Santa Paula: Unavoidable Destruction of History

By Sheryl Hamlin

Note: Continuation article to previous Planning Commission report.

While Santa Paula residents were regaling in artist renderings and elegant brochures of the long proposed East Area 1 project in 2007, under the covers planners were subtly erasing local history.

Artist Rendering of East Area 1 taken from 2007 Brochure

The first part in a planning study is to recognize history. This was done in a professional report produced in 2007 called the Historic Resources Report written by San Buenaventura Research Associates and a Cultural Resources Study. In the Introduction of the Historic Resources Report the following statement is made.

The plan proposes the retention and rehabilitation of four historic elements existing on the property within the new development and on their present locations: the Pump House, the Ranch Manager’s Residence, the palm trees flanking Padre Lane and the Packinghouse. According to the Specific Plan, the barn may be retained and relocated elsewhere on the property. All other existing improvements and the majority of the agricultural features on the project site are proposed to be removed.

Note that this paragraph was brought to the Planning Commission on September 27, 2016 asking for a status of these historic resources. Please read report here.

Subsequently the following statement was located in a document called Unavoidable Adverse Impacts:

The proposed Specific Plan will result in the demolition of buildings and the removal of agricultural features which contribute towards the eligibility of the Teague-McKevett Ranch property for individual listing on the NRHP and CRHR, and towards its eligibility for designation as a City of Santa Paula Landmark.

So, it appears while Limoneira was producing beautiful renderings of a project laden with historic resources and 100 year old Canary Palm Trees, there was no intention of integrating these features into something grand.

What is also instructive are the minutes from the September 27, 2016 Planning Commission Meeting which were just approved in the Consent Calendar at the October 3, 2016 City Council Meeting. In the Agenda Packet for the Consent Calendar Planning Report, you will see no Public Comments in the minutes. Note that these Public Comments were recently reported in the Santa Paula Times (“Planning Commission asked about Limoneira historic resources” 10/7/2016), as well as in the aforementioned Citizens Journal article. One can only ask about other Minutes which may be lacking the complete actions from meetings.

Clearly the lengthy EIR documents and Planning Reports are read by attorneys and not citizens, particularly when a statement like the six bullet points below are found in the “Unavoidable” report.

Screenshot from 2007 Unavoidable Results of East Area 1

After reading this statement, it is obvious why Route 126 was never designated ‘scenic’, although it is eligible along with Foothill, according to Calpine in a report for the Mission Rock peaker project as reported here.

Did the Planning Commission and Council read these tomes before approving? Did the public read before the 2008 vote? Or was it another question of “common good” outweighing “common sense”?

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Sheryl Hamlin
Sheryl Hamlin
4 years ago

“Unavoidable” appears to be a catch-all category which says that standards, history and safety do not matter …

From the Limoneira EA1 EIR … what is definition of ‘long term’…

As described in Section 4.5 (Air Quality) of this EIR, implementation of the proposed Specific Plan would result in significant and unavoidable regional air quality impacts. The analysis shows that the project would generate long-term operational (regional) emissions of criteria air pollutants and precursors and that the generation of ROC and NOx would be significant during building construction on a project level and on a cumulative basis, which includes significant emissions of NOx during mass grading.
Implementation of mitigation measures AQ-1 through AQ-12 would reduce regional emissions of criteria pollutants by approximately 15 percent, as well as reduce fugitive PM10 dust emissions by over 50 percent attributable to the dust control BMP as part of the project. However, even with implementation of the proposed mitigation measures, regional emissions of ROC and NOx emissions would still exceed the VCAPCD threshold of 25 pounds per day and therefore this impact would be considered a significant unavoidable adverse impact.