Members of the Emery Park Community Group and San Gabriel Valley Progressive Alliance have been protesting every Wednesday and Sunday against The Villages, a construction project of 1061 housing units in Alhambra. The project is owned by the Ratkovich Company and a foreign wealth management firm known as Elite International Investment.
By Brandon Tran
The protesters have demonstrated at the intersection of Fremont Avenue and Mission Street, the proposed location of the development, and at Alhambra City Hall.
They have listed several concerns over the project. In contrast to the companies’ framing of the units as affordable, they will cost at least $800,000 for each unit, excluding taxes and homeowners association fees. In addition, the project will bring 7,752 more cars to the area, significantly increasing traffic on an already commonly used road. Furthermore, the Final Draft of the Environmental Impact Report that investigated the impact of the development states that “the Project would result in significant and unavoidable impacts related to Air Quality… and Transportation.” The Alhambra City Council has yet to pass an affordable housing ordinance that would limit the pricing of new residencies.
“It’s not really for housing. We know it’s for profit,” one activist said. “They just never seem to vote with what the majority want. Just what a very rich minority wants.”
Conflicts of interest
The protesters have called for Alhambra Planning Commissioner Suzi Dunkel-Soto and Councilmember Ross Maza to recuse themselves from the decision to allow the housing units to be constructed as they are real estate agents themselves and have conflicts of interest on the issue.
To spread their message, the activists have also placed 65 lawn signs that oppose the development in the neighborhood. Through this, they hope to raise awareness about the negative impact of the project on the community.
The Alhambra Planning Commission is planning to deliberate on The Villages again on Monday, August 17. The SGVPA plans to attend to voice its opposition against the project and encourage the Alhambra City Council to reject the proposal.
> Learn more about the Alhambra Planning Commission meeting here.
Brandon Tran is a political writer in the San Gabriel Valley.
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