Murrieta City Council approved a five-year extension of affordable housing projects at their regular city council meeting, Sept. 5.
The city’s housing authority, as the successor to the city’s redevelopment agency, is tasked with developing affordable housing projects on three vacant former redevelopment agency properties.
All redevelopment agencies across the state of California, including Murrieta’s, were abolished in 2011 by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The housing authority had until this year to develop the properties with affordable housing, per state law. The council was allowed to approve a one-time, five-year extension. If the new deadline is not met, the housing authority can sell the properties and use the funds for affordable housing projects.
According to a staff report, the housing authority has had difficulty initiating development of the properties due to lack of funds.
The authority did gain $2.1 million from the sale of another vacant lot in 2015, but City Planner Cynthia Kinser told the council the amount was only enough for the city to “probably proceed with one” housing project.
“We were a young agency when the dissolution of redevelopment occurred, so we don’t have the assets that some cities had,” Kinser said.
Because of this, Kinser said city planning staff will likely look to sell three of the properties and use the proceeds to develop one of the remaining properties ahead of the new deadline.
She said staff would like to return to the council with an analysis of which property is best to keep and develop and move from there.
Kinser said the extension could have been made a consent calendar item – which is generally approved by the council without discussion – but staff wanted to put it on the regular agenda to make sure the council was fully aware of the five-year timeframe.
“We just wanted to make you aware that this is something we are going to need to do within the next couple years that way we can have it completed within a five year window,” Kinser said.
The council approved the extension 4-0, with Councilman Randon Lane absent, after little discussion or debate from council members.
The housing authority already owns the land for one affordable housing project, an apartment complex known as Monte Vista I, restricted to families earning 30-100 percent of the area median income. The land is leased to the owner of the apartment complex and has a 55-year “affordability covenant” expiring in 2059.
The remaining three vacant properties that may be developed or sold, including a two-acre site known as “Jefferson South,” southwest of Interstate 15; a six-acre site located at 24960 Adams Avenue and a five-acre site at 42310 B Street.
The city will have until Sept. 5, 2022, to come to a conclusion on what to do with the parcels.