First published in the November 18 print issue of Outlook VallÃ©e Soleil.
The controversial proposal for a three-story mixed-use structure at 600 Foothill Blvd. eventually came before the La CaÃ±ada Flintridge city council and the panel’s position agreed with the majority of stakeholders present for Tuesday’s in-person meeting: the project does not fall within the municipal zoning code.
After nearly four hours of presentations, deliberations and statements from city staff and dozens of community members, council ultimately rejected resolutions that would have changed the city’s specific downtown plan and zoning. needed for the proposed project – which included 47 senior housing units, 12 hotel units, underground parking and 7,600 square feet for office use – to move forward.
Council members Terry Walker, Keith Eich, Rick Gunter and Mike Davitt expressed the wish to have a senior citizens’ residence in La CaÃ±ada Flintridge, but agreed that this should be done according to the conditions and development standards of the city. Councilor Jonathan Curtis has withdrawn from the discussion and decision on the proposal due to his financial interest in the project.
“The city council has had no input on the development standards for this proposed area, which would have implications beyond this particular development and could have significant impacts on our community,” said Mayor Walker, who served on the LCF Planning Commission for three years before joining City Council.
“Yes [zoning] changes are needed, we have to make changes but we have to go through the process, taking into account what is good for the city as a whole and not just for a project.
Gunter echoed Walker and added that he is open to having a document that encourages more development while keeping the original vision of the city leaders who helped create the DVSP.
However, modifying the general plan of the city takes time and the council did not want to rush the process, especially for a development.
âThere is no doubt that our community must adapt to change. Changes are coming and they are and always are, âDavitt said. âLook at what our city looked like 30 years ago and what it looks like today. â¦ We need to welcome this and encourage them, but as the change happens, it does not replace poor planning. We have to live with the planning.
Mayor Pro Tem Eich praised the candidates – LCF residents Alexandra Hack and Garret Weyand of 600 Foothill Owner LP – for their community outreach and development planning work, but said the “bigger issues” are “not” not specific to this project âbut with the process.
âThis project may or may not be a mistake, but I think approving it tonight is probably a mistake,â Eich said. âI don’t think we’ve had enough public talk about this. … I have the impression that we are creating [mixed-use 3 zone for the development], which would be a mistake that would haunt us for a while.
The 1.29 acre parcel – the former site of the Christian Science Church – was purchased by 600 Foothill Owner LP for $ 4.2 million two years ago after the CFL Planning Commission rejected a previous plan for a 72-bed Oakmont Senior Living facility. The same concerns of residents at the time – traffic and other impacts – were raised with the commission when the project was discussed over the summer. The planning committee finally agreed to recommend the project and the zoning changes to city council in September.
City staff also recommended the project, primarily because it would help La CaÃ±ada host the state-commissioned regional housing needs assessment, which forecasts the number of new housing needed across California and indicates to cities how much it should be prepared to provide. LCF is expected to show that it can allow the construction of 612 residential units, although that does not necessarily mean they would be built.
Pat Anderson, president and CEO of the CFL Chamber of Commerce, also supported the project and asked the board to make changes while they can.
âThe state continues to use local control and each year the mandates are getting tougher and the number of homes is higher,â Anderson said. “Let’s do it on our terms, not the state’s.”
Gunter, who previously sat on the town planning commission, said the city will meet its RHNA obligation, with or without the project.
âEvery time we’re very careful and very thorough, and we meet our RHNA numbers every time,â he said. “And the proposed housing element will do it again and with it embraces some ideas around DVSP.”
Gunter believes there is room for a project like the one proposed, but feels he is “trying to do too much” by providing senior housing, hotel units and offices.
The board denied the request without prejudice, meaning developers can submit new requests with reduced fees over the next year.
âI hope there is still a development opportunity there, but it needs to be scaled to a different level and it needs to meet our current plans that we have on the books – not a new plan. created and then incorporated into that, âDavitt mentioned.