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Our Times / Orange County Communities | COVERING NORTH
COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : VILLA PARK

City Says It Has Met Housing Plan Rules

August 23, 2000|CHRIS CEBALLOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

While the Southern California Assn. of Governments appeals the state to lower its expectation for new housing, currently 504,000 new units by 2005, Villa Park officials report that their tiny city is ahead of the game.

The City Council recently approved a preliminary draft of the housing element report required by the state Department of Housing and Community Development. The report is intended to outline a city's housing needs and plans to meet that need over a five-year period.

State officials are reviewing Villa Park's draft report and will determine by Sept. 15 whether the city has complied with state requirements. Cities ruled out of compliance can lose access to certain state funding and may be vulnerable to developer lawsuits challenging the city's development requirements.

When the state ruled Villa Park out of compliance in 1992, it said the city's goal should be adding 23 more homes within city limits. Since then, the city has added 96 units, 85 for moderate-income residents and 11 attached dwellings or "granny apartments" for moderate- to low-income residents.

Villa Park is a predominantly white and affluent bedroom community where the hottest issues have to do with maintaining the quality of streets and keeping open the city's branch of the Orange County Public Library. A 1998 study found that minorities make up only 20% to 29% of the population and the median home price, as of February 2000, is $589,000.

For the 2.1-square-mile city, surrounded mostly by Orange and unincorporated county land, officials are recommending adding 22 new units over the next five years. That is less than 1% of the total county projections. Most cities in the county will be responsible for about 1% to 4% of the new growth, but Anaheim and unincorporated Orange County are projecting growth of 15% and 38%, respectively.

Cathy Creswell, a spokeswoman with the state agency, said the draft report is under review.

When cities are found to be out of compliance, Creswell said, there are a number of things that can be done to increase housing opportunities, such as redeveloping areas of older single-family homes into higher-density apartments or condominiums. But she said each city's housing plans should reflect the makeup of the community.

According to the city's report, the estimated population for Villa Park once it is fully developed will be 6,733. As of 1999, the city's population was 6,630. Over the past 10 years, 331 new residents have come to town, an increase of 5.3%.

"At the state level, rather than use the stick approach we're . . . looking to reward the cities that make the tough housing decisions," Creswell said."

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Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-7440.

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