Midwick Tract residents packed City Council chambers Monday evening to voice their concerns about a multi-residential development in their Alhambra neighborhood. Developer City Ventures presented a proposal for the controversal project at 2400 Fremont Ave., which was put on hold last year after a movement by residents to stop the project. While the new proposal has been adapted due to residents' concerns, many were still worried about repercussions of the development, such as traffic, air quality, and safety.
In its latest proposal, City Ventures reduced the number of single-family units from 93 to 70 and the square-units-per-acre from 10.5 to 8, changes that resulted from negotiations with Midwick residents in 2011 and 2012. The developer also closed off pedestrian and vehicle entry to the new project on Date Street, created direct access to Granada Park from these homes, and designed a driver entrance from a private road instead of Carlos Street.
Elizabeth Salinas, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council and was the driving force in the movement to stop the development last year, said she was pleasantly surprised by the new proposal. “I think City Ventures took our suggestions to heart,” Salinas said. “The design sounds promising.”
However, many residents were still weary of the project. Edward Ruiz raised concerns about the health of students at St. Thomas More Elementary School, located across the street from the construction site, and whether the school will receive some monetary assistance during the construction. “This takes three years to build, one year to demolish," Ruiz said. "What about the kids who are going to be affected by the noise and the smoke? Are they going to be compensated?”
Vice President of Development at City Ventures Bill McReynolds tried to assuage Ruiz's concerns, explaining that the developer will pay $2.97 to the Alhambra Unified School District for every square feet of land they build on. But a mother of a student at St. Thomas More clarified that the school is not part of AUSD and wonders how they will benefit from this.
Another key point of contention is the safety of residents, drivers, and pedestrians on Carlos Street, which is south of the project and will probably be most impacted by traffic because of its narrowness. A 29-year-old Midwick Tract resident and developer said he understands where the company is coming from but expressed concerns about the safety of the street. “Carlos Street is an accident waiting to happen with parking on both sides,” he said.
One suggestion City Ventures received from residents is to red curb Carlos to prevent people from parking and alleviate traffic. But some residents raised the issue of overflow church parking for St. Thomas More Catholic Church, located on Fremont and Carlos.
Alhambra Mayor Steven Placido said Council will continue to review the project and encouraged residents to contact him if they have more questions and concerns. Councilwoman Barbara Messina added that while she understands the importance of preserving the Alhambra neighborhood, the area is zoned in favor of multi-residential homes and not in single-family residences, or R1.
“I am sensing fear among the residents of Midwick that this may be the beginning of doomsday for the R1 neighborhoods. And I have to assure you that protecting the integrity of our R1 neighborhood is the priority of this whole council," she said. "Unfortunately, this city is zoned 60 percent multi-residential and only 40 percent R1.”
Not able to attend the meeting? You can watch it in its entirety here.
City Council usually meets every second and fourth Monday of the month on the second floor of the City Hall: 111 S. First St., Alhambra, Calif., 91801. The next meeting will be on Monday, May 6, at 5:30 pm in the Alhambra Civic Center Library.