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Sunrise Mall, Citrus Heights
File photo, Sunrise Mall. // Citrus Heights Sentinel

By Phillip Pesola–
The City of Citrus Heights is currently considering a ban on new gas stations and other auto-focused businesses within the city’s largest commercial district, according to the city’s website.

A proposed “zoning overlay” would prevent new auto-oriented businesses from opening in the Sunrise MarketPlace, without affecting such kinds of businesses that are already open. A zoning overlay is a tool used to modify the provisions of the zoning code for a particular area, without rezoning the land.

The overlay would cover the commercial areas within the Sunrise MarketPlace, which roughly extends along Sunrise Boulevard from Madison Avenue to just north of Greenback Lane, as well as a portion of Greenback Lane from Birdcage Street to Fair Oaks Boulevard. A map of the overlay area is available on the city’s website.

The majority of traffic along the Sunrise Corridor is made up of non-residents commuting or cutting through the area, according to the city’s website. Due to the volume and pattern of the traffic, there is high demand for gas stations, car washes, drive through restaurants, and related services.

Based on input from the community, and in accordance with its strategic planning goals, the city would like to restrict the remaining unused space within the Sunrise MarketPlace to businesses that it says would increase the vibrancy and character of the community. The plan to redevelop Sunrise Mall also restricts auto-focused businesses, so the proposal would effectively extend that prohibition to the surrounding trade area.

Kathilynn Carpenter, executive director of the Sunrise MarketPlace business improvement district, told The Sentinel in an email Thursday that she was aware of the zoning proposal, but said the SMP board had not discussed the matter yet and as such has “no position on this now.” She said the board meets next on Aug. 11.

Zoning restrictions have drawn opposition from those who argue the best approach is to let market forces determine the best use for land, with minimal regulation. Chris Fiscelli, a real estate market analyst with experience as a land use and economic development planner, argued in a Reason Foundation column that land use regulation is “stifling innovation and distorting real estate markets by trying to determine specific outcomes.”

A timeline for the zoning overlay proposal has not yet been made public, but the city’s website says a draft will be posted soon. Such ordinances are typically drafted and then presented to the Planning Commission for a public hearing and vote, and then, if passed, to City Council for final approval.

Comments regarding the zoning proposal can be directed to the Planning Division by sending an email to planning@citrusheights.net, or by calling (916) 727-4740. To view an overview of the proposal on the city’s website, click here.

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