July 8, 2012 in Uncategorized
(Los Alamitos, 7/8/2012) Tomorrow is the second Monday of the month, meaning it’s time for the Regular Meeting of Los Alamitos’ Planning Commission.
Unlike our Traffic Commission, which cancelled it’s July meeting due to “lack of business,” our Planning Commissioners are plowing forward through the dog days of Summer with at least two interesting items scheduled, and two meetings, actually.
Special 7:30 Community Meeting: Public Facilities
Set as a separate meeting immediately following the regular meeting at roughly 7:30 is a “Community Meeting” to obtain input relating to future Public Facility Projects using HUD grants in Old Town, Apartment Row East of Bloomfield, and Los Al’s slice of Country Square at the town’s northeast corner.
These are the neighborhoods which qualify for Community Development Block Grants, based on income demographics.
In the past, this grant money has been used for alley rehab, handicapped accessible sidewalks, sidewalk replacement, and curb and gutter replacements.
If you’ve got any suggestions, especially if you live in the affected neighborhoods, you might want to attend for further details and to provide your input. I wonder if upgrading parks or adding benches would be an acceptable use of grant funds.
Kudos go to Community Development Director Mendoza for using a page 2 block ad in last week’s News Enterprise to help spread the word. The nature of this meeting allowed him to get outside the “Legal Notices” section where such announcements tend to get lost between probate and foreclosure announcements.
For an excellent explanation of how Los Alamitos uses the Community Development block grant process, scroll down to the last two sections of this post.
Regular 7:00 Meeting: 11111 Lexington C.U.P.
The main item on the Regular Meeting’s agenda is a Conditional Use Permit for modification to the 14 unit, two story apartment building at southwest corner of Lexington and Green, 11111 Lexington, pictured above. The owner and his or her architect are proposing several nice upgrades including a new stone veneer, enclosede front entrance, refurbishing the landscaping and hardscaping, and converting the existing carports into garages.
Although the overall upgrade to the building sets a good example of a landlord investing in upgrading and modernizing his or her Los Alamitos property, there are some concerns about the carport conversions in Appartment Row, where parking is already a problem. In addition, current code would require a total of 28 parking places for 14 units, hence the need for a C.U.P. for any modifications in order to grandfather in the current parking.
The issue is how many of those converted garages will ultimately be used for storage rather than parking. An open carport can’t be converted to storage, but an enclosed garage can. I know from experience many tenants prefer to use their garages as additional storage and to search for parking on the streets.
Our Community Development Director Steven Mendoza tells me the Commission will consider several proposals to mitigate against using the garages for anything other than resident parking:
- Require over-hood and/or overhead storage be built into each garage.
- Require automatic garage door openers on each garage.
- Include a condition that tenants cannot sublet their garages.
- Include a condition that the primary purpose for each garage is storage of residents’ vehicles.
- Include a condition that garages can only be rented to residents of the building (or residents of Apt. Row living within 100 yards) for parking vehicles.
- Include a condition that would allow code enforcement to inspect garages at any time to insure there is sufficient room to park cars in each, with an appropriate fines to both the property owner and the resident if that is not the case.
Any, all, or none of these or other possible mitigation measures might be adopted.
The Planning Commission meets the second Monday of each month at 7:00 at City Hall.
Click here for the7/9/2012 Planning Commission Regular Meeting Agenda, followed by attachments and staff reports.
Click here for the 7:30 p.m. Special Meeting Agenda, also followed by a detailed staff report explaining the Grant Program in much more details.
Excerpts from the Staff Report on Community Development Block Grants:
The City of Los Alamitos participates in the County of Orange’s Urban County Program (Program) which filters federal Community Development Block Grant (COBG) monies down to smaller cities. The Program provides federal funds to cities with populations under 50,000 for programs that are targeted towards community development.
The funds are intended to be used for neighborhoods that have a substantial number of low, very low, and extremely low-income residents. COBG shows preference for projects that meet the criteria in Table 1.
The Grant funds are transferred from HUO to the County annually for use by participating agencies. These funds may be pursued through competitive grant
applications sent to the County. The group of participating cities is small so the potential for funding is fairly high. Participating cities help to form the annual plan for spending COBG funds allowing the City a voice in establishing the criteria on which grant applications will be judged.
Once grants are awarded, the County assists cities in managing the projects and preparing required reports to HUO. Whether or not the City
seeks funding, the County oversees the program.
To assure citizen participation in the design and implementation of the City’s allocation
of CDBG funds, the Community Development Department seeks input from a wide
variety of community members. Priorities, goals, and objectives are established from citizen input used in applying for future CDBG grants. Citizen participation is an
important aspect in this process as it establishes the needs of the community from the grass roots level. This information is provided to the County of Orange to incorporate into its report to the Federal Government (HUD).
A public meeting is held to collect information regarding community needs prior to the City deciding where CDBG will best be distributed. A second public hearing is held to obtain comments from citizens on the planned use of funds prior to submitting and application. This hearing is also held to give the community an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed use of funding and on the performance of the CDBG programs in administration, distribution, and implementation of federal funds.
All public hearings are held in a centrally located, handicap accessible building with reasonable accommodation provided for persons with disabilities.
The City regularly submits applications to Orange County Community Resources for
CDBG funds through the Program. Larger Cities apply directly to the Federal
Government for such funds. As a smaller city, Los Alamitos seeks the oversight of the County when using such funds.
The City of Los Alamitos has used such grants for years, often being awarded CDBG
funds to improve Public Facilities within the City’s Low Income Census Tracts. CDBG
activities must serve residents within the City’s seven (7) target areas:
1. Apartment Row – Bloomfield Street to Lexington Drive
2. Old Town East
3. Old Town West
4. Royal Oak Park
5. Country Square;
6. Joint Forces Training Base (JFTB), including Parkewood
7. Area bound by Cerritos Avenue, Bloomfield Street, Katella Avenue, and the
eastern boundary of the City
The City recently used the funding to bring ADA ramps up to current standards in
Apartment Row. During the current Fiscal Year 2012-13, CDBG funds will be used for
Accessibility Ramps and curb and gutter repairs in Old Town East and West.
Staff has learned a great deal in implementing CDBG funded projects. We have come
to the realization that for larger projects, it is more feasible to apply for design monies during year one and then construction monies the following year. Staff will continue in this manner for the larger projects to meet CDBG expenditure deadlines.