The Buena Park City Council has approved a 66-unit affordable senior apartment homes community, a project that city officials say will help combat the growing need for senior housing.

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National Community Renaissance, a California nonprofit, will build the development that will also include a 3,000-square-foot community center with on-site parking at 8300 Valley View St., next to the St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, according to the staff report

The City Council voted unanimously Nov. 10 to approve a development agreement with National Community Renaissance to build the senior apartment community, and the body also approved a zoning change for the site from single-family to multi-family residential. 

The City Council expressed support for the development, named Orchard View Gardens Senior Housing, due to the increased need for senior housing in Buena Park as the senior population rises in the city. Several residents also expressed support for the project at the City Council meeting, while one resident submitted a letter in opposition.

The city staff report says that construction of the new homes for seniors aged 62 and older is expected to begin within the next year. The housing will also be rent restricted and affordable to households earning 60% of the area’s median income or below. 

According to the staff report, the project will feature the apartment units within four separate structures, including 62 one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units. The primary structure will be a two and three-story building. The structure will contain 17 units on the first level, 22 units on the second level, and 18 units on the third level for a total of 57 units.

Three additional structures, called casitas, will provide nine one-story units along the north and east property lines adjacent to existing single-family homes. 

Rochelle Mills, president and chief executive officer of Innovative Housing Opportunities, voiced her support of the Orchard View Gardens Senior Housing project in a letter to the City Council. 

Mills called to attention the growing challenge of housing affordability throughout Orange County and the continued need for high-quality affordable housing.

“As a developer of economically vibrant residential and mixed-use communities, (Innovative Housing Opportunities) knows firsthand that well-designed and managed housing is critical to building thriving residents and neighborhoods,” Mills wrote in the letter. “We wholeheartedly support this development and urge your support as well.” 

Michelle Murphy, the director of public affairs for Orange County United Way, a nonprofit organization committed to ending homelessness, also submitted a letter in favor of the project. Murphy emphasized the importance of affordable housing to prevent homelessness, especially for seniors.

“As our senior population grows, so too should our housing options grow to provide safe, decent, and affordable communities to meet their needs,” Murphy wrote in her letter. “Seniors should not be forced to move out of the communities where their support systems are due to the lack of local affordable housing options.”

Lenny Tabone, a Buena Park resident who lives near the site of the planned project, wrote a letter against the development, listing various reasons for his opposition.

“From my backyard I will be looking at a building not the sky, trees, etc,” Tabone wrote. “Furthermore, the third story will be in direct view of my back yard, where I have a swimming pool and kids… I do not agree with the proposed high density housing plan. It has no consistency with our neighborhood, and I do not want my property value to decrease because of this plan.”

Mayor Pro Tem Connor Traut expressed his support for the project during the council meeting.

“This really is going to be a big benefit for our city and our community and hopefully an example for many other communities,” Traut said.

The final cost for the project is still being determined, according to Sarah Walker, senior project manager with National Community Renaissance. The project is expected to be completed within two years, according to the staff report.

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