Eight acres of vacant land on City Center Drive

Eight acres of vacant land on City Center Drive adjacent to The Shoppes at Chino Hills (shown at right) is under consideration as one of approximately 20 potential sites where high-density housing can be built to satisfy the state’s “affordable housing” requirements. The white building in back is the government center parking structure across from Limericks Tavern.

To make sense of building 3,720 housing units over the next 10 years, the City of Chino Hills has started with an inventory of more than 20 potential locations that could accommodate the additional units.

The Chino Hills Planning Commission was informed by city staff during a workshop on Tuesday that 59 percent of the city’s total allocation, or 2,202 housing units, must be built as “affordable housing.”

The commission was also informed that because there are very few houses in Chino Hills that rent or sell at rates considered “affordable,” the California Government Code allows cities to use what is called “default” density.

The city’s default density, established by the state’s Housing and Community Development Department, is 30 units or more per acre, and the Government Code sets a minimum density of 20 units per acre for these zoned sites.

Chairman Jerry Blum said the task at hand is to determine where housing units can be placed at a density of 20 to 30 units per acre, which in almost all cases, would require a rezone and General Plan amendment.

Not “affordable”

Commissioner Mike Stover said the community needs to know that the city is being mandated to building higher density units in Chino Hills, not affordable units. 

“We’re not talking about true affordable housing, except as it is defined by the state, which is the default density standard,” he said. “This is propelling us on a race to high density housing that we would not be looking at under normal circumstances.”

Community development director Joann Lombardo said the city successfully used the default density option in the past when it rezoned the Avalon Bay Apartments on Butterfield Ranch Road to “very high residential” where 331 units were built at 22.74 dwelling units per acre.

This action helped to satisfy the “affordable” mandates during the previous housing cycle that ran from 2014 to 2021.

The city’s General Plan contains a section on housing, called the “housing element,” that must be updated every eight years.

Since the last cycle ends in 2021, the city is working on an updated plan for the 2021-2029 planning period.

Senior planner Michael Hofflinger described more than 20 potential sites that are 5 acres or more that would accommodate the 2,202 housing units because of their access to roads, sewer, water, and other criteria.

Mr. Hofflinger also discussed the constraints of each site.

Undeveloped Land

•Shoppes II, an 8-acre site on City Center Drive adjacent to the Chino Valley Fire District administrative office.

•Overflow parking lot, 2-acre site on Eucalyptus Avenue/Peyton Drive, across the street from Community Park.

•Caballero Ranch, 10-acre site on the west side of Peyton Drive, south of Eucalyptus Avenue.

•Greening property, 5 acres of vacant land on Los Serranos Country Club Drive, across the street from Los Serranos Golf Course.

•Galstian property, 6 acres of vacant land on Butterfield Ranch Road, behind the Jade Tree townhomes, southwest of Chino Hills High School.

•Wang property, 177 acres of vacant land on Woodview Road.

•Galstian property, 380 acres of land once leased by Heaven’s Ranch on Woodview Road, off Peyton Drive.

•BAPS site, 8.7 acres of vacant land on Fairfield Ranch Road, south of the Hindu Temple.

•Chino Hills Business Park, (formerly Heritage), 20 acres of vacant land on Pomona Rincon Road, adjacent to The Rincon retail center across the street from Chino Hills High School.

•Pomona Rincon Road, 3.4 acres of vacant land on Pomona Rincon Road, adjacent to Goddard School.

•Rock Springs site, 3.5 acres of city open space at Rock Springs Drive and Rimrock Avenue.

•Chino Avenue/San Rafael Drive (north), 4 acres of city open space.

•Chino Avenue/San Rafael Drive (south), 8 acres of city open space.

Developed Land

•Los Serranos Golf Course between Los Serranos Country Club Drive and Pipeline Avenue, 90 acres.

•Western Hills Golf Course, Carbon Canyon Road between Fairway Drive and Canon Lane, 10 acres.

Mr. Hofflinger said that the Lewis Group of Companies is working with Western Hills Golf Course on a residential and golf analysis.

•The Shoppes at Chino Hills, acres to be determined, Grand Avenue and Boys Republic Drive.

•The Woodview Plaza, southeast corner of Pipeline Avenue and Chino Hills Parkway and the Gordon Ranch Marketplace on the northwest corner of Chino Hills Parkway and Eucalyptus Avenue.

Mr. Hofflinger described both shopping centers as underused.

•Crossroads Entertainment Center, Chino Avenue at the 71 Freeway where Harkins Theatre is located.

•Crossroads Marketplace, Peyton Drive at the 71 Freeway where Costco and empty big boxes are located.

•The Commons at the southeast corner of Chino Hills Parkway and Ramona Avenue, where Toys R Us closed.

Ms. Lombardo said all developers who are currently active in the city were informed of the housing update process.

Boys Republic?

Carbon Canyon resident Charlie Blank and resident Bill Becker asked the commission to consider a portion of Boys Republic for housing.

“I wouldn’t want us to take the whole thing over because it serves a useful purpose, but it appears to me there are certain parts in the back, off Eucalyptus Avenue, that could be used without being a problem,” Mr. Blank said.

Ms. Lombardo said the city has been in contact with Boys Republic in the past about purchasing or leasing land but there has been no interest.

“We will reach out again and see if they have any interest,” she said.

Chris Burns, executive director, of Boys Republic, when told about the comments, said Ms. Lombardo is correct about the board’s historical stance.

Mr. Burns said it has been some time since those discussions took place and he would be happy to have a conversation about what the city is envisioning.

Commissioner Stover asked if housing overlay zones could be implemented and how would they work.

Ms. Lombardo said she would bring back more detail on overlays at the next workshop.

 Proceed with caution

Chairman Blum said he is concerned about the lack of local planning opportunities taken away by the state.

“At some point, there has to be some level of give and take,” Mr. Blum said. “What happens when we reach buildout? What will we do then—take the hills out?”

He said the commission needs to be careful about placing high density residential close to existing residences where people have put their life’s earnings into making Chino Hills their home.

Mr. Blum asked the public to make their voices heard during the public input process.

The next workshop will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the Planning Commission meeting to be held remotely.

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