City appeals housing allocation
Officials say scarcity of land, traffic and other reasons would keep Yorba Linda from meeting goal.
By CAROLINA RUIZ-MEJIA
The Orange County Register
YORBA LINDA – The city will learn April 27, if its appeal to the Southern California Association of Governments over its share – 2,021 units – of the regional projected housing needs for the next seven years will be granted.
City Manager Tamara Letourneau said city officials don't believe Yorba Linda can accommodate the allocated number of units for several reasons. It is seeking a 20 percent reduction.
"The most obvious reason is that there simply isn't enough vacant land left in the city to build that many units, especially in light of the community's expressed desire to retain our low-density character and the state's 2001 purchase of 30 acres in Coal Canyon as a protected wildlife corridor," Letourneau said.
Every seven years the state uses population growth projections to set the number of housing units that should be generated throughout California, including how many should be set aside for affordable housing. Cities are then assigned a portion of those units, said Jeff Lustgarden, spokesperson for SCAG.
"We're concerned that adding that many houses will create too many more commuters in Yorba Linda, placing an even greater burden on regional freeways and streets that can't even meet current needs, let alone the increased demand that 2,000 housing units would create," Letourneau said.
Lustgarden said that if Yorba Linda's appeal is granted, another city would have to absorb the extra units.
"It's unlikely there are any other cities that could accommodate an increase in their allotment, as evidenced by the fact that 45 other cities are appealing their (allocation) numbers, too," Letourneau said.
About 40 percent of Yorba Linda's allocation is for very-low- and low-income housing.
Letourneau said there are six complexes that provide affordable housing in the city: Linda Gardens, Arbor Villas, the Yorba Linda Family apartments, the Parkwood and Victoria Woods senior housing projects and 25 condominiums in the Evergreen development, which the Redevelopment Agency owns and rents out to very-low income seniors.
Five of these developments are located within a mile of the Yorba Linda Boulevard and Imperial Highway intersection, Letourneau added. The Victoria Woods is located in the east side of the city at Yorba Linda Boulevard and Stonehaven.
Michael Maxfield, the city's spokesman, said the new requirements would be ontop of what the city already has.
In every seven-year cycle, Lustgarden said anywhere from 40 to 100 cities might appeal their allocation.
"We don't have any official indication on how our appeal might turn out," Letourneau said.
"Appeals don't necessarily get overturned," Lustgarden said. "It comes down to the argument the individual city makes as to why their numbers should be revised and then convincing SCAG."
Maxfield said if the appeal doesn't get granted and the city wants to be in compliance with the state requirements, then the general plan has to allow for the allocated number of units.
Maxfield said the state doesn't impose any specific penalties when a city doesn't comply with the housing numbers. However, the city is concerned it could face two potential consequences:
•The housing component of the city's general plan might not be approved by the state; therefore the city might not get certain state and federal funding.
•Housing advocate groups can sue a city if they think the city is not providing the space for affordable housing.
Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Aliso Viejo have also appealed their allocations and will be heard on April 27.
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