A common question on Plumas Lake social media is when is the community getting a grocery store and it’s often followed by a preference of which grocery store chain residents are most interested in. When it was announced Plumas Lake would be getting a new gas station, several residents asked why it couldn’t be a grocery store instead. Also, a few residents have implied that somehow the government (County) has a significant role in the development of a grocery store or other commercial business in Plumas Lake. This post is to provide some information about the development process in general and commercial development in Plumas Lake in particular.
Let’s start with land-use authority. This is the power of a city, or a county in the case of unincorporated areas, to specify what uses are permitted on a specific parcel of land. This is usually accomplished by zoning. As Plumas Lake is unincorporated, Yuba County is the land-use authority. Some examples of zoning types include residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural. Zoning types may include further breakdowns like high-density residential, medium-density residential, and low-density residential. Allowed uses by zoning types are defined in the County General Plan supported by the development code or in a specific plan such as the Plumas Lake Specific Plan (PLSP).
It is the Plumas Lake Specific Plan that defines the zoning types for the Plumas Lake area and what uses are permitted on each of the zoning types. For example, if a parcel is zoned as medium-density residential, the owner could subdivide the parcel and build single-family homes on it. If a parcel was zoned for high-density residential, apartments or condos could be built on it. The vast majority of the land within the PLSP area is zoned for medium-density residential. However, there is a significant amount of land in the PLSP area that is zoned to allow commercial uses. There is a process to have a parcel re-zoned if desired, but it requires a vote of the Board of Supervisors. The majority of land in the PLSP is privately owned, although some parcels are owned by government agencies for civic infrastructure such as drainage, fire stations, schools/future schools, and parks/future parks. All parcels zoned to support residential or commercial development are privately owned,
If a landowner of a parcel zoned medium-density residential in the PLSP wants to build a subdivision, they have a right to do that. They will of course need to go through the approval process, put in the required infrastructure, pay required impact fees, get appropriate building permits, and construct houses and infrastructure in accordance with State and County law. Sometimes the owner of the land will put in the infrastructure themselves and then sell the individual lots to home builders. Other times, a builder will purchase the raw land and do all the components of development themselves. The timing of when large parcels zoned medium-density residential become an actual housing development is completely up to the owner of the property. It’s generally a result of market conditions that take into account the cost of getting infrastructure to the development, the cost of impact fees, the cost of construction, and the potential sales price of the homes. The most cost-effective parcels for new development are usually those adjacent to existing developments.
Similarly, there are parcels in Plumas Lake zoned for commercial use. The owners of those parcels may sell them to someone who wants to open a business compatible with the commercial zoning type of the parcel, or the owner may build the building(s) themselves and then lease them out to a business or businesses. Much like residential development, there is a process that must be followed and the landowner has to go through the approval process, put in the required infrastructure, pay required impact fees, get appropriate building permits, and construct the buildings and infrastructure in accordance with State and County law. Similar to residential development, commercial development is driven by market conditions. Does the landowner (or potential landowner if it’s someone looking to purchase the property for a business) believe that they can build and operate a profitable business at that location? Until the potential business owner, or the corporate office if it’s a chain, believes their business will be profitable at that location, the parcel will remain undeveloped. Of course, there are many factors they consider to determine potential profitability including the cost of the land, the cost of the impact fees, the cost of construction, their business plan, the number of potential customers, and the median income of those customers. The goal of a business is to make a profit and once they believe that is possible, they will invest in Plumas Lake. Once a grocery store chain identifies an opportunity for a profitable location in Plumas Lake, they will build one. Large chains typically have entire teams dedicated to finding locations to expand their business.
Now that we’ve talked about the residential and commercial development in Plumas Lake, let’s take a closer look at where those opportunities are located within the community. The four screenshots in this post show the locations of commercially zoned parcels in Plumas Lake. The areas are color-coded based on zoning type and I’ve labeled them as CSC/CC (Community Shopping Center/Community Commercial), HYC (Highway Commercial), and BUS (Business Park). You can look up the types of businesses allowed in each of those categories starting on page 50 of the PLSP (https://www.yuba.org/Yuba%20County/Community%20Development/Planning/Handouts/Plumas_Lake_SP.pdf). Parcels zoned for future residential development are also color-coded and labeled as MDR, HDR, and MHDR. The number of housing units allowed per acre in each of those types is also defined in the PLSP.
Like with residential development, the sites that are most cost-effective for commercial development are those adjacent to existing infrastructure. Therefore, the most likely places for commercial development to occur in Plumas Lake currently are the two CSC areas at the intersection of River Oaks & Plumas Lake Blvd, the CSC area at the intersection of River Oaks and Feather River Blvd, and the two HYC parcels on Feather River Blvd east of Hwy 70. All of those parcels are privately owned and each of those owners has land available for purchase and/or potential space for lease.
What is the role of the government (County) in commercial development in Plumas Lake?
- As the creator of the PLSP and local land use authority, ensure ample and appropriate land in Plumas Lake is zoned to support commercial businesses.
- Minimize “red-tape” and maximize service, efficiency, and collaboration when working with landowners or businesses that express interest in exploring a location in Plumas Lake.
- Ensure permit fees and impact fees represent true costs of infrastructure and service and are set as low as possible.
- Utilize relationships and networking opportunities to encourage businesses to consider expanding to Plumas Lake
- Support efforts to continue and expand residential development, as more residents equals more appeal to businesses.
What is outside the control of the government (County) with respect to commercial development in Plumas Lake?
- The cost of land and infrastructure
- The lease rate of any commercial buildings constructed
- The cost of construction and operation of a business
- The type of businesses that open in Plumas Lake, as long as the business type is compatible with the zoning designation of the parcel. (i.e. a grocery store vs a gas station)
- The specific brand of businesses that open in Plumas Lake (Taco Bell vs McDonald’s or Chevron vs Arco)
- The specific location in Plumas Lake that a business chooses to locate, as long as the location is compatible with the zoning designation of the parcel.
What can residents of Plumas Lake do to support commercial development in the Community?
- Make sure your favorite businesses know Plumas Lake would be a great place to invest.
- Utilize relationships with executive management in expanding businesses to encourage them to consider a location in Plumas Lake.
- Consider opening your own business here!
The Yuba County planning department ([email protected] or 530.749.5470) is always willing to talk to businesses considering opening in Plumas Lake and can walk them through the process and put them in touch with owners of commercial properties.
You might also be interested in watching a YouTube recording from a community meeting that was held on this topic: An Informal Discussion on Commercial Development in Plumas Lake
Commercial Properties in the vicinity of the Plumas Lake Blvd Interchange
Commercial Properties in the vicinity of the Feather River Blvd Interchange
Commercial Properties north of Algodon Rd
Commercial Properties near Wheeler Ranch in Arboga/North Plumas Lake
Links to marketing materials for commercial properties in Plumas Lake: