S.B. 6th Ward Ponders New Development
By Dianne Anderson
Of all the major decisions that North West Project Area Committee is called to weigh in on each month, probably the last thing they want to hear is whether their area needs one more gas station, a liquor store or marijuana dispensary.
Charlene Dixon said those are at the top of her “don’t do” list.
“There’s a Shell station right over the bridge. Go the other way there’s another gas station at California. Another gas station on Macy. It’s all about tax increment. The city will receive money from it,” said Dixon, president of NWPAC in San Bernardino.
She said another gas station is proposed for State and Highland, which is down the street from yet another gas station.
NWPAC has been reviewing plans for Highland and Medical Center for a while. Initially, she said developers wanted a gas station, including a strip mall with about six units, but that it won’t help if the units end up vacant like so many in the past.
Even now, no one knows what’s coming and plans change frequently, she said. First, it was a gas station with a car wash and sit down restaurant. There was talk of condos and other little stores.
“It went away and now it’s back. We need to know exactly what the developer is planning. He never asked us,” she said.
NWPAC meets every second Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the New Hope Family Life Center at 1605 Highland Ave.
Marijuana dispensaries will bring a lot of money, but the question is how much will get recycled back to where it was first generated. It’s hard to tell the legal from the illegal weed shops, which are supposed to be fined.
“But it can’t be that bad because they just relocate and open back up,” she said.
Right now, she said most businesses in the ward are dispensaries with gas stations and 99 Cent stores.
“That’s all we really have on the Westside, but we’ve been trying to call it San Bernardino West,” she said.
Measure “O” was passed by local voters last election. Under Proposition 64, legal statewide dispensaries are estimated to bring $1 billion in revenue yearly from a 15% tax requirement. One study last year projected that Measure “O” could bring from $19.5 to $24.8 million more revenue to the city.
She feels another priority for “San Bernardino West,” must be getting the area in better shape. Looks are a big part of what’s keeping businesses away.
“Nobody wants to come to an area that looks like a deserted war zone, [where] only the needy and homeless live there. The aesthetic appeal has a lot to do with where you want to set up shop,” she said.
With the exception of a few small projects, most money coming from tax revenue seems to go to Hospitality Lane or the Ball Park. She feels that inexpensive things can help improve the area.
A coat of paint, or implementing building codes that require certain colors of paint for the buildings would help.
“If you go to Fontana or Rancho, everything looks uniform,” she said.
In recent times, NWPAC has partnered with big box stores and property owners. Some things are looking up. Signage is starting to be more consistent.
Homeowners would like to see landscaping along Highland, Mt. Vernon and the nearby major streets.
“You could put big rocks, desertscape, get rid of the tumbleweeds,” she said, adding that the water department has said they would help with the supplies because it cuts down on maintenance costs.
The Westside also has the least lighting and worst street conditions, compared to other parts of the city, she said. She wonders why the streets are being restriped, but need to be fixed first. The patches wash away with each strong rain.
She said the NWPAC is always open to any officials that want to come and hear community concerns, and the group is more than happy to host a community forum. NWPAC is also open to all 6th ward homeowners and business owners to participate to improve their community.
“If you go up on University Parkway, it doesn’t look like it neighbors on the Westside. It’s like wow, it’s only a mile or so away. How can that be?” she said.
Charle’ Jacobs, president of Terrace West Neighborhood Association, said everyone wants new development as long as it’s the right kind.
The dispensaries are cropping up in the Sixth Ward. In her area, tokers are constantly hanging outside, even though it has an armed security guard, but the location sits next door to a liquor store.
She is also against pollution and potholes. There are some discussions for trucking facilities and related business in the area where Fifth Street turns into Foothill.
“We have a piece of land in there and it’s too congested right now as it is. They keep the street tore up. I don’t think we need any more trucking facilities,” she said.
A letter went out for public input for anyone within 500 feet, but she said no residents live in the immediate area and her Bench area isn’t given an opportunity to respond to that negative development.
Except for some small mom and pop businesses, she said there isn’t much left except liquor and weed stores.
“If you’re putting all the weed dispensaries in the 6th ward, the money should go back to the 6th ward. We’re the ones taking the risk,” she said.
To get involved with NWPAC, contact (909) 913-0831