A zone change required for the construction of a 40-unit low-income assisted housing project got the go-ahead from Murrieta city leaders recently.
It will be an extension of the Monte Vista Complex, completed in 2005 and currently the only low-income assisted housing in Murrieta. The complex is located on Jefferson Avenue across from City Hall and the Police Department. The plan is to add 40 units to the 64 already there.
Monte Vista II will be on City-owned land, purchased in 2008. In 2010, the City's Redevelopment Agency agreed to hire San Diego-based Affirmed Housing Group to develop this second phase.
Previously, the 2.16-acre parcel was zoned Multiple Use 3, which only allows 40 percent of a parcel to be residential. The City Council, going off a recommendation from the Planning Commission, approved a zone change to Multi-Family 2 Residential, which allows up to 18 housing units per acre.
The Council approved a 10 percent density bonus, allowing four more units to complete the planned 40. The project will be composed of three two-story buildings, and will aesthetically match the existing complex. Residents will use the same driveway, accessed from the traffic light at Jefferson and Town Square, according to Dennis Watts, Senior City Planner.
According to Watts, it will provide housing for those with low, very low and extremely low income. Applicants will need to meet county-identified income levels to qualify for the discounted rental rates.
The change will be incorporated in the General Plan--being updated now--and will count toward the City's quota of affordable housing needed under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment.
City Planner Cynthia Kinser said it is a highly desirable location to fill that need for affordable housing.
"This is a site that is going to be surrounded by commercial development," Kinser said. "We do have multifamily on the south side and it is by the police station."
A retail development is slated for the Olivewood building on the corner of Kalmia and Jefferson. To the rear of the complex is Lowe's.
Police Chief Mark Wright said the existing complex is peaceful and that the Police Department has received relatively few calls from it, compared to other multifamily housing in the City.
"We have had a very good experience. There have been no safety issues at all at Monte Vista. It has been a model project," Wright said.
During a public hearing held March 1, some area residents and business owners expressed concern about the project, however.
Barbara Marietta, a homeowner at Madison Park Place, was concerned about her property value.
"My concern is having low-income next to me," the homeowner said. "I am finding out that as we are getting a lot more renters, we are having more problems in our own Madison Park.
"I'm concerned about the quality of people (renters) and how concerned they are about their living area and their cleanliness."
Annie Borel, a member of the Historic Downtown Murrieta Association and a business owner, was concerned that adding more housing to the area before updating the downtown specific plan was creating unbalance.
"These are the things we didn’t want to happen. Before we have more businesses, we should stop building more housing. We just keep creating more bedroom communities, and we are just putting more traffic on the 215 and 91," Borel said.
Councilman Rick Gibbs said it was something the Council had discussed at length and that with a little tweaking, it was good for Murrieta.
"We really are doing something that is right for our citizens," Gibbs said, adding that in touring the existing Monte Vista complex, he'd seen familiar faces--family members of longtime community members.
"In our general plan what we say is that we will provide housing for all residents in this economy," Gibbs said. "As the police have testified, we have had no problems there. If you are a bad guy, the last place you want to live is across the street from a police station.
"This is not really a surprise, it has been in the works for five years."
There was no start date given for the project, which passed an environmental study. A staff report stated the current infrastructure was sufficient for the added traffic more housing would bring to the area. A bus stop will also be added in front of the complex.