We are in the midst of the greatest housing crisis in California’s history, that has forced folks to commute from places like Riverside to Orange County to provide for their families. This trend has been accompanied by dramatic spikes in homelessness throughout the state, including here in Santa Ana.
I have personally toured the now full Link Shelter in Santa Ana and was blown away by what I witnessed. There were some residents of The Link that you would expect to be in a shelter but what shocked me is so many were just normal everyday folks. These folks have cars and get up to go to work everyday. Sadly they do not earn a livable wage so they have been forced out of stable housing.
Housing prices, including rents and for sale units have skyrocketed since the Great Recessions. Many residents are living paycheck to paycheck – and if any problem arises their perilous finances can easily send them into homelessness.
As a longtime resident of Park Santiago I feel fortunate to own my own home and live in a nice neighborhood but I also know we must look beyond our own needs and look to the greater good of the community.
I am not naive. I fully understand that communities like The Addington are luxury housing and are not saving the folks that are teetering on the brink of homelessness. However, the only way to help our residents that are less fortunate is to increase the housing stock.
Remember that the same developer who provided the critical Link homeless shelter for the city is the applicant for The Addington. What kind of message are we sending to our civic partners by making the process to build housing so difficult?
Making matters worse, Santa Ana has not received even close to its fair share of housing over the past decade. Between 2010 and 2018, the City of Santa Ana issued 1,808 building permits for multi-family units. That is a fraction of permits that other cities have issued, such as Anaheim and Irvine with more than 20,000 for each city!!
Our local NIMBYs will attend public hearings and blather about all the housing in the area, but the current housing stock in our city is just the tip of the iceberg of what is really needed to provide for our residents.
What does that say about Santa Ana? Are developers just not willing to make investments in the City to provide new housing stock? We have a lot more work to do to stay competitive and provide the tax base and housing that a sustainable city needs.
On Tuesday, November 19th, the Addington is going to be on the City Council’s agenda again. The time it is taking to get through city approvals has not been encouraging. The Addington, a luxury apartment project at 2525 Main, has been in the entitlement process since Fall 2017. Should it take that much time for an application to get through the review process?
The Addington from the beginning has been confronted with neighborhood opposition. It started with the typical Santa Ana rumors that it was an affordable housing project, when that rumor was dispelled about half of the NIMBYS disappeared. Still some remained but did they remain for the right reasons?
The project has in fact undergone significant changes as a result of input from the community.
The original project proposed 496 units with amenities including landscaped courtyards, rooftop pool and spa, cabanas with tv’s, BBQs, fireplaces, fitness center, club room, movie theater, onsite concierge and maintenance services and 24-hour security patrol. The project wrapped around an 85’ high, central parking structure and had an easterly setback of 40’ from adjacent single- family residences. The City Council sent this project back for further neighborhood outreach.
Following extensive outreach to the neighborhood, a revised plan was submitted in June of this year. The new plan downsized to only 347 units with 2-5 stories and an increased setback from the adjacent residential homes of 90‘. This proposal however never made it to public hearings, because a better idea suddenly emerged.
In September 2019, an fantastic opportunity arose when the executive management at the Discovery Cube approached the Addington’s developer to purchase 1.5 acres of the 5.9 acres site on the southern boundary of the property. The purchase was made possible by a recent grant awarded to the Discovery Cube and will provide 180 sorely needed parking stalls for the Cube’s use between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. With the reduced site, the Addington plan was again reduced down to 256 units, a whopping 250 less units than the original plan, with 2-4 stories and a 55’ in height central parking area. The project was moved to the edge of Main and Santiago Park.
The same amenities are still provided but in a scale appropriate for the reduction in units. The setback from adjacent homes has been retained at 90’ and with the Discovery Science parking area, the setback from homes adjacent to Edgewood is 134’.
There will also be the addition of surface parking on the site along with a parking structure, providing a total of 2 spaces per unit for the project, completely separate from the Cube’s parking. The revised plan has also been able to retain all existing palms along the Edgewood entry to the Park Santiago neighborhood.
Nevertheless, the same small core of community opposition continues to object, but about issues which have already been resolved in the new and reduced plan. It seems as if the changing and evolving plan created an opportunity for neighborhood opposition to misrepresent the facts about the project.
These are the facts:
- Traffic: The proposed project will generate 4 times less traffic than a permitted by right office use and 6xs less than retail user. Additionally, all traffic generated by the project will only have access off of Main with a signalized intersection. There will be no access from Edgewood.
- Density next to single family homes: The proposed project is less dense than many projects throughout Santa Ana next to single family homes.
- Setbacks next to single family homes: The proposed project is 90 feet from Spurgeon neighbors and 134 feet from Edgewood. This is the same setback as the office building is situated on the site today. A permitted by right office building can be 5 feet from Spurgeon neighbors.
- Project is too high: The project is 2 stories next to Spurgeon neighbors and 4 stories on Main street edge. Considerably lower than the Cube or the adjacent office towers.
- Not enough parking: The parking is now 2.0 spaces per unit, dedicated solely to the apartment use. Not only is this consistent with the city’s zoning codes but residents will be prohibited from parking on neighborhood streets through a parking management plan. Additionally, if overflow occurs after hours, there will be a shared parking agreement with the Cube which brings available parking up to 2.7 spaces per unit. There has never been a multi-family unit parked at such a high ratio in the City.
- Removal of trees: All of the existing trees on Edgewood will remain.
Santiago Park is currently a dangerous place to visit at times, but the Addington apartments will greatly improve security at the park and in the neighborhood. This project will provide over $1.4 million to improve the park as well as provide 24 hour security and residents adjacent to the park compared to an empty building.
The Santa Ana City Council has the chance to show that Santa Ana is open for business and to support investments in the community such as The Addington. Santa Ana needs more housing and The Addington can provide the type of housing needed in this area of Main Street to support professionals working nearby at CHOC and offices located in this important job center in the City and region.
Keep in mind that Santa Ana is a job rich city and housing poor city, in fact for every two jobs there is only one housing unit! That is a simply astonishing ratio, and not in a good way. This is a bad fact for Santa Ana because employees that work in Santa Ana cannot find housing in Santa Ana and this is exactly the opposite of what we need to stay fiscally healthy. If we do not have folks buying goods in services in Santa Ana then we lose our valuable sales tax base and the future of the City is bleak.
The Addington has undergone many changes making it much more sensitive to the neighborhood, but it is still a luxury apartment project that will provide much needed housing and an attractive gateway along Main Street. Santa Ana needs to send the message that it is looking after all of Santa Ana not just a few misinformed residents.
As noted I live in the Park Santiago neighborhood, just down the street from 2525. I live closer to the project than many of the NIMBYs in the area. I support this development and encourage our City Council to STOP WASTING VALUABLE CITY TIME AND RESOURCES AND finally DO WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY OF SANTA ANA AND approve THIS PROJECT on Tuesday!