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FULLERTON : Low-Income Housing Project Voted Down

A proposed housing project for low-income people was rejected this week by the City Council.

Council members voted 3-1 to deny the project after dozens of residents objected to its proposed location.

Mayor A.B. (Buck) Catlin and council members Julie Sa and Don Bankhead sided with the residents. They said the proposed site was inappropriate for the project. Councilman Chris Norby was absent.

Councilwoman Molly McClanahan cast the dissenting vote. She called the project “worthy” and said it could have provided affordable housing for people who work in the city but cannot afford to live here.

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But residents said the proposed complex would alter their view and lower their property values.

“This is in my back yard,” Jane Caple told the council during a three-hour public hearing Tuesday. “Why can’t you put this somewhere else?”

The La Habra Neighborhood Housing Service, a nonprofit organization, had proposed building a 15-unit apartment complex on a lot on Harbor Boulevard that has not been developed because of landslides and other geological problems.

Surrounding the vacant lot is St. Jude Medical Center, Fullerton Municipal Golf Course, a convalescent home, business buildings and some homes.

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Glenn Hayes, executive director of the La Habra NHS, called the proposal a “quality project” that would not “negatively impact” neighbors.

Neighbors disagreed and while some said they did not oppose affordable housing, they insisted Harbor Boulevard was not the place for it.

Had the plan been approved, the developers would have received a $565,000 loan from the city to help build the complex. The building also would have been taken off the property tax rolls for up to 99 years--something some residents and Sa did not like.

Bankhead said he would have voted in favor of the project had it not required a zone change from office space to medium-density residential. “I hope we can find another site for it because it is a good project,” he said.

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Catlin suggested the city look for land it owns to swap with the proposed site’s landowner so the project could still be built.

“I see this as a land-use issue,” he said. “I think it’s a project in the wrong place and I think the solution to this problem is to exchange (land) and keep (the vacant property) as open space.”


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