25 August 2012

Affordable Housing at Tres Hermanos in Tonner Canyon?

Today's Chino Hills Champion reports that 85 acres of the Tres Hermanos Ranch property north of Carbon Canyon is likely to be rezoned to allow for the possibility of the construction of affordable housing (i.e., apartments) to meet state mandates imposed on cities.

Thirty acres would be in that section lying within the City of Diamond Bar, this being the portion north of Grand Avenue, while 55 acres to the south of that roadway in the City of Chino Hills is being earmarked.

It was noted in the article that, just because these cities may (or may not) approve such rezoning from agricultural/ranching to high-density residential, this does not mean that any such housing will actually be constructed.  This is because state statute does not require that units have to be built, but that zoning has to allow for a certain number of them. 

Obviously, there would have to be some market demand for affordable housing in a given area that would lead developers to go in and submit a project application and get the ball rolling.  With the state of the economy, it does not appear there will be any rush for such activity, but one never knows.

In a nearby example, there is an affordable-housing element in the Blackstone master planned community just west of Carbon Canyon in the City of Brea, where former oil fields are being developed into mainly single-family housing, but also some apartments.

It is not an accident that sites such as Blackstone and the ones in Tres Hermanos are being sought by cities for affordable housing.  There are many examples in which residents of established single-family residence communities are fighting affordable housing projects in their area.

Only recently in Chino Hills, a proposal to rezone the former civic center, now known as the Founders Recreation Center, on Grand Avenue at Founders Drive near Chino Hils Parkway, met with spirited resistance by local homeowners, who fear the usual suspects—declining property values, crime, etc.—from affordable housing.

Typically, areas targeted for affordable housing seem to be those with the least perceived impact on single family houses.  In Chino Hills, this includes a site zoned for commercial use and next to existing apartments on Butterfield Ranch Road, just west of the 71 Freeway; the high-density residential zone next to the Civic Center and The Shoppes; and a potential homeless shelter designation for commercial areas east of the 71 Freeway between Soquel Canyon Parkway and Chino Hills Parkway.

Oh, and theoretically at least, at Tres Hermanos Ranch, which is part of the entirety of Tonner Canyon and which is owned by the City of Industry.  Because these holdings were acquired under the recently-abolished redevelopment agency system, Industry is now having to confront a new reality for all of its properties purchased under that regime.  While a long-proposed reservoir project may still be on the table for Industry, it is not known whether or not that city will be maintaining ownership of any of the Tonner Canyon properties for much longer.

Hence, the recent movement by Diamond Bar and Chino Hills to rezone the small sections (for now) into residential ones.  Presumably, in the future, there will be other movements and it will be interesting to observe what happens with Tonner Canyon over upcoming years given the situations outlined above.

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