City Council Overturns Commission Decision, Approves Self-Storage Development in Vallejo, CA

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Update 12/10/14 – The Vallejo City Council has overturned the planning commission’s rejection of a self-storage development proposed for the corner of Sonoma Boulevard and Solano Avenue in the city’s South Vallejo Industrial Park. The council voted 6-1 in favor of the project, after the developers appealed the commission’s October decision.

The project proposed by developers Cubix Construction Co. and Veneto West LLC, along with property owner Jack Anthony, was rejected by the commission despite early support from city officials and a revised plan submitted by the applicants at the request of the commission. The council had allowed the project to move forward in April before the commission’s actions.

The city attorney’s office had warned against possible litigation if the project was rejected without proper findings, the source reported.

“It’s about fairness and not leading people down a path and then changing the path when they get to the end,” said Mayor Osby Davis, who was critical of the commission’s proceedings and suggested a joint session to make clear the role of the planning commission. “That role is not to go outside the policies established by the council.”

The council’s decision paves the way for the self-storage development, which will comprise about 925 storage units on 3.9 acres.


10/23/14 – The Vallejo, Calif., Planning Commission has rejected the revised self-storage plan proposed for the corner of Sonoma Boulevard and Solano Avenue in the South Vallejo Industrial Park. The commission’s 4-3 vote against the facility surprised the developers and even some city officials who had supported the project.

"It's shocking and a bit of an embarrassment for the city," said Ed Boersma, president of Cubix Construction Co., who is one of the developers along with George Huff, owner of Veneto West LLC. Jack Anthony, whose family owns the land, said he was disappointed and vowed to appeal the decision, according to the source.

An appeal hearing is expected to be scheduled for next month.

The commissioners who voted against the revised plan argued the self-storage facility would diminish the city’s downtown entrance and fail to produce a large number of jobs or significant revenue, according to the source.

The developers raised questions about whether the commission was overstepping its bounds. The city council approved the zoning in April, and a majority of commissioners appeared to support the project during a public study session last month. Andrea Ouse, Vallejo planning manager, said the commission has “broad discretion” when it comes to land-use decisions, the source reported.

Commissioner Roberto Cortez said planners should not have asked the developers to revise their plans if they never intended to support the project. “There's no reason to have the developer jumping [through] hoops just to tell him no," he said. "We're playing with someone else's checkbook. That's not right.”


7/24/14 – Developers of a Vallejo, Calif., self-storage facility have agreed to revise their plans after neighboring business owners continued to raise concerns about potential traffic, crime, and economic and aesthetic impact, according to the source. The city council approved zoning for the facility in April.

The proposed facility was designed to include 925 storage units on a 3.9-acre lot at the corner of Sonoma Boulevard and Solano Avenue in the South Vallejo Industrial Park. The layout includes three single-story buildings and a two-story structure. The city’s planning commission reviewed the project design earlier this week and said it wasn’t adequate for the visibility of the location.

"I think what we should be getting is a building that makes a statement as people start to enter the downtown," Commissioner Robert Schussel said. "And I think what the applicant has shown doesn't exemplify what Vallejo deserves."

As a compromise, the commission agreed to allow developers George Huff, owner of Veneto West LLC, and Ed Boersma, president of Cubix Construction Co., to use Sonoma Boulevard for the facility’s main entrance if they address landscaping, architectural and drainage issues.


4/24/14 – A self-storage developer in Vallejo, Calif., was granted zoning approval on April 22 to build in a business park once slated for research and development companies. The Vallejo City Council voted 4-to-3 to allow the facility to be constructed in the South Vallejo Industrial Park, which was built in 1980 and has access to Sonoma Boulevard and Interstate 780. The project faced opposition from nearby business owners and city council members who questioned how the park would benefit from storage.

Jack Anthony and his family purchased the land on the southeast corner of Sonoma Boulevard and Solano Avenue, the industrial park’s last large vacant lot, in 2004 specifically to develop self-storage, according to the source. The following year, the city council approved permits for the facility to be built; but due to financing struggles, the project was halted and the permits lapsed.

Shortly thereafter, the city’s planning commission approved a zoning change that barred self-storage in the industrial park. Last year, however, after Anthony approached city officials to resurrect the project, they discovered the change was never approved by council members.

City officials told the council they recommended approving the development, despite the planning commission’s recommendation last month to move forward with the ban. The mayor and three members voted in favor of the zoning change, while three others supported prohibiting storage in the industrial park because it wouldn’t create new jobs in the area. Council members also debated whether storage was the right purpose for the land, noting the city already has more than 10 storage facilities.

Several business owners also asked the council to reject the zoning change. Alex McDonald, principal of Envelope Products Co., said storage would not benefit the businesses already operating in the park. Tom Arie Donch, whose business Interplay Design is adjacent to the proposed storage site, told the council it would “tarnish the park's image.”

Council members also noted that the property’s proximity to a wastewater-treatment plant could deter other types of development.

                                                                                               

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