Southern California Town Lifts Self-Storage Moratorium But Adds Restrictions on Development

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Wildomar, Calif., let its moratorium on new self-storage facilities expire Jan. 13, opening the door to more development. However, the city council is trying to enact some caveats, most notably that traditional facilities can't be built in "desirable" commercial areas.

The city will default to the existing county ordinance for boat-, vehicle- and RV-storage facilities, which makes them legal on property zoned commercial general, scenic-highway commercial and rural residential. A conditional-use permit application is required for rural residential and scenic highway commercial zoning. A plotplan application is required for commercial-general zoning.

As for traditional self-storage facilities, council members told staff to write an amendment to the existing county ordinance to prohibit them in desirable commercial-general zoning. Such facilities are already prohibited in rural residential and scenic-highway commercial designations, according to city documents.

Councilmember Bob Cashman argued for the amendment. In his opinion, the city needs to draft its own ordinance “once and for all” to deal with storage facilities, according to the source. He expressed concern that by allowing self-storage facilities to build on prime commercial retail sites along key city thoroughfares, such as Clinton Keith Road, potentially "desirable" future development could be thwarted.

“I’m worried about permanent concrete structures,” Cashman said in the meeting, pointing out that storage facilities are not aesthetically pleasing and bring little revenue to the city.

Councilmember Marsha Swanson argued that drafting a city ordinance now would cost Wildomar money at a time when self-storage businesses are “not beating down our doors.” However, city staff told the source recent inquiries from self-storage developers have been made, and the moratorium was put in place in December 2010 because city personnel had received numerous development proposals, according to city documents. Wildomar is about 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

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