Orange : Council Rejects Proposal for 572-Unit Apartment Complex

A proposal to build a 572-unit apartment complex was rejected last week when the City Council voted against changing the zoning from commercial to high-density residential.

The Planning Commission had recommended the zone changes and approval of the complex. At least 25% of the apartments would have been "rented at rates affordable to households earning less than moderate income," according to the commission.

"Less than moderate income" is defined as 120% of the city's median income and includes families earning $45,000 annually.

With affordable rents written into official plans, state law grants a developer a "density bonus"--the opportunity to add more units than otherwise would be permitted, said Randy Mellinger, a planner for the city. With the density bonus, the project could have had up to 30 units per acre, Mellinger said.

The two- and three-story buildings would have been built on 19.5 acres on the northwest corner of Garden Grove Boulevard and The City Drive, near The City shopping center.

Mayor James Beam cast the lone vote for the project, citing the city's need for affordable housing. But the four council members voting against the project voiced concerns about the density, opposition from area residents and the project's distance from the Civic Center, where many essential services are based.

Neighborhood opposition to the plan also centered around density. Several duplexes adjacent the site have a density of six units per acre, while apartments to the west have 21 units per acre, Mellinger said.

Western National Properties, the developer, still could present a scaled-down version of the plan. An alternative, mixed-use plan suggested in the project's environmental impact report had been supported by the planning staff.

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