A meeting to discuss a planned housing complex of 246 units proposed for a 12.3-acre tract along Lampson Ave. filled Los Al City Hall on Thursday as city officials and developers’ representatives took questions from citizens, most of whom live across the street from the proposed complex.
With large over-printed renderings lining both sides of the Council’s meeting room, Associate Planner Tom Oliver told the local citizens that the city had sent out a notice of preparation for the meeting seeking comments on the environmental impact report.
“And so, what this meeting is about tonight is to give you residents a chance to voice your opinions on what environmental things should be studied for this project,” said Oliver.
Oliver introduced city staff so residents could approach them later with questions, then he also introduced consultants Les Johnson, Director of Planning for T&B Planning, and Nicole Morse, a Principal and environmental consultant for T&B Planning.
The initial meeting is part of the process required to fulfill the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. Oliver said larger projects like the one proposed for Lampson required a different process.
Johnson is a former Los Alamitos city manager who left government service to enter a planning business in the private sector. So as residents came with their many questions, Johnson was familiar with the city’s infrastructure.
Morse is an environmental development expert with TB Planning.
“The reason we’re here tonight is,” said Morse, “we wanted to hear from you on what your environmental concerns might be.”
She said the environmental concerns expressed by residents will be addressed and then those comments “will be incorporated into our environmental analysis.”
Even so, residents were told they would have many additional opportunities to comment before the Council considers a final decision on the project.
Morse explained the entire scope of the project, saying developers plan to demolish the old federal building and, in its place, construct 55 units of single-family courtyard homes, 114 townhomes, and 77 affordable multi-family apartment-style homes.
In addition, she said the complex would have 557 available parking spaces and about 21,000 square feet of open space. Access will be at two points along Lampson Ave., she said. Some of the units will have private yards equal to 41,000 square feet and there will be another 80,000 square feet of planting within the common areas.
She explained the process of developing an environmental impact assessment and the role local citizens can play in the process.
A large majority of the concerned residents attending the meeting were apparently from the College Park East area of Seal Beach, which is situated directly across Lampson Ave. from the new project.
Residents, who were not asked to identify themselves during the questioning, asked questions about notifications, saying they did not think they were notified early enough and even though the law only requires notification of residents within 500 feet of the project, they said more should have been notified.
“That’s just not reasonable or fair,” said one woman who was not identified.
The residents questioned everything from increased traffic, school impacts, sidewalks, access roads and other infrastructure and environmental concerns.
Most, however, expressed concern about the 77 units being built as “affordable homes.”
“What is affordable,” one person asked.
Johnson told residents that affordability or voucher housing is based on income levels and the cost of living.
“And there are different levels of affordability, it’s based on state requirements,” he said. There are four categories, he explained, “above moderate, moderate, low and very low,” said Johnson.
One lady asked Johnson, “how many of these are possibly totally funded by the government; these people living on government subsidies?”
“I wouldn’t have the answer to that,” said Johnson. But he did say the formula that will be used should include both state and federal formulas. “It’s a number of different factors,” he said.
Under the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment requirement, most municipalities have to consider affordable housing as part of the mix when constructing new units, said Oliver.
Johnson said developers are inviting the public to an open house event Nov. 16, to be held at the Ayres Hotel near Lampson and Seal Beach Boulevard. At that meeting, questions, including about the detailed formulas, and other questions, will all be answered at the event called especially for that purpose, said Johnson.
“We want to make sure that everyone who wants to understand this project has an opportunity to do so,” said Johnson.
The open community meeting will be held Nov. 16, from 5 – 8 p.m., he said at the Ayres Hotel, 12850 Seal Beach Blvd. For additional information, he said he could be reached at email@example.com or call (760) 275-2487.
Seal Beach Council member Schelly Sustarsic, a resident of College Park East, attended the hearing and asked residents to make sure to submit their concerns and comments to Los Al officials before Nov 2.
For more info or to submit comments, residents can write to Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.