Los Al Traffic Commission wants more time to consider 133 unit “Village”

Is 4 stories of modern apartments with about 3% retail in the wrong place or too dense or what we need?

(4/10/2014, Los Alamitos)  After spending almost two hours considering the pros and cons of Highland Pointe’s proposed “Village at Los Alamitos,” your seven volunteer Traffic Commissioners decided they needed more time to think it over, and continued the discussion to their next regular meeting on June 11.

The Commission appeared split. Some liked the modern look and who agreed with the developer’s Traffic Engineer that the impact on traffic would be negligible.  Others felt the traffic 133 new apartments would create was understated and the impact on the immediate neighborhood ignored.

Former Mayor Alice Jempsa felt the project would put too much   additional traffic on streets already gridlocked each morning with school traffic and trucks from the neighboring businesses.   She also pointed out that an earlier developer wanted to put Senior Housing on that site until he discovered the prohibitive cost of upgrading the area’s sewer system, an issue which Community Development Director Steven Mendoza indicated would be addressed later in the process.

An appealing addition to Los Al Blvd and definite updating of Los Alamitos’ rental housing stock, but at what price?

Gina Biri , like most of her fellow Commissioners had spent hours reviewing the Traffic Impact Report.  She admired the elevations and interiors of the modern units, and felt traffic concerns could be mitigated.

The owner of Gemini Forest Products, one of Los Alamitos top five sales tax generators year after year, expressed concerns about 133 families moving in across Briggeman Drive from his facility.  He was especially concerned about the Village’s only  exit fir cars going onto Briggeman Drive, the main truck route servicing both Gemini and Ganahl Lumber, another of Los Al’s top sales tax generators.

The developer pointed out that they would be widening Briggeman Drive ten feet as one of the conditions.

In answer to a question about zone and General Plan changes, Mendoza pointed out three things needed to be changed for the project to be approved:

  1. Zone change for that parcel from Commercial to Multi-family Residential/Mixed Use
  2. A General Plan Amendment to allow more density than is currently permitted in Los Alamitos’ multi-family zones.
  3.  Adoption of a Specific Plan for the parcel.

It should be noted that I also happen to serve as Chair of the Traffic Commission this year as part of a new plan to rotate the Chair annually proposed by last year’s Chair, Johanna Schluter.   My main focus was to keep the meeting moving and focused on traffic, and to make sure everyone’s input was given.

After two hours of discussion I agreed with Mr. Mendoza’s suggestion that the discussion be continued so the Commissioners could process the information.  I was also beginning to conclude that the Los Alamitos just doesn’t have the highway infrastructure for that kind of density (65 units per acre!)  And that adjoining industrial and commercial properties made it a bad location.  Not to mention the daily gridlock just up the street at the High School.

But it really is a nice looking building.  Plus, it does offer mixed use somewhat like what’s being currently proposed in the General Plan Update along Los Al Blvd. from the other side of Ganahl south to Vons.

Which got me wondering again about what the end results of that particular General Plan change might bring.

Stay tuned, we’re just at the beginning of this process, unless the developer decides not to see the process through the coming EIR and then seek approval for the General Plan and Zone changes,

As always, your perspective, diplomatically expressed, is encouraged.  And feel free to share this with friends and neighbors using the icons below.

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One Response to Los Al Traffic Commission wants more time to consider 133 unit “Village”

  1. It's a bad idea says:

    Thanks for putting in the time TC.
    Alice jempsa is correct.
    Los al Blvd is becoming like Katella, We don’t need any more traffic!!
    This project is a bad idea.

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