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A New Affordable Housing Development May Be Coming to Alhambra

A illustration of a proposed affordable housing project from American Family Housing and National CORE. Photo courtesy of Alhambra's Department of Community Development.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

Alhambra is looking to tackle California’s affordable housing crisis with a new 40-unit development that would provide permanent supportive housing and low-income rental units to tenants.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to direct city staff to flesh out an affordable housing project presented by Alhambra’s Director of Community Development Marc Castagnola. The city would develop the project in partnership with American Family Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing developer that has been operating for 25 years.

The proposed project would be located in Alhambra’s Central Business District, on 18,399 square feet or 0.42 acres of city-owned land by the AT&T building just south of Main Street, between 1st and 2nd Streets. The project would replace what is currently the 2nd Street parking lot.

The project, which the city has tentatively named Mariposa Housing, would be five stories tall, with the ground floor devoted to parking and the upper four stories made up of apartments. Twenty-eight of the apartments would be one-bedroom and one-bathroom units, while 12 would be two-bedroom and two-bath. The ground floor would have 40 parking spots, with half provided for the tenants and half for the public. The development would be within walking distance of most downtown Alhambra amenities.

“We have been waiting so long for this moment,” Castagnola said, adding that the city had been hoping to partner with a developer for a couple of years on an affordable housing project using leftover funds from Alhambra’s former redevelopment agency.

The city has around 440 affordable housing units, many of which are set aside for senior citizens and were built when Alhambra had a redevelopment agency that could get land through eminent domain and cover construction costs.

After the agency’s dissolution in 2012, Alhambra had to sell off excess land, making it difficult to find a city-owned parcel large enough for an affordable housing development, and a developer with the expertise to build such a project.

Many Alhambra residents have struggled to afford to live in Alhambra due to high housing costs. Last Thursday, more than 125 people attended a housing forum organized by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and co-sponsored by Grassroots Alhambra and the Alhambra Source to talk about their experience with rising rents and high housing prices.

Castagnola presented two financing proposals for the project to the City Council. In the first scenario, half of the units would become permanent supportive housing for tenants with Section 8 vouchers — a federal rent subsidy — and who make at most 30 percent of the area median income, which is $73,100 for a four-person household in Los Angeles County. Permanent supportive housing often includes healthcare, employment assistance, training on independent living skills and other services. The other half would be rented to low-income tenants who make at most 60 percent of the area median income.

With this plan, the project would qualify for state and county subsidies totaling more than $8 million, and the city of Alhambra’s portion would come out to $5.75 million. In the second scenario, the project would not qualify for state and county subsidies, and the city would have to bear almost $16.7 million of the cost. Castagnola said constructing a mixture of permanent supportive and low-income housing was more financially feasible for Alhambra, and a good balance between the two.

The total cost in both scenarios would be around $25 million, but the city would bear substantially more of the cost if the units were all rented to low-income families. The City Council voted unanimously to direct staff to continue designing the project with a 50-50 split on permanent supportive housing and low-income housing.

American Family Housing would also speed up the construction timeframe by pouring the concrete part of the development on-site, but constructing the apartments off-site using recycled shipping containers or prefabricated housing units, said Milo Peinemann, the developer’s chief executive officer. The organization used shipping containers to construct Potter’s Lane, a 16-unit housing development in Orange County for homeless veterans.

American Family Housing has also built affordable housing projects in South Gate, Long Beach, Pomona, and will soon begin construction on a project in South Los Angeles.

Three members of the public commented on the presentation, praising the idea, but raising the concerns that the city hadn’t done enough public outreach, and that would pose the risk that people who don’t understand the complexities of permanent supportive housing and low-income housing might oppose opposing the development. They also expressed concern that this project would be a one-time investment in affordable housing, instead of a long-term plan to address the housing crisis in Alhambra.

Financial negotiations have not started yet, but the City will be seeking to recoup its investment in the long term, Castagnola told the Alhambra Source.

City Council members responded enthusiastically to this idea, saying that these housing units could help the homeless and Alhambra families sorely in need of affordable housing. Vice Mayor Ross Maza and Councilmember Katherine Lee were curious about the recycled material being used for the project, which Peinemann said would save time, enhance the durability of the finished building and even result in cost savings. Lee asked if the City Council could tour Potter’s Lane and its repurposed shipping container units. American Family Housing agreed to this idea.

The City Council also voted unanimously to appropriate $10,000 from the Arts in Public Places fund to restore three historic Alhambra signs located near city limits at West Main Street, West Valley Boulevard and East Main Street. The signs were put in the 1930s or 1940s and were designed in the Art Deco Streamline Moderne style, according to Michael Lawrence, a member of the Arts and Cultural Events Committee, which recommends how the Arts in Public Places fund should be spent.

All three signs say “Alhambra” as drivers enter the city, and then “Come Again Soon” on the back for people driving outside of the city to see. The restoration would involve adding neon tubing to all of the signs so that they can all be lit up again when it’s dark. The back of the West Main Street sign would be repainted, since the “Come Again Soon” font doesn’t match the Streamline Moderne font used on the other two signs.

The City Council also continued until July 8 an appeal hearing concerning the denial of a permit by the Planning Commission to allow the construction of a three-story four-unit condominium building at 510 N. 3rd St. The hearing had already been continued two times before, with City Council members taking issue with the height of the building compared to the surrounding residences, which they fear would block sunlight and invade the privacy of the development’s neighbors.

Alhambra City Planner Scott Quyle presented on behalf of the project applicants, saying that additional landscaping and window treatments would address privacy concerns, and that a 16-foot driveway between the proposed buildings and the neighbors would minimize the shadow cast by the taller building on the other residences. The presentation also addressed Council’s concerns regarding architectural compatibility, with Quyle reiterating that the design had already been approved by the Design Review Board.

The City Council still had issues with the height and design, and asked the applicants to submit a redesign that would lower the height of the proposed building. If the City Council approved of the design, the project would go back to the Design Review Board. The City Council also asked that the applicants meet with the neighbors and try harder to address their concerns.

Alhambra’s Director of Finance Paul Espinoza also presented a draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2019. The draft budget predicts $65,209584 in general fund revenues and $76,583,866 in expenditures. With net transfers and cost allocations of a little over a $11 million, plus around $150,000 in debt service transfers, the general fund is looking at a $445,358 deficit for the next fiscal year. In his presentation, Espinoza said that due to reductions in state funding, the city of Alhambra might face service cuts over the next several years, unless “additional sources of locally-controlled funding are identified.”

Espinoza said that the city would prioritize keeping core services, like maintenance of streets and local parks, ensuring safe and clean neighborhoods, and rapid 911 response to emergencies. The city would also identify “external threats” to keeping tax dollars local from L.A. County, the state and the federal government.

The City Council had no questions or comment on the projected budget deficit. The Council will vote on the budget on June 10.

Chinese translation by Michelle Pan and Leah Chang.

为了解决加州经济适用房的危机,Alhambra准备开发一个拥有40个新单元的公寓楼,此开发项目将为低收入租户提供保障性住房和廉租公寓。

市议会于周二全票通过,要求市政府工作人员全面落实Alhambra社区发展主管Marc Castagnola提出的经济适用房项目。本市将与美国家庭住房公司(American Family Housing)合作开发。该公司是一家经营了25年的非营利性经济适用住房开发商。

拟议的项目将位于Alhambra的商务区中间,占地18,399平方英尺/0.42英亩,位于Main街以南的AT&T大楼,在1街和2街之间。此项目将取代目前2街的停车场。

此项目暂命名为Mariposa Housing。它将会有五层高,底层为专用于停车场,上面四层是公寓。公寓。其中28间公寓将会是一房一浴,而其他12间公寓将是两房两浴。在一楼设有40个停车位,一半为租户准备,一半为公共停车位。此项目距离大多数 downtown Alhambra设施仅有几步之遥,走路就能到了。

Castagnola说道:“为了这一刻,我们已经等待了很长时间了。”他补充到:“本市一直以来都希望能与开发商合作,用Alhambra之前的重建机构剩余的资金来打造一个经济适用房项目。“

Alhambra现在拥有大约440间经济适用房,其中许多是为老年人预留的。这些适用房是在Alhambra拥有一个重建机构时期建造的。该机构可以征用土地和支付建设成本。

重建机构于2012年解散后,Alhambra不得不出售多余的土地。这也因此导致政府很难找到一片足够大土地来进行经济适用房的开发,同时也很难找到一个足够专业的开发商。

因过于昂贵的住房成本,如何找到能负担得起的房子在许多Alhambra居民心中一直是一个大难题。就在上周四,超过125人参加了由亚美促进中心 – 洛杉矶分会(Asian American Advancing Justice)组织的的住房论坛。此论坛是由Alhambra草根阶级会(Grassroots Alhambra)和阿罕布拉新闻(Alhambra Source)联合赞助的。在会上大家讨论了他们遇到的各种住房难题,包括在租金上涨以及高房价带来的压力。。

Castagnola向市议会提交了两份该项目的融资方案。在第一种情况下,一半的单元将成为拥有第8部分代金券(联邦租金补贴)的租户的永久保障性住房。这些租户的申请标准为家庭年收入必须低于21,930美金,也就是洛杉矶县一个四口之家的年收入中位数的30%。这些永久保障住房通常包括医疗保健、就业援助、独立生活技能培训等其他服务。另一半将租给低收入租户,他们的收入最多占该地区收入中位数的60%。

根据这一计划,此项目将有资格获得总额超过800万美元的州和县补贴。到时候给Alhambra的补贴将达到575万美元。在第二种情况下,如果此项目不符合州和县的补贴资格,该城市将承担近1670万美元的费用。Castagnola表示,考量到Alhambra市的预算,两种方法混合来建造更为可行的,并且也能达到两者之间很好的平衡。

在这两种情况,总成本都约为2500万美元。可如果这些单位全部租给低收入家庭,本市将承担更多的成本。市议会一致公开投票指示工作人员继续设计该项目为一半保障性住房和一半低收入住房。

开发商首席执行官Milo Peinemann表示,American Family Housing将通过在开发部分现场浇筑混凝土来加快施工时间,可同时也会在场外使用回收的集装箱或预制房屋单元来建造公寓。American Family Housing曾经也使用过集装箱来建造Potter’s Lane,一个为无家可归退伍军人建造的16单元房屋开发项目(位于橙县)。

American Family Housing还在South Gate, Long Beach, 和Pomona,建造过经济适用房项目。除此之外他们很快也会在洛杉矶南部开始建设项目。

三名公众对该演讲进行了评论,表示赞扬这一想法,可同时也说道他们为本市没有做足公共宣传而感到担忧,因为这将给本市带来风险。他们表示说那些不了解保障性住房和低收入住房复杂性的人群可能会反对此发展项目。更让他们感到担忧的是,这个项目将是对经济适用房的一次性投资,而不是解决Alhambra住房危机的长期计划。

Castagnola告诉Alhambra Source,金融谈判尚未开始,但本市将希望能在以后缩小成本。

市议会成员对这一想法反应热烈,称这些住房单位可以帮助流浪者和以及那些急需经济适用房的Alhambra家庭。副市长Ross Maza和市议员Katherine Lee对该项目所使用的再生材料感到好奇,Peinemann说这可以节省时间,提高成品的耐久性,甚至可以节省成本。 Lee询问市议会是否可以参观Potter’s Lane及其再生集装箱单位。American Family Housing同意了这个想法。

市议会还一致公开投票决定从公共艺术基金中拨款10,000美元,以恢复位于West Main Street, West Valley Boulevard和East Main Street这些位于城市边界附近的三个历史悠久的Alhambra标志。根据艺术与文化活动委员会成员Michael Lawrence的说法,这些标志是在20世纪30年代或40年代设计的,并采用装饰艺术流线型现代风格设计,该委员会也会建议本市来如何花费这笔拨款。

当驾驶者进入本市时,三个标志都写着“Alhambra”,然后当驾驶者离开时后面的标志写道“Come Again Soon”。这次的修复工作将在所有标志上添加霓虹灯管,以便在天黑时也能点亮让各位驾驶者看到。由于在West Main Street的“Come Again Soon”字体与其他两个标志上使用的Streamline Moderne字体不同,所以在这次的修复工作中位于West Main Street标志的背面将会重新绘制。

市议会也说道了在7月8日进行听证会,关于计划委员会拒绝批准在510 北3街建造一栋三层四单元公寓大楼。在这之前已经连续进行了两次过关于此话题的听证会,市议会成员对此公寓与周边住宅的高度截然不同而提出质疑,他们担心这会阻挡阳光并侵犯到邻居的隐私。

Alhambra城市规划师Scott Quyle代表项目申请人表示,只要有额外的景观美化和窗户处理就能解决隐私问题。并建议在建筑物与邻居住所之间建一条16英尺的车道,这样可以最大限度地减少高层建筑物为周边住所投下的阴影。该演示文稿还讨论了理事会对架构兼容性的关注,Quyle重申该设计已经得到设计评审委员会的批准。

至此为止,市议会仍然觉得此建筑物的高度和设计存在着问题,并要求申请人提交一份新的设计方案,以降低拟议建筑物的高度。如果市议会批准了该设计,该项目将返回设计审查委员会。市议会还要求申请人与附近居民会面并更加努力地解决他们的问题。

Alhambra的财务总监Paul Espinoza也提交了下一个财政年度的预算草案,2019年7月1日开始。预算草案预计一般基金收入为65,209,584美元,支出为76,583,866美元。由于净转移和成本分配略高于1,100万美元,加上约150,000美元的还本付息转让,普通基金正在考虑下一财年的445,358美元赤字。Espinoza在演讲中表示,由于国家资金减少,Alhambra市可能在未来几年内面临服务削减,除非其他的城市控制资金能被确定下来。

Espinoza表示,本市将优先保持核心服务,如街道和当地公园的维护,确保一个安全和整洁的社区,以及911的快速应急服务。该市还将识别“外部威胁”,以保持洛杉矶县,州和联邦政府的税收。

市议会对预计的预算赤字没有任何问题或评论。理事会将于6月10日对预算进行表决。

翻译:Michelle Pan , Leah Chang

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1 thought on “A New Affordable Housing Development May Be Coming to Alhambra”

  1. This affordable housing project will benefit many community members. It is important that city hall do its part to educate residents on the need for such housing in the city as well as get out in front of potential fearmongering by those who will try to kill this project because of classist/racist tendencies and misinformation about about the type of people who will live in these housing units. Such fearmongering has no place in our community.

    Alhambra is a majority-minority city and most of its residents fall within the low-mod income bracket. They are good people and desperately need options other than luxury housing units. Those who would speak ill of this affordable housing project do a severe injustice to the community and the many good people who deserve a roof over their head and a modicum of dignity and security in their lives.