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Sentinel staff report–
The City of Citrus Heights is considering an urgent and rare move to prohibit undesirable development at Sunrise Mall, with city staff recommending council members approve an “urgency ordinance” on Thursday to temporarily ban any new development at the mall.
The proposed 45-day moratorium is included in the City Council’s May 23 council meeting agenda packet, which was posted online late Friday. A staff report included in the packet says the moratorium is needed “in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare from immediate and irreparable harm while studying and determining how to best address future development of the Sunrise Mall property, consistency of anticipated development proposals with the purposes of existing General Plan provisions, and the orderly and safe revitalization of the Sunrise Mall property.”
The proposed moratorium would put an immediate halt on all proposed development, including “land use entitlement, subdivisions, and building permits within the Sunrise Mall property.” Any existing applications for permits would also be immediately suspended.
In a three-page staff report, the city says roughly 30 percent of the mall is now vacant, with overall sales steadily declining. The report also says Sunrise Mall — with its 25 acres of structures and 75 acres of underutilized parking — represents “the single largest opportunity for redevelopment” in Citrus Heights.
As one of the city’s primary revenue sources is sales tax, which allows funding of police and other essential services, staff argue that a continued decline in sales at the mall constitutes a threat to public health, safety and welfare — justifying an urgency ordinance. California’s government code allows for urgency ordinances to be adopted by local governments when there is a “real and imminent threat to the public health safety and welfare.”
The staff report also says “several preliminary inquiries to develop smaller pads along the periphery of the Sunrise Mall property” were recently received by the city. Each of the inquiries were reportedly made independently of each other and “without evidence of programmatic planning necessary to achieve the orderly and holistic development of the Mall property and address issues such as traffic and circulation, pedestrian and bicycle safety, transit ridership, environmental impacts, infrastructure constraints, and comprehensive land use planning,” the report says.
The proposed ordinance also cites a General Plan amendment the city passed last year that seeks to “Discourage the creation of any new parcels within existing retail centers, if such creation might hinder the viability and/or future redevelopment of the center.”
City staff say the 45-day moratorium would allow time to “study and determine the steps necessary to ensure the Sunrise Mall redevelopment is comprehensively planned to protect the ongoing health, safety, and welfare of the community.” Within 45 days, the report says “staff will bring forth to Council a recommendation for future land use regulations at the Sunrise Mall consistent with the intent of the existing General Plan and related land use regulations.”
See full agenda packet: Click here
The last time the City Council passed an urgency ordinance was in 2014, when the city was seeking to address prostitution at massage parlors. The council passed a 45-day moratorium on new massage parlor licenses and later extended the moratorium for another 10-and-a-half months while the city drafted a new ordinance dealing with massage parlors.
Urgency ordinances require at least a four-fifths vote of the City Council, as opposed to a bare majority required of most actions taken by the council.
If passed, the 45-day moratorium would automatically expire on July 6, 2019, unless further action is taken by the City Council to extend the ban. By law, cities can extend moratoriums up to a period of two years.
Representatives for the Sunrise Mall and Sunrise MarketPlace were contacted for comment on this story, but no response was immediately received on Saturday.
What would you like to see with future redevelopment at Sunrise Mall? Submit a letter to the editor or opinion column for publication: Click here
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