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City Council Supports Affordable Housing in Downtown Alhambra

Community members said they did not want to lose the parking spots at the current location. The project will replace them, adding two stories to the project. Via City of Alhambra Zoom presentation.


Alhambra , CA

Alhambra City Council unanimously approved construction this week of the Mariposa Housing project, a joint venture between American Family Housing and National Community Renaissance, to provide long-term housing and management for the city’s vulnerable and at-risk populations.

The housing site is between First and Second streets, south of Main Street on a public parking lot. Originally proposed to be five stories, feedback from the community to replace the parking now makes the project seven stories.

Residents will be chosen based on their income-level and household size in a selection process that has not been worked out but must be approved by the City Council. One on-site manager’s unit will be reserved, and 30 units will be one-bedroom and 19 units will be two-bedroom.

The units will be divided equally among very-low- and low-income housing.

The project will cost nearly $28 million; the city’s contributions are less than $6 million. It is scheduled for occupancy in July 2023.

American Family Housing is a nonprofit based in Midway, Calif., with projects in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. National Community Renaissance, also known as National CORE, provides long term management, maintenance and social services for more than 27,000 residents in 10,000 affordable, senior living and assisted living units at facilities in California, Florida and Texas.

During the discussion, Mayor David Mejia said each part of the city has to help contribute to building affordable housing, referring to Council member Katherine Lee’s comment at a previous meeting that the area on Main Street is a more affluent area and therefore not be a good place for lower-income residents. “It has to be a community effort,” Mejia said.

Council member Ross Maza asked if American Family Housing would consider keeping the building affordable in perpetuity, instead of the 55 years required by state law.

American Family Housing chief executive Milo Peinemann said, “I think we have no objections whatsoever, it’s very much our shared purpose.”

Public comment encouraged council to approve the project and was supportive of affordable housing.

At the same meeting, the City Council resumed discussion of Lee’s call for a moratorium on all buildings above 25 feet on East Main Street.

After nearly two hours of public comment, Lee said it was her “desire to have a win-win situation,” but that her heart is telling her to “be a voice for the residents” and urged to the council to adopt the ordinance. The East Main Street corridor is already getting its own focus in the city’s current rezoning efforts.

The business community and affordable housing proponents are against this moratorium. Local homeowners wanting to preserve their current neighborhood – many from Vega Street and Lindaraxa Park – and those who want to develop a cohesive “old town” support it.

“We’re two sides fighting now, and it’s like one side now is asking for room on the higher side of the deck of a sinking ship,” said Eric Sunada, an affordable housing advocate, also referring to Lee’s comment about affordable housing on Main Street.

Lee denied making any statement that affordable housing does not belong on East Main last month. In that meeting, asking why East Main Street was in the discussion around housing, she said, “That area is one of the most expensive areas, residential-wise. If we’re looking at affordable housing, it’s… rather contradicting.”

Council member Jeff Maloney suggested meetings with stakeholders in the community and take up the issue again at a future date. Maza and Mejia agreed, and Maloney volunteered to spearhead the efforts for outreach to the community.

In other business, the council requested proposals for another affordable housing project for a site on the north side of Main Street on Chapel Avenue.

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4 thoughts on “City Council Supports Affordable Housing in Downtown Alhambra”

  1. MKHS Graduate Class of 79

    Councilwoman Lee is representing what is in the best interests and desires of the majority of her constituents. As a By-District representative should.

    1. Council person Lee represents parochialism at its worst. Your world appears equally fantasized if you claim she speaks for the majority.

  2. Council member Lee’s words are a terrible throwback to localism that openly seeks to exclude. The protectionism she seeks for a select group is, in her own words, based on an “expensive area”. Such classist remarks, whether intentional or not, are also racially excluding and goes against all the best efforts for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing that is justifiably now required by state law.

    That her heart is telling her “to be a voice for the residents”…I’ll remind her that we are a majority renter, majority lower-income, and majority minority city that, while not as vocal in these meetings due to scarcity of time, deserve authentic engagement. Much more is needed than just the anecdote-seeking outreach and filtering she does to fit her agenda.

    Lee cites past, bad developments and their associated lack of public notification as reason for her proposed moratorium and its own blatant lack of public notification. As someone who has been very vocal against these developments of the past that have failed to serve our community, I know what it’s like to be on the losing end. And that will continue so long as elected power like Council Person Lee have their way. Because she’s not about changing the status quo, rather it’s more that the status quo hasn’t been working for her interests.

    This all perpetuates the race-to-the-bottom that has been destroying our city. The lack of vitality cited by both the business community and Lee’s “residents” are entirely dependent on people, walkability, and foot-traffic. How does a policy of exclusion help? Lee’s moratorium is a select group seeking a room on a higher deck of a sinking ship. And the first to go will be those barely hanging on.

  3. Great for the people bad for the other residence of Alhambra. I mean if citizens are worried about parking then they should also be worried about traffic. The City of Alhambra should start planning pockets of smaller business zones to distribute traffic evenly throughout the city. I’ll give an example. On the corner of North Marguerita st and Alhambra rd. Is a shut down market by the name of Fishers. It was truly one of the worst markets I’ve ever walked into. It has been empty for some time now. It has been tagged up by local wannabe thugs and the local residents use it as their private parking lot. The worst thing about it is the bright yellow color!
    A gentleman who restored the railroad museum building on Alhambra rd. And N Electric Ave to a mid-century modern office building was interested in restoring the yellow awful market to an office building which already has parking was denied as the zoning for commercial use expired and reverted to residential. The city doesn’t need more residential space it needs small pockets of stores and eateries throughout the city to help disperse traffic and to allow citizens to walk to local shops and eateries this lightening the business, residential and traffic congestion of Main Street. I for one can offer my many years of restaurant experience to help create a single story multi-use of office and cafe to bring jobs to the local community, a destination within walking distance to So many home owners and apartment renters in the area. I’d love to speak with a writer to speak about an experimental project for the city.