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TimesOC: Single-family homes are outdated nostalgia, housing advocate says

"Sign up for our TimesOC newsletter" and the L.A. Times logo over the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset.
TimesOC, a newsletter about Orange County, is published Wednesdays and Fridays.
(Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 26. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you today’s TimesOC newsletter with the latest roundup of news and events.

The state mandates that all California cities, towns and counties meet new planning goals every eight years to allow for an adequate number of residential units to meet future demands. In recent months, municipalities up and down the state have been wrestling with the recent high housing goals they’ve been given.

Some elected officials charged with meeting the planning challenge known as the Housing Element and Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) — as well as some residents — say the state’s push for more and more housing, which is coming at a time when California’s population is reported to be declining, is unreasonable and will change the character of their respective communities.

It was the Southern California Assn. of Governments that in 2020 was given the responsibility of distributing more than 1.34 million units of housing among six SoCal counties under the RHNA mandate. The association calculated that O.C. should zone for about 183,000 new units. That number was then broken out for cities within the county, all of which have been grappling with deciding where, exactly, they are going to zone for more units.

Our colleague Hannah Fry took a closer look at well-heeled communities in Orange County where single-family homes enjoy individual lots, by the longstanding tradition of R-1 zoning. Fry’s report shines a light on the points of view held by both sides of the housing question.

Newport Beach Councilwoman Diane Dixon said to Fry, “Who wants to live in a congested urban environment? That’s why people move to Orange County in the first place.” Dixon’s city has been told it has to find space for upwards of 4,800 new homes.

One of Dixon’s counterparts in Yorba Linda, Councilwoman Peggy Huang, share’s Dixon’s point of view, telling the reporter, “I just think it’s important for people to understand that one size fits all doesn’t work, and that’s the very policy Sacramento is pushing on us.”

Fry also spoke to Elizabeth Hansburg, executive director of People for Housing Orange County.

“There’s this idea that Orange County is a cluster of suburban communities far away from the ills of the big city,” Hansburg said. “It has a nostalgia for low-density suburban development, where everyone has their single-family home, but we don’t have that kind of space anymore. We have to build higher-density housing and in a way that really violates Orange County’s sense of self.”

It’s a complex issue, to be sure, especially when housing prices have been skyrocketing. An economics professor at UC Irvine told Fry that as more housing stock becomes available, the law of supply and demand will come into play and that will “help ease upward pressure on prices.”

We shall see how it all plays out over the coming years.

 Yorba Linda resident Dee Dee Friedrich with Wyatt at their backyard stable.
Yorba Linda resident Dee Dee Friedrich with Wyatt at their backyard stable.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

MORE NEWS

— A murder trial is scheduled to begin tomorrow for a man suspected of fatally injuring a 12-year-old boy in an alleged DUI collision in December 2020. The youngster, Noel Bascon, had been riding his bicycle near Costa Mesa’s Tewinkle Park with his father and was in a crosswalk when he was struck. The driver of the vehicle who allegedly hit him faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life if convicted.

— Countywide COVID-19 hospitalizations saw a decrease for the second consecutive day on Friday, a possible indication the Omicron variant-fueled surge may be slowing, according to data released by the Orange County Health Care Agency. The number of hospitalized patients also fell, from 1,183 Thursday to 1,144 Friday, while the number of patients in intensive care declined from 199 to 188.

— A legal dispute between the city of Costa Mesa and retired Police Chief Rob Sharpnack over his 2019 departure from the position has ended, after city officials agreed to pay $585,000 just days ahead of a scheduled jury trial.

LIFE & LEISURE

— Hundreds of ballet hopefuls turned out at Huntington Beach High School to compete in the semifinals for the Youth America Grand Prix, the largest nonprofit international student ballet competition and scholarship program for students aged 9 to 19.

Young ballet dancers warm up before auditions for the semifinal competition for Youth America Grand Prix.
Young ballet dancers warm up before auditions for the semifinal competition for Youth America Grand Prix, the world’s largest nonprofit international student ballet competition and scholarship program at the Performance Arts Center at Huntington Beach High School.
(James Carbone)

SPORTS

— Led by Troy Terry and Ryan Getzlaf, the Anaheim Ducks, currently third in the NHL’s Pacific Division, captured a 5-3 win over the Boston Bruins in an away game Monday night.

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) is congratulated after his goal against the Boston Bruins.
Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) is congratulated after his goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Monday in Boston.
(Charles Krupa / Associated Press)

— Final arrangements are being made for the anticipated return of the Hoag Classic at Newport Beach Country Club over the first week in March, with championship tournament play set for March 6 through 8. The Daily Pilot’s society columnist B.W. Cook reports the 2022 tournament will return with a record $2-million purse on the PGA Tour Champions schedule. Ernie Els will headline the event.

Jeff Purser and Duffy Waldorf at 2020 Hoag Classic held at Newport Beach Country Club.
(Courtesy of Hoag Classic)

STAY IN TOUCH

If you have a memory or story about Orange County, we would love to read it (please keep your submission to 100 words or less).

We want your help in making this the best newsletter it can be. Send your memory of life in O.C., news tips or comments to carol.cormaci@latimes.com or benjamin.brazil@latimes.com.