The Lake Elsinore City Council last month adopted its Good Neighbor Policy, after continuing the item earlier this year.

“For nearly two decades, the city and the chamber have been selling a lifestyle here, and that never included a mega-warehouse in anyone’s backyard,” Councilmember Robert Magee said. “This policy is meant to reflect our responsibility to protect that promise that we made when we were inviting people to come invest here. We did this to provide us with a tool to respond to the development community and to give our residents and the developers some certainty and peace of mind.”

The policy, which can be viewed here, seeks to address issues arising from large warehouses and logistics centers near residential structures, schools, daycare facilities, hospitals, senior and assisted living homes and outdoor recreation areas.

“The proposed policy applies to warehousing, logistics and distribution uses with buildings that are 250,000 square feet in size or larger,” Damaris Abraham, interim assistant community development director, said. “This policy provides development and operational standards such as setbacks, landscaping and screening noise and hours of operation that can be implemented to supplement project level mitigation measures.”

Abraham said the policy did not, however, replace the need for project specific environmental review and mitigation measures.

“All projects will still be required to comply with all applicable city zoning codes and the California Environmental Quality Act,” she said.

All five people who spoke during public comment said they generally supported the policy.

“I just want to thank staff and the two members of the council subcommittee who met with the business community and as well as members of the community who talked through the issues from the proposed Good Neighbor Policy to what is ultimately before you this evening,” Bill Blankenship, a representative of NAIOP Inland Empire Chapter, said.

NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, is a trade organization that represents the commercial real estate industry.

“I urge you this evening to adopt this good neighbor policy that’s before you,” Blankenship said. “It is a difficult lift for the industry, but I think it’s the right lift.”

Kim Cousins, president of the Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce, echoed Blankenship’s comments and also asked for council support of the policy.

“I think at the end of the day, we have a policy that will not deter applicants from coming to the front desk and applying to the city and having their project vetted,” he said.

Though one of the speakers said he believed a final decision should be postponed until more outreach could be done with developers in the city.

Magee, who was on the subcommittee working on the policy along with Mayor Pro Tem Steve Manos, said the subcommittee had done the necessary outreach and had received letters of support from developers KB Home and Pulte Homes.

“We think that this is pretty well honed, maybe isn’t perfect, something we can perfect as years go on,” Manos said. “And I’m happy to have been part of the process, which was a tough process.”

Magee also made sure to point out again to the audience that while this policy came as a result of a proposed industrial park by NorthPoint Development in the back basin area behind Summerly, the action taken by the council at the April 25 meeting was in no way a greenlight for that project.

“Their fourth application is currently under review by staff. Once a determination is made, we will share that information, but it is not a complete application, and this has been going on for two and a half years now,” Magee said. “The goal of this policy was clearly to send a message to the builders: Don’t build these monsters near our homes.”

Mayor Natasha Johnson made the motion to adopt the policy, which was seconded by Manos. The policy was adopted 4-0 with Councilmember Brian Tisdale absent.

A full recording of the meeting can be found here on the city’s website.

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