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Lake Elsinore Pushes Ahead With Low-Income Housing Projects While Downtown Redevelopment Stalls

City officials insist that Lake Elsinore needs more redevelopment where pockets of blight remain, but affordable housing seems to be where money is being spent, much to the chagrin of some local residents who want to see upscale development in the communi

Lake Elsinore is pushing ahead with its $9 million Pottery Court affordable apartment project, meanwhile the city's ambitious plans for a downtown commercial business center have been put on hold.

City officials insist that Lake Elsinore needs more redevelopment where pockets of blight remain, but affordable housing seems to be where money is being spent, much to the chagrin of some local residents who want to see upscale development in the community.

Authorized under California law, redevelopment is a process that allows local government, under the auspice of local redevelopment agencies (RDAs), to use increased property tax to obtain and repay bonds that cover the cost of redevelopment projects in designated areas, but the process is subject to change: Gov. Jerry Brown has said he wants to eliminate RDA programs as a means to save the cash-strapped state some money.

The city’s RDA recently approved a resolution opposing the governor’s proposal.

In part, the city blames Sacramento's budget woes for the stall on some local redevelopment projects. For example, the city's project called for construction of a commercial center across from the Cultural Center in downtown. The concept behind the Business Incubator project was to attract budding businesses to Lake Elsinore via low-rent incentives. The Business Incubator theory was that once a business were to build up a large enough clientele, it would move to a larger facility in another part of the city, thus bringing jobs and revenue to Lake Elsinore.

City officials said the Business Incubator is on hold because the annual cost of the project exceeds what current redevelopment revenue will cover. The Lake Elsinore RDA expected tax increment money for running the Business Incubator to be higher. It fell short of the $150,000 needed annually.

But officials also said they want to wait on the Incubator until Gov. Brown decides whether to proceed with his plan to eliminate redevelopment programs.

“We might re-apply in the future,” said Melissa Melendez, Lake Elsinore Redevelopment Agency chairwoman.

Justin Carlson, city planning/redevelopment analyst, said the project cannot proceed until funding improves and the city knows what the governor’s action will be.

“Financing is on hold,” Carlson said.

In contrast to the Incubator project, the Pottery Court affordable housing project has been in the works for several years and will move ahead. Demolition at the site was finished in the fall and construction is slated to begin in April, with a groundbreaking ceremony planned for April 19. The project is expected to take one year to complete.

Of 113 apartments to be built at Pottery Court, 111 will be affordable, Carlson said.

“They will be open to anybody who meets affordability requirements,” he said adding, Lake Elsinore needs housing that is affordable and inclusive.

The project is being built by Bridge Housing Corp. on W. Pottery Street, between N. Langstaff Street and N. Riley Street. It will cover 4.3 acres.

The apartments are for residents earning between 30 and 50 percent of area median income. The one- two- and three-bedroom units will range from 671 to 1,096 square feet with monthly rents from the low $300s to the mid $700s, depending on the unit size and household income.

The development will feature community space including a study room, a music practice room, a great room, a full kitchen, a pool, barbecues and outdoor play areas.

Pottery Court and other affordable housing projects have run into opposition from residents wanting more upscale construction, Melendez admitted, but RDA rules mandate that a certain number of affordable homes be built based on the city’s population. Under redevelopment rules, the city must construct about 700 additional affordable housing units to satisfy state-mandated RDA requirements.

Lake Elsinore officials believe redevelopment projects will add value to the area even if they have the “affordable housing” label, and will give the city a newer and more stylish look.

“It’s all in how it’s managed,” Melendez said.

She emphasized that redevelopment is a benefit to the city.

Redevelopment funding in Lake Elsinore has provided more than $301,000 to prepare a downtown master plan and civic center study in 2009; to-date, the city has not moved forward on that plan.

Redevelopment also provided $37,625 for a senior center expansion in 2009.

In 2010, $45,000 was allocated in RDA funds to improve the Lake Elsinore Chamber of Commerce building.

In addition to the Pottery Court project, Lake Elsinore’s Redevelopment Agency is in the process of having 152 aging apartments refurbished at Lakeview Apartments on Riverside Drive. The Redevelopment Agency purchased the existing units at the site as part of the plan to renovate those needing upgrading.

The approximate $4.56 million project should conclude this summer.

Improvements include remodeling the kitchens and bathrooms as well as painting, new carpets and landscaping.

The work is being done in two phases with 88 apartments initially upgraded, followed by the remaining 64. The RDA estimates it would cost about $30,000 per unit to fix the apartments up.

The refurbished apartments are required to remain affordable for 55 years.

Terry Mohr March 01, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Let's keep giving to the poor just like idiot Obama and not provide any assistance to downtown merchants. In 2008 the city received a grant of over 2.6 million dollars from the U.S. economic Administration and three years later - nothing has been done. But they continue to harass and threaten to fine downtown merchants for not fixing the "back" of their buildings when they have no business coming in, but they (Venus Printing) had to spend over 2 grand to make the back of their buildings look better for aesthetic reasons - just ridiculous.
David Pereira March 01, 2011 at 03:46 PM
I agree with Terry, this is getting ridiculous. It blows my mind that the city used my higher property taxes to buy apartments at Lakeview apts to fix them up and sell them. Since when is government supposed to be in the real estate business? Someone in charge at the RDA has been watching too much HGTV. I used to be very gung-ho regarding our city council but now I'm really starting to doubt their abilities. I moved here four years ago and have been asking the council to install sidewalks ever since. I've emailed them each personally and have always been pacified by their explanations but I have yet to see one sidewalk being installed. Instead of buying apartments in a feeble attempt at flipping them, they could save the $30,000 for each apartment and use it to put curbs on Lakeshore drive. Or Mission Trail. Or fix Diamond Drive.
Michael Schaul March 01, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Umm, heres your sidewalks for riverside drive. http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/lake-elsinore/article_9f1f12f7-f65f-520b-b629-9c378f0d94ad.html
Anon March 01, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Why do we insist on giving to the poor. I see how the poor live. They shop with their EBT cards and buy anything they want. There is no policing of the system at all. Just sign up and things will be given to you. Why dont we put in some affordable senior housing instead. Maybe people will stop having babies they cannot afford if we stop giving them everything for free!
Anon March 01, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Amen Terry!
David Pereira March 01, 2011 at 06:11 PM
have they been installed?
Diana March 01, 2011 at 11:16 PM
I for one am so passionate about this City and have been deceived by so many council members through the years with their broken promises, deceptions and back door business deals that every time I read one of these stupid articles about how they are once again throwing money away on the low income people the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I previously posted on here for another article a list of streets throughout the City that provide "low income" housing, I also sent it to Melendez. The low income housing is all over the place and there is more of that then anything else in this town which in itself is completely wrong. I had faith in Melendez thinking that maybe she is the one that would turn this city around but at this point, all I can say is she puts on a great "dog & pony" show. The article states that the city has put the downtown master plan on hold, rumor has it that they just bought the lot across the street from the Culture Center and gave the business operators there the boot??????And now that building sits empty too?? How many other lots have they bought and they sit empty throughout this town. So who authorized the city to be able to buy and sell real estate. Excuse me don't they work for the people that live in this town and pay taxes??????? Why are we not getting a say so on this???????? Thanks for the ghetto keep fueling it...great job Council members and city managers aren't you proud of your town.
Diana March 02, 2011 at 01:46 AM
BTW $9 Million wow, the City cries broke all the time for sidewalks, street repair and so on. I'm not for Jerry Brown, but I hope he jerks the money from the RDA before this project gets anywhere, kind of like all the other projects for this town that never seem to happen.
David Pereira March 02, 2011 at 04:36 PM
I have to agree with Diana on this one, even though I hate to.
Diana March 02, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Let's not loose site of the additional RDA money that they are using for the revamp of the boat launch at the campground on Riverside that they just approved a couple of weeks ago. Our city is spending millions of RDA dollars right now, where did this money come from? With the threat of Jerry Brown pulling all RDA money from small towns our city officials have allocated millions of dollars in the last month. I for one am very skeptic of this action and want to know why we can't get a cross walk for the students at the high school on Machado, back side of the school that endangers their lifes every morning, we can't get any improvement done on our streets, and most of all how is the City allowed to engage in real estate transactions, isn't there capitol gains involved in all real estate transactions??????? I think it's time for the tax payers in this town to rally and get some answers to these questions of "why", or better yet perhaps someone with higher governing authority needs to be contacted for an investigation. This is not right. And David, you are a smart guy with many of the same issues as other posters on here, I assume that you could be one of those that would rally for his town.
David Pereira March 02, 2011 at 06:25 PM
I'd probably be right by your side Diana
MARIA March 04, 2011 at 05:33 PM
I think it's great that they are helping the people in need. People that think they will always be wealthy should humble themselves. What if one day a rich mans' company shuts down and he loses everything including stocks 401k, I mean everything? I'm preety sure he would thank his lucky stars that theres low income apartments in his area. If people need assistance from the government at one point in their life thats fine to an extent. I'm an RN that believes in helping people. Every city should have low income living to people that deserve it, not people with criminal backgrounds,etc.
Diana March 04, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Assistance at one point in your life is absolutely correct...making a life style out of it is another story..every city should have low income housing.......Maria do you live in LE??? Open your eyes dear we are surrounded by low life's and low income housing.
David Pereira March 06, 2011 at 11:45 PM
All I have to ask is; would you want your parents living in the new Pottery St apartments? If not, then you don't really support it and you're just trying to sound as if you care.
Anon March 07, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Diana, we arent surrounded by low income housing, but projects like this do not help the cause either! When I moved here, most were middle class. The illegal alien factor never helps!
Diana March 07, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Jackie: I don't know where you live but have you driven down Grand, Riverside Dr., Lincoln, Kellogg, Lindsay, Lakeshore, or how about the streets above our City offices? If these are not low income housings then I apologize because they sure do look like it.
melissa melendez March 07, 2011 at 04:41 AM
For a listing of what projects the RDA has completed, go to www.talk2melissa.blogspot.com and go to the post "RDA Projects" If you have questions by all means post them and I will answer them. Bear in mind that I took my seat on the council in December 2008, so I may have to do some research on some of your questions, but I will get an answer for you.
Diana March 16, 2011 at 10:26 PM
Listed here are some of the streets within Lake Elsinore that have apartments or condo style rentals, the list is not complete but will give you an idea of what is already in place and yet they want to build more: Lincoln St. , Joy, Parkview, Peck, Heald, Ellis, Casino, Woodcrest, Broadway, Riverside Dr. Grand Ave, two separate locations, Graham, Kellogg, Limited, Pope, Spring, Auto Center Drive, these complexes may or may not be low or very low income housing but by the looks of them they sure could be....and we need more???? I am sure that there are others within the City that I missed they are tucked within housing tracts throughout because of the once resort town we once were. How many apartments does a town of 50,000 require, I have asked that question over and over and yet no one within the City Hall can give me an answer, then I ask, how do they know if we need this project if they can't provide me the answer to my first question.
michael w April 09, 2011 at 03:39 PM
so all you people cry about this cities problems regarding income, well if it wasn't for some of your fine public servants this city would be sitting just fine with the income of the many attractions that the california speedway brings to fontana. that was to be built here in lake elsinore, the land was already bought and all environmental reports submitted. but your fellow criers stopped that multi-million dollar income from coming to this town. we need low income housing in this area because the city keeps killing projects that would bring large scale employers to this valley. bring real paying jobs to this and then this town might have a chance.
Diana April 11, 2011 at 10:10 PM
I so agree with you Michael, there have been so many big money projects on the table for this town, 5 star hotesl and restaurants, new boating facilities, and so on and the City kills it time and time again yet they don't seem to have a problem with their low income projects flying through without a problem....this is just wrong in too many ways!!!!!!!!!!!!!
sam1986 July 23, 2011 at 02:07 AM
You guys have no clue what it is like for people that cant really make it especially with the way this job market is. You guys are ignorant for saying that lower class people are a bunch of low lifes. We are not i am 24 and have grew up around this area seeing people struggle to make ends meat. We really have no hand outs welfare really doesnt cover much and most people use it for when they are in dire need so please dont talk or be little us for our lives cause some do try hard to get out of our rut. Be humbled that you have what you got cause it can be stripped from you in a heartbeat. Thanks and god bless to all of you
Diana October 31, 2011 at 04:20 PM
The new Goodwill store next to Walmart is hiring!!!!!!!!!
Priscilla November 18, 2011 at 06:00 AM
Wow, I am utterly disgusted with the comments I read on here. I have been on welfare my whole life, not by choice but because I HAD TO. My mom gets disability checks because she is unable to work because of a back injury, but the government doesn't even send enough for her to live off let alone both of us. I recently turned 18 and got cut off welfare, I am going to school to better myself and I have searched for a job but every opportunity I get seems to have a problem working around my school schedule and the money from FAFSA is not enough to get by. So don't say that we are "low-lifes" because I most certainly am not one. I work hard in school and yet I am unable to get a job. The rich people just think about how they can help themselves and nothing more. If you want to bring more people to this shit hole town, fix the damn lake before any other project. That disgusting lake is what driving people away from here. Look at the brightside, this project for low income apartments put a few people to WORK, which is exactly what our economy needs right now. So quit whining about people trying to make a "living" off welfare because it is nearly impossible to even live off that money, yet alone live the glamorous life you make it seem like we are living. As for low-income apartments, yes I agree that they should have background checks and allow certain people who have a right to be here LEGALLY, live there. & btw Diana, Goodwill already hired all the people it needed.
Anon November 18, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Wow Priscilla, sorry for your circumstances, but you really dont even sound thankful for what you have. You do realize that your welfare $ does come from tax payers and that is the working class right? All you can do at this point is make your life better. Just keep looking for a job, there has to be one out there. There are plenty of fast food resturants in LE. I am slightly offended that you call this a shit hole town. If you dont like it , why dont you leave?
Roberto November 18, 2011 at 05:00 PM
I don't believe in classwarefare weather we are talking about the rich, poor or middle class. The problem is we already have more than our share of low income housing and we need a moritorium. Enough is enough...We need more lite manufacturing, support for merchants and give TAX breaks to business to relo here and now. All I'm saying is that removing urban blight and planning a future ghetto are not the same thing.
wanetta smith January 25, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I believe the town was given a huge fine from the government for not building more low income housing,thats the only reason they built the apartments on pottery.
Connie January 26, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Lake Elsinore will always be a 3rd world city!...Our Elected officials are only out for themselves...As long as people sit on their hands and continue voting for incumbents, Lake Elsinore will continue to be a ghetto!
Anon January 26, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Are you a council member? You said "and I". If you don't like it here move! Also I think you need to to remember the state and the country have a spending problem. I could still kick some ass regarding the iPads. That ticks me off!
Janelle March 21, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I cant wait to move into the new Pottery Court Apartments! Im so happy they made these apartments for people that make low income...My boyfriend and I live together and both have low income. Where I live now is horrible.. Its a studio, but has mold, and way too small for us.There are not too many clean, cheap affordable apartments in Lake Elsinore, and Im so stoked to finally live somewhere and feel good about it :)& I believe this will bring more population to Lake Elsinore, thus bring in more businesses and housing!
Janelle March 21, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I cant wait to move into the new Pottery Court Apartments! Im so happy they made these apartments for people that make low income...My boyfriend and I live together and both have low income. Where I live now is horrible.. Its a studio, but has mold, and way too small for us.There are not too many clean, cheap affordable apartments in Lake Elsinore, and Im so stoked to finally live somewhere and feel good about it :)& I believe this will bring more population to Lake Elsinore, thus bring in more businesses and housing!

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