Thursday, July 25, 2002
FORA Gives Farr a Little In June, Rep. Sam Farr issued a challenge to the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA): increase the availability of affordable housing on Fort Ord or risk losing the transfer of land from the Army.
On Tuesday, FORA board chair Jim Perrine circulated a six-page letter to Rep. David Hobson (R-OH), chair of the House subcommittee that holds the power to halt the land transfer. The letter is only a draft, but it assures Hobson that FORA intends to make affordable housing a priority on Fort Ord-though not nearly to the extent that Farr has been demanding. Nevertheless, Farr terms it a "workable compromise."
The letter spells out FORA''s responses to specific suggestions by Farr, and in most cases agrees with the congressman''s proposals. Among those agreed-upon items are: the definition of "affordable housing" to be set at $300,000 or less; establishing a housing trust to help first-time homebuyers; and eliminating loopholes that allow developers to pay fees instead of build affordable housing.
Other items are stickier.
Farr''s initial demand was for 50 percent affordable housing on Fort Ord. According to Perrine''s letter, that had been whittled down to a plea for anything higher than local affordable housing requirements, which range from 15 to 20 percent.
Perrine says FORA is shooting for 20 percent-more that that if a substantial housing trust fund is put in place. The letter proposes no precise ratio of "workforce housing" to market rate housing, saying it''s too hard to determine without taking into account the details of specific projects. (Last week Perrine, who is mayor of Marina, presented a plan to the Marina City Council proposing that affordable housing on Marina''s portion of Fort Ord range from 40 to 50 percent.)
On the subject of the $34,000-per-unit impact fee (see story, pg. 7), Farr had requested a sliding-scale fee structure, with larger houses bearing more of the cost than smaller ones. He also suggested putting more of the fiscal burden on commercial development, and suggested striking projects that will never be built from the list so that the fee could shrink.
The letter warns against hobbling commercial development with higher fees, and says the project list is basically locked in.
As for flexibility in spreading around the cost of the $34,000 fee, FORA points out that cities and the county already have the freedom to put their own "overlays" on the fee and tailor them as they wish-with sliding scales and long-term paybacks as options.
Says Steve Endsley, planning and finance director for FORA: "All our jurisdictions at the time we presented [the fee] asked, ''what''s that, how does it work, will it affect our ability to control revenues?'' We bent over backward from the beginning to make sure it was flexible enough."
Latinos Talk Land Use Politics
An Aug. 4 workshop in Salinas will address the Latino community and land-use policy, focusing on affordable housing and other issues surrounding growth.
"Even though housing prices have increased, wages haven''t, so this is going to create even more overcrowding," says Lupe Garcia of Monterey County Land Watch. "We need to reshape Monterey County. We are the majority, but traditionally, we are not participants in the process."
The all-day workshop is co-sponsored by Land Watch and the Latino Issues Forum, a state-wide non-profit organization that focuses on public-policy issues like higher education, economic development, health care and regional growth.
Speakers include Katherine Perez, executive director of Southern California Transportation and Land Use Coalition; Roger Barr, director of Una Nueva Esperanza, Inc., a community land trust in Salinas; and Carlos Romero, executive director of Mission Housing Development Corp., a company that builds affordable housing in San Francisco''s Mission District.
Local experts include Gary Patton, members of the Líderes Comunitarios de Salinas (Community Leaders of Salinas), and Frank Brunings, housing program manager for Santa Cruz County and past housing coordinator for Monterey County.
Traci Hukill, Jessica Lyons
NewUrbanism Workshop Planned
With the potential for thousands of new houses in the pipeline for development on the former Fort Ord, the city of Marina has a long series of land use choices to face in the years ahead. Although two specific developments, Marina Heights and Cypress Knolls, are still in confidential negotiation, the public planning process for both is expected to begin this year.
How might Marina choose to develop its share of property on Fort Ord? Will it settle for whatever comes along, or will it demand progressive approaches to community design?
So that the people of Marina know just what type of options are available beyond what is offered by developers, the public has been invited to a joint meeting of the Marina City Council and the Planning Commission on July 31. The study session will last from 6:30 to 9pm in the community room at Vince DiMaggio Park, 3200 Del Monte Blvd.
Touted as communities where people can live, work and play, the New Urbanism or Traditional Neighborhood Design schemes are based on town and city designs used in urban America prior to World War II.
New Urban communities are laid out so that residents do not have to rely on their cars for every aspect of life, as many are forced to in so-called "suburban sprawl" settings.
Open spaces, stores, restaurants, schools and work are kept within walking or bicycle-distance from residences.
The goal is to reduce land and resource consumption while increasing efficiency by creating settlements that radiate rather than sprawl. Such designs have been used around the country in the last few years with varying degrees of success and authenticity.
To explain how such designs might be applied to Marina projects, two experts on New Urbanism will present the concepts to the interested public and Marina decision-makers. One of the presenters will be Vince DiMaggio. He is the son of Marina''s first public works director (for whom the park where the presentation will be held is named). DiMaggio works as the senior planner for Creekbridge Homes, which has major developments built or planned in Salinas, Greenfield and King City.
He lives and breathes New Urbanism and sees great potential for its use in Marina.
"I think the chances are good," he says. "In fact, I think they''re excellent."
For more information about Traditional Neighborhood Design, consult www.cnu.org, the website for a planners'' association called The Congress for the New Urbanism.