Sterling Heights Conversion Gets Nod of Approval for Parking Solutions from Bishop Planning Commission

With Bishop’s housing problems escalating into staffing problems, Aaron Schat presented a potential solution, or at least a partial solution, to the city’s conundrum—convert Sterling Heights, the former assisted living facility on Pine Street, to a 69-unit apartment building.

The concept itself wasn’t under scrutiny. What to do with the vehicles of those inhabiting the newly-named Sterling Studios was the topic of debate at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting.

The conditional use permit was approved 4-2, allowing the project to go forward with a parking ratio of 1:1, rather than the current 2:1 ratio required by the zoning. The project had support from Northern Inyo Hospital and the Toiyabe Indian Health Project, both of whom employ health care “travelers” who can’t find a place to live.

Schat’s plans included walls and landscaping to shield the parking area. The public areas in the building, including the commercial kitchen, would be maintained and available to tenants. In response to a question of limiting occupancy to single adults, Schat said it would be “set up like Mammoth Mountain’s employee housing with employees directed to the facility.”

As is, the facility has parking for 39 vehicles in an existing area under the building. Schat’s plan would add another 36 spots behind the single-family residence, which Schat also purchased, to the west of Sterling Heights. Four additional spaces would be allocated within the City-owned alleyway. The proposed parking area would be accessed by that alley-way. That access would be designated as one-way, with a second, similar, alley way on the east side of the facility as the parking exit.

So, what’s the problem? Those alleys have traditionally been used to access City Park to the north of the site. So, little-used “roads” currently used by pedestrians would now have traffic.

Apparently, there is not much in the books to cover the plan. As attorney Russel Hildebrand explained “this is a re-use of a non-conforming use.” In addition, there’s a state-wide push for more housing. “The hospital is absorbing rentals as they come available for travelers,” said Kelli Davis, NIHD’s chief executive officer. “We have to think outside the box.”

During the Commission discussion, Erik Leitch expressed concern with parking in the alley ways and providing housing that suits the neighborhood. He asked if Schat considered demolishing the house to increase the number of designated parking spots and getting the four cars out of the alley-way. “It’s a half-a-million house,” Schat said. “I’d rather not demolish it.” That statement pretty much sums up affordable housing issues in Inyo County.

While Leitch pushed for a different configuration, a motion consistent with the staff recommendation to reduce the parking to dwelling unit ration to 1:1 was made and approved.

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P ite
P ite
3 days ago

There’s 1 commercial kitchen 69 residents all using it at one time does anyone see a problem where do people keep their own food are there refrigerators in each unit and with people coming and going at all hours doesn’t sound very relaxing sounds like it will keep law enforcement… Read more »

Charles James
Charles James
2 days ago
Reply to  P ite

The commercial kitchen is not for use by all the tenants.Where on earth did you get that idea? There’s been nothing about a communal kitchen use area mentioned that I am aware of. There is a possibility a local food vendor might rent or lease the kitchen for food preparation… Read more »

P ite
P ite
1 day ago
Reply to  Charles James

Charles good info this must of been batted around for awhile it was new to me , ?are these efficiency units kitchens a regulat refrigerator has anyone canvased the surrounding area my experience has been people will park where it’s convenient, etc blocking driveways. My reference to schatsville was me… Read more »

Charles James
Charles James
1 day ago
Reply to  P ite

Much more has only very recently come out…and there are a number of things that just simply have yet to be addressed, but not enough to delay moving forward. If you have not done so already, visit the City of Bishop’s website to watch the Planning Commission meeting and look… Read more »

Rick Deckard
Rick Deckard
4 hours ago
Reply to  Charles James

Maybe the idea regarding use of the commercial kitchen came from the Sierra Wave story, “Schat’s plans included walls and landscaping to shield the parking area. The public areas in the building, including the commercial kitchen, would be maintained and available to tenants.”

P ite
P ite
3 days ago

Sounds like employee housing for the Schat businesses that’s a lot of people in that neighborhood has anyone talked to them also the traffic, sounds like a mess many people use that to access tha community garden which already has a pilfering problem oh well there goes another good thing… Read more »

Harold
Harold
2 days ago
Reply to  P ite

Less then ideal housing is better than no housing. I just hope it’s affordable!

Charles James
Charles James
2 days ago
Reply to  P ite

In part, it is employee housing for some Schat’s employees, but to characterize it as “schatsville” is disingenuous. The units are going to become available to employees of other businesses as well, not the least of which will include Northern Inyo Hospital and the Toiyabe Indian Health Project. It’s likely… Read more »

Russ Monroe
Russ Monroe
1 day ago
Reply to  P ite

Sounds like; another pseudonym spewing speculation. Why not complain about three legged toads that could overrun the planet?
The community has issues that need addressing. Publishing irrelevant fiction from ignorant pseudonyms does not help solve anything.

P ite
P ite
1 day ago
Reply to  Russ Monroe

Sure russ they do but they never will there are problems you can’t control 1 white flight, the second absentee homeowners which in bishop is growing ,and I’m sure your smart enough to realize the problems they cause as for my pseudonym I have it for a reason I worked… Read more »

Name*
Name*
2 hours ago
Reply to  P ite

I don’t think white flight is a Bishop problem.

What would people rather see done with the facility? Like, could it be a hotel?