On Tuesday, at the request of staff, the Oakley City Council agreed in a 3-1 vote to allow staff more time to work on its Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments regarding drive-through restaurants, car washes, gas stations and self-storage facilities.
The extension did not sit well with Councilmember George Fuller who called for a full-blown development moratorium on all development until they could complete the amendments to the Special Land Uses. He later adjusted his call for a moratorium to the four areas listed on the agenda.
The council was informed they could not move froward with any moratorium because it was not properly noticed to the community.
Ultimately, the council agreed to bring back a moratorium for discussion on drive-though restaurants, car washes, gas stations self-storage until its Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments are approved.
According to the agenda item:
Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments to Article 12 of Chapter 1 of Title 9 of the Oakley Municipal Code (“Special Land Uses”) – Adding Four Subsections to Address Drive-Through Restaurants, Carwashes, Gas Stations, and Self-Storage (RZ 04-21) (Ken Strelo, Planning Manager)
Suggested Action: Item to be Continued to a Future Date Uncertain
Planning manager Ken Strelo introduced the item and requested a continuation to a date uncertain to give staff more time analyze and look at comments received in September along with giving the city attorney an opportunity.
City Attorney Derek Cole stated they have to provide proper notice to the community and if they continue the consideration – staff was seeking for flexibility for analysis and consider the comments received and provide responses.
“There needs to be some response or evidence to address issues raised,” said Cole with an estimated timeline of bringing it back at the beginning of the year (January 2023).
During council discussion, Councilmember George Fuller asked for a moratorium on any conditional use permits or building permit, variance within zoning ordinance and continue the moratorium until they pass policy.
“This community has been waiting a long time,” explained Fuller. “Councilmember Williams requested 18-months ago for review and its disrespectful for her to continually put it off. My history is there was a hearing and staff put together what I considered to be a solid building ordinance and it was met with hostility and it went back and went back and it went back.”
He argued if its going to be short, the moratorium would be short, but if its two years, then developers can wait two years until they draw things.
“So, we will put a moratorium on issuing any type of building permit, CUP (Conditional Use Permit) or anything else along that line until a zoning ordinance is passed,” said Fuller. “If it’s passed in January, we will just lift the moratorium. If it goes onto next June, we can just wait because it’s been ping-ponging back and forth and people are losing confidence.”
Councilmember Anissa Williams asked what would be necessary to do a moratorium.
Cole stated the council was moving off the agenda topic as the only action which is on the agenda is to adopt this zoning ordinance which dealt with the specific uses.
“A general moratorium is really something we cannot discuss tonight,” stated Cole. “A moratorium would require an urgency ordinance. We have done those before so its something we would have to draft. We can’t talk about it on this agenda item.”
“If you are going to bring an item up that we want to put it off, then we can respond with what we think is the best way to put it off. I am not saying we can vote on this but I think its very much on the agenda that you are asking for an indefinite hearing and we as councilmembers to respond,” explained Fuller. “I disagree that its off agenda. I think it is on the agenda. If we move anything, then I am going to move for an amendment that we place a moratorium on all situations.”
Cole stated he heard Fuller suggest that he called for a moratorium on all approvals all together. He then asked Fuller if his moratorium would be on this proposed ordinance items—car washes, self-storage’s, drive-through restaurants, gas stations—not everything.
Fuller replied he would “accept that for this meeting, but would be requesting for a general moratorium across the board to come back here until its completed.”
Cole stated the problem with that was he would then be impacting residential development, industrial, and a blanket land use moratorium would not even be addressed in the zoning ordinance text amendments. He said it would have to come back at a future meeting.
Fuller then replied he would be offering an amendment to the agenda item and request a future agenda items later in the night until they resolve the zoning.
“I think we need to finish this up and the community needs the trust that we are not putting things up and this is really happening, and we are doing it. The way to do it is both sides wait, the community and the developer,” explained Fuller.
Cole responded asking the council to consider the needs of legal and staff.
“You also need to give staff and legal time to do their jobs well and do it right,” said Cole. “One thing that is important is to hear all sides of an issue even if it’s a developer request. As a councilmember, you may disagree with the developer request but from our standpoint we want zoning ordinance that work, work for everybody from the public to the developer, work for environmental groups, work for organizations and I can just tell you in my 20+ years as an attorney, especially practicing land use and environmental law all of those feels, I can appreciate to a councilmember and to the public how people can say this is taking a lot of time, why is it taking a lot of time, why is it taking so long, believe me I know, but I also know as the person who has to draft these things and consider the challenges from all sides, work with staff that we can’t just crank stuff out. While at the same time working on this ordinance we are working all the other council initiatives.”
Fuller argued the moratorium would only be in place until something comes back and passes—even if it takes two years, go ahead and take the time to do it correctly.
“Go ahead and take the time, but we will have a moratorium in place,” said Fuller noting the community has been patient but now they would be asking the developers to remain patient with the community. “We will wait until staff comes back.”
Mayor Randy Pope said he would not be on council next year but would feel more comfortable with a date certain. He urged the council to select one of the two council meetings in January to bring this back.
Williams agreed with having a moratorium for the specific uses on the agenda tonight until they could get it solidified and agreed for a date certain.
Cole stated they could bring back a moratorium as an “interim measure” but did not have drafting ability to have a moratorium ready by Monday which is when the agenda timeline would close.
“If it is your direction to bring back a moratorium, I’d ask it come back at the first meeting in November,” asked Cole noting they just went through this with the oil and gas issue. “It has to be defensible.”
Fuller asked couldn’t they pass the moratorium tonight.
Cole responded “no” because it was not noticed to the community, and it was not noticed on the agenda.
“That is the problem, we have given no notice to the public through the Brown Act that we would even be considering this item,” explained Cole.
Fuller replied, “I am done, I am ready for a moratorium.”
Williams repeated her motion which was to continue the item until the second meeting of January 2023 which was seconded by Aaron Meadows.
“I am going to oppose it,” said Fuller.
Pope responded, “I haven’t even called the vote yet.”
The item passed in a 3-1 vote with Fuller dissenting.
Future Agenda Items
Fuller requested two items. The first was Drive-thought restaurants, car washes, gas stations self-storage, the issuing of permits, CUP’s, building design approval that they need a moratorium until ordinance is approved. Williams agreed to second this.
The second item was stopping all construction in the city until the zoning ordinance is passed. He received no support on this request.