Larkin Place CON: stand up for city’s vulnerable residents
by Linda Mawby
In response to the August 19 COURIER article “State: City broke law in denying Larkin Place easement”:
The vote against the Larkin Park easement at the June 28 Claremont City Council meeting did not “equate to the disapproval” of the Larkin Place project, which the California Department of Housing and Community Development is claiming. The original site plan (aka the “ugly box”) was designed by and presented to city planning staff by Jamboree and remained as an alternative site plan that City of Claremont special counsel Tom Clark said could be used to move the project forward. Jamboree also stated at a community outreach meeting that if the easement was denied they would submit the original site plan for their next funding step to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. It was Jamboree’s choice not to do so.
“By right” approvals do not mean developers can get anything and everything they desire. They are subject to objective, quantifiable, written development standards (see CA Gov Code §65589.5(f)(1)). Providing a private developer a public access easement is not an objective written standard for development but is instead a discretionary act. On March 23, City Manager Adam Pirrie told representatives of our group the granting of a public easement requires city council approval following a public hearing.
In light of this, it is our position that city planning staff and the architectural commission did not have the authority to require the easement.
Special counsel Clark’s assessment regarding the easement at the June 28 city council meeting, that “It’s completely discretionary and I believe HCD probably didn’t have all of the facts when they opined, and I think with those facts they would conclude that it’s not subject to the Housing Accountability Act,” is, in our opinion, thereby supported.
Proponents are misinformed to claim those pushing for community safety forced the city to “violate state law” (as they put it). HCD’s main concern was that the city did not make a required finding that the project would or would not have a specific “adverse impact on the public health or safety” per CA Gov Code 65589.5 (d)(2). Safe and Transparent Claremont has been questioning the lack of such a study to support this finding since becoming aware of the project in February.
Now it’s up to the city to decide how it wants to respond to the state’s violation notice. I hope it stands up for the safety of Claremont’s most vulnerable residents — the nearby children and retirement community seniors.
Safe and Transparent Claremont fully supports the development of affordable housing and helping the homeless. At issue is the safety of locating those who are still actively struggling with serious major life issues right in the middle of vulnerable seniors and children. There are other homeless populations that can be helped that are better suited to the location, and there are other locations better suited for this targeted chronically homeless population.
That is all we are asking, for Jamboree, the city, and Pilgrim Place to move this proposal forward by considering a project that is beneficial for all Claremont residents.
Linda Mawby is the group administrator of Safe and Transparent Claremont.