In response to a lawsuit, the City of Garden Grove stated in writing on October 9, 2019 that the disposition of the 102-acre, city-owned Willowick Golf Course was “indefinitely on hold” until at least after January 2020 in order to comply with the requirements of the recently passed AB 1486, which amends the California Surplus Land Act (SLA). However, in a correspondence the legal firm Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai received on November 13, 2019, the City of Garden Grove stated that it may consider disposing the Willowick property prior to January 2020.
In its lawsuit filed on October 7, 2019 by OCCORD, a member organization of the Rise Up Willowick coalition, OCCORD alleges that the City of Garden Grove violated the California Surplus Land Act (SLA) when the City authorized the release of an RFP to dispose of the Willowick property, rather than first prioritizing affordable housing or open space as the SLA requires.
Before receiving this unanticipated November 13th letter, members of the Rise Up Willowick, a coalition of community members and organizations have made numerous attempts to try to reach out to the City, including staff and city council, to clarify their intention with the development of the Willowick property and have articulated their community vision for the use of the public site. The City of Garden Grove has made zero attempts to respond to any requests for information either through email to council members, public comments at council meetings, or calls to city staff.
Rise Up Willowick coalition members are surprised and disappointed in the City’s leadership and direction to consider fast tracking disposition, especially because of their previous stance issued on October 9th, which stated that the City would not dispose Willowick prior to January 2020.
“I think that the Council members of Garden Grove are purposely and maliciously shutting the community out because they have known for a longtime that they were never going to prioritize the community’s needs and wants. They have made it very clear by their inactions, ignoring our emails attempts, calls that there would be no room for discussion. The decision makers have not wanted to meet with us to discuss the impact on Santa Ana residents and Garden Grove residents. We know families will be displaced and our cities should prioritize our well being and the quality of our lives. It is their responsibility to lead the charge and have not done the bare minimum.” -Jessie Lopez, a resident of Santa Ana.
This change clearly shows the City’s priorities, which is not to work with the community and to ensure a transparent development process, but instead it is to circumvent any input from the community and the SLA.
The City’s continued disregard for its residents’ concerns and priorities and rush to sell the land are alarming. All over the state of California, cities are facing a housing crisis with a lack of affordable housing.
Tanya Sukhija-Cohen from Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai, one of the attorneys representing OCCORD, said “We are disappointed that Garden Grove went back on its commitment to follow the Surplus Land Act. The City needs to follow the law and listen to what its community members need most: parks and affordable housing.”
The Willowick property is an opportunity to address some of this need and the lack of open space residents so sorely need. The City of Garden Grove needs to follow the state law, SLA, and its recent amendments and not sweep this decision under the rug.
For more information, contact: Cesar Covarrubias, firstname.lastname@example.org