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Laguna Beach Land Speculator Hits Snag on Huge Warehouse Project

OC Investment Group’s Plans for Riverside County Mega-Warehouse Hit Stumbling Block

Plans by an Irvine-based real estate investment trust to put a 2.5 million sq. ft. logistics warehouse in a residential area in western Riverside County have hit another roadblock as a key committee has recommended that the County Supervisors reject the project.

The Shopoff Group—led by William Shopoff of Laguna Beach--has asked the County to rezone the land, located just off I-10 in unincorporated Cherry Valley, from rural/residential to light industrial.  It has proposed using the property for a massive Gateway Center warehouse (the size of 43 football fields), which would have 428 bays for 18-wheel diesel tractor-trailers.  When fully operational, the warehouse would attract an estimated 400 to 1,000 truck trips a day.

The property is located a mile or less from four senior citizens’ communities with more than 5,000 residents and three miles from four public schools.  Since January, when an initial County hearing on the project was held, opposition to the rezoning and the warehouse has grown. The City of Beaumont, homeowners associations and other organizations in Beaumont, Cherry Valley and Calimesa have gone on record against the project.

Because of the mounting concern, Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley—a key supporter of the Gateway plan—appointed a Gateway Review Committee in April to study the project.  The committee was initially supposed to meet monthly until October.  However, after just two meetings, the panel recommended that the County turn down the rezoning request and leave the area residential.

“It only took the Ashley committee two meetings to recognize that putting an industrial warehouse in the middle of a residential area is inappropriate and completely contradicts the county’s own General Plan for the area,” said Nancy Carroll, chair of the No Way Gateway community action group that is spearheading the opposition. “It only took two meetings to understand that allowing the spot zoning of this property would set a horrible precedent for our county going forward.”

 “We are not against growth.  We are not against building warehouses in appropriate places, like industrial parks located far from residential areas. But forcing a huge warehouse like Gateway into a residential area just so the land speculator can make a profit is not appropriate,” Ms. Carroll said.

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 No Way Gateway is a nonprofit, non-partisan volunteer community action group. For further information, go to: www.nowaygateway.org

Steve Mehlman May 21, 2014 at 11:14 AM
More information: http://kvcr.org/News/Stories/2014/April/Mega-Warehouse_Controversy
Stan Jacobs May 21, 2014 at 12:43 PM
I was in architecture during the 1960s-70s and eventually got out because of dealing with land speculators whose approach was devoid of conscience. Many still live in Newport and Laguna (The Gold Coast) while enriching themselves by raping the Southern California landscape elsewhere. The results of land developers unleashed is evident all around us.
Roger E. Butow May 21, 2014 at 02:48 PM
Steve: How bizarre in light of what the Laguna Beach City Council did by amending the Canyon zoning to promote uses like this. They've ignored both the General AND Specific Area land use plans for the Canyon above Big Bend. My GONZO LAGUNA blogs on this have found a lot of resonance locally, but yours is the poster child for how speculators and developers act. They're finding collaborators and facilitators in government, this story of yours reflects citizens rising up in vehement, educated opposition. Now for the BOS in Riverside to smell the coffee and agree. Good piece of reporting!
Nancy Carroll May 21, 2014 at 06:40 PM
Good article. Bad project. Unincorporated towns do not have the checks and balances that cities have. Land speculators like TSG (Shopoff, aka Bill Shopoff of Laguna Beach) know this. They boast about how they can get the land rezoned with their "relationships" and use lobbyists to effect this. It is just doing "business". They buy land cheap (usually sold in a distress situation) get it rezoned through their "relationships" and then sell it at a huge profit. Most often there is no building etc. just the value of their "relationships" and the zone busting. The spot zoning and zone busting that they do, well.... that is just the cost of them doing business. Too bad for those poor kids, seniors, and families that live nearby and have to breathe the diesel exhaust and lose on property values. "But I donate....!"
Roger E. Butow May 21, 2014 at 08:03 PM
Stan: I moved to Laguna in 1972, which I have identified in my journalism these past 15 years as approximately the "Beginning of the End." And c'mon, that's just a coincidence folks! :+) :+) :+) Laguna then took a serious commodification turn when The Athens Group Development $$$ (from Arizona) started getting thrown around in the late 90s. Rumors of council seats being purchased, they in turn appointing planning commissioners that rubber-stamped, the whole enchilada of a Chinatown scenario emerged. What was proposed as a 4 star Marriott, backed by a Merrill Lynch investment group of about 500 parties morphed into a 5 star Montage Resort & Spa financed by a billionaire. Now 95% of the residents can't even afford to have a drink there let alone stay for a night. Presently, we have Las Vegas casino & bar $$$ pouring into town for both the Artists Work/Live & former Coast Inn redevelopment, I'm sure there's more in the pipe. We could easily end up with Big Box stores in the Canyon, they'll allege they're convenient, saving trips into town......So the 600+ storage unit & 50 car parking lot proposed @ Laguna Canyon Storage at Big Bend, added to the 75 person occupancy (plus Food Bank) at the now temporary homeless shelter are just tips of the iceberg. I still like Laguna, but I find it difficult to love anymore-----Yes, Stan, changes that wipe out a real sense of community are pretty vacuous.

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