Santa Paula Times

Zoning, General Plan changes could lead to Calpipe plant

May 27, 2011
Santa Paula City Council

The City Council allowed a zone change and General Plan amendment to move ahead that will allow construction of a manufacturing facility that potentially would provide hundreds of jobs.

The council discussed the issue at the May 17 meeting, which was not attended by Vice Mayor Bob Gonzales and Councilman Ralph Fernandez.

Deputy Planning Director Stratis Perros told the council that staff has been in discussions with the property owner regarding a “very exciting proposal” that would provide jobs and improvements to the southwest area of the city. The property is located south of Highway 126 and just north of the new water recycling plant, where a proposed 10,000 square foot manufacturing plant would be constructed.

Due to zoning and the CURB issue, Perros said the council would have to approve changes for the two parcels, each approximately 13 acres and owned by Bender Realty. The location of the properties is problematic, as each have a portion that falls within the CURB boundary that would require voter approval for development.

“The staff feeling is if you had to go back to the voters it would be a much longer process,” perhaps a year to garner approval, time Perros said the property owner does not have.

Ilan Bender said Calpipe Industries, Inc., a Downey based company now employing about 50 people, would eventually operate the manufacturing facility. The new Calpipe facility would eventually employ approximately 200 employees and the “ripple effect” of spending would have a positive impact on the local economy.

Bender noted if moving the CURB line without voter approval resulted in a lawsuit, the city would be indemnified against such action. The prefabricated structure would have a wall of trees to prevent viewing it from Highway 126.

Councilman Jim Tovias asked about employment opportunities, and Bender said 90 percent would be technicians trained for the manufacturing process with an annual salary of $35,000.

Several public speakers urged the council to act, including Chris Sayer, president of the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce, who said the new company would offer economic opportunity to the city and individuals. With approval, people would understand that “When we say we’re serious we’re attracting jobs, attracting business, we can show them something tangible.”

“I think this is an excellent project, exciting,” and Tovias made the motion to receive and file the application to begin the process. Councilman Rick Cook agreed and said he wanted the project to be expedited.

Although initially Mayor Fred Robinson said he found the issue “confusing... the property has gone through multiple zoning changes, is in the CURB, out of the CURB,” he agreed the issue should move forward.

The council considered the issue prior to the Planning Commission because staff - although supportive of the plan - had formally rejected it due to the zoning and CURB concerns.