Poway continues process to ID affordable housing sites
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Poway City Council members have encouraged city staff to move forward with state-mandated affordable housing requirements as quickly as possible in order to maximize benefits.
On Tuesday night, the council participated in a housing element workshop, part of a multi-stage process required by the state that is to be completed by April 30, 2013. While there is a short grace period if the deadline is not met, the consequences could include repeating the process four years from now instead of eight, according to City Attorney Morgan Foley.
“I’m tickled to death that there are eight years in this cycle rather than five (as before),” said Mayor Don Higginson.
City Planner Rich Whipple explained the process is similar to one conducted for the 2005-2010 cycle and nine parcels identified then are being carried into the 2013-2020 cycle. In this round, city staff identified 18 additional parcels, bringing the total that could potentially be developed into very low-, low- and moderate- income housing areas to 27.
“Seventeen of the 27 are split among seven private property owners,” Whipple said, adding city staff have met with them to discuss development options.
As several council members pointed out, however, not much can be done to actually develop the sites into affordable housing areas without the redevelopment money that the state took away from cities statewide.
The state mandate includes identifying areas for those with special housing needs, including the homeless, those needing emergency shelter and those transitioning into permanent housing, Whipple explained.
Resident Agnes Wood McNeill asked the council members to keep in mind those with special needs, including military members who have returned from the war zone with severe injuries that include missing limbs.
Wood McNeill also mentioned those who due to the economy have lost their homes and without affordable housing will have to leave Poway, and those who are in low-income jobs at businesses and residences within the community.
She emphasized that the identified parcels need to be in “a safe place … with cleaner air than Brookview Village,” claiming the senior-oriented neighborhood is designed to be within walking distance of amenities but residents are breathing pollution due to high traffic, restaurants, dry cleaners and gas stations in the vicinity.
“Make sure they are good places,” Wood McNeill said, adding, “People in south Poway want (affordable) housing in north Poway too.”
“I am pleased with (progress on) this very difficult task because we are so built out,” Councilwoman Merrilee Boyack said. “I believe the properties chosen are appropriate.”
Councilman Dave Grosch said because of the high-quality design that has gone into previously developed affordable housing sites in Poway, more than just homes for residents have developed.
“The facilities are good and help the folks, their kids with their schooling and the adults taking care of their finances,” he said. “It’s a way of life.”
Among parcels identified by city staff are:
• The Park and Ride at Community and Twin Peaks roads that is owned by the city.
• Two sites at Espola and Twin Peaks road, one owned by the Poway Housing Authority and another privately held and currently used as a soccer park.
• A two-acre site at Monte Vista owned by the PHA.
• Eight sites designated mixed use in the South/Town Center Planning Area, which include the bowling alley, recreational vehicle storage and car rental business.
• Four mixed use sites in the North/Town Center Planning Area, three of which are privately owned and include a wood lot and equipment rental business.
• Ten in the Oak Knoll Road area.
• A privately owned site at Midland and Hilleary.
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