Sixty-five affordable housing units could be coming to Fullerton, a decision applauded by housing advocates and some residents with others expressing concerns regarding accessibility for the disabled and conveniences for everyone.
The Fullerton City Council voted unanimously in April to approve an affordable housing project at 1600 W. Commonwealth Ave., a city-owned property. The proposal includes a two-to-three-story development with 29 one-bedroom units, 19 two-bedroom units, 17 three-bedroom units, and 108 parking spaces on a 2.50 acre parcel of land adjacent to the city yard, according to a city presentation.
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As stated in the city’s 2021-2029 housing element, a document outlining city plans for housing and state requirements, Fullerton must have planned for 13,209 additional housing units before 2029. In approving the new housing, some council members said it would be good to add to the city’s affordable housing stock.
In June 2020, the Commonwealth Avenue property was declared surplus property and the city requested developers to submit affordable housing proposals for the site the following year, according to the city presentation. After reviewing several proposals, the City Council selected Meta Housing Corp., as the site developer in late 2022 to submit a plan consistent with city standards.
The motion approved by the council in April included three resolutions paving the way for the development and an ordinance changing the site’s zoning from manufacturing general to limited density multiple family residential.
Some Fullerton residents and council members were largely in favor of the project, but others raised concerns during the meeting about ensuring conveniences in all aspects of the project.
Curtis Gamble, a resident who described himself as an advocate for the homeless, suggested that future residents at the development be allowed to park at nearby public facilities which are not being fully used.
“I support this project,” said Gamble during the meeting. “I think it’s outstanding. It’s what we need in the community: More housing.”
He added: “Also I recommend using the city yard and the Hunt Library parking. I think there’s about 80 spaces that are available at the Hunt Branch Library, and it’s just right across the tracks.”
Other residents suggested improvements in transportation within the planned development and surrounding areas. Fullerton resident Jane Reifer said she hoped that more elevators would be added to the project.
“I’m hoping that there is a second elevator built into this project, rather than just one, because people on upper floors will be stranded if they have disabilities [and] one elevator goes out,” said
Additionally, residents requested convenient walking and biking lanes, more laundry rooms, and an improved transit system in the surrounding area. City staff noted during the meeting that the project meets all building codes for enhanced accessibility, and the developers are well-versed in meeting the needs of residents.
Council members also praised the project and some agreed with the concerns raised by residents. Councilmember Shana Charles said she agreed that the bus line services may be inadequate for residents in the area.
“Our bus stops could use some refurbishing,” said Charles. “That is something maybe we can look at in the future.”
Councilmember Ahmad Zahra said he was pleased that more affordable housing was coming to the city.
“I just appreciate that the number of housing units in the affordable levels have been increased,” he said.
The criteria to qualify for affordable housing is determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“The allocation of affordability at varying levels will be approved by the council when it comes back to them for the disposition agreement,” said Sunayana Thomas, the city’s director of community and economic development.
The construction is anticipated to begin around March or April 2024, with residential occupancy by the end of 2025.
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