DOWNEY – The Downey City Council met Tuesday night and approved a variety of projects and proposals.
Below is a brief rundown of their actions:
■ Council members voted to reinstate a first-time homebuyer program to assist low-to-moderate income residents interested in purchasing residential property in Downey.
In partnership with the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), Downey agreed to commit $353,000 in federal funds over a three-year period to provide deferred loans up to $40,000 to qualified homebuyers. The NHS would match the loan for a total of $60,000 in homebuyer assistance.
The loan carries a 3% interest rate over a 30-year term. Interest will be forgiven after the 20th year at a 1/10th rate per year; at the 30th year, the city’s original loan amount and interest will be forgiven.
The entire loan, plus interest, would be due if the property is sold, changes title, or if the homebuyer refinances and cashes out or no longer utilizes the property as their primary residence.
“Due to their track record in Southern California and experience in the field, staff believes that NHS can successfully assist staff in administering an updated First-Time Homebuyer Program and place at least seven low- and moderate income homebuyers in their new Downey residence,” community development director Aldo Schindler wrote in a report to the City Council.
To qualify for assistance, homebuyers must be at or below the 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI) as established by HUD. (For example, an AMI for a family of four cannot exceed $69,450).
In addition, the homebuyer must qualify for a primary mortgage loan with a 3 percent down payment. The purchaser is also required to attend a homebuyer education counseling class.
The maximum purchase price on the home cannot exceed a HOME value limit established by HUD. A 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, for example, could not be priced higher than $486,400.
Downey residents will receive first priority for the loans, followed by people working in Downey.
Downey offered first-time homebuyer assistance before 2012, when the state dissolved redevelopment agencies.
■ At the request of Police Chief Carl Charles, the City Council agreed to pull $500,000 from reserves to purchase and install 25 license plate readers throughout the city.
An additional $158,398 will be withdrawn from the police department’s assets forfeiture fund to complete the purchase.
License plate readers scan vehicles’ license plates and alert police to stolen vehicles or cars tied to criminal investigations. In the last 12 months, Downey Police recovered 52 stolen vehicles and arrested 44 felony suspects thanks to the readers.
■ The City Council hired a consulting firm to explore economic development opportunities along Imperial Highway.
JWA Urban Consultants will be paid up to $69,960 to develop a strategic plan specific to Imperial Highway, which the City Council has previously hoped to revitalize with new retail and commercial developments.
JWA’s initial study, which will analyze existing market conditions and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the corridor, is due back by November 30.
Phase two of the project includes creating an economic strategic plan, with a focus on retailer retention and attraction.
The final phase culminates with implementation strategy and performance metrics.
■ The city of Downey and Downey Unified School District reached an agreement allowing the city to provide police officers at all three public high schools.
The officers will be stationed at Downey, Warren and Columbus high schools. Their overtime costs are partially offset by a $12,500 grant from Gangs Out of Downey and additional costs will be billed to the school district.
DUSD hires the officers to walk the campuses and interact with students and staff. They help detect and deter criminal activity, and serve as role models to students, officials said.
■ Street repairs are coming to Brookshire Avenue, both in north and south Downey.
Brookshire will receive work between Gardendale Street and Imperial Highway, and between Firestone Boulevard and Florence Avenue.
“Ultimately, the pavement rehabilitation will bring the condition of the pavement to an acceptable standard and will extend the life of the infrastructure by at least 20 years,” public works director Mohammad Mostahkami said.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in October and last through January. The total cost is estimated at $2.34 million.
Incidentally, the city’s Bike Master Plan recommended reducing Brookshire to a single lane in each direction to make room for bicycle lanes, but officials have scrapped those plans, at least temporarily, after deciding the suggestion “is not practical at this time and requires further evaluation.”
■ Council members finalized a salary increase for the position of fire chief.
The salary now ranges between $13,064 to $15,939 per month. Mark Gillaspie is Downey’s current fire chief.
■ Council members expressed frustration with construction delays at Lakewood Boulevard and Telegraph Road, upsetting residents and businesses alike.
The delays were blamed on Southern California Edison, which was slow to remove a utility pole, stalling the project, city officials said.
City manager Gilbert Livas said the city would request that an Edison official address the council at a future meeting.
■ Edwin and Adrianna Huber, Dorothy and Alan Pemberton, and Patricia Renteria were honored as National Parents of the Year.