AMCAL News Articles

March 19, 2009

Contentious Senior Complex Moves Forward

By Ashley Ratcliff, Peninsula News
Thursday, March 19, 2009 11:36 AM PDT

RPV — Wrapping up the final part of the approval process for a low-income housing project, the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council on Tuesday successfully authorized the controversial, time-sensitive endeavor.

Council voted 3-0 (councilmen Doug Stern and Peter Gardiner were absent) to approve the disposition and development agreement, or DDA, between the city’s Redevelopment Agency and AMCAL Mirandela Fund LP for the construction of a 34-unit senior affordable-housing complex,
located at the northwest corner of Crestridge Road and Crenshaw Boulevard.

Tuesday night’s sparsely attended public hearing was more subdued than the March 3 meeting, which was the scene of heated protest from residents opposed to the project. They cited concerns about the safety of seniors who would travel the busy roadways; the perceived decline in property values; and the visual impacts of having the project at the major intersection, among other problems.

Given the way council previously voted — Councilman Steve Wolowicz was the only dissenter — the project could have been at jeopardy from moving forward, due to the required three “yes” votes.

However, Wolowicz instead begrudgingly voted in favor of the project.

His main sticking point, he said, was “my disagreement with the RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Assessment) laws, specifically the absence of inter- or intra-regional exchanges among cities. While the state mandate may be well intended, it is flawed by significant logic deficiencies …

“It is not lost on me that my colleagues voted overwhelmingly for the project,” Wolowicz continued. “As much as I oppose RHNA, I am equally opposed to the concept of the tyranny of the minority. I have registered my opposition to the project. I think it’s morally correct to not obstruct the project any further.”

RPV must adhere to the rapidly approaching deadlines for the RHNA affordable-housing obligation. The tax credit application deadline, originally set for early April, was extended through mid-May, Deputy Planning Director Greg Pfost said.

AMCAL Multi-Housing Inc., which acts as the complex’s developer, contractor and owner/operator, will apply for an allocation of tax credits from the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, which if approved, will be used to finance the development of the project, city staff said.

Asked what would happen if the tax credit application wasn’t approved, Pfost said, “Basically, this project is not going to happen.”

AMCAL Vice President David Yarden reiterated that the tax credits are “integral” to the affordable-housing complex advancing and said the city may reapply if it isn’t approved the first time.

“We believe this project has a real fighting chance,” he said on Tuesday.

According to city staff, the Redevelopment Agency, or RDA, will sell to AMCAL the 2.88-acre parcel at its appraised value of $2,990,000.

Tierra West Advisors in a letter to Pfost explained that the RDA will contribute, in addition to the land, another $3.8 million to “assist the project.” Thus, the promissory note will total $6,790,000, “paid from the cash flow generated from the project.”

By naming the terms and conditions associated with the development, the DDA also stipulates that AMCAL always will be a part of the project,
Pfost said.

“[The agreement] ensures that the project will continue to be used for affordable housing for at least a 55-year period, meeting our RHNA requirement,” Pfost said. “It identifies the maintenance standards for the building and site … It also requires the submittal of a management plan that addresses the … social services program.”

According to Pfost, the project is on schedule. The master plan designates the start of the construction process in late 2009 through the duration of 2010. The construction phase overlaps the leasing, which is forecasted to begin in 2011.

Despite many residents’ contempt for the project, Mayor Larry Clark said many in the aging demographic on the Hill view the Mirandela complex “as salvation.” The project is restricted to occupants 62 years of age and older who live on fixed incomes.

“I think this project is a thoughtful project … I think when it’s done, it will be not a duck, but a swan,” Clark said, “and it will be something that we can have some pride in in the community … We have seniors who are on the brink of being forced out of their homes — either that own or have owned a home or are renting — who need this kind of project. Quite frankly, I think that it’s incumbent upon us that we need to meet our state needs and our community needs.”

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