More dialogue on Bishop’s proposed Kingston Subdivision

By Deb Murphy
Both pros and cons of the proposed 15-home Kingston Subdivision on the 2.75-acre Bishop Nursery site were presented at the public hearing held at Monday’s Bishop City Council meeting. The pros concentrated on Bishop’s need for additional housing; the cons, on what they defined as a flawed Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration. Both sides will have to wait up to two months for the outcome.
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Stan Woodin and other homeowners on the north side of Rome Street have a 50-foot easement onto LADWP land that includes Bishop Creek and abuts the proposed Kingston Subdivision

Prior to the opening of public comment, City Planning Director Gary Schley introduced Bill Taylor who will be working with the City on the environmental review. Taylor has a planning background in Mammoth. Following the comment period, City Administrator Jim Tatum explained that the final environmental document would take from six to eight weeks to complete. At that time the Council will vote to accept or reject the Negative Declaration. “We will get that document out prior to the 72 hour notification requirement,” Tatum said. “We will address every comment; they will be part of the final document.”

The public comment period was extended to August 15 during the Council’s July 13 meeting.

Speakers from the residential areas between Main and Home streets objected to the project based on traffic impacts near six public and private schools, street parking and safety issues, “poor planning,” and degradation of raptor and riparian habitat.

Terrence Tey came armed with a letter from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received by the City 10 days prior to its first public hearing on the project and an Environmental Site Investigation Report conducted by Tetra Tech for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in 2009. The nursery was purchased by Bob Kingston approximately 15 years ago by current LADWP lease holder Bob Kingston. The parcel is currently in escrow.

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Rome Street resident Terry Tey quoted from a California Department of Fish and Wildlife letter recommending changes to the Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration biological mitigation measures

The CDFW letter recommended changes in two of the Declaration’s biological mitigation measures to address both raptor and non-raptor nests, buffers around any active nests, bird and bat surveys regardless of time of year due to nesting activities.

While the draft document found no issues with hazardous materials or water quality during construction, Tey pointed out sections in Tetra Tech’s report focusing on hazardous materials currently in the site’s soil and groundwater. The study involved seven drill sites with the results in four of the five tests (gasoline range organics, petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and pesticides and herbicides) showing no or low levels. But, tests for metals turned up levels exceeding the state’s Environmental Protection Act. Arsenic was present in unacceptable levels in the soils; beryllium, antimony, arsenic, cadmium and lead, in the groundwater 10-feet below the surface. According to Tey, the tests were not conducted on the southern part of the nursery site where residents on Rome Street say petroleum products and fertilizers were stored.

The report states “based on the concentrations of metals in soil … and groundwater …., there is a potential that metals could impact site use. Therefore, an evaluation of the risks to potential receptors (residential or commercial/industrial) from soil and groundwater beneath the site is recommended.”

“This information requires you reject the Negative Declaration,” Tey told the Council.

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Julie Faber, one of the City’s Economic Development group leaders, noted the need for new, modern housing in Bishop

On the pro side, two members of the City’s Economic Development General Plan Amendment cited the need for housing in Bishop. “I ask that you support and respect someone willing to invest in our community,” said Allan Pietrasanta. Realtor Jake Rasmussen said the project’s density conformed to the neighborhood and “would enhance neighborhood home values.”

Bishop Nursery manager Liz Merrill addressed contentions that the west end of the nursery site was recently cleaned out as a “cover-up.” Noting that previous managers had not addressed storage behind the retail nursery, Merrill said “it was a mess back there. We just started the clean-up. There was no dumping, no cover-up. If a nursery is not workable (at this location)….it’s not a placeholder for their (neighbors’) peace and quiet.”


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18 Responses to More dialogue on Bishop’s proposed Kingston Subdivision

  1. Trouble August 18, 2015 at 7:19 am #

    The good news is Rome is one of our nicer streets and will continue to be!

  2. Bishop local August 15, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    I’m pretty sure the nursery gets a heck of a lot more traffic now then if 15 houses were built.

  3. High Water August 14, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

    Kingston gets to subdivide 2.75 acres 15 ways.
    The neighbors watch there property value depreciate. And of course the most satisfied of posters on this site obviously do not live next to this project, but they can post how absurd some of the neighbors objections were.

    Hypocrites some of you are. You be screaming if you lived on Rome Dr.

  4. Joe August 14, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    I lived on Rome Dr for 6 yrs on the south side. The site of Bishop Nursery is not a pristine location for any type of wildlife. The city of Bishop needs more and newer housing within its existing footprint instead of having sprawl like other towns and cities we’ve all seen. The fact of the matter is the economic benefits of this project outweigh the concerns of Rome Dr residents. The developer could use this opportunity to create a very “green” street complete with new trees planted in every yard, solar panels on every roof and xeriscaping with minimal lawn space allowed.

    • Eastern Sierra Local August 17, 2015 at 6:42 am #

      If you had heard the residents at the public hearing and you didn’t know anything about the lot in question you’d not only think that the nursery was a pristine wildlife refugee teaming with threatened and endangered species, you’d also think it was a hazardous waste site.

    • High Water August 18, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

      Key word is lived. The economic factors outweigh the concerns of the Rome dr. Residents. Wow Joe! so these residents should sacrifice for the greater good?
      And you have 26 thumbs up for your post.

      Joe, the guy who used to live on Rome dr. but no longer does not.

      Here is a economic benefit! More jobs!

  5. Numbers August 14, 2015 at 6:56 am #

    It seems to me that the CEQA environmental review process should have occurred when LADWP made the decision to sell the land into private ownership. Every little scrap of private land around Bishop ultimately ends up as housing (or a more intense use) if the land use authority (the City or County) allows. As this land is within the City limits and was already zoned by the city for residential development, the sale of the land from a public owner to a private owner should have triggered CEQA and the inevitable conversion from a lowish value nursery use to a higher value, high-density residential use should have been analyzed as a reasonably foreseeable impact. Then it would have been LADWP vs. the NIMBYS, and would have been on LA’s dollar. While I have many questions about how the land came into private ownership, I personally think this is a good project and I hope this private property owner does not end up disgusted by the cost and time delay (cost) of the, all too easy to abuse, CEQA environmental review process and give up on this project. Good luck.

    • Rick O'Brien August 16, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

      I. feel kinda dumb, because I had to look up “nimby”. It’s one of those things you know in the back of your head , but if you haven’t used it or even heard it for a while, it doesn’t register.
      Am I the only one ?

    • Eastern Sierra Local August 17, 2015 at 6:39 am #

      FYI- LADWP did complete an Environmental review in 2009 prior to placing the Nursery’s land up for auction- of course, the NIMBY’s of Rome Drive didn’t comment, were concerned about it then, or bid on the property at the auction.

      • Numbers August 18, 2015 at 7:45 am #

        Well, not exactly. LA did some soils testing, the Tetra Tech studies referenced by some of the Rome Dr. residents, but this was just for standard commercial property disclosure liability. The property was sold “as is” so disclosing potential contamination was important. The property was also sold without “all water rights, whether surface, subsurface, or of any other kind”. As for CEQA, LA determined the project was categorically exempt (Class 12, Surplus Government Property Sales) so beyond the soils testing done for liability issues, no environmental review was required. City of LA Report No. R13-0012 has some wonderful language, “The Water Operations Division of the LADWP has determined that certain City-owned property under the control of LADWP, as identified herein, is no longer needed for the purposes for which it was acquired (contributing to the production and delivery of water and electric power, and for the promotion of the conservation of water and power resources). This makes me chuckle, as all the land owned by LADWP that is leased for other uses (golf courses, landfills, airport, shooting ranges, all sorts of commercial enterprises) the Nursery is one of the few that at least has the potential for “the promotion of the conservation of water”.

  6. Trouble August 13, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    I kind of agree eastern Sierra lady. But, behind K Mart is a totally different story. It’s dwp land. Not private property that was already zoned for housing when most of the people bought their homes. They knew this could happen.

    • Jolly Time August 14, 2015 at 10:40 am #

      I have to assume we’re talking old KMart and not Big K, Because Big K would really not make any sense and would probably have much higher environmental impacts.

      But that suggestion also seems to miss the point of how development works, as NIMBYs often do. The City isn’t the one proposing to build housing – a private landowner is proposing to develop the land he owns. So suggesting that land somewhere else be developed is kind’ve ridiculous. He doesn’t own land somewhere else, he owns the piece of land under discussion. The City is just responsible for insuring that the development complies with zoning/gen plan/environmental regulations, which it the proposal does.

      Most people are advocates of private property, but don’t seem to understand what that actually implies.

  7. Eastern Sierra Local August 13, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    The meeting reeked of NIMBY-ism on the behalf of some particular Rome St. residents. They’ve cobbled together loose and nonsensical arguments that are really about preserving their residential lifestyles. One person who commented actually stated “This development should be built behind Kmart and not adjacent to my neighborhood.” -if that doesn’t say “not-in-my-backyard” I don’t know what does.
    This project is a benefit to the entire community in so many different ways- it’s an in-fill development project that has the smallest type of environmental impact and footprint of any development that can be approved.
    The reality is, this project will get approved and the resident of Rome Drive will have to get use to it.

  8. sugarmagnolia August 13, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    I always thought Bishop was typically a republican town…ie. a person gets to make the most of their assets, within the laws and regulations.

    Have you seen the residential area of downtown (west side) Bishop? I lived there for a while, development has been ‘anything goes’, as evidenced by almost zero lot line structures, squeezed in units everywhere, two story units added on towering over neighbors houses, alley apartments with zero parking, etc etc.

    Thankfully, I think most of that development happened in the past. This development has a chance to go forward with current day planning standards and be done in an intelligent, thoughtful manner. Get the nimbyers out of the process and don’t throw Fish and Game regulations at someone just trying to develop a parcel in the middle of a highly developed area.

  9. Ken Warner August 13, 2015 at 3:22 am #

    Any money that is made will be invisible to all of you. Some developers and contractors will make a few buck. Everybody else will just see a few more houses and a little more traffic in the area.

    Is anybody really talking about housing? Housing for who? For what? None of this discussion makes any sense to me.

    • Shine August 18, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

      For refugees fleeing Mammoth’s delusional Park City hallucinations and the carpetbagging of Independence.

  10. Trouble August 12, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    I”m sceptable of new neighbors .But I’m not going to stick the Environmental Protection Agency on them. Welcome to Bishop!

  11. High Water August 12, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    It’s chance for more tax revenue. It’s easy to see. Under the disguise of needing more housing.
    Why don’t you try to bring more jobs first.
    I know, that’s impossible.
    How much money is Kingston going to make subdividing 2.75 acres 15 ways? alot.
    Good luck to the folks who oppose this. They deserve our support, because if you were in there shoes you would feel the same way


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