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Backers, foes of warehouse planned next to historic Riverside adobe get 30 days to reach deal

Trucks rattling to and from a proposed warehouse 940 feet from the historic Trujillo Adobe could ruin the structure and destroy plans to build homes, restaurants and similar businesses, opponents told the Riverside City Council Tuesday, Oct. 9.
But blocking the proposal would violate private property rights and cost potential jobs, project supporters argued at the same meeting.
The City Council, fearing potential lawsuits whichever side it favored, voted for a compromise — or at least the hope of one.
Developers and the Springbrook Heritage Alliance — a collection of citizen groups that appealed the Planning Commission’s approval of the project — have 30 days to come up with a compromise. The city’s requirements for advance notice of meetings and the Thanksgiving holiday mean the project, with or without any changes agreed to by both sides, will return to the council for reconsideration Tuesday, Nov. 27.
One possible compromise would be to redirect traffic west, away from the adobe, Councilman Chris Mac Arthur said.
Otherwise, Mac Arthur indicated he would oppose the project, as did Councilmen Mike Gardner, Andy Melendrez and Jim Perry. If council members vote as their comments suggested, that would be a 4-3 vote to reject the 308,000-square-foot warehouse across from the Ab Brown Sports complex on the city’s Northside.
Only Melendrez voted against the delay.
A committee of city officials determined in February that the project met all conditions of the city’s zoning code. The alliance of citizen groups appealed that to the city’s Planning Commission, which voted 4-3 in favor of the developer in April. The same group appealed that decision to a City Council committee, which recommended in July that the full City Council reject the warehouse.
The appeal objects to the project on 10 grounds, all of which city officials says developers have adequately addressed.
Most of those who objected during a nearly four-hour hearing Tuesday focused on potential impacts on the Trujillo Adobe and other plans for the Northside.
This historic photo shows the Trujillo Adobe before it deteriorated. All that is left of this structure on N. Orange St. in Riverside are three walls and a small part of a fourth. (Photo courtesy of the Trujillo family.)
Could Trujillo Adobe be harmed?
Built in 1862, the adobe is one of the only remaining signs of the first non-native settlements in the San Bernardino Valley and has been designated a city and county landmark and a California site of Historical Significance. Only three of its walls remain, and the entire structure is encased in a protective structure to stave off collapse.
That’s evidence of longstanding disregard for Mexican-American history in the region that needs to be reversed, Melendrez said.
“(The adobe) is the oldest site that we have in the in the city of Riverside,” Melendrez said, bemoaning the lack of work to preserve the adobe. “It’s time to start working on this, rather than sealing it in with a bunch of warehouses.”
A Caltrans study states that “historic structures” can withstand a level of vibration higher than what models suggest would reach the adobe from trucks on Center Street, 80 feet from the adobe.
Opponents said they were skeptical of those projections.
“I’m a little confused how we’re getting these numbers, and to be honest I’m a little concerned,” Perry said.
Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, also opposes the project, according to a letter read by one of his representatives.
“This project would have a negative impact on one of Riverside’s oldest neighborhoods,” the letter states. “The Trujillo Adobe serves as the last remnant of the cultural history of Hispanic settlers.”
Compatible with the Northside vision?
Everyone agrees that warehouses are allowed in an industrial zone like the one where the warehouse is proposed under the zoning portion of the city’s general plan, but it appears to be inconsistent with the vision section of the same document, Gardner said.
“The vision side says the vision for the Northside is low-impact residential and retail,” said Gardner, who represents the neighborhood. “It’s time for us to stop dumping on the Northside.”
Gardner and others say a warehouse shouldn’t be built until the city completes its Northside Specific Plan , which could say the neighborhood should be used for something incompatible with a large warehouse.
Art Day of Transition Properties submitted plans for the warehouse in 2014, before the city began holding meetings with community members about the Northside Specific Plan. City staff members say they expect to present a draft of that plan in late 2019.
The Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce supports the project, said Cindy Roth, its president and CEO.
Denying the project would discourage other businesses with projects that fit the requirements in the general plan, as this one does, Roth said.
“Developers and investors must be able to trust the general plan,” she said.
Representatives of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said they wanted the warehouse because of the jobs that would come from building it.
“Projects like this being built locally… would keep me home working where I could be home with my kids,” said LiUNA member Danny Zaragosa. who said he is a single father who recently had to leave town for two weeks for a job.

Related links

Residents concerned about warehouse pitched for Riverside’s Northside
Riverside’s Trujillo Adobe among top 10 Latino historical sites needing preservation
Residents concerned about warehouse pitched for Riverside’s Northside
Riverside’s Trujillo Adobe among top 10 Latino historical sites needing preservation
Riverside still grappling with warehouse rules

Next steps
Representatives of Springbrook and Transition Properties didn’t indicate Tuesday whether they thought a compromise was possible.
City Manager Al Zelinka said some potential agreements between the Springbrook Heritage Alliance and the developer could require additional analysis — studying the environmental impacts of redirecting traffic to the west, for example — so Nov. 27 might be too early for a vote.
Regardless, the council is scheduled to discuss it again at that meeting.

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