Santa Paula Together

Editorial

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By Mary Ann Krause and Dr. Gabino Aguirre

We represent a coalition of Santa Paulans who are very concerned about changes to the East Area 1 (EA1) development project. The project was approved by the Santa Paula City Council, and ultimately approved by the voters in 2008. However, with the changes made in 2015, Santa Paula Together believes the project has lost some of its broad appeal and no longer meets the goals that the City originally set for the project.

We know the City Council is concerned about receiving revenues from the development to help meet the budgetary needs of the community. We also know that the Limoneira Company is concerned about both providing value to shareholders and ensuring sufficient profits to keep a well-qualified development partner interested. However, we believe that the housing development must first and foremost meet the community’s needs for shelter. Since recent changes, we think that the plans for EA1 are falling short in meeting the community’s need, and are prioritizing the wrong values and outcomes.

limoneira

The most significant change made to the original plan involved the removal or elimination of market-rate apartments and condominiums and housing for seniors. Limoneira and its new development partner, the Lewis Group, no longer plan to build this housing, choosing instead to build all 1400-1500 units as single family detached homes.

The single family homes will be for sale, so future residents of EA1 will need a substantial down payment, and must be prepared for the rigors of home ownership. There are many times during a person’s life when it may be preferable to rent an apartment rather than purchase a home: just out of college, perhaps with student loan debt; recent job change; temporary job assignment of less than 3 years; divorce or break-up of a relationship; downsizing as an empty nester or a senior citizen. Similarly, for many people in these circumstances, a condo purchase might be just the right fit. Still others may want or need a senior community, and we continue to lose many seniors to Ventura because there is no appropriate senior housing here. The overall effect of the developer’s decision is to narrow the age-range and circumstances of people who will move into EA1, which we think threatens its viability as a neighborhood, and violates our community values.

east.area

East Area One Concept Drawing

If we don’t build the needed market-rate apartments, condos and senior housing in EA1, where will we find the land to put them? Limoneira has already chosen to pay fees rather than build the required affordable housing in EA1. Now the market rate condos, apartments and senior housing that were planned for EA1 will be in competition with the required affordable housing for scarce land within our existing community. To further complicate things, the City’s Housing Element (approved by the State of California in 2013) is largely balanced on the fact that there is sufficient land in EA1 zoned for 627 apartments or condos, and it assumes those units will be affordable to low income households.

Like many other communities, we are trying to find the balance between competing interests. Single family detached housing may be what home seekers say they prefer, and may make a development more profitable for the developer and the City, but it does not meet the needs of all residents. We would like to see a more diverse mix of housing types that will meet more of our community’s needs. Why not have single family homes AND apartments, condos and senior housing? Why not fulfill the original expectation of an integrated-intergenerational housing project tailored to the needs of the Santa Paula community?

Looking forward, experts believe that communities in California and across the nation already have far more single family homes than they will need, and that many more apartments and condos need to be constructed. Future generations will include a much higher percentage of seniors, and families without children. Already, households that include minor children are in the minority in Los Angeles County and in California, representing only about one-third of all households in the state*. Also needed are “single family” homes that accommodate several generations living together, and those should also be considered for inclusion in EA1. It makes no sense to build housing for yesterday’s households; we need to look at our present and future needs, and we hope that Limoneira and our City Council will take another look and do just that.

Let’s get EA1 back on track and going the right direction, to benefit all Santa Paulans.

Santa Paula Together

*USC Population Dynamics Research Group; Explaining 2010 Census Trends; Census Brief: The Changing Household and Family; Edward Flores, Ph.D., and Dowell Myers, Ph.D.

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Mary Ann Krause and Dr. Gabino Aguirre, both former council members and mayors of Santa Paula

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2 Responses to Santa Paula Together

  1. Rita X Stafford February 2, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Excellent!! Thank you. You’ve said it all. Let’s all get to work and make it happen.

    Reply
  2. Sh February 2, 2016 at 7:53 am

    The authors are former council members and mayors of Santa Paula…

    Reply

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