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City of Alhambra sets date for Lowe's Development Appeal

The City of Alhambra announced Monday, February 27 as an appeal date regarding the granting of a permit for the construction of a Lowe's superstore on Fremont Avenue. The city council will hear the appeal at 7 pm.

The Charles Company is the developer on the Lowe's project, which will also include a six-story parking structure and two office buildings on the Fremont Avenue parcel.

Residents filed the appeal on the grounds that the planning commission, who approved the permit, had not answered all resident questions about the project, that the traffic study was incomplete and that the land wasn't properly zoned for a retail store like Lowe's.

The City of Alhambra's notice of public hearing addressed the permit question, saying that the development services director interpreted the Industrial Planned Development Zone, which the Lowe's development would be built in, to include "building material sales, retail, and wholesale, including home improvement supplies," in compliance with the Alhambra Municipal Code.

Residents can read the notice here.

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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7 thoughts on “City of Alhambra sets date for Lowe's Development Appeal”

  1. 1. Do you have a history corner in your publication? Also, did anyone preserve the “morgue” from the old Alhambra Post-Advocate? It must have published for close to 70 years, or more. Did anyone microfilm/microfiche them in the olden days? That would be a tremendous resource.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Can you email us at [email protected] and elaborate?

  2. The concern regarding zoning is not that the city has not made an interpretation on what is allowed in Industrialized Planned Development (IPD) zones, but that the city’s interpretation is faulty and has no legal merit other than City Hall went through the proper bureaucratic procedures to make the interpretation. But using this as justification for the interpretation’s merit is akin to letting the police police themselves without question or oversight. The city made the interpretation, therefore the interpretation by default is correct?

    The zoning code, as written in the city’s charter, clearly disallows big box retail stores in IPD zones (see below). To interpret otherwise is a slippery slope. The city’s reasoning behind its interpretation is three-fold: 1) big box retail stores would be less objectionable than other permitted uses in IPD zones (this is subjective and opens the door for the city to allow anything in IPD zones—or any other designated zone for that matter), 2) big box retail is similar to certain uses within the IPD zone (this false based on a literal reading of the zoning code), and 3) allowing big box retail stores in IPD zones would entice such stores to Alhambra, and thus, increase the city’s bottom line.

    The problem with such interpretations, besides being false, is also three-fold: 1) allowing non-sanctioned businesses in IPD zones diminishes the overall space allotted for industrialized development, which is restricted to begin with, typically pays higher wages than retail, and exists, according to Sec 23.32.010 of the Alhambra Municipal Code, “to provide and preserve development of restricted industrial uses that are not environmentally detrimental to the general public;” 2) it sets a precedent for the city to ignore zoning codes based on a re-interpretation of the code regardless of its merit; and 3) it diminishes the democratic process by flouting rules and regulations as well as checks and balances that were established to protect the community from local government making decisions that are not in the best interests of the community at large.

    The people who filed the appeal are not anti-Lowes or anti-development. They just want the city to follow the rules, which are in place to protect the community from poor development practices and/or over-development. The city’s mode of operation regarding development practices needs to change. That is what this appeal is about. Hopefully, the city council will recognize this and vote to have the city and the developer go back and do an EIR, an uncompromised traffic study, and mandate that the city abide by a literal reading of the IPD zoning code, not a suspect interpretation.

    Straight from the City’s Municipal Code:

    § 23.32.020 PERMITTED USES.
    The following uses shall be permitted in the IPD zone, conducted wholly within a building;
    (A) Uses involving the manufacture, processing or treatment of products which are not obnoxious or offensive by reason of omission of odor, dust, smoke, noxious gases, noise, vibration, glare, heat or other impacts, nor hazardous by way of materials, process, product, waste or other methods;
    (B) Professional, medical, financial, public service and general business offices, and similar office uses;
    (C) Warehousing and distribution facilities;
    (D) Wholesale trade;
    (E) Research, development and testing facilities which involve laboratories or large-scale electronic data processing systems;
    (F) Outdoor storage of fleet vehicles;
    (G) Lumberyards, with accessory hardware sales;
    (H) Contractor’s storage yards;
    (I) Plant nurseries;
    (J) Adult businesses;
    (K) Fitness centers, health clubs and gymnasiums.

    § 23.32.030 CONDITIONALLY PERMITTED USES.
    The following uses may be permitted subject to the approval of a conditional use permit pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 23.66 of this title:
    (A) Commercial uses, such as restaurants, which are intended primarily to serve employees within the industrial district;
    (B) Self-storage facilities, which may include one dwelling unit for a resident manager or caretaker;
    (C) Service stations and motor vehicle repair facilities when conducted wholly within an enclosed building;
    (D) Public service and utility structures and facilities;
    (E) Uses involving the manufacture, processing or treatment, of products which, by virtue of size, number of employees or the nature of the operation, have the potential to be obnoxious or offensive by reason of emission of odor, dust, smoke, noxious gases, noise, vibration, glare, heat or other impacts, or hazardous by way of materials, process, product, wastes or other methods;
    (F) Retail sales of goods manufactured on the premises, provided that the floor space devoted to such use does not exceed 25% of the gross floor area of the primary permitted use;
    (G) Retail sales as an accessory use to warehousing and/or wholesale sales provided that the floor space devoted to such use does not exceed 25% of the gross floor area of the primary permitted use;
    (H) Kennels and animal hospitals;
    (I) Commercial antennae and broadcast production facilities;
    (J) Professional, technical and vocational schools;
    (K) Educational, instructional and tutoring services.

    1. “The zoning code, as written in the city’s charter, clearly disallows big box retail stores in IPD zones (see below). To interpret otherwise is a slippery slope. “

      Wrong. The code you site allows uses to be permitted, but does not NOT PRECLUDE a big box retail store from applying for development here. The rest of your argument is full of assumptions and one-sided opinion.

      Unfortunately, seems like NOTHING other than 1960s infrastructure can ever be built in this city without the full NIMBY chorus throwing up a firestorm.

      1. You are incorrect, Yim.

        If you read closely the uses permitted in IPD zones you will see that the language clearly PRECLUDES big box stores. To know this you have to understand what a big box store’s primary function is as well as the percentage of what it does and sells compared to what is allowed in IPD zones. You also must read the zoning code literally, not subjectively, which is how municipal code is supposed to be read so that people do not make assumptions. If people can make assumptions about city code then the code is useless.

        Since you have attacked my argument as baseless, I would like for you to point to the section in the IPD zoning code that you think suggests that big box retail stores are allowed in IPD zones.

        My argument is based around facts from what is in the city’s zoning code and public documents. You, however, Yim, have not provided any substance what-so-ever for your remarks. Until you do, I will not engage further with you.

      2. “o know this you have to understand what a big box store’s primary function is as well as the percentage of what it does and sells compared to what is allowed in IPD zones. You also must read the zoning code literally, not subjectively, which is how municipal code is supposed to be read so that people do not make assumptions”

        Again, you haven’t proven anything and making your own assumptions of “literal” interpretation. I’m not saying it’s “allowed” I’m saying it doesn’t PRECLUDE such a development and even if it did, there are certain exceptions and/or limitations.

        You seem to have a bizarre way of looking at zoning in the “literal sense” because the truth is there are always going to be variances and exceptions. You seem mad because with a lot of NIMBYs in Alhambra, there is this insane way of looking at this city going through a crisis with each and every development proposed.

        This is 2017, not 1702.

      3. Furthermore, Yim, if the city’s IPD zoning code allowed big box stores, as you are suggesting, then the city would not have had to have the Director of Development Services write a re-interpretation of the IPD zoning code for the city council to then pass. My argument is that this re-interpretation is meritless based on a literal reading of the zoning code and would thus not stand up in a court of law.

        And your argument that the code does not preclude a big box store from APPLYING to develop in an IPD zone is irrelevant. A movie theater can also apply to build in an IPD zone but its application would have to be rejected if the city followed the rules of its own zoning code.