Riverside’s Northside plan, Trujillo Adobe preservation approved – Press Enterprise
Jareth Guzman is silhouetted in the doorway of the building covering the Trujillo Adobe in 2015. He is a descendant of families who established a historic settlement before the city of Riverside existed. Under a Northside plan approved by the Riverside City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, the adobe will be preserved and refurbished. (File photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Riverside leaders have adopted a plan for the city’s Northside that they say will refurbish a historic adobe while allowing a controversial warehouse to be built nearby, and set the stage for a grocery store, parks and trails in the neighborhood northwest of the 60 and 215 freeways.

The Northside plan also would bar new warehouse projects in the roughly 2,000-acre area that have not already been approved by the city or built, said Dave Murray, principal planner.

“This is a big day,” City Councilwoman Erin Edwards, who represents the area, said before the Riverside City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night, Nov. 17, to approve the plan.

“The plan before us, as we heard, has been more than five years in the making,” Edwards said, according to a meeting videotape. “This is a vision for the future that we might not live to see in full, but we have set it in motion for our children and for their children.”

The plan approval follows the council’s Nov. 10 adoption of “good neighbor” guidelines for new warehouses near homes.

The Trujillo Adobe, located along Center Street at Orange Street, was built in 1863, and is crumbling and encased in a protective structure.

Councilman Andy Melendrez said it is important that history be preserved.

“We don’t have anything like that in the city of Riverside,” he said.

The no vote came from Councilman Chuck Conder, who said the Northside has been designated an industrial area in city plans for many years.

“There were promises made to landowners out there that I’m afraid now we are reneging upon,” Conder said, saying they should retain the ability to build industrial projects.

In December 2018, the city gave the green light to a 308,000-square-foot warehouse planned for Center Street near the adobe. Opponents expressed fears that rattling trucks would damage the century-and-a-half-old adobe, and worsen area traffic and air quality. But the council voted 5-2 to approve it.

“That’s an entitled project,” Murray said. “It’s approved. We can’t take that away.”

However, Edwards said, the city won’t be welcoming any new warehouse proposals in the neighborhood.

Murray said the plan also creates the opportunity to bring a neighborhood shopping center to Columbia Avenue, between Main and Orange streets, which could feature a grocery store and other retail outlets.

Many of the 25 people who spoke in support of the plan said it will bring a market to an area that doesn’t have one.

Councilwoman Gaby Plascencia, saying she looked forward to the Northside thriving under the plan, added: “to have a community in Riverside that is considered to be a food desert is shameful in 2020.”

Murray said the plan also allows for construction of 5,383 new homes and would designate much of the city-owned, 119-acre former Riverside Golf Course as open space.

One of those who spoke to the council on the matter was Riverside resident Devin Santana.

“This proposed plan puts people’s health over businesses,” Santana said, according to the videotape. “What we don’t need is more warehouses. What we do need is a supermarket for people to go and get food when they need to.”

Gracie Torres, a resident who serves on the Western Municipal Water District board, said she was glad to see the adobe will be saved.

“That spotlights our rich cultural roots,” Torres said.

Brighter days are ahead for the neighborhood, she said.

“Riverside, the city I love, has the opportunity to change the trajectory of the Northside and make it another flourishing community such as the Marketplace, University Avenue and the downtown area,” Torres said.

At its meeting last week, the council adopted rules for new warehouses in Riverside.

If built within 200 feet of a residential area or house, warehouses may be no taller than 35 feet and no larger than 10,000 square feet in size. Farther away from homes, warehouses may be 45 feet high, a city report stated.

When constructing warehouses 200 to 800 feet from homes, the building-size limit is 100,000 square feet.

Next to residential areas, warehouses must be set at least 60 feet back from the property line, with an 8-foot wall separating properties and a landscaped area a minimum of 15 feet wide, the report stated. Loading docks and driveways must be located away from homes, parks and schools.

Melendrez said that, at some point, the city needs to establish truck routes to further protect residents.

“We have some real issues in Sycamore Canyon,” he said, according to the meeting videotape. “And I think we need to address those because our neighbors out there are getting plummeted with the increased truck traffic.”

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