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Height of Controversial Altadena Affordable Housing Project Could Be Reduced

Published on Monday, November 15, 2021 | 1:47 pm
 

According to LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, the developers of a controversial project in nearby Altadena recently indicated they are willing to make changes to a by-right affordable housing project.

Residents in Altadena have expressed concerns about the five-story affordable housing project at 2439-2445 Lincoln Ave., just north of the Pasadena border.

Because the project is a by-right project, it can override the majority of protocols set in place by Altadena’s Community Standards District (CSD), raising concerns that there are no controls in place to maintain development standards for residential and commercial areas.

On Monday, Barger told Pasadena Now that Affirmed Housing Group indicated they were willing to reduce the height of the proposed apartment building, changing it from a five-story, 96 unit edifice to a four-story building with 74 units.

“I strongly share concerns that this development project violates local height standards developed by community members to protect the character and feel of their community,” Barger said. “The current housing crisis and fighting homeless are two of our biggest problems and the state has made some big changes so that affordable housing projects like this one can be exempted from local standards. But, we can’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to resolving these problems. I’m a strong believer that we must both employ strategies that are tailored to meet local needs and forge collaborative partnerships with communities — you have to have both of these ingredients to create thoughtful housing solutions that’ll help a community thrive.”

Although reducing the project from five stories to four will keep it below its original 64-foot height, it will still be significantly higher than the current standards, which are 35 feet.

According to the petition, the project will negatively affect the health and welfare of the community and is inconsistent with the height and density portion of the Altadena Community Standards District (CSD).

“I’m opposed to this project because it will set a precedent that will allow other developers to come into the community and duplicate this project,” wrote Camille Dudley in a petition opposing the site.

“It will decrease the property values in the neighborhood. This type of project would never be allowed in the neighborhoods east of Lake Avenue. This development is a tactic used by developers in mainly minority neighborhoods where they feel they will have the least opposition,” Dudley said.

The site once housed a gas station. It was unclear how much clean up has been done or if an environmental impact report has been completed regarding the site.

In the petition, local residents also claimed there is insufficient parking. With about 30 spaces located at grade, and no underground parking for the 96 to 120 residents and staff, there will be additional traffic and congestion in the area, according to the petition.

In a letter to local leaders, including Barger, Assemblymember Chris Holden, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Gov. Gavin Newsom, local residents called for the project to be rejected.

“A complicating factor to enforcing local ordinances and the CSD is the State of California’s Housing Accountability Act and recently passed state legislation which effectively exempt affordable housing projects such as the Lincoln Avenue Project from most local land use policies, guidelines, or standards. Based on that, this and other similar projects are considered ministerial in nature leaving the County without any ability to require conformance to certain local standards, including those established by the Altadena CSD,” Barger wrote to the chair of the Altadena Town Council on Nov. 5.

“The current housing crisis is one of the most important issues facing the region, and we need to have more collaborative partnerships with the industry to solve this problem. Notwithstanding the housing scarcity, new housing projects, including affordable and permanent supportive housing, should be designed and built thoughtfully and collaboratively with the impacted communities. This will also ensure that such projects do not fundamentally change the character and makeup of our communities and that they respect the efforts taken by communities to establish standards that guide development within their communities.”

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