Tuesday, January 13, 2015

City Ventures La Habra

I am continuing to keep pressure on the city of La Habra to increase housing supply. The letter I just sent was perhaps even more forceful than normal for me. This is a development by city ventures which would bring 110 homes to an area with many empty storefronts. This is exactly what the city needs. Unfortunately the city appears to be trying to reduce the size of the development, so I countered with this letter:

                The City Ventures development is exactly the sort of project La Habra needs so that it can finally create a decent downtown.  The city has been unable to do so in the past because it has not been willing to take the bold action necessary to improve the area. This project represents a chance to finally bring enough middle class people within walking distance of the downtown area to bring dead storefronts back to life. To seize this opportunity all the suggested alternatives should be rejected in favor of Project Site Option 1.
                Alternative 1, no project, has serious long term consequences for the city. Every year in La Habra there are roughly 300 more births than deaths. Despite this population growth, the city has failed to keep home construction at the rate required to keep residents supplied with quality housing. From 2000 to 2012 the city averaged less than thirty new homes a year, less than a fifth of what is needed. The result has been thousands of people either forced to live with family members/room-mates or being entirely forced out of the city. Beyond mitigating the housing shortage, this project promises to bring many jobs to the city. These jobs come both from construction work and the more permanent jobs which will be created by turning La Habra Boulevard into a decent downtown.
                Alternative 2, reducing the size of the project by not developing the church site, and Project Site Option 2, the smaller site, have the same problems as Alternative 1 just on a smaller scale. These designs will create fewer jobs, force up to 63 families to live in poorer housing, and reduce tax revenue for the city. All this damage will be done to help a tiny number of neighbors who would only be modestly impacted if Option 1 were chosen. These homes will be some of the nicest in the city and the city will only benefit from them, there is no good justification to scale this project back.
                Alternative 3 hurts the long term goal of making La Habra Boulevard into a decent downtown. As much as possible a grid orientation should be followed in this development. The cul-de-sac model has been a failed experiment which results in cities where people are cut off from their community. A downtown housing development should be as open as possible to encourage the area to be walkable.  
                Alternative 4 has been rightly rejected by the city. La Habra needs to step up and develop its downtown, not make excuses to maintain the status quo.
                Instead of paying attention to the usual complaining from neighbors who will face minor inconveniences; I hope you take time to think of the individuals who will live in these homes. Because of the severe housing shortage there are 110 families who will be unable to get a home if Alternative 1 is chosen, 63 families who will be unable to get a home if Project Site Option2 is chosen and 39 families who will be unable to get a new home should Alternative 2 be chosen. These people are far more important than those who fight this development. It is for these people that you should choose Project Site Option 1.

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