When it comes to words like low income, homeless, or affordable housing neighbors tend to put up their guard or be skeptical. Some flat out do not want it, some welcome with open arms to solve an ongoing problem and some folks are in a bit of a holding pattern. Those were basically the responses last evening at the Ivy Senior Apartments open house held at James Madison High School before a crowd of close to 130 mostly neighbors to the project.
Representatives from Wakeland Development, PATH Ventures, & St Paul’s PACE Services presented a slide presentation, a short video on one of the residents, and took extensive comments from those in attendance.
The nuts and bolts of the project:
- Wakeland recently purchased the office building property at 5858 Mt Alifan Drive, which is located East on the back side of the Vons plaza at Genesee & Balboa Ave.
- Supportive housing for 55+ seniors with health conditions, for folks who have been homeless or at risk of being homeless. Up to 7 units could be reserved for seniors with mental illness
- 52 Units, a 3 story building, all studio apartments, roughly 37 parking spaces, gated entry with controlled access, community space for residents as well as office space for on-site management and service staff
- Tenants will sign leases and will pay 1/3 of their monthly income, the units are roughly 360 square feet studio apartments.
- Property Rules- No illegal or criminal activity on the premises, no drugs, no alcohol in common areas, all guests must check in, no long term guests, frequent unit inspections and quiet hours 10-6
- Resident Criteria- Age 55+, preference for seniors with chronic health issues, US Citizens or legal residents, Homeless in City of San Diego, Background check, so sex offenders, no history of drug dealing/manufacturing & no violent crime
The public in attendance were given an opportunity to hand in comment cards as well as speak for 1 minute with questions thoughts etc.
This is not a recap of every public speaker, but rather a synopsis.
Twelve or so people stood up and fully supported the project, citing they had done their due diligence, and visited other Wakeland properties. A number of people spoke up mentioning there is a serious homeless crisis in the city and we should do all we can to help out as best we can especially senior citizens. Two former residents openly spoke about how they needed help and became in involved with supportive housing. How the program helped and they are both working and helping others. Both credited the program for helping them to get back on their feet. One woman expressed great interest and would like to move in.
There were a couple of people who flat out expressly opposed the project. Both longtime Clairemont residents in the Mt Streets and both mentioned they were skeptical because of Wakeland’s affiliation with the Stratton “Blue Roofs” Apartments, which are low income affordable housing, (Wakeland disclosed they bought the Stratton, which were built in the early 70’s, with another developer back in 2000). The opposition cited the constant law enforcement presence on a regular basis being called to the property. Interestingly a woman stood up towards the end of the meeting saying she was a resident of Stratton and pointed out just because there are a few bad apples does not make all the residents bad.
The rest of the speakers were basically on the fence, had mixed feelings and of course questions. A great many people were concerned admitting the presentation is all well and good, but how can we be sure there will not be a bait and switch and something entirely different happens with the property. A couple community members inquired about the zoning of the project and requested a CUP Conditional Use Permit. Depending upon how permitting proceeds it could be something that is handled downtown (City Hall) still having to go through the proper channels but avoiding local planning groups or providing updates to the community. Wakeland assured those in attendance they will be very transparent about the process, coming back before the community in a formal setting (Clairemont Community Planning Group) is what many would like to see as the project progresses.
Others who have questions about the project expressed concerns over the mental illness aspect of some of the residents, will there be groups of people congregating around the property. There were concerns about the screening of the potential new residents. A few people spoke up saying preference should be given to Clairemont seniors in need first. A few also mentioned wanting to start a community advisory committee or board to keep in constant contact with the developers/operators, basically we want to be kept in the loop throughout.
Some residents have also created websites which they were touting to learn more about the Clairemont Community:
Overall Wakeland was agreeable and answered most questions. As far as timeline, this is still very early in the process a projected move in date if all went smoothly would be late 2021 early 2022.
The developers encouraged the public to arrange a visit to any of their other properties by visiting this project website http://www.ivyseniorapartments.com/ and contact for tours.