant is capable and willing to address the issues.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had questions of Mr. Nelson.

A comment was made by Commissioner Birnbaum how the size of the buildings do not fit on the property, other than a ten foot by ten foot (10' X 10') back yard.

Comments were made by the Commission regarding issues about the lack of open space, accessibility, garage space, how the rooftop on the garage is not accessible, and substandard setbacks. Mr. Nelson responded the issues have been addressed and if the Commission desires more open space, common space, then advise him. Issues Mr. Nelson claimed had been addressed clearly had not been.

A comment was made by Vice Chairman Hamerly how the proposed Project is below acceptable City Standards. Mr. Nelson responded he needs to know if the proposed Project is off a few square feet or a lot and reiterated he needs guidance. Another comment was made by a Commissioner that the proposed Project is two, huge buildings to be located on a small piece of property, you still have the same amount of square footage.

Chairman Haller asked if anyone else in the audience would like to speak on the item.

Ms. Hardy, 7354 Marshall Court, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. She stated that she is a former nurse and had questions regarding the living space and bathroom space and if the units would accommodate wheelchair(s) or walkers and the inability to get around the bathroom. What about when / if the paramedics would be called for emergency services. Ms. Hardy further stated these are safety issues that need to be addressed and then thanked the Commission for its time.

Mr. Ken Cottrell returned again to the podium and gave further testimony stating there is insufficient space between garages and the north block wall and the potential residents for the proposed Project will run into the adjacent property's back yard wall with such a tight radius.

Mr. Absalom (Abe) Gomez returned to the podium and gave further testimony stating the proposed units are too big for the lot, asked how the buildings could be squeezed in with ADA requirements and also comply for the seniors utilizing possible aides (for maneuvering). He stated he is fifty-eight (58) years old and is difficult for seniors to maneuver staircases and reiterated how the lot is too small for the large buildings.

Ms. Lupe Gonzales returned to the podium and gave further testimony stating where the traffic signals are located on Base Line / Olive Street / Cunningham and would be confusing for the seniors who are driving. The signals are confusing as it is for regular drivers. She added there is no recreational space for senior activities and would have to be conducted off-site (i.e. seniors be transported by bus and go to San Manuel Casino). Ms. Gonzales suggested to purchase the existing house and paint shop next door to the proposed Project and build up to three-stories.

Chairman Haller asked if anyone else would like to speak on the item. Seeing none, Chairman Haller closed the Public Hearing and reiterated there is a Motion and Second on the floor, the Planning Commission is recommending to the City Council to deny the proposed Project. He then asked about Staff preparing a Resolution for denial.

Staff responded with the Commission's direction, Staff will prepare a Resolution for the Commission's approval and also have a draft of tonight's Minutes be part of the Planning Commission's Staff Report / Agenda Packet. The Commission would be able to review the Minutes at the upcoming February 7, 2006, Meeting and would then be forwarded to the City Council's Meeting of February 14, 2006.

A question was asked by Vice Chairman Hamerly regarding whether the Commission would have the opportunity to review the draft Minutes, or whether the Commission could just approve them with the proposed modifications.

Staff responded it would go as a package.

Chairman Haller asked if Commissioner Birnbaum wanted to amend her Motion. She responded no, to use the Minutes as the Commission's recommendation to the City Council. He then asked if the proposed Resolution for denial would be presented to the Commission at the next Meeting for consideration and Staff responded affirmatively.

Chairman Haller then stated the amended Motion would instruct Staff to prepare a Resolution to deny the proposed Project and present it to the Commission at its February 7, 2006, Meeting if that was acceptable to Commissioners Birnbaum and Gamboa. Both Commissioners responded affirmatively.

A motion was amended by Commissioner Birnbaum and seconded by Commissioner Gamboa to recommend to the City Council denial of the proposed Project and direct Staff to prepare a Planning Commission Resolution recommending to the City Council denial of the eight (8) unit Senior Housing Apartment Complex and return with said draft Resolution for consideration at its next Regular Planning Commission Meeting on (February 7, 2006).

Motion unanimously passed (for denial) on a 5 - 0 vote.


There were no items.


Staff explained there will be a Special Public Hearing Meeting on February 7, 2006, at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the East Highlands Ranch PUD Amendment and asked if all Commissioners would be able to attend said Special Meeting. All responded affirmatively.

Staff distributed the General Plan Update comments / written responses to comments from the EIR, and written comments received from the general public that Staff has received thus far and explained the General Plan Update / Development Code / EIR Public Hearing will be held on February 7, 2006, at 6:00 p.m.


There being no further business, Chairman Haller declared the meeting adjourned at 7:18 p.m.

Submitted by: Approved by:

Linda McKeough, Richard Haller, Chairman

Administrative Secretary Planning Commission


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