LocationAlhambra , 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.
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。
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。
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。。
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。
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。
翻译：Michelle Pan , Leah Chang