Originally published 10.24.2011
In a pair of heated community meetings last week, Alhambra residents voiced their disapproval of the Front Porch project, a proposed luxury development in the Midwick Tract neighborhood.
Developer City Ventures has joined with the owners of the former Front Porch Retirement Community to propose a 93-unit housing project at the 2400 block of South Fremont. The development would install a combination of townhomes, single family houses and nine luxury suites.
At a meeting dedicated to the issue Thursday night and a town hall on Saturday, residents questioned the need for new developments given the current housing market, alleged overuse of public utilities that already need upgrading, and voiced concern about increased noise and traffic congestion. They also contended that a new large development in the city would contribute to pollution, jeopardize the safety of current residents and adversely affect the quality of life of not only the residents of Midwick Tract, but subsequently the entire Alhambra community as well.
“This city is going to look and feel like New York City in 2035,” said Ofelia Lineiro at the town hall meeting. A long-time resident of Midwick, Lineiro was referring to an open house event that same day that sought to envision Alhambra in 2035. Currently, the Midwick Tract primarily consists of single-family residences and is considered a historical and intimate neighborhood by many who attended the town hall meeting.
An online blog against the Front Porch project has been created and a petition had garnered a total of 502 signatures at the time of the town hall meeting on Saturday.
Responding to the audience’s unified opposition to the project, Vice President of Development for City Ventures Bill McReynolds spoke at the town hall meeting. “In terms of what you’ve seen to date, there is no additional information that has been prepared,” he said. “The key word I want to stress to everybody is ‘conceptual.’” The plan seeks to accommodate residents of various income levels and provides views of the San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles for those in the luxury lots.
Earlier last week, City Ventures has stated that they will meet the statewide and regional mandates to reduce carbon footprint and have partnered with Nissan to install electric vehicle outlets in the garages. “We take great pride in sustainability, ” said McReynolds at the Thursday meeting.
But residents don’t appear to see a need for a new housing development. “Why are we putting in more homes on a market when there are already homes that are not selling?” Aide Zeller, a resident of Midwick Tract, said at the Thursday meeting. Resident Elizabeth Salinas echoed the concern by stating that Alhambra already has 180 foreclosures and 389 houses for sale. “I want to see a study for the market and need for this,” she said.
In response to concerns over potential traffic congestion, the city will consider putting a traffic signal on Las Flores and a left-turn signal on Carlos St. But residents said that installing additional traffic signals will not help. "Signals wont solve the Fremont traffic problem," said longtime resident Betty Barnett.
City staff will use the feedback given at these meetings to come up with a strategy to discuss the raised concerns with City Ventures. “You have given us a lot to think about,” City Manager Julio Fuentes said at the meeting on Thursday. He asked residents to provide contact information so the city could keep them updated with the progress of the development and about future meetings.
Councilman Steven Placido reminded the attendees that the Council is not able to make a decision about the project yet, which has to go through a multilevel approval process before the elected officials can vote on it. “We can’t make a decision until it is brought before the Council,” he said.
Before it comes to a vote, Midwick residents vowed that they will be unrelenting in their efforts to block the project.
“The city is pro-business,” said Anthony Ligutom, 33, who has lived and worked in Alhambra all of his life, noting that the city received a “Most Business-Friendly” award in the county two years ago. “But they know we’re not going to like this development.”
*Corrected: An initial version of this story said that an online petition had been created. In fact, the petition is on paper.