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Community Digest

Bell Gardens : Zoning Hearing Postponed Because of Overflow Crowd

October 18, 1990

Planning Commission members were forced to delay a decision on a controversial plan to rezone neighborhoods throughout Bell Gardens after an overflow crowd in the City Council chamber exceeded the capacity allowed under county health and safety codes.

The meeting has been rescheduled for 7:30 tonight at Ross Hall auditorium, 6662 Loveland St.

At least 150 residents and business owners packed the meeting Tuesday night to demand the Planning Commission turn down a plan that, if passed, would affect more than 3,000 homes and businesses in the city.

Two weeks ago, planning commissioners were forced to continue the first hearing on the zoning change to allow more residents and business owners an opportunity to speak.

The city is required by state law to amend the zoning map to conform with the city's General Plan--its blueprint of what the city will look like in years to come. Most of the zoning changes being considered would reduce density, eventually eliminating 70% of the area zoned for multifamily residential housing. Other changes would take small businesses such as neighborhood markets out of residential neighborhoods, and homes out of industrial and commercial zones and areas planned for parks. Residents and business owners would have 20 to 40 years to comply with such changes.

Residents and business owners said Tuesday that they do not understand why anything has to change. They complained that the proposed changes would force them to move out of their homes, or result in a decline in property values.

But Claude Booker, Bell Gardens city manager, said most people won't have to make any changes because most homes in areas zoned for multifamily residential units are single-family or two-family units that will be allowed under the new law.

"The key is that we are the second most dense city in the county and if we are going to preserve our quality of life, we have to do something to control this runaway building," he said.

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