Santa Paula: East Area 1 Progress, Status and Questions

By Sheryl Hamlin

The East Area 1 Project (now called “Harvest”) was back on the agenda of the Santa Paula City Council for the November 21, 2016 meeting. Note that there have been two reports on this project in the last month. Both of these reports are related to the recent November 21, 2016 council meeting.

Limoneira/Lewis Denied 401 Certification November 6, 2016

Limoneira Progress Report October 21, 2016

Item 2.11.B Tentative Tract Map Approval

By way of history, the Planning Director reminded council that in February 2015, the East Area 1 Specific Plan was amended to create several ‘super lots’ to facilitate the development. What the item on the November 21, 2016 meeting involves is to further subdivide one of the ‘super lots’ into 274 residential lots and 24 lettered lots for streets, parks and paseos. Additionally a preliminary landscape plan for the common areas was presented as well as proposed street names (shown below).

street_names_ea1

Three speakers from Santa Paula Together spoke in Public Comments praising Limoneira/Lewis for adding back the apartments into the plan, although they all realized that more affordable units were needed. In the image below, the large pink area (Tract 5985) is divided into four sub-lots. The sub-lot on the south-west side of 5985 will be 100 units of market rate apartments. There was no discussion about below market rate apartments. Santa Paula Together has been working with Limoneira to reinstate the apartments ever since the council approved their removal at this meeting in 2015. Note that the 100 units are part of the 1500 allowed and it was previously noted that apartments change the financial return to the city negatively in the long run, presumably referring to property taxes.

ea1_phase1_annotated

Council Questions

Council Member Gherardi asked Mr. Penrod to clarify the issues raised in the two articles referenced and linked previously. Mr. Penrod’s responses are as follows:

RE: Issue of Roundabout at Hallock and 126. Mr. Penrod said that with Council Member Gherardi’s intervention Caltrans had relented on the roundabout and the project now would have a signal at Hallock and 126, so they would continue with the “at grade” entry into the project at Hallock.

RE: Approval of Bridge over Santa Paula Creek. Mr. Penrod said there was still no agreement between NMFS and the Army Corps of Engineers, so there is no progress. However, they had worked out an agreement with VCTC and the PUC to keep Padre Lane open for emergency until the bridge is built.

RE: Water Board Denial of 401 Permit. Mr. Penrod said that the Water Board had denied without having received all the information, so they will restart discussion with the Water Board. He viewed this as a “speed bump and not a road block”. The Water Board is concerned about 9,379 feet of stream bed and its protection, none of which was discussed at the meeting. Note that Mr. Penrod said “with prejudice”, although subsequently the Planning Director said it was “without prejudice” as reported.

There were no other questions and the council approved all eight tracts and landscaping plan for Phase 1 with Council Member Procter recusing himself due to stock ownership in Limoneira.

Issues and Unasked Questions about Landscaping, Grading and Historic Resources

The recognition of historic resources was documented previously, but it is important to revisit those resources. The Pump House, the Ranch Manager’s Residence, the Packing House, and the century old Canary Palm Trees are considered historically significant by the consultants who wrote the Cultural and Historic Resources Report, but unfortunately these resources have not been designated officially, so are essentially unprotected. Limoneira said in a previous meeting that these will be preserved, but details remain unanswered.

Packing House Encroachment In the Phase 1 Site Plan (shown above annotated), the Hallock Road extension north of the railroad tracks appears to encroach on a triangle of the Packing house property (B). Was the owner notified or compensated? No such discussion occurred at council.

Pump House In the annotated map of the Phase 1, there is white, rectangular lot labeled (A) This is the location of the historically significant Pump House. According to the Landscape plan, this lot will be HOA maintained as a park. There were NO questions from the council about the landscaping plan and in particular how would the HOA accrue the funds to maintain this historic building. Although eligible, it is undesignated, so essentially unprotected, so what would enforce the HOA maintenance of this resource?

padre_lane_existing

Padre Lane Existing 11/27/2016

Historic Palm Trees Padre Lane Road is beautifully lined with century old Canary Palm Trees (C). Pristine views of the mountains are seen in the background in the existing conditions. Padre Lane now extends to Telegraph and provides ingress/egress to the Packing House and the rest of the property. Mr. Penrod said that Padre Lane would remain open temporarily until the bridge issue was solved because they need a second means of ingress/egress. However, there was no discussion about this road and the palm trees after the Padre Lane closure. Nor was there any discussion about the damage from heavy trucks which could occur to the Packing House.

Ranch Manager’s Residence What is the status of this resource?

Elephant in the Room: Railroad Crossing and Hallock Extension

hallock_extension

Existing Railroad Conditions 11/27/2016

Mr. Penrod said that they will be “opening up” the project to begin the six-lane “at grade” Hallock Road extension now that they have obtained approval for the street light at Hallock and 126. In May 2015 Limoneira applied and was granted approval for a new “at grade” railroad crossing by the CPUC. In the existing conditions, the railroad bed is at least six feet above grade. There do not appear to be conceptual drawings for this major engineering effort nor a discussion of how it affects the railroad’s users. The Hallock Road extension was mentioned in the Final SEIR (1/2015). There were no council questions about this significant aspect of  the project. The CPUC also gave Limoneira permission to close the Padre Lane crossing now used, but as Mr. Penrod said, this must remain open until the new bridge across the creek is approved and built. There are clearly scheduling questions unasked and/or not discussed. There is mention of traffic on the railroad in the EIR Traffic document. Hopefully Mr. Penrod will return soon with details on the railroad crossing project.

To watch the video of this meeting click here. The agenda item is around 1:25:03.

For more information about the author, visit sheryhamlin.com


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