City to send Housing Element Update back to commission

After identifying additional properties available as possible low-income housing sites, City Manager Tony Ramos has expressed his intent to send the Housing Element Update back to the planning commission for a second review.

On January 7, the planning commission approved sending the Housing Element Update to the city council for approval. The announcement that the update will be sent back to the commission will occur at the Tuesday, January 28 city council meeting.

“We need to vet this more,” Mr. Ramos explained. “This may result in missing the February deadline, but we want to make sure all residents’ concerns are addressed.”

Despite their being no planned projects, backlash from residents living near the 5.9-acre parcel on Mills Avenue created confusion over what the planning commission had actually approved. The commission’s vote was not to approve the construction of a 100-unit low-income housing project, as some residents claim, but was to show the state of California that the city has available land to build, should they be required to do so down the road.

Penalties for missing the February 15, 2014 deadline for filing the Updated Housing Element will result in the city having to review and resubmit again in four years, instead of the eight years afforded to those cities that meet deadline. The city planned to apply a high-density residential overlay zoning to the parcel, which is located across from Chaparral Elementary School. The site is currently zoned residential.

The city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocations require city staff to identify possible locations for future very-low and low-income housing development. The city is not, however, required to actually build the units.?This fact did little to assuage resident’s fears about the project. About 45 people showed up to the January 7 planning commission meeting citing concerns over wildlife, traffic and negative effects on surrounding property values.

“If I wanted to live in an apartment or condo, I would have moved where it was cheaper,” Mary Krahn said.

Amid the complaints, at least one resident supported the notion. “It has a lot to do with the fairness for young people,” Carl Helger said. “There needs to be affordable housing for a young person just starting out.”

City staff will include 451 and 469 W. Arrow Highway as potential properties for low-income housing, as well as additional properties that have recently been identified. The planning commission will again make the final determination before sending the Housing Element Update to the city council for final approval.

—Kathryn Dunn


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