Escondido, CA

Escondido City Council limits self-storage businesses

At Wednesday’s Escondido City Council meeting the council unanimously approved of a staff recommendation to amend several ordinances to give the city more flexibility in regulating self-storage facilities, especially the number of them allowed in the city.
This was the first reading of the amendments to existing ordinances. They add a process that will require the applicant to be subject to an economic demand analysis to demonstrate the demand and need for the proposed facilities and whether it’s in the best interest for the city, as well as to demonstrate a positive benefit.
The city doesn’t collect sales taxes from the rental of single storage units, only property taxes. So, they generate fewer taxes than retail operations do.
The staff report noted that over the past two years there has been a growing interest in new self-storage facilities in the city. Escondido has 17 self-storage facilities, with another three in the approval pipeline. Because the such facilities take land out of the market for other uses, the need for a way to limit them was sought.
Because of the high demand the council had asked staff to come back with proposed regulations to get rid of this gap in city authority.
The amendments adopted to the Zoning Code would give the city more control over future self-storage propels and require more “findings of necessity,” while not impacting existing business owners’ abilities to expand the number of units.
On April 24 the planning commission recommended adopting the rules, which could be expanded to apply to other uses, such as tattoo parlors.
There was no public testimony before the vote.
Council member Olga Diaz said approvingly, “We should have done it a while ago and I’m happy we are doing it now.”
Council member Ed Gallo noted that self-storage units don’t pay sales taxes. “They really don’t
have a benefit for the city except to give people a place to store things. I will approve this. I think it’s a good step in the right direction. I don’t want to be so overbearing on everything, but there are certain businesses that don’t enhance the quality of life for the people in town.”
Council member Mike Morasco added, “If our rules aren’t strong enough, we will get overrun.”
Staff noted that at the April Planning Commission meeting that owners of existing storage units had attended and were in favor of the general approach.
“I think we are going in the right direction,” declared Mayor Sam Abed. He said that for those who call for letting the free market work, “The free market doesn’t work. That’s why we have a city council. If you let everything go the way it is, you’ll have a depressed neighborhood and not address the community’s need.” He added, “We need to have the best and highest use and that’s how you improve the quality of life. Storage facilities are the least desirable business. I don’t know why we have seventeen and three more coming. That’s is not a healthy thing. We can’t have more storage facilities than Starbucks. This is an oversight to create a healthy community.”

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