Claremont Insider: Affordable Housing Moves Forward

Friday, July 24, 2009

Affordable Housing Moves Forward

The College Ave. affordable housing project cleared another hurdle Wednesday night when the Claremont Architectural Commission gave its conditional approval on a 4-2 vote.

Wes Woods explained the vote in a Daily Bulletin article:

The commission - which approved the project by a 4 to 2 vote but requiring that several conditions still had to be met, including details on the project's color, windows, soundwall, carport, roofing and other details.

The Claremont Redevelopment Agency and the Jamboree Housing Corp. - the project's applicants - told the commission they may appeal the conditions.

"In the next day or so, we'll evaluate and see if we want to come back here, but we need to consult with other people," said Brian Desatnik, housing and redevelopment manager.

You can see why the Architectural Commission would want to impose their conditions. The lack of important architectural details would seem to make it difficult for the commission to do its job. But, the City and Mr. Desatnik have a lot of pressure on them from the League of Women Voters and others to get to project done. So, details or no, on we go.

If you haven't reviewed them, the Insider has posted the project plans here.

Woods' article said a number of residents spoke out against the project, citing things like cost and child safety (we're not sure if this refers to concerns about kids having to deal with traffic or the nearby Metrolink or some other issue). Another resident complained about the lack of an environmental impact report for the project.

The housing units are being built by Jamboree Housing Corp. and the Claremont Redevelopment Agency (whose board consists of Claremont's five councilmembers and whose executive director is City Manager Jeff Parker). Having already been approved by the Planning Commission, the matter moves onto the City Council, probably by next Tuesday, according to the Woods piece. You can see how this works - CRA project has to be approved by the City Council, which is the CRA.

Getting the project to the council by Tuesday is important because the council and city commissions go dark in August for their traditional summer break. If the College Ave. project doesn't get to the council next week, it'll have to wait until September. Also, getting it done in July means Desatnik and the city staff assigned to the project have all of August to work with less scrutiny than the rest of the year because people are preoccupied with vacations and recreation.

Claremont's other August tradition is to get hot button issues shaped and fully dressed by staff during the council break. Affordable housing is no different. You can expect Desatnik to be ready in September to rattle off answers to critics' questions with absolute confidence and certitude, no matter how substantive those responses may or may not be.