Inyo Supes signal they’re okay with Mini Storage facility on Main Street frontage in Big Pine
The Inyo Board of Supervisors indicated it would be receptive to construction of a Mini Storage facility on Main Street in Big Pine.
The issue was raised by Cindy and Kent Schlick, who hope to construct a facility on the vacant lot they own next to and just north of the U.S. Post Office.
Current Central Business District (CBD) zoning precludes storage units as a permitted use. “Staff doesn’t believe storage units are compatible with the Main Street location in Big Pine,” said Inyo County Planning Director Cathreen Richards.
Staff’s opinion was upheld by the Inyo County Planning Commission, which is why the Schlicks made their final appeal to the Board of Supervisors.
Overturning the Planning Commission’s decision, said Richards, would effectively “allow this in all central business zones,” and would “compel us [Inyo County] to update code.”
The appellant, Kent Schlick, said zoning restrictions simply contribute to the current blight, noting that “Over 50 percent of Big Pine storefronts are vacant.”
He added, in a written presentation, that “Even though the CBD [Zoning] was enacted just over 10 years ago, the real world has changed dramatically with the internet. The intent at the time was [to encourage] more brick-and-mortar retail and service businesses … many service businesses and offices can now work from home or be mobile. It’s a new world!”
Schlick said he has unanimous support of the Big Pine Civic Club and signatures from 15 out of 16 Big Pine business owners.
He said by prohibiting a project from a person who wants to obey the rules, the upshot is that you’ll have more unpermitted storages popping up. The demand is not going away.
Retired Planning Commissioner Ross Corner spoke on behalf of Schlick, saying he believes zoning has been too restrictive through the years.
Inyo County Adminstrator Kevin Carunchio said the proposed use is not without precedence, noting that a trucking storage facility was located on Main Street in Big Pine in the 1970s.
Supervisor Mark Tillemans, whose district includes Big Pine, said simply that the project has public support and “we want to make this work.”
But in order to “make it work,” Supervisors decided that they simply couldn’t/wouldn’t overturn the Planning Commission decision, as “it opens a can of worms in terms of precedence,” according to Board Chair Dan Totheroh. Schlick’s appeal was officially denied.
Instead, Planning Director Richards was directed by Supervisors to change the current code (a 2-3 month process) in order to allow Mini-Storage uses in CBDs via the conditional-use permit process. *Currently, Mini Storages are not allowed in CBDs, even as a conditional use.
As Schlick said, the number one issue brought to the attention of the local Civic Club by residents is not cannabis, or the schools … it’s Main Street. What he promises, once approved, is that there will be at least one more patch of Main Street that is both occupied and featuring a new, nice facade.