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Council OKs 45-Day Ban on Building


ALHAMBRA — Concerned by oversized homes and recent resident complaints about the proliferation of condominiums, the City Council has slapped a 45-day moratorium on construction in the city, effective immediately.

The emergency moratorium, approved unanimously Monday night, will give city officials "breathing room" while they review development standards for areas zoned for medium to high density, Mayor Barbara Messina said.

The moratorium exempts property owners who have already submitted plans to the city's Department of Community Development for plan checks. About 120 applicants fall into that category, City Manager Kevin Murphy said.

In 1988, the city imposed a moratorium for about six months while it rezoned and reduced densities in 23 neighborhoods. In recent years, other San Gabriel Valley cities, such as Monterey Park, Pasadena and San Gabriel, also have adopted moratoriums to control the pace of growth in their communities.

The new Alhambra moratorium irked some developers, who told the council they have spent significant amounts of time, energy and money on their projects and would be hurt by a delay.

George Harris, a property owner whose proposal for a 77-unit apartment complex in the north end of town was recently rejected by the Planning Commission after hundreds of residents protested it, said the moratorium would have a "chilling effect" on investments and developments in the city. He and other developers asked that their projects be exempted.

But the moratorium was welcomed by members of Alhambra Residents Against Overdevelopment, which blocked Harris' apartment project.

"I applaud the council," said Cindy Fabricius-Segal, a spokeswoman for the group. "Residents need to know they live in a quality, stable environment."

Fabricius-Segal and her neighbors say their single-family neighborhood is being boxed in by large condominium projects that bring increased traffic and congestion. She urged the council not to grant any exemptions.

During the moratorium, the council plans to examine the types of new construction in R-2, or medium density, areas. Some members have been concerned that developers are building homes too large for the size of the lots.

The council also plans to identify areas where high- and low-density zones were placed side-by-side during previous rezonings. One controversial project was a condominium complex on North Almansor Street that abutted a single-family neighborhood, Murphy said.

The council, which may extend the moratorium, has scheduled a May 14 public hearing on the matter.

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