Cal Portland annexation a possibility, but officials face hurdles

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Photo/Anthony Victoria: The Colton City Council is discussing the possibility of annexing property owned by the Cal Portland Cement Company to address resident concerns with air particles.

Colton City Council members directed staff this week to investigate ways they could annex the Cal Portland Cement property.

Councilmembers David Toro, Luis Gonzalez, and Isaac Suchil brought up the idea of annexation during their meeting on August 15 to address resident concerns with dust and other particles stemming from cement plant demolition operations.

“We’ve been called many times by residents with complaints about the cement plant,” Gonzalez said. “Many say they have to have their windows closed. They suffer from asthma and other irritation due to the dust that’s picked up.”

Gonzalez said the Council is only exploring the option and not fully supporting an effort at the moment. However, he did admit taking control of the property will give Colton better local authority.

“The goal is to have control of what is being developed and reap the benefits, while also addressing health concerns,” he said.

According to City Manager Bill Smith’s staff, the 594-acre property comprises of land owned by Cal Portland, Slover Development Company, Southern Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad, General American Transportation Corporation, and private owner Gary Salazar.

Annexing the property may be more difficult than expected, explained Development Services Director Mark Tomich. The San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission, known as LAFCO for short, told Tomich adding the new property will require the city to also add unincorporated territory north of the I-10 that’s considered a “disadvantaged community.”

A disadvantaged unincorporated community, as defined by Senate Bill 244, is described as an uninhabited community that has an annual household income less than 80 percent of the statewide average.

Tomich further explained that the city would need to pass a resolution that demonstrates thorough preparation of annexation plans, receive support from property owners and San Bernardino County officials, prepare possible environmental studies, and completion of a reclamation plan.

Suchil told staff that the Council “owes it to residents in the south end” to ask for possible solutions.

“We all have relatives and residents in that area that are complaining about dust,” he said. “We at least have to do our part as a city.”

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