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    News in Depth

    Woodruff Townhome Developer Anastasi Proposes Discussing Slightly Reduced Density...And Gets An Earful From Residents And ELB Councilwoman Kell. We Post Pix...And Sound Clips

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03(August 21, 2003) -- At an August 18 public meeting called by Anastasi Development Co., president Darryl Nyznyk said the firm's proposed townhome development at 3800 Woodruff Ave. has been adjusted to address some valid neighborhood concerns, predicted the project would increase property values and offered to discuss reducing density "a little bit" -- unveiling a plan for 81 housing units instead of 88 -- within the framework of a committee to be formed separate from the Carson Park Community Group.

    The audience responded with a show of hands and applause in support of Carson Park Community Group director Angela Kimball...and heard 5th district LB Councilwoman Jackie Kell say that if City of Long Beach standards were applied to the project (which is part of an unincorporated County island), they would permit a maximum of 44 single family homes. She urged residents to contact County Supervisor Don Knabe, adding "I don't want density. I don't want congestion. I don't want parking problems, and you don't either," she said.

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03Roughly 200 concerned audience members filled the sweltering, windowless American Legion Hall abutting Heartwell Park east of Woodruff Ave.

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03Anastasi Development president Nyznyk initially had to speak from atop a table until someone figured out how to switch on the room's speaker system.

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03Back on the ground, Mr. Nyznyk said several aspects of the project had been modified in response to neighborhood concerns. "We're addressing legitimate concerns: parking, traffic, height, privacy, all of those we've addressed." (Photo: Nyznyk says traffic from townhomes (left small bar) would be less than other uses (higher bars on chart).

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03Anastasi staff displayed an artist rendering of the envisioned development.

    The audience pressed for answers on density. After reciting issues that had been addressed, and saying his firm prides itself on high quality developments, Mr. Nyznyk said:

    "One of the problems that I have, first of all if you people are thinking 50 units or less, there's no way. It's not economically viable for us. [audible audience displeasure] The reality is that if we were to build 50 big units, which they would have to be, there is a limit to the market in this community. There's no question about it. If we build 50 big units, during the time that we're selling them, none of you will sell your homes because we will have brand new units on the market and they will hold the price of your homes down. [Audience member: "That's not true" and more audible displeasure]...Every other community that we've gone into with our townhomes, the reality is they push the market on single family homes, and check it. You will see it. When we go in with our townhomes, we try to price them a little bit below the single family homes. Our product sells at that level. Your product is better because your product is single family. Your product will go up. [Audience member hollars: "How much are you gonna ask for them?"] We don't know yet, it depends on the market. [more audible displeasure]. Right now, your product [a single family home] is in the high 3's, the low 4's, your homes...What that will do to you, imagine a townhome for your price. Somebody's going to pay more for your home than for a townhome. We build a 2,500 ft. house there, the max we can go with it is probably mid 4's to 5. Your homes will match that because of the size."

    Mr. Nyznyk added, "The reality is, somebody is going to come here and build. We're providing you with an alternative that truly is better than most of your other alternatives. Nobody will buy this property and build single family residences because it doesn't make sense. It doesn't. What makes sense is the thing that we're doing here. [audible audience displeasure, shouts include "go build in your own neighborhood."]

    Mr. Nyznyk continued, "One of the things that we wanted to do in coming here today was [audibility difficult] come out of here with a committee we can talk to about some of the things that we're hoping to do. We're hoping that this committee is representative of all of you, that it would be willing to sit down and work out some details. The reality is we are willing to adjust the number of units a little bit, but we're not willing to adjust the number of units just so everybody can get a pound of flesh because it doesn't make sense to us."

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03Following some intervening speakers, Angela Kimball, director of the Carson Park Community Group challenged Mr. Nyznyk, prompting the following exchange:

    Ms. Kimball: Darryl, excuse me. Supervisor Don Knabe has specifically come back to you and advised you that he is not going to accept a project of the density which you are proposing here. He is on the record with us, telling us, that this is a community wide issue that and your company is going to have to address the density in a significant manner before he supports it...He's telling us he is not going to support a project unless the density is significantly reduced and the community wide issues are addressed.

    Mr. Nyznyk: Supervisor Knabe will support a project that is good for the community, Angela. And we, just like you, just like you, we are talking to Supervisor Knabe and trying to do the same thing that you are doing...Ladies and gentlemen, what I'm telling you is, the things that we are addressing are the impacts that you perceived in the project and you're still sitting here saying you want less units...That for you to have less units, it doesn't get you anything. It doesn't change the traffic, it doesn't change the [drowned out by audience displeasure]...Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you something. We are willing to do a compromise assuming we get a committee that is representative of all...

    Ms. Kimball [interjecting]: We are representing the community. [applause interrupts]

    Mr. Nyznyk displayed a plan for 81 (instead of 88) units, including greater setbacks (16 feet instead of code minimum 10 feet). "We've dramatically increased the guest parking...we now have 34 units and we've moved them from the central location to on the street in front of the units. Bottom line is, we have a lot more landscaping, we've got further setbacks, we've got more parking. Ladies and gentlemen, we really have addressed your issues. We don't want to build 2,000 square houses that your kids can't afford to buy..."

    Asked by an audience member to respond to City of Long Beach objections that the project doesn't fit the lower density of the surrounding single family residential area, Mr. Nyznyk said in pertinent part:

    "The General Plan and the zone [in the County] permit the use [townhomes] in a commercial zone, commercial district...because it's good planning. You don't want to have your lots converted to twos, threes and fours. You don't want [inaudible] building two and three on your lots. It's coming. It's coming unless you use the adjacent commercial properties, unless you would use the adjacent commercial properties where you can have denser projects, it's coming to your neighborhoods."

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03Reacting to the suggestion of discussions via a committee of five to seven people to be formed separate from the Carson Park Community Group, an audience member asked for a show of hands "if you feel Angela [Kimball] speaks on behalf of you here tonight." We captured the result in motion in the photo, right. Overall, it appeared to us as if most or nearly all raised their hands, followed by loud applause.

    An audience member, who acknowledged she was a minority in the room, dissented and said, "We're tired of the trash and the transients and everything," and said "those of you that don't live on Harco and Senasac don't know what those of us who do have put up with the last ten years. The trash, the transients. We have been waiting for anybody to come and do something positive. If you chase this man away, your lookin' at apartments. [audience displeasure, exchange within audience]...What I'm saying is, it could be worse."

    Responding to an audience question, Mr. Nyznyk indicated Anastasi has purchased the medical building remaining on site and indicated it would continue as a medical building "for as long as we can keep it filled with medical people." [Audience response was audibly skeptical.)

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03By this time, 5th district LB Councilwoman Jackie Kell (in blue blazer) had arrived...and took a seat near the front of the room directly facing Mr. Nyznyk. Audience members pressed Mr. Nyznyk to let her speak...and he did.

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03Standing near ramrod straight and speaking in a calm but firm manner, Councilwoman Kell noted the project wasn't within LB City Hall's jurisdiction and she had no vote on it, but indicated she'd prompted LB's Planning & Bldg. Dept to submit a letter objecting to the 88 unit density at the County Planning Commission level and continued:

    "I have met with [L.A. County Supervisor] Don Knabe. We have talked about this project. We've done it on the phone. We've done it three times in person and I told him of my concerns. Because the project is not in the city of Long Beach, I don't get to vote on it. However, the problem here is the City of Long Beach has completely different standards than the County of Los Angeles. For instance, first of all you have a quality of life issue here. We in the [LB] 5th district have a wonderful district...[and] we also have 98% single family homes in the 5th district. And that's why you probably moved here. [applause] The problem that the developer is experiencing is that you are used to City of Long Beach standards especially in East Long Beach. Now, the thing here is we would not allow 88 townhouses...We could put in 44 or less single family dwellings. That's what we would require. [applause] They could not be three stories high, they could only be two stories high, 25 to 28 feet...We would require two garage spaces and we would require a lot be a minimum of 6,000 square feet and we would also require more open space. [applause]. You are used to a different standard...You can appeal to the Board of Supervisors, but Mr. Knabe has said to me he will lower the density. So, you want to write to him, call him, fax him, phone him, because he gets to vote on it and I do not, and I have made my position known to him and you must make your voice more vocal when it goes to the Board of Supervisors because Don Knabe gets to vote it up or down but he sounds like he's tending toward the Long Beach standards." [applause].

    Councilwoman Kell declared in conclusion, "I don't want density. I don't want congestion. I don't want parking problems, and you don't either." [more applause]

    Councilwoman Kell's comments capped the near 90 minute meeting.

    Anastasi meeting Aug. 18/03As the crowd exited Mr. Nyznyk remained to field questions one on one. We asked, "The 81 units in the reconfigured site plan: Is that what's on the table now, or you're going to go lower?..." prompting Mr. Nyznyk to interject, "We're going to be talking to everybody about it and see, you know, whoever the committee is, and see what they think of it and see where we go." Might he be willing to go lower on density? "We might, yes."

    Previous coverage:

    Aug. 2003: Woodruff Townhouse Developer Anastasi To Hold Public Meeting Mon. Aug. 18 "To Review Revisions to Our Original Plan...And Demonstrate How Our Current Plans Would Benefit You."

    July 2003: Anastasi Development Co. Statement re Proposed Townhouse Development @ 3800 Woodruff Ave., Posted In Its Entirety

    July 2003: Ass'yman Lowenthal Views Proposed Woodruff Ave. Townhouse Site, Meets Carson Park Residents, Will Try To Facilitate Negotiation Process With Developer

    June, 2003: Woodruff Ave. Townhouse Development Controversy Hits LB City Council

    May, 2003: Overflow Crowd Packs Carson Park Community Group Meeting, Seeks Less Density In Woodruff Ave. Townhome Development

    Dec. 2002: On ELB's Doorstep: Developer Proposes 88 Condo Units (27 Residential Bldgs. + 1 Rec. Bldg.) At 3780-3800 Woodruff @ Harco In Unincorporated L.A. County Area

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