View from the Abacherli property

Butterfield Elementary School and surrounding neighborhoods can be seen from the Abacherli property, one of multiple sites under consideration by the city for high-density housing units.

Seven additional sites were announced Tuesday during the second housing workshop as potential locations for high-density units to meet state mandates in Chino Hills.

At the first workshop two weeks ago, 20-plus potential sites were announced.

It was another well-attended Planning Commission meeting, with more than 40 people logging into Zoom including landowners, developers, and residents.

The city’s community development department is tasked with finding locations for 3,720 housing units of which 2,202 must be built at 20 to 30 units per acre to satisfy lower income housing mandates from the state.

Very few houses in the city rent or sell at rates considered affordable so the state allows cities to use a “default” density instead, which for Chino Hills is 20 to 30 units per acre.

Senior planner Michael Hofflinger announced the following sites, emphasizing that like the 20-plus sites he announced at the previous workshop, these sites are “potential.”

Undeveloped land

•Stonefield property, 34 acres on Carbon Canyon Road and Fairway Drive. The topography is extreme on this site.

•Northwest corner of Jolon Street and Aqueduct Lane, 2.7 acres that slope steeply, across the street from Glenmeade Elementary School.

•Abacherli property, 103 acres with extreme topography south of the Butterfield Ranch community at Mystic Canyon Drive.

Developed land

•Leonard Grenier property, horses and stables located on 16.5 acres at Carbon Canyon and Canyon Hills roads, flat topography

•Former Everbright property, 6.5 acres at Old Carbon Canyon Road and Pinnacle Road near the Carriage Hills community, steep topography

•Crossroads Marketplace, 60 acres at Peyton Drive and the 71 Freeway, with 22.5 potential acres for housing of up to 500 units.

•The Commons at Chino Hills, 46 acres at the southeast corner of Chino Hills Parkway and Pipeline Avenue, with nine potential acres for housing of up to 300 units. 

Charlene Peterson, who has lived in Carbon Canyon for 42 years, said she and her neighbors are concerned that adding high density housing will not only increase traffic on Carbon Canyon Road but make it even more difficult to get out of their homes during a fire.

Chino Hills resident Debbie Hall wrote in an email that the city should not be forced into cramming high density housing like puzzle pieces that don’t fit.

Luis Esparza said the governor and the state have overstepped their authority by mandating an increase in housing numbers across the state and Chino Hills.

He said the city council should spend its efforts opposing the mandate instead of surrendering to it.

He said Carbon Canyon has been targeted for zone changes despite concerns from residents for traffic impact, utilities, and fire safety.

Penalties

Ms. Lombardo said cities who do not follow the state’s requirements become ineligible for state grant funds and may be referred to the Attorney General for failing to comply with the housing element.

The consequences of cases brought by the Attorney General are up to the courts, but can include financial penalties, she said.

Also, a city without a compliant housing element may risk legal challenges to its general plan from interested parties outside of the state.

Failure to rezone could result in a city losing its land use authority and a carryover of the housing units to the next 10-year cycle, she said.

If a city does not issue enough permits to meets its housing numbers, a developer may build housing on sites not designated for housing. 

Assistant city attorney Elizabeth Calciano, when asked if the city could sue the state, said there would have to be a “huge effort” by a number of cities getting together.

“I can’t say it won’t happen because cities are besides themselves over the dramatic changes that will be required, but this city and many others would have to combine together,” Ms. Calciano said.

Commercial centers

Ms. Lombardo said the city may be in good shape if it can include developed sites such as commercial centers, however, the provisions laid out by the state indicate that 50 percent of the identified sites must be vacant.

She said there is a process the city can undergo to demonstrate that the developed sites are very feasible and ready to develop.

Ms. Lombardo said there is a keen interest from certain property owners to build housing because of a change in the retail market.

John Mitchell, participating from Florida, introduced himself as the owner/representative for Crossroads Marketplace, which he said is encumbered by big box stores that are vacant.

Mr. Mitchell said a change in the commercial land use could be appropriate and he looked forward to “pursuing the opportunity to put the best project together for Chino Hills.”

The third workshop will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 2 via Zoom where a preliminary assignment of housing units will be made to the more than 25 sites presented over the last two workshops. The city has established a “housing element” page on its website where residents may find information and links to resources.

The page contains staff reports, power point presentations, and an explanation of how the state allocates housing numbers to cities.

Visit chinohills.org/hous  ingelementupdate.

For information, call the community development department at (909) 364-2740.

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