Claremont Insider: Affordable Housing Redux

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Affordable Housing Redux

If you were wondering why the 3.2 acre affordable housing project at 111 S. College Ave. got a last minute makeover Friday, getting an increase of 10 senior housing units and a reduction of nine family units, today's Daily Bulletin had some answers.

According to the article and Claremont Courier reporter Tony Krickl's blog, there has been significant opposition to the original proposal, which was weighted more heavily towards the higher density family units.

The lower density proposal that was approved by the council on a 5-0 Friday evening was an effort at compromise - something we haven't always seen in Claremont, and the idea was pushed by Councilmember Sam Pedroza of all people. This had to be a hard one for Pedroza to push. Many of his supporters, after all, have been proponents of getting as many family units in as possible.

So, the vote had to be a disappointment to some of Sam's people. On the other hand, it is encouraging to see him reaching for a compromise solution. It doesn't necessarily make the residents opposed to the project happy, but then that's what compromise is supposed to do: take a little and give a little from both sides.

The Bulletin article said:

"There's an opportunity to get everything in a compromised way," said councilman Sam Pedroza who lives in south Claremont and made the motion to vote for option two.

Despite Pedroza's commments, residents were not entirely pleased with the compromise.

After the meeting neighborhood residents Bill Mussatto, who in spoke favor of the project, and Mike Skapik, who spoke against, politely disagreed with each other.

At community meetings May 21 and 28, the majority of the people who spoke opposed the number of low-income families planned in the project, which also includes senior housing.

Area resident and property owner Gina Lujan said, "When you have low-low income, you have certain issues that come with it. I came from low-low income, in a poverty stricken family. Coming from that, I worked hard to get out of that. I don't want to go back to that."

We also saw this from Claremont Housing and Redevelopment Manager Brian Desatnik in the article:
Desatnik said because affordable housing was required by the state. By failing to push through an affordable housing project, the city could be sued by the state.

Frankly, we're getting a little tired of this lawsuit threat. It's really nothing more than a scare tactic. The state isn't going to be suing Claremont or anyone else over what amounts to an unfunded mandate on affordable housing, especially with most cities, including Claremont, facing large budget deficits because the state has taken money owed local governments in order to fix its own budgetary mismanagement.

There are good, legitimate reasons to argue for affordable housing, But the state lawsuit threat is not one. It's untrue, and Desatnik knows this.