SAN DIMAS — County plans to put apartments, a lodge, restaurants and an amphitheater in Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park have drawn sharp criticism from the San Dimas Planning Commission, which contends that the proposal ignores environmental concerns and is too commercial.
An environmental impact report does not adequately explain how the proposed developments would affect the 1,975-acre park and the surrounding community, the commission concluded after a meeting last week.
The report, released last month, outlines a 10-year development proposal that would include a 220-unit apartment complex, a 100-room lodge, two theme shopping areas, an aerial tram and a 10,000-seat amphitheater and allow for the expansion of Raging Waters, a 400-acre water adventure theme park.
Would Not Affect Environment.
Those developments would not significantly affect the environment, according to the report prepared by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.
However, during a four-hour public hearing attended by about 70 people Wednesday night, Heinz A. Lumpp, director of community development for the city, said the report shows that the county is more interested in making money than evaluating environmental impacts on the park.
"The report doesn't discuss environmental impacts," Lumpp said. "It discusses the financial feasibility of the environment."
The objectives of the development, according to the environmental impact report, are to "provide a quality recreation experience for the public, protect the open-space resources and generate revenue to offset operation and maintenance costs."
In his written analysis of the report, Lumpp said that the county "appears to have focused so much on the third goal, revenue generation, that the EIR (environmental impact report) becomes shortsighted and confuses success with need, private facilities with public facilities, non-developed areas with usable open space and revenue production with recreation."
The five-member commission adopted Lumpp's report and called on the City Council to tell the county that the environmental impact report is inadequate.
'It Was So Incomplete'
Susan Nikas, commission chairman, called the report "atrocious. It was so incomplete."
Because the park is on county land within the city boundaries, San Dimas officials cannot block plans for the developments.
The county is accepting public comments on the plans until Nov. 4. Although some developers have expressed interest in the plan, no offers have been made, county officials said.
No county officials were at the public hearing Wednesday night. James Park, facility planner for the county Parks and Recreation Department, said in an interview on Thursday that the report acknowledged that income was needed to help meet the operating costs of the park.
Under the California Environmental Quality Act, the county is obligated to deal with economic issues in an environmental impact report, Park said.
According to the report, the park's operating budget is $1.5 million a year. The park currently generates $800,000 yearly. The report says that the county can earn between $100,000 and $200,000 from the proposed apartment complex alone.
Inaccuracies, Incomplete Data
"I understand the county's need to generate funds for the park," Lumpp said after Wednesday's meeting. "But there's a limit on how far it can go."
Lumpp said the city's planning department found numerous inaccuracies and incomplete data in report's 13 analyses of such factors as noise level, biological resources, transportation and traffic.
Lumpp said that the report relied on outdated studies about the park and that much of the data could be wrong.
However, Park said the report was adequate.
"We will review the council's comments and make necessary revisions if needed," said Park, adding that he could not comment further until the city responds officially.
During the public hearing, about 20 people voiced protests about the proposal and agreed with the planning department's evaluation. Nobody spoke in favor of the report.
Daniel Guthrie, professor of biology at the Claremont Colleges, said the report ignored many different species of birds when citing biological resources in the park.
The report did not say that the least Bell's vireo, an endangered bird, had been occasionally sighted in the park, Guthrie said.
The report incorrectly "concludes that there are no significant animals or plants to be concerned about in the park," said Guthrie, who is president of the Pomona Valley Audubon Society.
Natilie G. Tschiedel, president of the Via Verde Homeowners Assn., said the new developments would hurt the community surrounding the park and cause endless traffic jams.
"Traffic is already difficult to manage because of people going to Raging Waters," Tschiedel said. "How much more traffic and pollution can an area absorb? The county is proposing long-range developments that ruin the natural setting of the park."