Monday, December 30, 2013


I decided to play the anti-NIMBY in my neighborhood. After reading a draft of the Housing Element of the General Plan for La Habra I went ahead and sent this email to the director of housing development:

I am a new home owner in one of the developments which have recently been constructed in La Habra. Recently I read through the housing element document on the website. There was much I agreed with, such as allowing mixed use developments. There are a few aspects I strongly disagree with though. Is there still time to influence the final document?
In particular I couldn't agree less with the following:

"There is a height limit of 2.5 stories or 35 feet on all multi‐family zones, which allows for a partial subterranean parking garage with two residential stories above. This restriction is in place due to La Habra residents’ expressed preference for preserving the low ‐ rise appearance of their neighborhoods, and is consistent with policies of the General Plan"
La Habra should aspire to be more like Pasadena or Paris and less like San Bernardino or Fresno. Taller buildings should be courted, not pushed out. This is particularly true on La Habra boulevard where there is a both a desperate need to tear down virtually every building to build new, and an opportunity to construct a decent downtown if enough developers can be attracted. The wild success of Avo and Brio should make condo builders interested if the city will just give them terms that make sense. The best way La Habra boulevard could proceed is to allow up to seven story mixed use buildings without any type of zoning violation. This would allow expensive enough developments to justify both the hassle of buying several small lots and the risk of building in what is not a very attractive neighborhood.
Also parking requirements for new construction should be relaxed, once again this is particularly on La Habra boulevard where new development is vital. La Habra boulevard is the most walkable part of La Habra so commercial space does not need as much parking as a great many customers simply walk from home. If parking requirements are not relaxed there is a real risk of turning it into the developments on beach and imperial where you can hardly go from one store to the next without getting in a car.

What options are still available to me to influence this document and the La Habra General Plan?

It really is true that the plan for [La Habra]( is a good example of stereotypical bad urban planning. All the height limits and parking requirements which have killed public transportation in America. Hopefully the obvious need for more development will help them be less anal.

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