Bad Reasons to Oppose mixed use development

Several people who have spoken in opposition to mixed use development in Rosemead have come up with some pretty ineffective excuses. Today, I’ll address this one: "It will lead to overcrowded schools."

Did they forget that Garvey School District had to close down one of their elementary schools just last year because of declining enrollment? Probably not, because the same people leading the drumbeat against mixed use development also had Wal-Mart pay for a mailer to tell everyone how horrible it was that Garvey School District was letting East Los Angeles College operate a small (and I do mean SMALL) satellite campus on the former Dan T. Williams Elementary School on Del Mar, just north of Graves.

In the post-Prop 13 world of California education, school districts are reliant on state funding for a large chunk of their operating budget, and that’s based almost entirely on attendance numbers. More students means more state dollars. Fewer students means you need to shut down schools.

But many parts of South San Gabriel and Rosemead that used to send so many students into the Garvey School District have gentrified. We know that because many of us who grew up attending those schools know our parents and the neighbors we knew growing up are still living in our old homes.

This is also true in parts of northern Rosemead. Gentrification means fewer students in our schools, and that means less money for Garvey and Rosemead (and Alhambra) school districts. So if mixed use development can bring more school-aged residents to our city, that would be good for our local school districts, not bad thing.

Bad Reasons to Oppose mixed

It's also good to have families who are choosing to attend the public schools. If you have a two-class society, like they have up in Pasadena, the wealthy will send their kids to private school, and the working class will have public schools that aren't very good - especially considering how much money there is up there.

The EMUHSD, MUSD and AUSD compare favorably, and I think part of this is because it's harder for folks to "opt out", so they make more of an effort to work with what they've got.

The old conventional wisdom is that high density housing equals poverty and crime. They're ignoring the fact that, today, in this region, the condo is a starter home. It's either that, or buy an old house in "the hood" - though that won't be a good deal until the house prices stop falling. And if you have kids, you then have to decide if you're going to spend $$$ for private school.

One other thing - low density doesn't equal safety. The city of Compton is low density. Low density hasn't prevented a high homicide rate.

The mixed use zone along Garvey is aiming for 30 dwelling units per acre (30 du/ac) max. According to the city of LA, their R3 zoning category is 54 du/ac. And LA goes all the way up to R5 with 217 du/ac. See:

Now, R5 is probably going to have some problems, especially if you have a family try to live in a studio apartment. But the Rosemead mixed use zone is relatively moderate density - it's like townhomes. A bit crowded, but, today's norm.

Another thing to consider is the effect of condos on local real estate. The condo residents are a potential pool of buyers for local single-family houses, because they'll have some capital for a downpayment. (Of course, this will happen only if the City can really get people to want to stay around.)

low density versus high density

Night Reader blogs: "One other thing - low density doesn't equal safety. The city of Compton is low density. Low density hasn't prevented a high homicide rate".
Reply: However, he did not mention that there are four (4) high density, low income gov housing projects all located within close proximity to Compton i.e. Jordon-Downs, Nikerson Gardens, Imperial Courts, Gonzaque Village.

We all know in L.A., crime and gangs are mobile. It is easier to live and congregate in high density complexes, but have one dope or gang house in Compton.

That being said, do I believe mixed density is an absolute indicator of high crime and increase in gangs--NO. Do I believe that mixed use will increase density which will cause a lower "quality of life" to existing residents in single family detached homeowners--MAYBE?

Allot is said of the success of revitalization of our inner cities using mixed use development, like downtown L.A.'s Bunker Hill, the lofts of Los Angeles Street, the lofts and art galleries on San Pedro and Main.

On the other spectrum, there is also allot to be said of areas like Santa Barbara, which has very slow to almost no growth in housing, but with a very high quality of life and stable ever increasing home values.

I hope the new city council is more aware of the very "tough" decisions to be made in bringing new revenue to any city, whether by new housing or big business, and maybe, just maybe have a little more regard for those who came before (just a thought).

low density versus high density

Wealthy areas with high property tax bases can get away with limited growth and limited sales tax revenue.  That's places like San Marino in addition to places like Santa Barbara.

One of the tough things our current city council majority has to deal with is that they can't be sure how much of what they hear at city council meetins is 'real' Rosemead and how much is manufactured outrage.

low density versus high density

Santa Barbara is nice but has some real traffic problems. Many of the people who work there commute in from Santa Maria or Lompoc, because they can't afford to live in Santa Barbara.

Fortunately, there are shuttles, but, it's still a very long commute.

low density versus high density

Oh yeah, these mixed use developments are not housing projects.

They don't really make housing projects anymore. Right now, public housing seems to be targeted for tear downs, to be replaced with mixed income, market-and-public mixtures.

Bad Reasons to Oppose mixed

Will mixed-use impact our "already-overcrowded schools"? You decide: Some real numbers on student enrollment figures, from the California Department of Education.

Garvey School District                 Rosemead School District

School Year      Enrollment          School Year     Enrollment

2000-2001       7,058                 2000-2001      3,421

2001-2002       6,919                 2001-2002      3,439

2002-2003       6,859                 2002-2003      3,403

2003-2004       6,584                 2003-2004      3,355

2004-2005       6,455                 2004-2005      3,202

2005-2006       6,297                 2005-2006      3,240

2006-2007       6,119                 2006-2007      3,168

Total Percentage decline, from 2000-2001 to 2006-2007: Garvey, down 939 students, or 13.3%. Rosemead, down 253 students, or 7.4%. Especially for Garvey School District, it kinda looks like they’re in a death spiral. Unless current trends reverse themselves, they’ll have to close another school down within a few years.

Quite simply, Rosemead schools NEED more students, and we’ll only get them if we expand the affordable housing stock in the city. Mansionization doesn’t make housing more affordable. But mixed use development can, especially if affordable housing is a component of the project.

Bad reasons to Oppose Mixed Use Development

Folks, I believe there is still some room (figuratively and literally) for Rosemead to build more housing and businesses, as well as revitalize (Del Mar Ave comes to mind). However, is the city council and planning dept trying to "build just to build", need more revenue, help current residents in rentals get into affordable homes they can own?

1. If you are building just to build because that's what city councils thinks they should do--that's just dumb.

2. If you desperately need revenue to cover police and fire--why can't you live within your means now?

3. If a school district has to close down--is it the "domain" and "providence" of a city council (who have problems of its own?) Because, students can and do transfer FROM existing schools like El Monte Union, Montebello, Alhambra.

4. If you have the available space (according to "good" and "sound" urban planning) and want to reasonable grow and to revitalize--that's a good thing, and having a few bucks left over to have social programs is fine, but remember---this is NOT the old soviet block and Rosemead is not Mother Russia or China that is going to solve all societal ills.

Bad Reasons to Oppose mixed

Cities are all supposed to increase their residential units, and meet some goal of providing affordable housing units. There's a housing shortage, and, that's the proposed solution. I believe there's a state mandate, with numbers calculated by SCAG, that tells each city to produce a certain number of affordable unite by some date.

I'm not familiar with this process, but I imagine it's to distribute affordable units throughout the region, so you don't end up with so many situations where one city has all poor people, and a neighboring city is only wealthy people. This happens, but, the hope is probably to mitigate this by spreading the poor people out a bit.

A web search reveals that some cities don't like the mandate. As you can imagine, these are cities like Irvine, with relatively few poor people.

Bad Reasons to Oppose Mixed Use

The Southern Calif Assoc of Governments also states in its regional housing needs assessment (or RHNA):

"The RHNA does not necessarily encourage or promote growth, but rather allows communities to anticipate growth, so that collectively the region and subregion can grow in ways that "enhance quality of life", improve access to jobs, promotes transportation mobility, and addresses social equity, fair share housing needs"

Bad Reasons to Oppose Mixed Use

Well, if there will be growth, it's best to build for it. Otherwise, people will find their own ways to increase density. They'll live in garages, build shacks in the back yard, cram two families into houses, and other things that are already happening, but will happen more.

Bad Reasons to Oppose mixed

Folks, I only brought in the enrollment figures to address a specific critique of mixed-use development.  The opponents say our schools are overcrowded.  But the facts say the opposite is true--school enrollments are dropping and local schools are closing.

As far as Centaurs reasons 1-4, I'd go with #4.  Mixed use development isn't going to turn Rosemead into a workers' paradise.  But it can do a little to help address the lack of affordable housing and it can help revitalize our city.

Even with the mortgage meltdown, housing is still not affordable for the vast majority of southern Californians.  Run-down "starter" homes in Rosemead are fetching $400,000 or more.  That means young people today are either going to have to move out to Riverside and drive 90 minutes to work (not going to be feasible if fuel prices keep going up), or move in with their parents.  The first alternative is why the 210, 10 and 60 freeways are jammed pack starting at 6 in the morning.  The second is why there are sometimes 6 or more cars parked in front of a single home.

The housing component of mixed use developments can give them another choice for where to live.  The retail component can give them another alternative for where to work or shop or entertain themselves (and ourselves).  Coupled with traditional retail developments where opportunities remain (the Levitz's site, for example), we can improve the quality of lilfe for people in Rosemead.

Bad Reasons to Oppose mixed

Are they looking at the mix of jobs? They could stand to get some plan for getting businesses here with jobs with higher salaries. It's tough to attract those, but... hey, there's a blog coming out of the city. How much more "westside" can you get?