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Cerritos City Council Meeting Minutes



The joint special meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Cerritos City Hall, 18125 Bloomfield Avenue, Cerritos, California.


Reverend Dr. Keith Tanis of New Life Community Church offered the invocation.


Boy Scout Troop 693 led the assembly in the salute to the flag.


The City Clerk noted attendance of the following Members of the City Council/ Redevelopment Agency:

Councilman/Member Bruce W. Barrows
Councilman/Member Joseph Cho, Ph.D.
Councilman/Member John F. Crawley
Mayor Pro Tem/Vice Chair Jim Edwards
Mayor/Chair Laura Lee

The following School Board Members were present:

Member Olympia Chen
Member Cecy Groom
Member Armin Reyes
Member Celia Spitzer
Clerk Louise Dodson
Vice President Mark Pulido
President David Montgomery

President Montgomery announced that the Board met in closed session and discussed:  public employee appointment, student discipline, and conference with real property negotiator.


Merri Wheaton, Cerritos resident, offered a prayer and invited the community to the Cerritos Community Prayer Breakfast to be held Wednesday, May 23, 2007 at 7:15 a.m. at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

CONSENT CALENDAR ITEMS—City Council/Redevelopment Agency

Approval of Register of Demands—City of Cerritos

MOTION:  It was moved by Mayor Pro Tem Edwards and seconded by Councilman Barrows to approve the Register of Demands dated April 25, 2007, Checks 89997 through 90395 in the total amount of $6,239,177.45.  The motion carried unanimously.

Approval of Register of Demands—Cerritos Redevelopment Agency

MOTION:  It was moved by Vice Chair Edwards and seconded by Member Barrows to approve the Register of Demands dated April 25, 2007, Checks 902825 through 902830 in the total amount of $1,625,365.68.  The motion carried unanimously.

Approval of Minutes—City of Cerritos

MOTION:  It was moved by Mayor Pro Tem Edwards and seconded by Councilman Barrows to approve the Minutes of the April 12, 2007 Regular City Council Meeting, as modified.  The motion carried unanimously.

Approval of Minutes—Cerritos Redevelopment Agency

MOTION:  It was moved by Vice Chair Edwards and seconded by Member Barrows to approve the Minutes of the April 12, 2007 Regular Redevelopment Agency Meeting.  The motion carried unanimously.


Information, discussion, and consideration to authorize further actions related to a proposed development involving the City of Cerritos/Cerritos Redevelopment Agency and the ABC Unified School District for the construction of an affordable senior housing community for individuals age 55 and older, a senior recreation center, a 3.78-acre park, and remodel of an existing kitchen/warehouse facility for student lunch preparation located at 16700 Norwalk Boulevard in Cerritos (APN 7012-001-900) and for the construction of an administration building located at 12616 183rd Street in Cerritos (APN 7030-002-902).

Title was read to the foregoing item and the public hearing was opened.

City Manager/Executive Director Gallucci provided general background information related to the senior affordable housing concept and commented on the impact of the requirements associated with redevelopment set-aside funds and the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).  He related the following:  the concept had been discussed before the City Council/Redevelopment Agency and/or School Board 14 times since July 24, 2006; 4,300 meeting notices were mailed to surrounding residents; ads/notices were placed in the local newspaper; notification was aired on the City's Channel 3 and posted on the City and School District websites; and five more meetings have been scheduled.

Community Development Director Contreras provided an overview of the project components, review history, and meeting noticing efforts.  He addressed California affordable housing mandates, California Constitution Article 34 Public Housing Project Law (Article 34), student enrollment, 7-11 Advisory Committee findings of underutilized property, Cabrillo Lane Elementary School's potential to accommodate additional students; and the City's senior housing program/needs.  With regard to conceptual components, Mr. Contreras reported on the following:  senior affordable housing concept:  terms, site composition, architectural design theme, green architecture, typical building/unit composition, landscape amenities, on-site parking, eligibility requirements, site plan, typical floor/unit plans, elevations and perspective; senior center:  composition, programming, off-set of operating costs through use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), floor plan, elevations and perspective; park:  composition, landscape amenities, student access to athletic fields, site plan, and City-maintenance responsibility; kitchen/warehouse:  consolidation/remodel of warehouse/kitchen facilities, elevations, District-operated; and district office building:  location, site depiction/statistics, architecture, composition, parking structure, floor plans and elevations.  Mr. Contreras then reviewed the ground rent schedule, Cerritos General Plan conformance, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance, and future meeting schedule.

Mr. Contreras concluded with the following remarks about the proposed concept:  responds to demographic changes; fulfills RHNA requirements, utilizes redevelopment set-aside funds; consistent with 7-11 recommendations; no adverse impact on schools, provides a new senior center and park; conforms to the City's General Plan, provides ground lease income to the District; and generates income to the City.

Mr. Contreras recommended the City Council/Redevelopment Agency and/or School District Board authorize staff to conduct five additional public meetings in an effort to solicit additional public input; and authorize staff to retain professional consultant services necessary to prepare the environmental assessment.

City Manager/Executive Director Gallucci provided specifics related to the financial analysis and lease agreement as well as estimated construction/start-up costs for the proposal concept components and low/moderate income housing fund expenditure estimates.

Staff responded to Council/Agency and Board inquiries based on the conceptual proposal as follows:

  • order of priority of residents to be considered for housing has yet to be determined;
  • potential traffic generation from the site based on project modeling is anticipated at 1,300 trips per day compared to the current 1,100 trips per day;
  • the Public Housing Election Implementation Law exception is satisfied because the project would be owned and operated by a private non-profit 501 (c) organization, and moderate income households would comprise approximately 57 percent of the housing units, resulting in an exemption from the Article 34 voter approval requirement.

Bill Ihrke of Rutan & Tucker, City/Agency legal counsel, provided an analysis of Article 34, the Public Housing Election Implementation Law, and the California Housing Finance Agency v. Patitucci case (Patitucci) as it relates to the proposed affordable senior housing concept.  He cited the following from the court in the Patitucci case:  "…We have long noted the critical importance of governmental efforts to meet the housing needs of low and moderate income citizens.  In a comprehensive and innovative program, the legislature, through the implementation law has sought to fulfill these worthy goals while promoting economic and social integration and by enhancing rather than endangering the financial and environmental health of our communities.  Its efforts in these positive directions are laudable and should not be thwarted by unduly restrictive interpretations of constitutional language adopted to meet different conditions...."

Additional inquiries regarding the conceptual proposal were responded to by staff as follows: 

  • school districts and qualified 501 (c) non-profit organizations are exempt from property taxation;
  • the City Council would constitute a separate, independent legal entity as the 501 (c) organization, similarly to the Cerritos Redevelopment Agency and the Cerritos Public Financing Authority;
  • anticipated new redevelopment increment would help balance construction cost increases that may occur throughout the estimated four-year construction phase;
  • affordable housing in this case is exempt from property taxation;
  • Rider v. San Diego County was the subject of bond issue voting, not Article 34
    housing issues;
  • there are other possible sites for the project should this concept not move forward, and the City/Agency would still be subject to RHNA and redevelopment set-aside mandates;
  • an analysis of incorporating green design elements into the kitchen/warehouse facilities to reduce energy costs could be undertaken as part of the proposal;
  • residents near the administrative office portion of the proposal were not individually notified of this evening's hearing, however, they will be notified of future meetings;
  • student enrollment figures offered in the presentation are conservative estimates, with actual capacity likely being higher;
  • primary site ingress/egress would occur at Cuesta Drive with secondary ingress/egress at 166th Street;
  • the senior affordable housing site would be a designated Cerritos On Wheels stop;
  • impacts of park lighting on adjacent residences would be addressed should the proposal proceed;
  • the draft environmental assessment via a mitigated negative declaration would be provided to the City/Agency and School District prior to final action on the proposal;
  • affordable senior housing rent increases would be set by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), with the average HCD increase being one-half percent in the past 5 years;
  • copies of the Patitucci case would be provided to the Council/Agency and School Board;
  • this proposed project will have a negligible impact on student enrollment and based on Gateway Cities Council of Governments forecasted population growth estimates, it is anticipated the School District can accommodate projected student enrollment levels;
  • a review of park uses that are compatible with the senior housing use would be undertaken should the project move forward;
  • the impact of the administration building component on surrounding residences with pools would be analyzed;
  • current laws regarding storm water run-off would be complied with;
  • the size of the public hearing notice post cards will be increased to accommodate larger type;
  • RHNA mandates and redevelopment set-aside mandates are not tied together and both must be complied with;
  • the housing element of the City's general plan is reviewed every five years;
  • possibility of eliminating resident priority categories would be addressed should the project proceed;
  • the estimated $65 million total project cost would be funded from redevelopment funds and set-aside monies, which are restricted for housing purposes only;
  • funding of the proposal would not come from the School District;
  • the District's lease payment structure to the Agency for the administrative offices was a recommendation of staff in the spirit of cooperative projects between the City/Agency and the School District and can be re-evaluated to tie into the HCD affordable senior housing rent increases; and
  • set-aside funds would be used for the park, senior affordable housing/senior center and parking structure, with redevelopment bond money being recommended for the administrative office component.


The meeting was recessed at 8:55 p.m., and reconvened at 9:10 p.m., with all previously noted Council/Agency and Board Members in attendance.

Interested parties were then invited to present testimony.

Al Reyes, Cerritos resident, suggested the use of under-utilized parks for this proposal.

Paul Teuerle, Cerritos resident, inquired if the affordable housing numbers for other cities had been analyzed in conjunction with this project.  He expressed the proposal is an attempt to circumvent Article 34 and suggested the matter be voted upon by the electorate.

Bill Parker, Cerritos resident, requested clarification as to whether the project was a City or School District project, noting that the proposal appears to favor the School District, particularly with regard to resident priority categories.

Benjamin Ao, Cerritos resident and United Home Owners Alliance volunteer, questioned the wisdom of allowing a residential use for this property for 55 years, noting the site must be preserved for school uses to accommodate projected growth in student population.  He asserted the projected population growth estimates in the Cerritos General Plan Environmental Impact Report are higher than those being utilized in connection with this proposal and asked that the project be located elsewhere in the City.  Mr. Ao referenced a petition opposing the proposal and called for an election to decide the matter.

Peggy Paddock, Cerritos resident, submitted petitions containing approximately 677 signatures in opposition to the proposal and calling for an election.

Bob Houska, Cerritos resident, indicated the project will address the needs of senior citizens.

Gavin Riley, Cerritos resident, retired ABC Unified School District teacher and spokesman for ABC Federation of Teachers, spoke in favor of the proposal and referenced a 1997 Article 34 writing by M. David Kroot, Goldfarb & Lipman, LLP.  He asserted that there are empty classrooms in District schools and the facts related to the proposal have been misrepresented and information portrayed incorrectly by detractors of the project.

Sally Havice, Cerritos resident, opined that many residents are opposed to the project and it is unethical to proceed.  She added that the focus should be on safety and that tax dollars should not be used to further this proposal.

Paul Bellenbaum, Cerritos resident, requested and received clarification regarding the anticipated rental amounts for the proposed units and confirmed payment of utilities by those residing in the units.  He suggested solar panels be placed on the roofs of the car ports and expressed concern regarding sewage system capacity.

Barbara Lockwood, Cerritos resident, expressed concern regarding traffic and asked that access to the 91 Freeway at Norwalk Boulevard and Bloomfield Avenue be included in the environmental analysis.  She suggested that residents adjacent to the proposed administrative offices be notified of the meetings at which this proposal is discussed.

Mike Chang, Cerritos resident, referenced the cost of the project and suggested exploring other more efficient options for affordable senior housing.

John Transue, Cerritos resident, commented that the School District property should be retained to accommodate future increases in student population.  He asked for a commitment from the School District to use the funding generated from this proposal, should it be approved, for District facility repairs.

Tom Mulvihill, Cerritos resident, stated that cities should unite against the housing demands of the legislature.  He expressed that the proposal is socially irresponsible and should be approached in a more fiscally balanced manner at a lower density, less cost and less elaborate.

No one else wished to present testimony, and the public hearing was closed.

Council/Agency and School Board members were invited to comment.

Councilman/Member Crawley indicated he has not decided on this proposal.  He commented on the possibility of alternatives, but noted that there is no alternative at this point that will provide $2.7 million to the schools and suggested that Cerritos residents be placed higher on the resident priority list.  Mr. Crawley also commented that as a Councilmember he represents the residents to make these types of decisions and that not everything should be placed on the ballot.

Councilman/Member Cho requested and received clarification that the proposed project would satisfy RHNA mandates for the next five years.

Mayor Pro Tem/Vice Chair Edwards indicated that he has not decided on this proposal and is not attempting to hide anything.  He confirmed that redevelopment set-aside monies can only be spent on housing or ancillary projects that affect housing and nothing is being taken away from City recreational facilities, seniors, children, or the community.  He indicated the site is not currently utilized for student classrooms and the proposal would benefit the students.

President Montgomery observed that use of the revenue stream from this project is restricted by law, and should the project be approved, it is the intent to utilize these funds for district facilities maintenance.  He noted there are options other than the Bloomfield Avenue/183rd Street site on which to locate school district offices.

Vice President Pulido commented that he has maintained an open mind about the project, including the change from workforce housing, which could have addressed housing needs of teachers, to the senior housing proposal.  He noted an example of the synergy of the project where ABC adult school classes could be offered at the senior center and park, while pointing out that the project provides for a ground lease rather than the sale of the site and establishment of a non-profit agency to manage the housing component.  Mr. Pulido referenced the revenue the School District would receive from the proposal as well as the increase to the City General Fund and indicated he would continue to keep an open mind about the proposal as issues continue to be discussed.

Board Clerk Dodson also indicated that she has not made a decision on this matter and her mind is open.  She added that the project is complex and discussed its potential benefit to students, noting that City projects are typically well-executed.  Ms. Dodson encouraged continued public input that is mindful of the personal circumstances of each individual.

Board Member Chen commented on the value of the School District as a tenant, should the administrative office arrangement be implemented.  Ms. Chen requested and received confirmation from staff that the Board has consistently and publicly expressed its intent to commit the revenue from this project, should it be approved, to an educational facilities fund for the purpose of maintaining and upgrading School District facilities.  She noted the benefits of a joint City/Agency and District project such as this, noting that the City/Agency affordable housing mandates could be achieved through other alternatives; indicated that the ground lease proposal is in keeping with the 7-11 Committee recommendation to not sell District-owned real estate; and observed that the proposed revenue stream would benefit education.  She noted further that, in general, the region is experiencing declining enrollment and further enrollment decreases are anticipated.

Board Member Groom requested and received clarification from staff as follows:  the City/Agency has requested a legal opinion regarding continuation of the redevelopment housing set-aside requirement after the Agency goes dark; the cost to construct the administrative office component will not be paid back by the District, with ownership of that improvement staying with the City/Agency; and the kitchen/warehouse component would be achieved as part of the project at no cost the District, with the District retaining ownership.  She questioned the cost of the $2.7 gross rent to the District;

stated that the representative powers of elected officials are not absolute; and referenced the 1997 Article 34 writing by M. David Kroot, Goldfarb & Lipman, LLP, expressing her disagreement that this proposal meets the exception criteria to the voter requirement of Article 34.  Ms. Groom stated that she sought a legal opinion of the State of California Legislative Counsel regarding the proposal and received an opinion signed by Legislative Counsel Abel Munoz stating, in part, that the proposal involves a low rent housing project that would be subject to the local voter approval requirement set forth in Section 1 of Article 34 of the California Constitution.  She added that the community should be allowed to vote on the matter.

Board Member Reyes commented on the transparency of the review process for this matter.  He encouraged the public to participate and attend the next meeting, which would be held on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at the ABC School District Board Room.

Board Member Spitzer observed that funding from the state fluctuates and the proposal presents the possibility of a 55-year revenue stream for deferred maintenance for the District.  She commented on the declining enrollment projections, noting sufficient capacity for the future, and addressed the work force housing concept that was changed to senior affordable housing in response to community input.  In referencing the District's modernization program, Ms. Spitzer commented that although priorities were established and improvements made, maintenance considerations are ongoing and a revenue stream to meet those ongoing needs is necessary.  She asked if input from other cities had been solicited; indicated that she had received positive input from parents and residents about the concept; stated that her mind was not made up, recognizing that additional review and discussion of details was still needed; and added that there have been no other like projects being proposed by other cities.

Councilman/Member Barrows observed that other cities are not exempt from meeting their RHNA mandates.  He requested and received clarification from staff that $5 million in accumulated redevelopment set-aside funds must be committed to a project by next year or the funds would be transferred to a regional housing authority such as the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission (CDC), empowering and obligating the CDC to initiate its own project within the boundaries of the city without control or approval of the City of Cerritos.  He observed that there are considerable aspects of the proposal that require further review and negotiation before a final proposal could be considered, noting that to pull back at this point would harm our community.  Mr. Barrows cautioned that although the District would retain ownership of the site, conversion of the site to another use after the 55-year lease term would be unlikely.

At the request of President Montgomery, Board Member Groom indicated she would provide copies to the Council/Agency and Board of the Legislative Analyst's opinion dated April 24, 2007, which she referenced in previous comments made this evening.

At the request of the Chair, City Manager Gallucci addressed points raised during the public comment portion of the hearing as follows:  although existing park resources could accommodate this proposal, this site was selected in the spirit of state law that encourages development of parks, in response to a petition from residents of the condominium to the east to develop a park in this area, and in recognition of the recommendation of the 7-11 Committee; the proposal is in compliance with Article 34 and conforms to implementation law that was signed by Governor Jerry Brown Jr. in 1976; this is a City/Agency project, not a District project; the cost estimates for the project are fairly accurate, however, the City/Agency must go out to bid for the work.

Superintendent Smuts offered the following summary:  other school districts have undertaken projects similar to this one; the District has the capacity for the children the District serves; the proposal would address the question of where to locate the District offices if the current location were occupied by a different use; in 2003 the 7-11 Committee found that any long-term lease of the District office property should generate sufficient income to cover the cost of alternative District facilities and provide substantial revenue to support ongoing facility needs; he made presentations about the proposal to the Artesia and Hawaiian Gardens City Councils and provided the Lakewood City Manager with information about the proposal that was communicated to the Lakewood City Council, and the information was politely received, however, no formal positions or actions were taken by these City Councils; and lastly the cost of the $2.7 revenue stream is a new District office, new nutrition services, warehouse upgrade, and a reliable and consistent revenue stream for 55 years.

Mayor/Chair Lee commended staff for their diligent efforts in satisfying the RHNA mandates.  She reiterated that the District office rent increases should be tied to the affordable housing unit rent increases, noting that this would result in a more equitable financial arrangement now and for posterity.

City Council/Redevelopment Agency Action

MOTION:  It was moved by Mayor Pro Tem/Vice Chair Edwards and seconded by Councilman/Member Crawley that the City Council/Redevelopment Agency:

A.        Authorize five (5) additional public hearings to be conducted pursuant to the proposed meeting schedule outlined in the staff report dated April 25, 2007; and

B.         Authorize City/Agency staff to proceed with the preparation of the environmental assessment as required by California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) law;

as recommended in the staff report dated April 25, 2007.  The motion carried unanimously.


There being no further business to come before the City Council/Redevelopment Agency and School District Board, the meeting adjourned at 11:10 p.m.

_/s/ Josephine Triggs____________
Josephine Triggs, City Clerk


_/s/ Laura Lee________________
Laura Lee, Mayor/Chair

Approved: May 10, 2007


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