DOWNEY – Despite over two hours of deliberation and review by the Downey Planning Commission, nearby residents of a condominium project proposed for a currently vacant lot will have to wait to find out if new neighbors are in their future.
The sole agenda item on Wednesday’s meeting agenda proved to be a handful, as commissioners voted to continue the discussion to a later date after collecting more research.
The currently empty lot is located at 10361 Foster Road, at the southernmost border of Downey. The space totals 2.41 acres.
The proposed plan would erect 14 two-story condos and a private driveway in the space. Each condo would also include a two-car garage, with multiple other spaces provided for potential guests.
The proposed project quickly drew scrutiny from neighbors of the property, many of whom attended Wednesday’s meeting to voice their concerns. Many claimed that the area was not safe for a variety of reasons.
One long-term neighborhood resident, Donna Ewald, described the issues at length.
“Crime is a huge thing. In the 43 years I’ve lived in my house, my house has been burglarized 10 times,” said Ewald. “Lots, I mean lots of stuff. We have a continuous population of homeless people; they live – they try to live on the other side of my fence but I call the police regularly… the gangs do graffiti on that fence, and my fence, and the sidewalk at least once a week if not more.”
Many of the residents in attendance echoed these concerns while addressing the commission. Street racing, substance abusers, and the current lack of upkeep for the land were also mentioned.
According to Ewald, police have been called several times and are always quick to respond, however nothing seems to be done. Many claimed that due to the neighborhood’s extremely close proximity to the Bellflower city border, the respective police agencies will often times pass call response between one another.
Several of the property’s neighbors said that they wished for the area to be cleaned up and maintained before anything is done with the land.
This is not the first time that this particular piece of property has run into hardship concerning its development. A year ago, similar plans for a condominium complex were scrapped when what was proposed brought similar heat from local residents and did not satisfy the commission’s standards. According to the property owner’s representative at the meeting, the current plans were developed all the way from square one after its predecessor’s failure.
Another hotbed of debate were the Southern California Edison electrical towers that stand extremely close to the parcel of land and what health dangers, if any, they would bring to potential future residents.
According to the representative, contact was made with Edison specifically to inquire on any health concerns that may arise due to close proximity and exposure to the towers. While the representative claims that an email had been received expressing the towers’ safety, he was unable to provide it for commission to observe during the hearing.
Another hiccup in the project’s attempted approval came when the representative claimed that those who neighbor the property had been approached by the property owner and developers concerning the future complex. A petition in support of the project was provided within the commission’s report, however after closer inspection, it was discovered that only four of the several names signed had addresses listed within 500 feet of the property. All other names were attached to addresses in other cities, including Norwalk, Lakewood, and La Puente.
Meanwhile, those sitting in the audience of Wednesday’s meeting, with a new, current petition in hand, scoffed at the claim and denied ever being approached.
By meeting’s end, only Commissioner Hector Lujan seemed in total favor of the development, saying that he believed the condos would help fix the neighborhoods problems. However, with seemingly insufficient or incomplete answers to their questions and concerns, Commissioner Patrick Owens, Chairperson Matias Flores and Vice Chairperson Jim Rodriguez all declined to vote yes or no on the issue, instead calling for more research to be done and to reexamine the plans at a later, unspecified date.
“I do have some serious concerns about this project, and these concerns, at this time, are overriding how much I do like what it could potentially be…,” said Flores. “…I’m not ready to vote no, but I’m definitely not ready to vote yes…”
A vote for a continuance was unanimously voted on 4-0, with Commissioner Louis Morales absent.
The plans will now be re-discussed at a currently unscheduled meeting when city staff believes they have adequately researched and found answers to all current concerns.
Those wishing to follow the projects development are encouraged to check the Planning Commission’s website and social media. All residents within 500 feet of the land parcel will be notified when the meeting is scheduled.