A storage lot for boats and recreational vehicles in suburban San Diego is preparing to open early next month after years of planning, construction and even a couple lawsuits, the North County Times reported.
North County RV and Boat Storage, on the northeast corner of Melrose Drive and Sycamore Avenue in Vista, will give area residents a clean, secure place to keep their “toys,” owner Arie DeJong said.
DeJong said many cities and homeowners associations have restrictions that forbid residents from parking their RVs or boats in driveways or on the street.
The project’s construction manager, Karl Gailey, DeJong’s nephew, said the business already has more than 100 commitments. The eight-acre lot will have space for 400 to 450 vehicles or boats and is set to open sometime next week, Gailey said.
But getting the business off the ground has taken a few years, and DeJong has faced some setbacks.
When he broached his business proposal with Vista city leaders in late 2007, they had other plans for the property, which sits along one of the city’s busiest north-south corridors near the Vista Business Park and across the street from a new Marriott Hotel.
In 2007, the Vista city code allowed DeJong to build an RV storage lot there. A few months later, however, the Vista City Council changed the rules, requiring people who want to operate RV storage lots and other outdoor businesses in a handful of commercial areas (including DeJong’s property) to get a permit. That gave the city the power to impose special conditions on projects, or reject them altogether.
DeJong sued over the change, accusing the council of tweaking the laws so it could eventually deny his project, which the Vista Planning Commission did in November 2008.
Meanwhile, in summer 2008, DeJong stored trucks, RVs and a boat on his property without city permission, prompting the city to file a lawsuit of its own.
Both lawsuits were dropped after the city council voted 3-2 to approve DeJong’s permit in December 2008, with then-Mayor Morris Vance and then-Councilman Bob Campbell voting against it.
“We’ve had some difficulty,” DeJong said Wednesday, adding that neighbors were worried that the storage lot might look more like a junkyard.
That was what Councilman John Aguilera envisioned for the corner when, as a planning commissioner, he voted against the project. He said on Wednesday (Feb. 23) that the business looks much better than he imagined it would.
“As far as a storage yard goes, it’s top notch,” he said, but added that he still thinks it isn’t the right business for the site.
Mayor Judy Ritter lamented that the high-profile property will be a storage lot instead of something more desirable, such as a shopping center.
“But (DeJong) did a nice job,” she said. “It looks really good, and I know RV storage is needed in the city.”
Bret Schanzenbach, CEO for the Vista Chamber of Commerce, agreed that for a storage yard, the site is impressive.
“When people are coming down Melrose from Carlsbad, they’re not seeing some dumpy storage lot. They’re seeing a beautifully landscaped, beautifully crafted facility,” he said.
DeJong, construction manager Gailey and the lot’s live-in operations manager, Jim Huber, have made every possible effort to ensure the storage yard is first class.
“What makes this (storage yard) different is that we will offer a valet service,” Huber said. “Customers come in with their unit and drop it off, or call in when they want to go on a trip and we’ll get it ready for them.”
Huber said they will offer additional services, such as sewage dumps, propane tank fills, boat and vehicle washes and detailing and may integrate a fueling service later on.
More than 40 security cameras are on the site, and Huber can look at them from his cell phone or on a flat-screen TV in the main office.
Huber and his wife will live in an apartment above the main office so customers can drop off or pick up their boats or vehicles 24 hours a day.
“We can turn on the motorhomes … get everything ready to go for them,” Huber said. “It’s kind of like taking a cruise. You just need to show up.”