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Planning Commission



DECEMBER 19, 2006


The Regular Meeting of the Planning Commission of the City of Highland was called to order at 6:05 p.m. by Chairman Haller at the Donahue Council Chambers, 27215 Base Line, Highland, California.

Present: Commissioners John Gamboa, Bob Moore, and Chairman Richard Haller

Absent: Commissioner R. Paul Scott (arrived at 6:10 p.m.) and Vice Chairman Randall Hamerly

Staff Present:John Jaquess, Community Development Director

Lawrence A. Mainez, City Planner

Sean Kelleher, Assistant Planner

Ernie Wong, City Engineer

Linda McKeough, Administrative Secretary

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Chairman Haller.


There was none.


There were no items.


4.1 Consideration of an Appeal of the Design Review Board's approval of a Design Review Application (DRB 006-023); for the Site Plan, Grading Plan, and the Granting of a Notice of Exemption for a 5,203 square foot Bank with Drive-up ATM Facility and 6,037 square foot Speculative Retail Building. Assessor Parcel Numbers: 1200-461-11-0-000. (Applicant -- Citicom Development).

The Appeal is as follows: Appeal 006-004: The Appellant is requesting reconsideration of the Design Review Board's approval of the Site Plan, Grading Plan, and the Granting of a Notice of Exemption for the Design Review Application (DRB-006-023).

The Project is a 1.31 acre Site which is located at the northwest corner of Boulder Avenue and Base Line. Assessor Parcel Number: 1200-461-11-0-000 Appellant: William E. Drake

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

Assistant Planner Kelleher gave the presentation from the Staff Report, which included, but not limited to: the location, the Applicant's proposed Project of its design / layout and its compliance with City Codes; explained the northwest corner of Base Line / Boulder Avenue; the creation of a buffer between the proposed Project and residents; parking; what the Appellant had items listed for the Appeal; potential crime activity and the Applicant submit a potential Security Plan, restrict the hours of operation; lights, noise reduction, have a buffer between the residents and the proposed Project, and; compliance with the Municipal Code. Assistant Planner Kelleher further explained the Notice of Exemption, the Project's setback standards, how the Project is smaller than five (5) acres and there are no rare or endangered species identified on the Site. He then deferred to City Engineer Wong to explain the traffic-related issues.

(Note: Commissioner Scott arrived at 6:10 p.m.)

City Engineer Wong distributed a Base Line Median Master Plan then explained on Page 9 of the Staff Report the number of Average Daily Trips (ADTs) of 27,900 in 2005, and is anticipated to grow to 50,600 in 2030, at full City buildout and the Level of Service (LOS) of "C" in both the morning and afternoon peak hours for the Base Line / Boulder Avenue intersection to the Commission. He said the intersection would deteriorate to LOS "D" in the mornings and "F" in the afternoons by 2030, if no improvements were done, which would be unacceptable for the City. He then explained the Base Line Median Master Plan of April, 2006, will be implemented for the proposed Project's appropriate frontage. Base Line will be widened to fifty feet (50') to the north of the center line and will add a turning lane

in order to provide a U-turn for east-bound traffic at the Base Line / Boulder Avenue intersection. This will allow for an added travel lane and right-turn pocket into Stoney Creek. The Land Use is Designated Commercial and is assessed in the City-wide Traffic Study. With regards to impact of the Project, there is no impact because the road improvement is a Mitigation Measure for the impact and will not cause deterioration of the LOS. Access for the Project is right in / right out. There is no left-turn movement. City Engineer Wong stated he does not see a problem from a Staff standpoint. It was noted that Staff's presentations were then concluded.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission had any further questions of Staff. Hearing none, he then opened the Public Hearing and asked if the Appellant would like to make a presentation.

Mr. William Drake, 27856 Fieldstone Drive, Highland, California, who is the Appellant, addressed the Commission. He stated the proposed Project will have an adverse impact in the existing neighborhood and asked if this can be appealed up to City Council.

Chairman Haller responded affirmatively and that it was his understanding the Commission's action can be appealed to City Council within ten (10) calendar days.

Mr. Drake continued and stated that will happen - the Project is ill conceived and not well thought out; there are traffic pattern issues and someone had come to the City and was told the Wells Fargo Bank has dropped out and, "the Project is dead."

Chairman Haller responded this is a valid Application.

Mr. Drake stated the Applicant does not know who the tenants are and the Project will deteriorate with the increased traffic. He wants to live in Highland which has a small town feel, but is turning into San Bernardino.

Mr. Alan Schefers, 27853 Fieldstone Drive, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. He said he and his wife have resided there since 1988, also likes the small town feel and how their back yard abuts the proposed Project. They are concerned about the traffic - it is now horrible and have to drive through the neighborhood adjacent to the McDonalds Fast Food Restaurant in order to get out. With the proposed Project, traffic will be a nightmare and is unhappy with the Bank developing on the corner. A redesign was proposed for leaving the last two (2) rows of orange trees for privacy and relocate the Buildings closer to the front and asked what is the status.

Both the Commission and Staff responded the Site and Grading Plans were approved by the DRB and there should be one (1) or two (2) rows of orange trees remaining.

Ms. Rebecca Gallegos, 7245 Devon Avenue, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. She is concerned there is no left-turn on to Base Line from Stoney Creek; how a person now has to wait five minutes to even make a right-turn and when Immanuel Baptist Church gets out, it is even longer. She explained there is trouble with two (2) houses on Fieldstone and Stoney Creek in that they are drug houses and underage drinking is going on. The Sheriff Departed has been contacted, but nothing is done. There are four (4) houses on Fieldstone and have lit firecrackers, again, nothing has been done when the Sheriffs have been notified. There are inoperable cars located at 27889 Fieldstone and Code Enforcement has been contacted, the people will move the cars, but will return them in the same manner as before after a while. If the lights are up in the proposed Project, they will illuminate the houses, even if they are shielded. Ms. Gallegos stated the proposed Project will impact the existing neighborhood.

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

Mr. Richard Garcia, 7263 Catalpa Avenue, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. He is concerned with the overcrowding of the Site and how the number of businesses is excessive for the location. He was also concerned with traffic and reiterated how the Site is overly concentrated with businesses. He then thanked the Commission.

Mr. Alex Irshad, of RAMCAM Engineering Group, 670 East Parkridge Avenue, Suite 101, Corona, California, who is the Applicant's Civil Engineer, addressed the Commission. He stated it is unfortunate there is an Appeal on the proposed Project and is a commercial neighborhood. For the Appellant, the issue was security, lighting, concern with design and he appreciates the public's comments and feelings of the Appellant and indicated how it is getting more crowded every day. With regards to lighting, the City has strict criteria and how the light standards have been lowered to fourteen feet (14') and to install house-side illumination shields to prevent overspillage into the neighbor's homes. Mr. Irshad had said how a firm was contracted to conduct a study for the six foot (6') masonry wall; how to the north of the Project, the grade level will be lowered approximately three feet to four feet (3' - 4') for privacy and shield issues; with regards to the walls and potential criminals, will hopefully be eliminated with the difficulty of scaling them. He explained with the proposed Landscape Plan, it is intended to retain rows of orange trees located to the north. With regards to the businesses, the Bank has not dropped out and the Applicant is in renegotiations with that Bank or another bank,

and there will be no restaurant or liquor store and the other four (4) businesses will leave open until development starts up. Mr. Irshad stated he has been working his hardest to serve the neighborhood and the proposed Project would be beneficial to the City, as well as beneficial to the neighborhood. He was in receipt of the Base Line Median Master Plan Map and it is unfortunate for his client the left in access has been cut off abruptly. This will mean loss of business for his client, but his client is committed to the Project and is looking for support of the Commission.

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

Mr. Bernardino Castaneda, 7223 Clydesdale, Highland, California, who is a resident, addressed the Commission. He apologized that he was unable to attend the first meeting. He asked if this property was located at the northwest corner of Base Line / Boulder Avenue.

The Commission responded affirmatively.

Mr. Castaneda continued by stating there is nothing wrong with the proposed Project in that the home was relocated from Base Line / Palm Avenue many years ago and that he was going to purchase the thirteen (13) acres himself. He explained how the home was relocated from behind the Mobil gas station and has resided here in Highland since 1966. Mr. Castaneda could not understand why the Commission would deny the Project. There is a need for more commercial businesses and in his opinion, (the Project) should be accepted because of the original location of the home.

Chairman Haller asked if anyone else would like to speak on the item. Hearing none, he closed the Public Hearing and opened the floor for discussion amongst the Commissioners.

Discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding noise level i.e. outside loud speaker similar to a fast food restaurant or music playing loudly from an ATM machine when inactive. The Commission requested to restrict the volume from the neighborhood. Staff responded that is a good observation on the Commission's part and how the Noise Study did not review that - noise studies for only from twenty-eight feet to fifty feet (28' - 50') were conducted. With regards to the potential loud music coming from the ATM machines, it could be loud during quiet times in the evening. Staff read Planning Condition of Approval (COA) No. 4 stating how the Project shall comply with all applicable Sections of the City Municipal Code. This would include public address speakers; there is a procedure to limit the noise level; there is strict criteria and sensitive uses in residential area(s) and will be monitored.

Further discussion ensued between the Commission and Staff regarding the proposed Resolution Section Findings of Fact 3.C. (Page 109 of the Staff Report) and asked if the Response would include the Site's landscaping. Staff responded this 3.C is a Standard Finding and that Contract Landscape Architect has reviewed the proposed Landscaping Plan and what the City's Code requires. For the record, Staff indicated the DRB has not completed its evaluation of the proposed Project yet. The Commission then requested verbiage be placed in there stating compliance will be reviewed / considered by the DRB in the future. Staff was amenable to the Commission's request and will place the appropriate verbiage within the Resolution.

Discussion ensued regarding Section 4 of the proposed Resolution (Page 109 of the Staff Report) and the word, "Granting" an exemption, rather than "Filing" an exemption. Staff responded that would also be changed within the Resolution.

A question was asked by a Commissioner regarding traffic patterns.

Staff responded in the Base Line Median Master Plan has omitted construction of future traffic medians and explained what is to be extended to the west to block off Stoney Creek. The Stoney Creek intersection is to close between Base Line / Boulder intersection. There is a need to extend the left movement to the west and eliminate all left turns from Stoney Creek, otherwise, it would be hazardous as traffic continues to grow / increase. With regards to the Bank project, it has two (2) access points and will be the same - no left-turn movement. There is a Condition of Approval to widen the curb on the north side by ten feet (10') for a safe U-turn for the east bound traffic.

A question was asked by a Commissioner regarding the north driveway on Boulder Avenue.

Staff responded traffic leaving the Site will make a U-turn on Boulder Avenue in order to go north and is not uncommon for corner sites to have right in / right out movements.

Ms. Gallegos then returned to the podium and stated how there are approximately fifty (50) houses in the tract, and if a person turns left to go to Albertsons, Wendy's or other establishments on Seine, that person would also be going in the morning traffic for people taking their children to school, or off Cobble Stone and then turn left onto Seine, or travel north to Stoney Creek to Devon to La Praix then to Pacific. She then asked about traffic impacts on Seine. Staff responded the design to widen the street (Seine) on the west side in order to create one (1) added left-turn pocket. Ms. Gallegos asked about the streets behind McDonalds and the path of travel from Seine, Messina.

Discussion ensued between the Commission, Ms. Gallegos and Staff regarding the various traffic circulation / paths of travel, backing up traffic and speed between Base Line, Seine, Messina, Catalpa, etc. Staff indicated a need for balance with traffic volume and the feasibility of installing a four-way stop sign and would research for appropriateness and how the City manages traffic within City limits. The feasibility of the Median will be an issue for the Project; the synchronization of the traffic signals are complete, but may have to retime them. With regards to the Median project, this would be constructed by the developer on the south side of Seine / Stoney Creek or the City may install.

Chairman Haller asked if there were any further questions

There being no further questions of Staff, or comments, testimony or discussion amongst the Commissioners, Chairman Haller then stated he would entertain a Motion.

Staff asked the Commission if this would be an appropriate time to find out from the neighbors or the Appellant tonight about what might be done to make the Project acceptable. Staff used an example in order to save some of the orange trees for privacy screening and the orange blossom fragrance when in bloom, have Conditions of Approval restricting the Applicant's hours of operation, lighting standards' height, etc. Staff senses that tonight's Appeal is an appeal with no real solutions. The General Plan Designation is Office Professional Zone. Staff further indicated there are circulation issues and the General Plan build out is evaluated and that circulation, Base Line widening, and growth within Highland has been increasing. The intersection has been signalized and over three years, the Commission / DRB has "elevated the bar" for design features for projects. The heights of the wall, textures, walking in a safe environment, a person will able to go to the bank, get a sandwich or cup of coffee, etc. The house will be relocated off the Site regardless of what happens with the Project up to Church Street / Highland Avenue area and commented it is nice to know the house will be here and remind us of what Highland was. The City has tried to mitigate the impacts and have not heard solutions. Staff then asked if the Commission would like to discuss this tonight or what.

Chairman Haller asked if the Commission has any further comments. Hearing none, he then spoke of the public's / neighbor's concern with traffic, crime, noise, lighting, and a lack of faith in proposed Noise Study. There were no comments on the on-site design. There are trade offs - noise, grading, wall, privacy screening, etc. There have been no specific comments or any specific design changes to be considered at the Commission level.

Staff responded how the DRB is unhappy with the Landscaping and Architecture design and there would be another opportunity for the Appellant to attend that future DRB meeting.

Chairman Haller asked if the Appellant intended to attend that DRB meeting or contest the matter further.

Mr. Drake responded he intends to appeal to City Council.

Chairman Haller asked if the Appellant had any further comments now.

Mr. Drake responded he would wait for City Council.

A comment was made by a Commissioner then keep it vacant and would then become a dumping ground.

Ms. Schefers stood up in the audience and stated she resented that comment.

Chairman Haller responded the need for the Project to meet City requirements and not want to get into an emotional he said / she said debate. He then called for the question.

A motion was made by Member Gamboa and seconded by Chairman Haller the Planning Commission upholds the Design Review Board's determination for approval and adopt Resolution No. 06-026, as amended with the following:

3.C. (HMC Section 16.08.090.H.) That the proposed use is in compliance with City design and landscape standards and criteria.

Response: The proposed Conceptual Landscape Plan has been reviewed by the City's Landscape Architect and is subject to future consideration by the Design Review Board. The Plan is in compliance with the City's design criteria and review.

Section 4. Based on the Findings and Conclusions set forth above, the Planning Commission upholds the Design Review Board's determination and approves the Design Review Application (DRB-006-023) for the Site Plan, Grading Plan, and the Design Review Board direction to file a Notice of Exemption for a 5,203 square foot Bank with Drive-up ATM Facility and 6,037 square foot Speculative Retail Building, subject to the Conditions of Approval and Design Review Board Directives attached hereto and incorporated by reference as Attachment "A".

Motion carried on a 3 - 1 vote with Member Moore dissenting and Vice Chairman Hamerly absent.

Chairman Haller indicated the Commission's action can be appealed within ten (10) calendar days to City Council. He then thanked the audience for their patience.


There were no items.


Chairman Haller distributed a holiday box of candy for CDD Staff.

Staff explained the items tentatively scheduled for the January 2, 16, and February 6, 2007 Commission meetings.

Staff wished the Commission a Happy Holiday Season.


There being no further business Chairman Haller declared the meeting adjourned at 7:04 p.m.

Submitted by: Approved by:

Linda McKeough, Rich Haller, Chairman

Administrative Secretary Planning Commission


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