January 26, 2022

Why some industrial business owners don’t like proposed Santa Fe Springs plan

View Original Notice ? Why some industrial business owners don’t like proposed Santa Fe Springs plan

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A proposed new general plan that would remake the industrial portion of Santa Fe Springs by limiting large industrial uses as well as trucking and warehousing has business owners up in arms.

Business leaders, including the Chamber of Commerce, have sent letters to the city and spoken against the proposed changes in this industrial city at recent Planning Commission and City Council meetings.

“The proposed land-use changes could permanently impact the lives and livelihoods of a great many people and businesses,” Randall Courtney and Kathie Fink, president and chief executive officer of the Santa Fe Springs Chamber of Commerce, respectively, in a Jan. 10 letter to the city.

“Jobs may be lost, businesses may be forced to relocate and properties will be permanently encumbered,” Courtney and Fink wrote.

Courtney and Fink asked for more time for the City Council to hear business leaders.

As a result, the council scheduled another study session at 5 p.m. before its regular 6 p.m. Jan. 18 meeting.

The plan restricts industry types adjacent to and near residential neighborhoods, schools and parks in this city long known for commercial and industrial development. Although the census population is less than 20,000, the day time population of workers is more than 60,000.

“One of the visions in this general plan is protecting the health and safety of residential neighborhoods,” said Jose Rodriguez, a consultant from MIG, a contractor that helped prepare the new general plan, told the Planning Commission at its Sept. 10 meeting.

“We’re trying to restrict more obnoxious and intensive uses that could affect nearby residential uses,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the plan allows a broad range of uses, including manufacturing, outdoor storing, and logistic activities but not near residential areas.

One site in dispute is the former Vons Distribution center, 12801 Excelsior Drive, which the plan calls for rezoning 60% of the property from industrial to business park in order to transition to a ‘mixed-use employment center with professional offices, research and development and clean flex industrial.

However, Lang Cottrell, regional director for Goodman, at the Jan. 11 City Council meeting objected, saying issues of environmental justice are “unnecessary and misdirected.”

“This property has operated as a distribution center for Vons for 50 years prior to us purchasing the property,” Cottrell said.

“We think it’s a perfect location for industry,” he said. “There’s been a lot of discussion of traffic but having industry located along the freeway keeps trucks off the streets.”

Traffic and noise studies also showed no problems over and above the Vons center, Cottrell said.

Down-zoning the property will reduce the value of land by 55%, Cottrell said, and the duration to redevelop the property will go from three years under full industrial to 25 years under the new zoning.

However, John Ramirez, community development director for Norwalk, which has residential areas near the former Vons site, said they see a  lot of trucks and feel vibrations from the truck traffic.

“People have trouble sleeping  because of the trucks,” Ramirez said.

However, Howard Schwimmer and Michael Frankel — co-chief executive officers of Rexford Industrial Realty, Inc. which owns 15 industrial properties in Santa Fe Springs — said  in a Jan. 10 letter that  down-zoning its properties could make current or future uses non-conforming. Five of their properties would be down zoned.

“This would make the properties unusable and un-leasable and create an extreme financial hardship to Rexford and many other industrial owners and operators in the city,” they wrote.

Wayne Morrell, director of planning and community development, said the properties affected by the general plan wouldn’t be harmed in the short term.

“This doesn’t mean that with a snap of the fingers, it all goes away,” Morrell said. “These uses should be able to remain in place.”

The city would come up with an amortization period — it could be 20 years — before they would have to shut down, he said.

While business owners asked for delay, Morrell said the housing element portion of the plan must be approved by Feb. 28 or the city would lose a $333,000 grant.

Business leaders suggested approving only the housing element and leaving the rest up for more study and debate.

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