After receiving numerous comments from residents near the former church/YAC at 186 W. Highland that indicated that they were uncomfortable with the speed at which the City has seemingly accelerated the process to construct low to moderate housing at the site, the City Council decided not to allow staff to enter into negotiations with Heritage Housing Partners, instead appointing Council Members MaryAnn MacGillivray and Josh Moran to meet with neighbors to discuss why the site was headed in that direction and to request input as to what the neighbors would like to see happen with the site.
The property was acquired by the City more than a decade ago using CRA funds and designated for low and moderate housing. During the development of the recent Housing Element (part of the General Plan), it was reiterated that the site was designated for low to moderate income housing, to help the City comply with state designated Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) requirements for that type of housing. Nothing has been done with the property, though for a while, the City’s Youth Activity Center was located there. Recently, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) adopted a 5-year plan that called for expanding, improving and preserving the City’s supply of housing affordable to persons and families with low and moderate incomes. In addition, the Governor’s proposed budget calls for abolishing the CRA, eliminating the possibility of using CRA funds to develop the property. These two occurances have led to the City accelerating the process of converting the property. And, as Mayor Mosca informed the residents, because the land was acquired with CRA funds and designated for low to moderate housing, the only way to avoid that is to have the City acquire the property from the CRA funds using General Fund money, and the City doesn’t have enough General Fund money to make that happen.
At a recent Council meeting, the Council appropriated $25,000 for the retention of a consultant to assist with the development and evaluation of Request for Proposals for the development of the property. By entering into negotiations with Heritage Housing Partners, staff was hoping to save that $25,000 for the CRA. However, the outcry from the site’s neighbors caused Council to delay entering into negotiations until outreach with the community has been explored further.