IRWINDALE — Residents of this town of 1,040 admit they are a little spoiled. They have become accustomed to the fruits of redevelopment--full scholarships for vocational school or college-bound students, $10,000 renovation grants to any homeowner, free optical care and soon free dental and medical care.
Irwindale is so rich with tax revenues from industry--$28 million in the bank--that residents were hardly surprised when city leaders announced earlier this year that free season tickets would be part of the deal to bring the Los Angeles Raiders to town.
Now a proposal to sell 44 new homes at pre-inflation prices has been greeted by residents with customary aplomb. But it has gotten a lot of people outside Irwindale excited. Dozens of people from Covina, Baldwin Park, Los Angeles and other cities have signed up to be considered for the city-subsidized homes that are nearing completion.
So many, in fact, that city officials were forced to make a decision last week that surprised no one: The homes will be sold only to current or former residents or the relatives of people now living in Irwindale.
"The things we offer in this city are very attractive," said city spokesman Xavier Hermosillo. "Many people would like to live in Irwindale, but there will never be room for them.
"The demand for housing far outstrips the availability of land to build on. We have a responsibility to take care of our people first."
The 44 homes, two dozen of which are almost finished, will be subsidized by the city's Redevelopment Agency. Depending on size, they will sell for $55,000 to $82,000. The city's recently established Housing Authority on Friday will begin accepting applicants who fit the new guidelines. The application period will last 30 days, preceding a 30-day qualification period.
Applicants will be chosen by lottery and then placed on lists with preference given to current residents now living in substandard housing. Current homeowners 62 years and older would qualify over former residents who have never owned a home. Other priority groups include people whose homes are condemned, first-time home buyers, handicapped residents, veterans and low-income families.
"We'll make 20% of the homes, nine homes, available to low-income families," Hermosillo said.
Only about 230 homes now exist in the city. The City Council voted last week to rezone 50,000 square feet of land on Irwindale Avenue from commercial to residential. The parcel, owned by M. C. Nottingham Co., a septic tank manufacturer, could accommodate 25 to 35 homes. Hermosillo said the city may decide to subsidize homes built on that land.
"It's too early to tell what will happen with that land. The owner may decide to build the homes himself. We'll have to see what happens."