(Editors’ Note: Blake Waddell is a student journalist at Chapman University participating in the Voice of OC Youth Media program).
Brea’s zoning laws have changed to allow for more creative buildings which may not comply to existing laws.
Brea’s City Council voted 4-1 earlier this month to amend their zoning laws to include an updated system for a planned community “floating zone.”
These kinds of land use changes would allow developers whose projects do not fit within existing zoning to create their own master plan with rules separate than that of the surrounding zone, pending Council approval.
The amendment updated the existing floating zone ordinance, which was created in 1968. The old ordinance did not require many contemporary planning aspects, such as a comprehensive plan for community outreach, according to David Crabtree, community development director.
City officials support the change, arguing that Brea’s current planning process is too slow.
“What we face today is several new and different real-world development projects and investment desiring consideration today, and not out on a several year horizon,” said Crabtree during the meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Christine Marick opposed the changes, as the only dissenting vote, voicing concerns about the openness and fairness of the new regulations. In addition, she felt that the new planning zones would be used to flaunt existing regulations.
“We have zoning codes for a reason,” said Marick, criticizing the change as “sort of like a blank piece of paper to write out what you’re looking for.”
Marick has concerns with the process becoming politicized as well. She said she worries certain projects will be favored over others, and council members will feel pressured to vote a certain way.
“It really has to be something that’s truly open to all,” Marick said. “There is lots of potential litigation before the process even begins [with the planning zones].”
Marick admits that the zone code is outdated, but is unsure that the new zones are the best way to remedy the situation.
City Planner Jennifer Lilley believes that this new plan will allow innovative businesses with ideas which would not fit inside the zoning codes to move into Brea and develop the community.
“If there was a 10,000 square foot lot that wanted to do something new and innovative that would benefit the community, [it should be considered].” Lilley said.