A planned self-storage facility and business center approved more than two years ago in Pomona, Calif., appears to be in jeopardy after a Superior Court judge upheld a lawsuit calling for an environmental-impact review. The City Council was scheduled to vote yesterday on a resolution to revoke the conditional-use permit and a document that previously declared the Fairplex project had no significant impact on the environment.
Fairplex is under the direction of the Los Angeles County Fair Association and is home to the L.A. County Fair. The court order was issued in November as part of a lawsuit filed by the Coalition to Make the Fairplex Play Fair after conditional use was granted by the city in November 2011.
The project called for the conversion of 20 Fairplex barn and stable buildings into a business center comprising more than 200,000 square feet of office, medical, educational, retail, restaurant and light-manufacturing uses. A 94,200-square-foot self-storage facility was included in the plans, according to the source.
The city planning commission approved the project in October 2010, but self-storage real estate investment trust (REIT) Public Storage Inc., which opposes the project, filed an appeal questioning the thoroughness of an initial impact study and asked for a full environmental review. The REIT also argued the project would increase traffic, was inconsistent with the city's general plan, threatened historic resources (the buildings targeted for conversion) and would add an unwarranted self-storage facility in the area, the source reported.
Public Storage also threatened to sue the city and Fairplex if the council didn’t order the full environmental study. "I'm here to reiterate we will litigate," Jim Fitzpatrick, senior vice president of development, said during the proceedings.
Representatives from Fairplex also filed an appeal at the time of the commission’s approval asking that limitations on the amount of space a business-center tenant could use for warehousing be changed or eliminated, the source reported. The council ultimately voted in favor of the plan as it was submitted by the planning commission, refuting both appeals.
The lawsuit filed by the coalition focused on traffic effects, air quality and the conversion of the historic buildings. Attorney Douglas Carstens argued that those factors together warranted a full environmental impact study. Judge Luis A. Lavin agreed, writing, “In sum, the administrative record contains substantial evidence to support a fair argument that the project will harm the environment.”
A search on the Public Storage website indicates the self-storage giant currently has four facilities near the vicinity of Fairplex. Fairplex RV & Boat Storage is also listed as operational on the Fairplex website and is under the management of Fairplex KOA/RV Park.