A movement of Midwick Tract residents fighting a new development in their neighborhood is now aiming to further reduce the number of units and to ensure resident involvement in the process.
Preserve Midwick, a grassroots effort which has gathered more than 600 signatures for a petition against the proposed development, has a new goal of reducing the number of single-family homes constructed to about 50.
One of the group's founders, Midwick resident Elizabeth Salinas, said the group wants to ensure that devoloper City Ventures is a good neighbor, “meaning that they don't just come in and see a quick buck and pack that 8.8-acre piece of property to the max.”
The movement held its third community-input movement on Feb. 26, where leaders encouraged more resident involvement. Some planned on reaching out to University of Southern California professors and calling residents from other cities who have held similar opposition movements. The overarching consensus was to work with the developers on moving forward.
City Ventures teamed up with current property owner, Front Porch, for the project, which will consist of townhomes and single-family houses. After negotiating with residents, City Ventures decreased the number of units from 93 to 70 and replaced the nine luxury homes for two-story single-family homes. Residents, though, argue 40 or 50 units would be better and “70 [units] is still a deal-breaker,” said Salinas.
The development is slated to be built at 2400 S. Fremont Ave., replacing “The Alhambra,” a retirement care center that closed in October 2011.
Opponents worry its density will increase traffic and crime rates, and detract from the area's history. Some residents would rather see housing for senior citizens built on that lot.
“With these many homes there, where is the traffic going to go?” asked Midwick resident Robert Fontes at the meeting.
Alhambra City Manager Julio Fuentes said developments are not usually constructed in residential areas, but he said at a press conference, “If you own a piece of property, if you want to do something with property, and you look at zoning and want to make changes, you have a legal right to do that.”
City Ventures declined to be interviewed for this article, but they have said in the past that the project is collaborative and that they welcome residents' input.
Stan Yonemoto, the marketing manager of Alhambra's Chamber of Commerce, said developments are necessary for the city to keep up with the growing population. “We're mandated by the state,” he said. “We have to expand our housing stock. We don't really have a choice.”
Yonemoto said the development will benefit the area by providing newer-styled homes for residents.
“This is a time where there's a chance of having a new housing stock put into an area, where all of the homes in the area will be the newer styles and probably the newer amenities,” he said.
Some residents have expressed concern that the city, which received the 2010 Eddy Award for the “Most Business-Friendly City in L.A. County,” is going along with the project for the property taxes and because it's working with City Ventures on the Main Street development.
But Yonemoto said the city is being “prudent and as thoughtful as it can.” He added the city is trusting City Ventures because of its previous work. “If somebody has done a good job in the past, you have to give them a little credit,” he said.
The project is still waiting to move on to review by the Planning Commission, the Design Review Board and Alhambra’s City Council. City officials said they anticipate City Ventures will submit its application for a permit within a few months.