San Gorgonio Crossing

A logisitcs center is being constructed in Beaumont and others are “in the pipeline” to submit plans for city approval and permits.

Beaumont Deputy City Manager Christina Taylor told city council during its Aug. 2 meeting that there are applications in the pipeline of investors hoping to add 30 million square feet of warehousing and logistics space within the city’s manufacturing zone, south of State Route 60, as well as in the surrounding “sphere of influence.”

The council also was given an update regarding a letter to the county’s board of supervisors, which, according to representatives, strongly voiced to the county that Beaumont has been dissatisfied with the county’s lackluster reaction to Beaumont’s concerns regarding Shopoff Realty Investment’s giant San Gorgonio Crossing logistics center along Cherry Valley Boulevard. In the letter, the city accuses the county of allowing the developer to disregard promises to not obstruct views of the surrounding environment and mountain ridge.

The city’s letter expresses the city’s concerns that conditions for the warehouse’s approval by the county will be overlooked and unenforced, and that it was looking forward to having discourse with the county.

Mayor Lloyd White shared his frustration that County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt’s only discussion publicly on the matter occurred during a Municipal Advisory Committee meeting, which was primarily geared toward residents of Cabazon, to address issues in unincorporated county municipalities.

“I’m sort of the opinion that Hewitt has made it clear that he’s not interested in coming and speaking to the community, and I don’t think any of us — at least I wasn’t — were interested in having him come to speak to council to answer our questions. I thought that we had a lot of members of our community driving by that project that were concerned with it,” White said. “I don’t know that we can do anything more. At this point what’s the point in moving forward” in trying to get the board of supervisors to engage in discussions, or reverse decisions.

Beaumont has been working on its own policy to guide the approval of future warehouses in approved areas of the city, which was introduced for discussion at its Aug. 2 meeting.

Taylor said the city is focused on providing an effective and enforceable policy that would lessen impacts of such projects on the community and the environment.

The policy is intended for projects that are brought forth after the city officially adopts it, and would be applied to projects greater than 100,000 square feet.

Since air quality, health risks and water supply are already reviewed through the California Environmental Quality Act, this policy would also add factors such as sewer and economic impacts, for instance, and energy efficiency.

The city has proposed a 1,000-foot setback for loading docks and truck bays; the policy would encourage adequate site property to avoid truck queueing along streets; separate entry and exit points for trucks and vehicles; “dense” screening of projects to mitigate offending views and minimize aesthetic impacts; and adherence to the city’s dark skies ordinance, while also mitigating noise and light scatter to overlapping properties.

New facilities would be required to designate a “point of contact” that the city could work with to address policy compliance.

And the policy calls for incoming facilities to provide “meaningful” outreach to the community.

A yet-to-be-determined future benefit fee could also be collected, to help the city fund additional green space and other amenities that could offset air quality and traffic.

Bill Blankenship, representing the Building Industry Association, addressed the council during a public comment period on the matter, expressing concerns that his industry never had an opportunity to weigh in on the policy’s formation, and questioned the plausibility of having a 1,000-foot setback on almost any project.

City Clerk Steve Mehlman, who called in as a private citizen outside his official position, said that he supported appropriately located warehouses and discouraged converting residentially zoned areas into industrial or manufacturing zones.

Councilmen David Fenn and Julio Martinez, who were part of the ad hoc committee tasked with devising a policy, offered their insights.

Fenn explained that the 1,000-foot setback was intended to be “from the closest loading dock to a sensitive receptor,” which tend to include populations, particularly ones who may be vulnerable to health and environmental risks, and that it was not 1,000-foot setback from the property line.

Martinez indicated that the policy reflected a “good neighbor policy,” and mirrored policies in nearby municipalities.

He suggested that a 1,000-foot setback could be more applicable to projects with at least 20 bays, or larger than 1 million square feet; others could adhere to a 300-foot setback from the property line.

Taylor reminded the council that this was simply a policy, not a zone change, and City Attorney John Pinkney pointed out that the discussion should be focused on the general policy, and not specific projects.

City staff will return with an updated draft for the policy after meeting with the building industry and other constituents.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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