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Planning Commission Votes to Recommend Rejection of The Villages Project

Graphic from The Ratkovich Company's presentation at the Nov. 2 meeting.

Location

Alhambra , CA

Alhambra’s Planning Commission voted this week to recommend that City Council reject the proposed housing project The Villages at The Alhambra.

Although the commission does not have the power itself to deny this particular development, it can recommend such action to the City Council. The project will ultimately go on to the council for any negotiated changes in it and for final approval or denial.

Based on the commission vote Monday, the city’s planning staff will bring a formal resolution to recommend the denial to the commission at its next meeting Nov. 16.

The Ratkovich Company, the project developer, said in a statement that it was “disappointed that the Alhambra Planning Commission chose not to listen the hundreds of residents and organizations that urged the city to approve The Villages at The Alhambra,” especially after it reduced the number of units overall and increased the number of affordable units.

”We look forward to the Alhambra City Council’s deliberation on the project,” the company said, “and we encourage them to consider the enormous challenges the city faces.” Alhambra needs 6,810 new housing units by 2029 or risk loss of state funds, the company said.

“We look forward to bringing this project to the Alhambra City Council for their final consideration and are hopeful that the City Council will make the right choice for the City and approve the project.”

The Villages is a proposed apartment development on the northeast corner of Mission Road and Fremont Avenue, adding housing to The Alhambra office complex to make the 38-acres a multi-use complex.

After commission members indicated at a previous meeting they wanted significant modifications to the original proposal, The Ratkovich Company returned with a compromise.

The number of units in The Villages was reduced from 1,061 to 839. The 222 units would be removed from the original 516 condominiums, leaving 294 units, and the rentals would remain at 545 units.

The number of affordable housing units for moderate-income families was increased from 5 percent of the total to 10 percent – from 55 to 84 units, all among the rental units.

Additional open space, taken from the lot where condominiums were previously planned, would create a community park of roughly half an acre.

Commission member Noya Wang made the motion to recommend denial. All commissioners except Lucy Bañuelos, Suzi Dunkel-Soto and Barbara Messina voted against the project.

The Monday night vote culminated months of deliberations and hours of public comment. Since July, the project has been on eight of the commission’s agendas, some of which were entirely public input.

The meeting ended with significant acrimony between council members. Debra Moreno-Garcia read a statement accusing Danny Tang of breaching Alhambra’s code of ethics several times, prompted by his post on social media. Other commission members offered their own opinions on the topic.

The situation devolved into a shouting match that was calmed when Eric Garcia asked members to consider how they can move forward for the betterment of the commission because it “harms the commission when we’re bickering.”

 

This article was updated on Nov. 5 to reflect Suzi Dunkel-Soto’s vote.

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2 thoughts on “Planning Commission Votes to Recommend Rejection of The Villages Project”

  1. That ‘park’ that would be created is in a place where NO residents of local communities would ever find – it’s in the middle of industrial land. What about purchasing some of the big empty lot of land across the street from Fremont and putting a park THERE for existing residents in the neighboring community to access.

  2. Hundreds of “residents” that support it??? Seriously? In the form comments that the developer collected from their website intake form, and were read aloud to the Planning Commission, many just one sentence, “Dear Paul Lam”, it didn’t state those ‘residents’ actually lived in Alhambra. Whereas to date, over 490 Alhambra residents (and 50 outside of Alhambra) signed a petition against The Villages. Glad the Planning Commission listened to the overwhelming majority: https://emerypark.wordpress.com/petition-to-temporarily-halt-large-scale-developments-until/