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Coalition seeks standards for project

Twenty groups unite in hopes of compelling developers in Anaheim's sports district to pay a 'living wage' and build low-cost housing.

February 21, 2007|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

A coalition of 20 faith-based organizations, environmental groups and labor unions has created a community development agreement that would compel builders in the Anaheim sports district to meet prevailing wage standards and construct low-cost housing and child-care facilities.

The deal would be similar to one in San Diego in which homes, shops and offices were built around the Padres' new downtown baseball stadium, Petco Park. Although the covenant has not been ratified by any of the three builders being considered for developing lofts, office towers and retail districts on city-owned land next to Angel Stadium, one builder plans to meet with the coalition this week.

"Their vision for that site seems pretty compatible to ours," said Eric Heffner, vice president of Windstar Properties. "We want to build a sustainable community for the long term.

"A community is a whole bunch of different factions coming together to do what's best for the community. What defines a community is not the buildings but the spirit. We welcome this group's participation in the process."

The coalition formed last summer when the 53-acre parcel was being offered as one of two potential Southland sites for a National Football League stadium. As talks with the NFL stalled, city officials began entertaining offers from developers interested in building retail and office space, housing and possibly a stadium on the property.

The coalition, which calls itself Orange County Communities for Responsible Development, includes Los Amigos of Orange County, a Latino Advocacy group; the Dayle McIntosh Center, a Garden Grove agency that helps the disabled; Unite Here, a hotel and restaurant workers union; and Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice.

"The stadium project is an important, symbolic site, and there's going to be a huge investment of public resources," said Eric Altman, the coalition's executive director. "There is a broad coalition of groups that don't necessary always work together, but they all have a common vision for what could happen on the site."

The land is part of the so-called Platinum Triangle, a still-developing, high-density commercial and residential hub envisioned as the city's future downtown.

About 9,500 housing units are expected to be built in the Platinum Triangle, but none are designated as low-cost housing. Last week, the Anaheim City Council rejected a controversial residential project that included low-cost housing in the city's resort district. Disney and various business leaders vigorously opposed the plan.

The coalition is asking that development on the site "address the severe shortage of housing for working families and special needs populations." It suggests that "particular attention be paid to the housing needs of workers who build the project and those who occupy the service sector jobs it is expected to create."

The Windstar proposal and those from Hicks Holdings and Archstone-Smith and Hines include low-cost housing components.

The coalition is not demanding that developers use union labor, but does ask that jobs go to local workers and pay a "living wage." In San Diego, developers also agreed to pay $1.5 million toward a job-training program, $1.5 million toward low-cost housing and $50,000 toward local arts, youth and culture programs.

That agreement was signed by 14 community groups, including six unions.

Altman said the group's vision statement was only a starting point.

"We're hoping to get into dialogue with developers," he said. "And hopefully that will lead to more specific provisions."

Under terms of the Angels' 1996 stadium lease, housing cannot be built at the site without the team's permission.

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david.mckibben@latimes.com

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