The Placentia City Council has approved the construction of 64 affordable senior apartments, plus a manager’s unit, on the grounds of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, a project that city officials say is much needed by vulnerable members of the community.
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 [email protected].
The Santa Angelina Senior Apartments project will be developed by National Community Renaissance, a non-profit affordable housing developer. The affordable units are for seniors age 62 and over who have incomes below 60% of the area median income.
Church officials could not be reached for comment but in an Episcopal News post in 2018, James S. Rothrock, president and CEO of Episcopal Communities & Services for Seniors, said the housing project is a collaborative effort between the church and the nonprofit organization.
Joseph Lambert, the city’s director of development services, explained in a presentation to the City Council Dec. 1 that the current area median income for a one-person household in Orange County is approximately $72,000. Consequently, a senior who makes around $43,000 or less per year for a one-person household would be eligible to live in these apartments.
The project is a private development that is not funded by the city. According to Lambert, the church used a competitive process where they reached out to affordable housing developers and chose National Community Renaissance because of its reputation.
The development will consist of 58 one-bedroom units at approximately 569 square feet, six two-bedroom units at approximately 810 square feet, plus one manager’s unit at approximately 467 square feet, according to the presentation given at the City Council meeting.
The development will have two, two-story buildings, one with 32 apartments and the other with 33, according to a city staff report.
The buildings will most likely have solar panels, which will contribute to reduced energy costs, Lambert said at the meeting.
The apartments will be located at 1314 N. Angelina Drive. According to Lambert, the Blessed Sacrament Church and its daycare service will remain open throughout construction and after the apartments are built. However, the church’s parish hall will be partly demolished. Additionally, the church will be receiving a new roof, landscaping, and parking lot.
“At the conclusion of construction, it would essentially be a brand new site, mixed-use if you will,” said Lambert.
The apartments will be across the street from the Village Plaza, which offers numerous businesses in its vicinity, such as a pancake house, Starbucks, Chipotle, and a post office.
According to the staff report, the project will also result in one-time development impact fee revenue of approximately $626,000. Lambert said it is city staff’s opinion that the development will result in “additional positive revenue associated, including permanent job creation and construction job creation.”
In regards to traffic concerns raised by Council member Rhonda Shader, Alexa Washburn, National Community Renaissance’s senior vice president, said at the meeting that this project wouldn’t cause a great increase in traffic.
“This is a hundred percent affordable,” said Washburn. “Many of [our seniors] are on disability and many of them can’t afford a vehicle let alone can operate a vehicle… there’s less than half of our residents that actually own and operate vehicles, so that’s why you see such low trip generation from our senior affordable communities.”
According to Washburn, National Community Renaissance has not yet shared the expected cost of the project “due to the competitive funding environment of affordable housing communities.”
The City Council voted 3-1 to approve the development. Council member Chad Wanke was absent.
Mayor Pro Tem Jeremy Yamaguchi dissented, saying he would have preferred the project to be in his own district.
“I think it’s a beautiful product,” said Yamaguchi, “I just don’t think this location is correct. I wish you could come into my district and do a couple of these infills in the high density areas.”
Council member Shader offered her support of the project.
“Even though change is tough and it’s hard to visualize, I really believe that this is really gonna beautify that corner that is now, much of it, dead grass surrounding that church,” said Shader. “It’s gonna serve vulnerable community members with the affordable project for our seniors.”
Council member Craig Green added that the church may additionally benefit from this development.
“[It’s] a good possibility that this will even help the church from the standpoint of membership because people can actually walk to church now, so let’s hope that takes place,” said Green.
Construction is expected to start in January or February of 2022.