21 May 2014

Madrona Appeal Hearing Delayed Two Weeks

The appeal hearing before the Brea City Council for the proposed 162-home Madrona project between Olinda Village and the Orange/San Bernardino counties line on the north side of Carbon Canyon has been delayed once again.

A proposed set of "Conditions of Approval" offered by council members Brett Murdock and Christine Marick, nine of eleven of which were agreed to by property owner Old Standard Life Insurance Company via its owner in receivership, The State of Idaho, were reviewed and further suggestions made by members of the appellant team.

Old Standard has requested two weeks to review the latest iteration of the COAs, meaning that the matter will rematerialize before the council at its meeting on Tuesday, 3 June at 7 p.m., pending any further delays.

With Old Standard accepting most of the conditions suggested by Murdock and Marick, it appears that the two of them, who are true swing votes here with Marty Simonoff signaling his intention to uphold the appeal while Ron Garcia and Roy Moore have been on the record as voting to deny the appeal, stand ready to vote against the appeal and for Madrona.

However, the further suggestions by the appellants regarding these COAs could have an impact on what Old Standard will agree to and how Murdock and Marick, who, not incidentally, are far younger than their colleagues, symbolizing, perhaps, Brea's future, will vote.

Speaking of the future, it bears remembering that, in addition to legitimate issues concerning fire risk (especially given the recent blazes in San Diego County, including the destruction of a home seemingly built to withstand fire with its concrete and steel construction), future water supply, traffic and others, the prospect of the council approving, for the first time for a housing development, a project requiring three (3) statements of overriding consideration for unavoidable significant adverse impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act is very significant for precedent.

In other words, if the council were to issue the 3 SOCs for Madrona on approval of the project, the precedent would be set so that anything else proposed in the city in the future would basically have to be given like consideration. 

The only available land for major homebuilding left in the city is on Olinda oil field properties that are slowly being phased out (removal of wells has been ongoing in the vicinity of Lambert Road and Valencia Avenue) and in the hills at the north end of town.

Among these is the Shell-Aera parcel (click here and here for more), about which the city has, in the past, expressed concern.  A minority, about 10% of the proposed developable area, is within Brea's sphere of influence in the Orange County section and the remaining 90% is in Los Angeles County within the Diamond Bar sphere of influence.

Yet, if Madrona was to be approved with 3 SOCs, how would Brea be able to maintain that level of concern with Shell-Aera?  Or, any future projects proposed within Brea's city limits and/or sphere of influence?

At any rate, it remains to be seen what is done at the 3 June Brea city council meeting and if Madrona will be approved and a new precedent set.

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