By Ruth Longoria Kingsland
In a 4 to 1 vote, Duarte City Council Tuesday night passed two ordinances, which move forward the heavily contested low-income housing project planned for city center-zoned property along Huntington Drive.
Councilman Phil Reyes was the lone dissenting vote.
About 20 residents spoke at Tuesday’s public hearing about the project, during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.
“There were people on both sides [of the issue] but most were in opposition to the project” said Deputy City Manager Karen Herrera.
The two ordinances amend the city’s General Plan Land Use Policy Map, by changing the designation of 2.3 acres of land – 1415 and 1423 to 1437 Huntington Drive – from city center and general commercial to R-4 high density residential.
One of those properties currently is owned by Burger King, which will be closing, and the property is expected to be available for purchase, according to information on the city’s web site.
If the project proceeds, the land would be developed through an agreement between Duarte’s Housing Authority and Abode Communities, a Los Angeles-based Housing Development Corporation.
The project calls for 66 units, including 45 two-bedroom apartments and 21 three-bedroom apartments. It also includes on-site resident services, such as: computer lab, meeting room, internet access and homework assistance, a community garden and children’s play area.
Residents have expressed opposition to the project due to myriad reasons, including the proposed project being on a busy street, which to some seems a difficult proposition for children’s play areas; the zoning changes, which would preclude additional businesses on those sites; and what some consider inadequate parking potential for tenants that may, in future years, push additional parking onto nearby streets.
The project plan calls for one parking stall for two bedroom units and two parking stalls for three-bedroom units. An additional 12 visitor parking stalls also would be provided.
Although Tuesday night’s two ordinances flew past the Council, the project isn’t yet a done deal.
A second reading of two resolutions also associated with the project is scheduled for the next Council meeting at 7 p.m., Sept. 13 at City Hall.
In addition to outcry of residents at Tuesday’s meeting, residents in condos and homes above the project began circulating fliers this week, urging residents to unite in opposition to the project.
“If you are outraged at the prospect of having a towering housing project next door, contact our City Council members now,” the “Save Our Neighborhood!” flier reads.
The City recently posted information to its web site apparently in hopes of changing some public opinion about the project. The information begins: “Recently, a lot of inaccurate information has been circulated throughout the community regarding a proposal by Abode Communities to construct a 66-unit family affordable multi-family housing project.”
The city site attempts to waylay some resident concerns by providing more information about Adobe Communities: “Project opposition has stated that Abode Communities ‘has a track record of poor construction and even worse maintenance.’ This is simply not the case. Abode Communities (originally Los Angeles Community Design Center) has been in business since 1968, has built and owns many housing developments throughout Southern California.”
Also, according to city information: “Before agreeing to work with Abode Communities, the City completed a reference check and found that all of the cities that have worked with the Abode Communities team have high praise for their work and the quality of the projects.”
In the past several decades, Abode Communities has completed similar projects from Sylmar to Thousand Oaks and Reseda, and Pasadena to Downey, Wilmington and Signal Hill. Abode Communities currently owns 34 properties across the Los Angeles area, with more than 4,000 residents.
According to Abode’s web site: “Abode Communities’ specific strength is building sustainable, multi-family affordable housing to address the needs of Southern California’s large workforce, low-income families, seniors and individuals with special needs.”