Glendale – On Wednesday, November 29th community members gathered at the Glendale Youth Center for an engaging Community Forum on Affordable Housing in the city of Glendale. The forum was organized by the Armenian National Committee of America – Glendale Chapter (ANCA Glendale) in order to explore ways of alleviating the need for affordable housing and finding areas of cooperation between public and private entities.
Glendale City Councilmember Mr. Zareh Sinanyan, Partner of Development at Carmel Partners Mr. Neils Cotter, Government Affairs Field Representative at California Association of Realtors (C.A.R) Mrs. Julie Tran, and Architect at Domus Design Dr. Marco Brambilla served as panelists.
Glendale City Councilmember Paula Devine, and Deputy Director of Housing Peter Zovak were also in attendance.
The four panelists each represented a different sector of the housing industry. Councilmember Sinanyan discussed the affordable housing issue from the city’s perspective, by addressing the effort the city has made so far and the challenges it faces. Mr. Cotter spoke on behalf of housing developers, Mrs. Tran on behalf of realtors and the legislative process, and Dr. Brambilla on behalf of architectural services.
ANCA Glendale Board Member Mr. Ronnie Gharibian moderated by asking thought provoking questions that led to a constructive discussion about the issue. He used neighboring cities such as Pasadena, as examples in order to discuss policies that require developers to set aside a certain percentage of units for affordable housing on or off site locations.
Councilmember Sinanyan discussed the cause of the housing crisis in the state of California, which stems from a severe imbalance in population growth and housing development. He stated that the housing issue is not unique to Glendale, it is a region wide issue, that is a result of the state’s failure to keep up with population growth for nearly two decades. Mr. Sinanyan talked about the efforts City Council and staff have made so far, and are currently working on such as, the 5th and Sonora affordable senior housing project, which will provide 70 units to qualified seniors. He also stated that while the city is working hard to alleviate the burden felt by Glendale residents, insufficient funds and lack of available land is proving to be a challenge for the city. Mr. Sinanyan informed the public that the housing authority and City Council will be working on implementing new affordable housing policies come January.
Echoing Mr. Sinanyan, Mrs. Tran highlighted the housing issue through an informative graph, which stated that on average there are 72,000 units missing annually, with Los Angeles being the most underbuilt city in the state of California. Despite nearly half a million jobs created from 2010 till 2016, only 100,602 dwelling units were built. Mrs. Tran also discussed Senate Bill 2, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, which would enforce a $75 fee on all real estate transactions. The funds collected would later be given to local municipalities through block grants, which would help subsidize new homes for low-income residents. She also mentioned that the state legislature is making a bigger effort to address this issue than it had previously.
Mr. Cotter, whose firm Carmel Partners has developed Altana, the large apartment complex on Central Blvd, discussed the development process, emphasizing the importance of mixed use properties, which would create jobs so that people can afford their rent. He also discussed how difficult it has become to receive financing from lenders, which make developments, and especially developments with affordable housing components unfeasible. Mr. Cotter mentioned that with the right incentives developers are be willing to partner with local government to incorporate affordable unites in new projects.
Dr. Brambilla emphasized the importance of ‘time’ for developers, and how streamlining the process is the biggest incentive any local municipality can provide. He suggested the city adopt practices to streamline the design and review process and give priority to developers who want to build affordable housing.
The housing issue vast and in no way unique to the City of Glendale. Although it is not impossible, it is a difficult challenge and will take years of collaboration between the public and private sectors to address this issue and ensure that housing is accessible to all.
“Addressing issues that concern not only the Armenian American community but also the Glendale community at large is imperative for ANCA Glendale. The Community Forum Series is a platform where issues such as Affordable Housing can be discussed in a constructive manner. We are pleased with the community’s engagement with this forum and are excited for upcoming community forums in 2018,” stated ANCA Glendale Community Outreach Director Margarita Baghdasaryan.
Follow ANCA Glendale on social media or log on to www.ancaglendale.org to find out about upcoming events and community forums.
The ANCA Glendale Chapter advocates for the social, economic, cultural, and political rights of the city’s Armenian American community and promotes increased civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.
Photo: (L-R) Julie Tran, Zareh Sinanyan, Marco Brambilla, Neils Cotter