Kentfield Parc—a planning disaster

Fred Davis is a former city manager and interim Butte County chief accounting officer

On Aug. 3, 2004 a majority of the City Council approved a development located at the northwest corner of East First Avenue and Kentfield Road that included 32 one- and two-story residential units in what the city called a planned development.

By any reasonable standard, this project known as Kentfield Parc (now named Sorento) is a planned disaster for East First Avenue, the adjacent properties and the contiguous properties along Kentfield and Manchester roads. In my judgment the project borders on the illegal when compared to the requirements of the city General Plan as outlined below.

The General Plan says to “Preserve the scale and character of established neighborhoods. With growth, there is a need to ensure that the character of established neighborhoods is not lost.” Obviously, since the development does not meet this most important of all the plan’s guiding policies relating to residential land uses, the planned development permit should not have been issued by either the Planning Commission or City Council. In addition, I can find no place in the Planning Commission or City Council reports or resolutions that indicates that the project meets the requirement of the General Plan.

To make matters worse, the Planning Commission and City Council authorized nine modifications (variances) to the development standards provided for in the city’s Land Use and Development Regulations that are outlined in the City Planning Commission’s report to the City Council. These so-called modifications allowed the developer to increase the number of units and made the project incompatible with the contiguous and adjacent properties.

Those modifications: interior lot size reduced; corner lot size reduced; garage setback reduced; front yard setback reduced; interior side yard setbacks reduced; street side yard setback reduced; rear yard setback reduced to 7 feet; minimum lot width reduced; parking requirements reduced.

They allowed a project of such density to access East First Avenue, which is already overloaded. The Planning Commission and City Council ignored the requests by property owners for requiring an EIR and particularly a traffic study.

The Planning Commission and City Council have allowed In Motion Fitness to build in a Neighborhood Commercial Zone (that is probably illegal); compounding the increased traffic on East First Ave.

Finally, the Planning Commission and City Council have allowed the construction of an unattractive wall on the East First Avenue property line that precludes any real opportunity to widen the roadway. Even if the city attempts to eliminate parking and provide for left turns, bicycles and buses using East First will continue to magnify the traffic problems.