Rebuttal of Letter from Developers

Note from the website owners: This is from an e-mail we received on 9-6-2022 from a neighbor who wants to stay anonymous

Hello neighbors,

Like many of you, I have received a letter from the developers in support for their development project East of Yucaipa Ridge Road, asking the city to allow their dense housing land use project (quarter acre per lot) to proceed, although it is in a 1 acre plus zone according to the Yucaipa General Plan.

I am against such a development and was offended by the way it was written, which I felt was misleading and not forthright and deceptive. This rebuttal is my answer to their letter. The sections in quotes are from the developer’s letter, the ones below are my comments.

The proposed housing tract of 51 homes averaging 14,700 square feet over 51 acres, will add open space and acreage totaling more than 20 acres to the North Cork Winery.

The 14,700 sqft is very optimistic because if you look at the plans, the properties are terraced and separated by an embankment leaving far less useful space. The actual open space is minimal and the reason for it is, I think, that nothing can be built on it because of the topography. Also, vineyards are certainly less invasive than urban sprawl, but it is not open space.

“As a patron of the Winery, I look forward to the varieties of grapes that will help to expand the selection at this establishment.”

I did help harvest and process grapes when I was a teenager, as my uncle was a professional winegrower. Hence, I very much doubt that there would be a large number of different grapes because they would need to be processed separately (harvest, pulp, ferment, store, etc.) and that will be very expensive. Also please don’t sell this as if you were doing something for your neighbors and the community, the main purpose of this project is to build the housing tract with all the benefits for those who own the land and develop it, this is not for the neighbors and the community.

“Preston Todd and his wife have put a lot of time and effort into this business and seeing them with the ability to expand their business with this natura extension of the land that they farm is incredible.”

Per se, I am not opposed to planting vineyards even amongst developed areas, because on my travels, especially in Europe I have seen that this can even augment the appeal of an area. What I take offense to is that the developers try to sell their project on the back of the winery. The quarter acre housing tract is the main reason for this project, the winery is a mere pretense, it is an afterthought and smoke screen. Why not ask the city to convert the lot into an agricultural zone and let Preston Todd and his wife farm the whole property!? – To state the obvious is: It is all about the money because a vineyard is way less profitable than a dense housing tract of cookie cutter houses.

“Moving the new development of houses to one area to allow the vineyard to grow and expand is a great idea”

Ha! – If I had written such a statement in a high school essay, my teacher (she was quite on to these things) would have deducted at least a point, because why is this a good idea!? - Again, in my youth I helped harvest grapes and I can tell you that the steeper the terrain the more effort it is to cut and transport grapes. The proposed vineyard is in the steep portion, the houses are in the flatter area below. Hence, this statement makes no sense and is another smoke screen.

“New growth in the City of Yucaipa is a pleasant sign and this combination of housing with the Vineyard will continue to bring us back to the North Cork Winery and will assist in growing the Customer base for all of Yucaipa.”

To be honest, I had to re-read this section three times and only then did I realize that the content was probably from different sources but together made no sense. I of course support growth of our city, but in an intelligent and gradual way, without sacrificing resources and values only for the benefit of a few already privileged entities. If the intent genuinely is to give the Cork Winery more acreage to plant their grapes, I am OK with re-zoning these parcels to agricultural land. From talking to my neighbors, I might not be the only one, but a tract housing development amongst all the custom houses!? I think this is just a really bad idea.

“I pray that the City Council in Yucaipa takes the entire City of Yucaipa, as well as other local Communities into account in approving this project and allowing for smart growth.”

As a deeply religious person, I feel offended that the authors of this letter try to use religion as a weapon. Maybe they should really read the scripture and take it to heart, because it is about being truthful, considerate, protecting those who are weaker or less educated and not taking advantage of them. This is counter religious and counter Christian. So please leave God out of your equation and be honest about your intentions and what you write.

Side not: This is not smart growth; this is urban sprawl.

“Noth Cork Vineyard has thousands of customers, and I am proud to say that I am one of them. Please consider the needs of growth that helps make this area unique for everyone.”

I am starting to run out of the number of times that I can say that “this is a smoke screen”. While I am happy to hear that the North Cork Winery has “many customers” I doubt that most of my neighbors are clients (I am not) and, again, the vineyard is the afterthought, the cookie cutter housing tract is the elephant that is in the room.

These are my personal thoughts. I really think it is unwise for the authors to assume all of us are so easily swayed and mislead. I feel this is an affront to even try because it means that they take people living in the North Bench not seriously, inferring some level of ignorance, and think that we are not able to see through this barrage of untruths and deceptions. If the authors feel offended by my opinion, then they should consider how offended I was by their letter and its content.

A longtime and proud Yucaipian