LA MIRADA — A rolling, scrubby piece of former oil land bordering Beach Boulevard is nearing reincarnation as the site of one of the most massive housing developments to be built here since the 1950s.
The last major tract of open land left in the city, the 137-acre parcel has been slated for development for years by the owner, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. Last week, the company won unanimous Planning Commission approval to build 799 housing units on the acreage, which sits west of Beach Boulevard and north of Rosecrans Avenue at the La Habra border.
Because the project requires a zoning change, it must still go before the City Council, and construction isn't expected to begin until next spring. If all goes according to schedule, the first houses should go on the market in 1989, with building continuing over the next several years.
Despite the magnitude of the $200-million residential project, it has aroused little opposition aside from concerns about increased traffic congestion in the area. Numerous residents of neighboring housing developments turned out a public hearing last month to ask about additional traffic on their streets, but city officials maintain planned road improvements will be able to handle the extra cars.
Four housing types are planned for the land, which has been used primarily for oil tank storage since the early 1900s. There will be a 22-acre plot of 282 condominiums and three areas of detached, single-family homes, occupying lots ranging from 5,200 square feet to 7,500 square feet.
The density of the proposed development, called La Mirada Hills, prompted Planning Commissioner James Rynd to remark that the city was "going with the flow here, denser and denser, smaller and smaller." Rynd nonetheless voted for the project, which passed 4 to 0. Commissioner Cornelius Van Dam was absent.
Zoning Change Needed
Although the project's homes will be built closer together than in most other city residential areas, the number of units planned is only about half the amount allowed by La Mirada's updated general plan. The proposal needs a zoning change from the existing single-family residential categories to a planned-unit development designation that covers parcels held in common ownership.
All four divisions of La Mirada Hills will have their own homeowners' association, said Fred T. Bosley of the William Lyon Co. of Newport Beach, which will develop the property in partnership with a branch of Chevron. The associations will maintain greenbelts, and the roads in all but one of the sections will remain private.
The housing is expected to add about 2,200 people to La Mirada's 40,500 population, but a draft environmental impact report prepared for the city concludes that associated public costs would be offset by new tax revenues.
Rynd was not so sure, commenting: "I just have a gut feeling it's not going to pay for itself."
Part of a large oil field operated by Chevron on both sides of Beach Boulevard, the proposed housing site was used primarily for oil tank storage until a few years ago. There are also four capped wells in the area, and Chevron spokesmen said some contaminated soil will have to be removed from the tract.
The company plans commercial development for a neighboring 17 acres and will continue to use the rest of the field for oil production and storage.
Bosley predicted the homes will be priced from about $90,000 to $300,000.
About 31 houses are planned for a small portion of the tract that stretches across the La Mirada border into unincorporated Orange County land. The area is to be annexed by the City of La Habra, Bosley said.