The last regular Planning Commission meeting for the City of Upland was held this last Wednesday on June 24th. After an unbelievably inappropriate message from Chair Gary Schwary (read about that here), the Planning Commission approved a new 350 unit housing project despite the drought and local residents' vocal concerns about higher density housing and water. This new project is located approximately between Foothill Blvd. and 11th St. and Central Ave. and Dewey Way. The 350 units supposedly will be built on 19.04 acres behind The Hat restaurant and will face 11th Street. This lot is just East of another already approved higher density project called "Upland Crossing".
Some residents are concerned that new projects are being approved and built while Upland's new General Plan has not even been approved yet. Furthermore, the new Plan has received such negative comments and push-back against the Plan's direction, that most residents don't want anymore building until the Plan is sorted out. So how are these new higher density projects being built? Easy. The City is using what is called a "Specific Plan". Placing a project area under a "Specific Plan" means the City doesn't need to wait for the new General Plan or Zoning Code updates or approvals. As the "Specific Plan" is approved, as they just did at the June 24th meeting for the 350 new units, the old zoning code and general plan (which are actual the current legal guiding documents) are merely amended. Voila! Whether "Specific Plans" were designed to be used as "end-runs" around resistant residents or old non-conforming plans and zoning codes is unknown. However, this is exactly how Upland is using them to move forward with their new General Plan while the new General Plan is simultaneously being resisted by residents.
So, what does this mean for Upland residents? They get more condos, apartments, and tiny single family homes on tiny lots. Most residents are outraged when they hear that the City is still rapidly building for 8,000 new residents when "They" have to cut "Their" water usage by 36%. You do have to admit, when you repeat that sentence to yourself, it does seem pretty ridiculous. As a result, residents' frustration with the City Council has grown as the Council has confirmed, by its silence, its unwillingness to address the apparent disconnect with the water issue. Residents want to know: either we have water, or we don't. Either way, building new higher density projects right now instead of developing increased water capacity or resources is just plain negligent.