A developer is securing funding to construct an affordable housing project in Lake Forest that city officials said could break ground next summer.

Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at squick@voiceofoc.org.

The 71-apartment development will be constructed on land home to existing offices at 24551 Raymond Way, forcing 16 business tenants to relocate, according to a city staff report. 

Though some residents support the development, some have expressed concerns that the future housing complex will have a negative impact on the community. 

Four affordable housing projects already exist in the city. However, three approved projects, including the newest on Raymond Way, have yet to be constructed, according to city officials. 

A divided City Council voted in August to approve the newest development. The council voted 3-2 with the majority agreeing that the project called Mountain View Affordable Housing Community could be a catalyst to help improve the city. 

At the panel’s August meeting, it approved the development proposed by National Community Renaissance, also known as National CORE, a Rancho Cucamonga-based non-profit community builder. The group’s website says it specializes in affordable housing for the multi-family, mixed-income, senior, workforce, and special needs individuals.

Lake Forest Development Terms and Conditions.jpg

Council member Mark Tettemer voted for the project and is convinced that beyond meeting a need for affordable housing, it will inspire greater change in the area. 

“Not only does the project provide an opportunity for residents to improve their lives with a safe, affordable home, it provides an opportunity to enhance the area,” Tettemer told the Voice of OC. 

Mayor Neeki Moatazedi voted against the proposal because she believes the project will negatively impact parking and traffic in the area. Moatazedi also questioned whether National CORE can guarantee the development will become home to legal residents and immigrants who have ties to Lake Forest.

In an interview, Moatazedi said she believes the council should have waited until after the election to consider the project. 

The project includes the demolition of an existing office building, according to the staff report.

Proponents and opponents addressed the City Council in August, urging the panel to look into traffic and dislocation concerns before moving forward.

A resident told the council the affordable housing project will be a great addition to the city, but worries it will cause serious parking issues. 

“As soon as the bulldozers move in [and] start working on that building, the people that park there at night are going to spill into the neighborhood next door and you don’t care about that,” he said.

Resident Randy Johnson was concerned the project will ruin businesses that currently occupy the center.

“You’re tearing down a perfectly fine, structurally stable and solid business center,” said Johnson, noting the city is putting the housing project in a “high-density neighborhood that’s already dealing with poverty, crime, congestion, and rundown, neglected dilapidated apartment buildings.”

The developer, National Community Renaissance, anticipates funding for the acquisition, construction, and long-term operations of the development from multiple financing sources, according to a staff report. Lake Forest will provide $3.7 million toward the cost of the project.

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.