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Business Parks Eyed as Housing Option

June 23, 2004|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

The Mission Viejo City Council is considering allowing affordable housing units in business parks to comply with a state mandate to add 154 units to the city's housing stock.

The proposal would allow developers to build relatively low-cost housing in areas zoned for commercial use without having to seek rezoning.

Developers also may be asked to add affordable units in their residential mix to meet state requirements.

State officials warned the city in 2001 that based on the cost of housing and median family income, it was not complying with state guidelines for the number of affordable units, and instructed the city to rezone the two remaining undeveloped sites -- about 23 acres -- for high-density, multifamily development by January 2003.

Neither site was rezoned, however, and Cathy Creswell, deputy director of state housing policy development, said the city faced losing eligibility for grants available to cities that meet affordable housing standards.

The council Monday night asked city staff to investigate adding housing to commercial areas such as business parks.

"What my colleagues are trying to create will be a housing element that will be technically in compliance [with the state guidelines] without ever having to build an affordable housing unit in the city," said Councilman Lance MacLean, who cast the sole opposing vote.

"We have 32,000 residential units in Mission Viejo and we're agonizing over 154 units," MacLean said. "I don't understand why this is a problem."

Mayor Gail Reavis said that the city already has adequate housing for "the handicapped, seniors and the disadvantaged" and criticized the state for not allowing them to be counted as affordable housing.

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