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Alhambra Council Asks Staff to Explore New Sites for Affordable Housing Development

Photo by David Muñoz.

Location

Alhambra , CA

Monday night’s Alhambra City Council meeting, the first of 2020, was a quick and efficient session with ceremonial flourishes as Mayor Ross Maza and the council congratulated the winners of the 2019 Holiday Home Decorating Contest and heard a presentation on coyote management efforts from a team at the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. 

One of the headlines of the evening came during Council Communications at the end of the session when Adele Andrade-Stadler spoke of concerns she had been hearing from constituents on the advisability of building an affordable housing complex with 40 units near the corner of Second St. and Main St. in what is now a city-owned parking lot.

While not expressly opposing use of this site, she said that it may not be suitable for such a development both in terms of  the size of the parcel, which is believed to be 0.42 acres, and from the viewpoint of  downtown businesses that might be adversely affected by the reduction of parking.

She asked her fellow council members for support in asking city staff to explore finding more suitable land sites for the development.

Mayor Maza said that he, too, had been hearing concerns about the proposed site and joined Andrade-Stadler in urging the city staff action. A third council member was needed to request such an action and Vice Mayor David Mejia added his support.   

It was not immediately clear how long this kind of inquiry by city staff would take or when it would return again to the council in open session.

During the regular agenda items Rafael Perez, the city’s code enforcement supervisor, joined two representatives of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments for a brief overview of regional coyote management services. This is in the wake of increased reports of increases human-coyote encounters, sightings mainly, in recent times. The Coyote Management Task Force has been instituted to create some best-practices guidelines for dealing with the Coyote problem. Participating cities include Alhambra, Arcadia, Azusa, Covina, Irwindale, Montebello, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino and Temple City.

Items on the council’s consent agenda took up much of the meeting including requests for proposals for uniform supply and cleaning services for various city departments including Parks & Recreation and Public Works, an ordinance restricting the overnight parking of recreational and oversize vehicles, and consideration of an ordinance amending sections of the city’s municipal code pertaining to the hours and rules and regulations for city-owned parking lots. 

In agenda item five, the purchase of two utility body trucks, Council Member Jeff Maloney asked if these vehicles would be burning clean fuel. City manager Jessica Binnquist responded that unfortunately the cost of such vehicles was prohibitive in this case and that these vehicles would be burning gasoline.

In public comment on the consent items, Carolyn Hill, an Alhambra resident, expressed her view that item 10, a request for proposal to provide pyrotechnic services for the Alhambra Fourth of July celebration be amended and that the city should move away from a fireworks displays, which she called relatively “passé” and instead engage in a display of drone flying, which she thought might engage the population in a new way.

Suzy Dunkel-Soto, the vice president of Alhambra’s Planning Commission, spoke on consent item 14 dealing with parking lot hours and rules, and encouraged renewed efforts to keep the city parking structures clean both where vehicles are located but also in the stairwells and elevators from floor to floor.

She thought that some of the parking facilities are bordering on eyesores and are bad for the city’s image with both residents and visitors. “We are better than that in Alhambra,” she said.

The consent agenda passed quickly on a 5-0 vote.

In council comment, all of the council members congratulated Michael Macias, the Director of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, for the excellent response the city’s float received, which carried the title “Hope Keeps Us Going”  in the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade. 

In other council comment, Andrade-Stadler also spoke of her concerns in her district that CalTrans is still crushing rock and building large mounds of rock on the extension of the I-710 that ends at Valley Blvd. She said that she has enlisted the help of State Sen. Susan Rubio and they are in touch with CalTrans officials about limiting the size of these rock piles.

During the ceremonial part of the evening, Mayor Maza presented commendations from the council to five families of residents for their holiday displays. They included the Ramos Family of 122 North El Molino Street; the Lopez Family at 1407 Milton Ave., the Hernandez Family at 1701 Lemon Street; and Mark Tu at 325 Orange Grove Ave. The other award winner, the Ngo Family at 1845 South Olive Ave. was unable to attend.

Monday’s public meeting lasted about an hour and the council members recessed to return to closed session to complete some unfinished business from the closed session that preceded the open council meeting.

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8 thoughts on “Alhambra Council Asks Staff to Explore New Sites for Affordable Housing Development”

  1. Parking spots more important than 40 lives? Really? Bad news for the 40 people who really need help and would have found a home here. Low income people not welcomed to live near our schools? Where was the Downtown Association, School Board and Chamber opposition when this went before council? Those in support stood up and made their views available for public debate. That is called democracy. Special interests lobbying behind closed doors is called corruption. The same backdoor politics that has corrupted our system for decades. Killing the project after all the groundwork was done , a contractor selected and unanimously approved is disgraceful. How can we trust our council votes in the future?

    1. Believe it or not – none of us had heard of this until it was posted on Alhambra Source!

      1. I highly doubt that Mr. Luthi. The Chamber has a governmental affairs committee and has people at every council meeting. The Chamber has effectively been an extension of city hall for decades., which many people think is wrong and undermines the democratic process. What is upsetting is that the people who value parking over lives never showed up to publically make their case, I suspect because they know they are wrong (parking is not more valuable than the lives of vulnerable families) and they did not want to be identified espousing a shallow and classist argument. So they did it outside of the public purview to the detriment of all the people who showed up and said “we value our people and community more than a handful of parking spots and NIMBYs.” Playing dumb when it is convenient only further fosters distrust in Alhambra’s government and rigged political system.

      2. I should also add that the Alhambra Source reproted about this potential affordable housing developemnt multiple times in the lead up to the city council’s initial vote to move the project forward. Selective reading and recall is not an excuse for attempting to undermine a depserately needed affordable housing development.

  2. This is good news! Alhambra does need affordable housing but it doesn’t make sense to eliminate a very busy city-owned parking lot adjacent to the civic center, Alhambra High School, and popular central business district. The lot also provides parking Sundays for vendors and customers of the Alhambra Farmers Market. There are other locations in Alhambra much more suitable for the affordable housing project.

    1. Good news? How do you figure that a parking lot is more important than our residents who can us the help? And how do you judge that the parking is going to be a problem? The project must provide 20 replacement spaces in addition to resident parking. And if you’re worried about losing customers over parking, the project provides over 100 who will actually live there to patronize your small businesses. Where’s your analysis to back up your complaint?

      1. I am not opposed to affordable housing in the City of Alhambra; in fact, I support it. Go back and read my original post.
        What I am concerned about is whether the city-owned parking lot in the midst of the central business district is the most sensible option for the development.
        The parking lot is currently posted for “business patron parking only”.
        If I counted correctly, there are 46 parking spaces on the parcel which would convert into the housing development. There are some additional spaces (handicapped, 24 minute parking, and business patron parking) on the north side of the alley which would appear not to be included in the development.
        The developers have stated construction would last one year (if everything stayed on schedule) during which time ALL of the parking would be unavailable.
        Once construction was completed, according to the developers, there would be 40 parking spaces (20 parking spaces for business patrons and 20 parking spaces for 100 plus residents and their guests). Frankly, I doubt business patrons will ever get to use those 20 spaces.
        When you take already scarce parking away in a business area it’s a real problem for the businesses (particularly small businesses independently owned), employees of the businesses, companies that deliver to the businesses, and the business patrons.
        The owner of a new restaurant in the area recently told me, “This is going to kill by business.” I think he’s right.

  3. This is very disappointing. The parcel of land slated for the affordable housing development on 2nd and Main is one of the last pieces of land the City can leverage for such a project. Alhambra desperately needs affordable housing. Claims that such housing should not be built near a school or downtown businesses stigmatize affordable housing developments and the people who live in them. Would the City Council be saying this if it was market-rate housing? Nearly all of Alhambra qualifies as Low-Mod Income according to HUD. These projects are not easy to build. Delaying it like this is a potential project killer. This is very unfortunate. I hope the City Council changes course on this for the sake of low-income families in Alhambra.

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