LYNWOOD — The City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday on whether to continue a moratorium on apartment construction, but a majority of members indicated last week that they believe the city needs to build more rental units.
The council majority's stand during a special meeting Wednesday angered residents who have pushed to extend a moratorium that was first imposed Oct. 15.
"I don't know what we will do at this point, but somehow the council has got to listen to the voice of the people," said Alex Bramlett, who favors the moratorium and who said he hopes to fill the council chambers with his supporters for the public hearing.
During Wednesday's meeting, Councilmen E. L. Morris, John Byork and Louis Thompson indicated that they favor allowing apartment construction to resume.
"People have invested in this community and want to do something with their property," Thompson said.
Byork said new apartment construction would bring in more commercial development to the area. Commercial developers, Byork said, do not want to come into the area because they see a lack of residential development.
"I suggest no action be taken to extend the moratorium and no public hearing be held," Morris said.
Morris' remark prompted Howard Rorrel, another opponent of apartment construction, to shout "Crooks, crooks!" as he angrily left the council chambers.
The council did not vote on Morris' suggestion because City Atty. Lewis Feldman said that the council is legally bound to hold the public hearing scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Mayor Robert Henning and Councilwoman Evelyn Wells said they favored continuing the moratorium while ways are studied to allow some limited construction of apartments in certain areas of the city.
On a proposal by Henning, the council voted unanimously to have the city staff conduct a study of the city's general plan provisions on apartment zoning and look at some type of "alternative development."
"This might mean that we can impose some kind of rule that will allow only one-story apartment buildings and not two and three stories that block out the skyline," Henning said.
Study Possible Changes
Henning asked that the study be ready for Tuesday's meeting. Vicente Mas, director of planning, said that his staff would take a look at residential zoning by then and try to identify areas that could be changed.
Wednesday's workshop had been called by the council so it could discuss the moratorium. The workshop followed a special town hall meeting Monday to allow residents to discuss the apartment issue with the council and city staff. The meeting drew about 125 people.
Most of the residents making public statements to the council said they were against more apartment construction in Lynwood. They argued that the city already has enough apartments and that more apartments would produce "slums and ghettos," and would overcrowd schools and increase crime.
In October, the council, reacting to more than 250 residents who signed petitions protesting proposed construction of a 10-unit apartment complex and another building with 15 units, placed a 45-day freeze on new construction while it studied the situation. Both proposed projects are near the homes of Bramlett and Rorrel.
Construction for both the 10-unit complex and the 15-unit complex was put on hold by the moratorium. Neither was issued a building permit, although the council in September had approved the 10-unit complex.
Extension of Freeze
After the expiration of the first moratorium, the council placed an additional 45-day freeze on construction; it expires Jan. 31.
Since the moratorium went into effect, 14 separate projects with a total of 195 units have been affected, according to a report by senior planner Ken Mullens.
Developers had applied to the city to build those projects before the ban. However, none has received final approval because of the moratorium.
At the Tuesday public hearing, the council has two options: It can vote to allow the moratorium to expire or it can impose another moratorium. Under state law, another moratorium could be in effect for up to 10 1/2 months.