Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Samoa Project Ad Hoc Committee 'Rolls Up Their Sleeves'

Reporting briefly on the most recent meeting of the Samoa Ad Hoc Committee...

You may remember the genuine and valid concerns committee members have regarding SB 1818:  the Density Bonus ordinance. We must not hesitate to go right for the throat of this ordinance as it threatens our community with its exceptions to the rules; rules which govern our Foothill Boulevard Corridor Specific Plan (FBCSP) and have been legally dismissed by exceptions built into the Samoa High Density Affordable Housing Project by SB 1818.

At issue is an overly large apartment complex slated to be built on a narrow street in Tujunga with pre-existing problems with traffic, parking, housing density, crime, and proximity to our own historical treasure: Bolton Hall, and schools and churches in the immediate area.

Several people with expertise in different avenues of research volunteered or were asked to concentrate their efforts on subjects we may use to stop the project entirely or at least modify it. (Of note are a few expressions from the committee that “affordable housing” in manageable amounts would be acceptable.)

Lydia Grant was a welcome addition to the group and immediately set about addressing the issues concerning the project and nearby school crosswalks and school age pedestrian concerns, traffic and construction during school days and hours. Lydia is Sunland Tujunga’s School Rep on the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council (STNC) and an expert in her field.

Nina Royal will approach those residents, church and neighboring property owners located in proximity to the construction site to discuss their perceptions of the project which will impact them the most. This group may be the key to halting the project by law as these stakeholders are entitled to file an appeal to the Planning Directors decision regarding the Samoa High Density SB 1818 Project.

Although Royal attempted to rally a group to appear with her and representatives on Friday at the site, the community that would likely hold banners was discouraged from attending this working committee meeting so was not present to respond to her appeal. If you would like to show support at this or future rallies please contact Royal at 818-563-1962

Kathleen Travers and Elaine Brown will continue to research the impact the project will have on Bolton Hall and potential for suit to halt the project based on a clause in SB 1818 that addresses nearby historical sites. The call went out to the community of Sunland Tujunga for a volunteer structural engineer to give the group an impact report of structural integrity and potential for damage by construction activity and increased traffic.

If you or someone you know can help the group with this or other areas of expertise please contact committee chair Bill Skiles at the new blogsite which has been created by the STNC for ready access to the information and documents concerning the project; you can access that site here:
Terre Ashmore has determined Census Tract numbers for the site and surrounding neighborhoods and will compile economic data, income, population density or vacancy, veteran’s population, family size etc. The recent decennial census is only partially useful in this research as the data sets for income were discontinued in the decennial following the census of 2000. The American Community Survey is a Federal agency that continued that research which may be invaluable to this committee.

The prospect of hiring an attorney also was addressed and the costs associated with it. If a Sunland Tujunga stakeholder with legal expertise in this area of law can give a few hours of their time to the committee that also would be very welcome. Note this is a working committee deeply entrenched in the process of finding a solution to a community problem, The public is welcome to observe and those with expertise are especially needed as volunteers.

It isn’t so much that the “affordable housing” is at fault as that the condition (and accompanying Senate Bill 1818) is used to circumvent the normal and reasonable guidelines that make for a well planned community. A four story apartment complex is planned in a two story neighborhood. This will tower above existing design and alter the visual impact of the surrounding neighborhood… until the presence of one four story apartment complex invites another.

No comments: