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Op-Ed: La Cañada zoning changes are built upon state law

December 11, 2013|By Laura Olhasso

Over the past few weeks, I have heard and seen a great deal of distorted and outright incorrect information about the proposed changes to the city's Zoning Code and Housing Element regarding low- and moderate-income housing. Perhaps you also have heard some of this misinformation, so I am writing to help clarify the situation and dispel any misconceptions. Below are the facts you should know before coming to conclusions.

The city is required by state law to adopt zoning that allows for development of housing that meets our state-required allocation of low- and moderate-income regional housing. In other words, the state forecasts population growth and then requires all cities in the state to zone for their "fair share" of the housing for that population growth. We are not required to actually build that housing, merely to zone for it. As a matter of fact, the city does not build anything. Private developers do that, and private developers typically look to make a profit. As you are aware, land costs are very high in LCF. Developers would have an extremely difficult time making a profit on low- and moderate-income housing because of that.

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The current consideration is a proposal to rezone two areas in town to meet our state requirements. The first area is the lot on which Joanne's Fabrics currently sits. It is on a commercial area of Foothill Boulevard and adjacent to existing multifamily housing behind it. The other area is Curran Street, behind La Cañada Pet Clinic. This area is primarily single-family homes. In order to convert this area to low- and moderate-income housing, a developer would have to buy, one by one, each lot from a willing seller, to accumulate enough land to develop it into multifamily housing, which would likely be very expensive and take a significantly long time to do.

There are no projects currently under consideration by the city.

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