Tonight, I attended my first Planning Commission Meeting. The commissioners were considering recommending to the city council a change to a parcel map that would narrow a road and redraw a couple lots to facilitate "financing and conveyance" on the 2.89m square foot Hidden Canyon warehouse across the SR 60 hwy from the 5.89m sq ft Highland warehouse distribution center the city council will approve at the next city council meeting.
There were five citizens there to speak in opposition of the direction the Planning Commission and City Council are taking our city. The commissioners made it clear this project was recommended by them and approved by the city council, last year. They informed us that even if the amendment isn't approved by the city council the project would be completed as previously approved. The commissioners approved the recommendation to the delight of Mayor Berg who was sitting in the back row with a large grin on his face. As I am finding to be his nature, he didn't seem to show any concern to citizens seriously questioning his legacy he is building with these warehouses.
I found the Planning Commissioners' actions very similar to both the City Council Members and the School Board Trustees. They rely heavily on their staffs and do little preparation on their own. Not a single commissioner was able to respond when I asked them if any of them knew the total sq ft of warehouses already constructed, under construction or approved for construction. One commissioner told us that they were only making recommendations to the council and if we had issues we needed to talk to our elected officials. Obviously he hasn't attended a recent council meeting under Mayor Berg's leadership.
When I pressed the commissioners to learn if they knew how much warehouse square footage they had recommended for the council to approve and if they felt it was important to know this before recommending any more warehouses, they looked to the staff for help. The staff told us to check the city website for the acreage and estimated about 6m sq ft has been approved. I asked why the nearly 6m sq ft Highland project wasn't included in their calculations and I was told because that one hadn't been approved yet.
This means the City of Beaumont is planning to have at least 12m sq ft on the west side of the city. Add the Cherry Valley Gateway Distribution Center's 2.5m sq ft and this means there will be almost 15m sq ft of warehouse in a four mile area surrounding my children.
The city council still needs to approve the zoning change the planning commission approved last month that would enable the 6m sq ft Highland Center to move forward. I hope there will be a strong turnout of citizens at the next council meeting to voice their objections. It's not likely, but possible, that the council members will come around and listen to their constituents. I have to stay hopeful... for my kids' sake.