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State gives Claremont 30-day extension on Larkin complaint

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com 

Claremont received a 30-day extension to respond to state housing authorities who claim the city broke the law by rejecting an easement at Larkin Park.

On August 12 the California Department of Housing and Community Development sent a letter to City Manager Adam Pirrie stating its opinion that the city council’s 3-2 vote on June 28 disapproving the easement violated the Housing Accountability Act. The letter demanded to know what steps Claremont planned to take to correct the situation and gave the city 30 days to respond.

In the letter, HCD demanded a written response by September 12, including, at a minimum, “a specific plan and timeline for corrective action that allows the Project (via the approval of the required easement) to move forward with its plans without further delay or demonstrate that legally sufficient health and safety findings were made pursuant to Government Code.”

That deadline to provide the corrective action plan was Monday. But the city requested more time to comply with the state’s demands, and HCD agreed.

At issue is the project’s developer Jamboree Housing Corporation’s request for a 24-foot by 275-foot easement across an existing parking lot at Larkin Park that would provide access to a proposed parking lot and affordable housing project on the adjacent property at 731 Harrison Ave.

In the letter, Assistant Deputy Director Local Government Relations and Accountability David Zisser states, “In denying the easement, the City of Claremont (City) has violated the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) under Government Code 65589.5.”

On Monday, Pirrie said Jamboree had been speaking with Claremont’s planning department about an alternate site plan for Larkin Place. Community Development Director Brad Johnson said those conversations have been minimal.

Jamboree’s Director of Marketing and Communications Marissa Feliciano said she did not know the status of the project but sent a message to the company’s development department for an update. However, Feliciano was unable to get a response by the close of business Tuesday and said she would be traveling on Wednesday and unavailable. She did indicate the company may have more information next week.

Two possible alternative plans that would not need an easement have been suggested, including a four-story building with a driveway on the property that has become known as the “box.”

Another option is flipping the design approved by the architectural commission, so that the parking is in front of the building instead of in the back. The modified “flipped” plan has been championed by Claremont Mayor Pro-tem Ed Reece.

Pirrie said Jamboree has yet to submit a renewed application, but he is confident if that happened either design would satisfy HCD’s complaint because the project would be moving forward.

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