La Cañada's affordable housing options in question

More than 50 La Cañada Flintridge residents filled the Council Chambers on Tuesday night to oppose locations identified by the city for affordable housing, group homes and homeless shelters.

The residents claimed that such housing options would not fit into a community known for scenic views, good schools, and little-to-no crime. Others were worried that the changes would lower their high property values.


“It’s frightening to think of the neighborhood changing,” said resident Marilee Mitchell. “Right now, La Cañada is the best place in the world to live. We want to keep it safe.”

The city is preparing to rezone locations to allow for various types of housing to comply with a state law. The city is not required to construct affordable or transitional housing units, but it must allow developers the option to build such facilities in La Cañada. A study session on the issue was held Tuesday, prior to the Planning Commission meeting.


More than 300 people have signed an online petition to oppose one of the proposed locations, between Indiana and Union avenues on Curran Street and Foothill Boulevard.

The petition claims that the proposed area is too close to La Cañada Elementary, which is located about a quarter of a mile away.

William Lee, who is spearheading the petition, said that he is worried about the safety of children near a homeless shelter or transitional housing complex.

“We believe this is going to be a big impact on our lifestyle,” he told the Planning Commission.


Lee also claimed that the residents along Indiana Avenue, where he lives, were not properly notified about the proposed zoning changes.

Letters were mailed out to 1,300 affected property owners who live within 800 feet of the proposed locations 10 days prior to Tuesday’s meeting, said Director of Community Development Robert Stanley.

A few letters were returned due to a mailing error, said Stanley. Those letters were then hand-delivered to the affected residents.

Planning commissioners and city staff told residents that it was unlikely that developers would want to build a homeless shelter or low-income housing unit in the city, as property values in La Cañada are high.

However, they said, developers have made inquiries about building a senior housing facility in the city. Elderly residents who want to stay in the city but may need assistance or want to live in a smaller space would benefit from such a development, the commissioners said.

“We’re not in the business of building low-income housing,” said Commissioner Rick Gunter. “There are no plans whatsoever. We like the way it is now, but we have to respond to laws of California.”

Gunter said he would look into the limits of the law and find out if officials could set distance limits on proposed development areas when located near a school or other sensitive environment.

He also said he would suggest that staff revisit a proposed lot on Foothill Boulevard between

Ocean View

Boulevard and Rockland Place, an area proposed for mixed-use development.

City staff on Tuesday said that the public had many opportunities to comment on the city’s housing element.

A workshop on the city’s housing requirements was held in the Council Chambers on Oct. 30. Only two senior housing developers attended the workshop. No residents were present.

The City Council approved the city’s General Plan in March after six years of public meetings and discussion. The General Plan includes a section on allowing some areas of the city to be rezoned for various housing needs.

The Planning Commission decided to continue the housing discussion to the next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10. The City Council is expected to vote on the proposed housing changes in February 2014.


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.