Santa Paula Times

People’s Self-Help Housing steps back from proposed BCL development

October 24, 2003
Santa Paula News

People’s Self-Help Housing has taken a step back from its proposed affordable residential development at Blanchard Community Library.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesPeople’s Self-Help Housing has taken a step back from its proposed affordable residential development at Blanchard Community Library.BCL trustees and PSSH officials met Tuesday to discuss the San Luis Obispo builder’s future plans for unused library land.In recent weeks BCL trustees decided that the land – one parcel facing Santa Barbara Street and the second known as the library’s north parking lot – should be leased instead of sold-outright to PSSH.The Downtown Merchants Association had objected to the project when PSHH looked to expand the project onto Main Street as well as to parcels adjacent to the library.BCL Board President Dora Crouch read a letter from PSSH to the board at the Oct. 21st meeting that noted the builder is “reassessing the viability of a joint library-housing venture.”Jeanette Duncan, PSHH executive director, wrote that outstanding issues that would “impact whether such a proposal is still worth our involvement” included the upcoming city visioning process and its emphasis on a downtown implementation plan that could affect mixed-use in the central business district. Duncan also cited the lack of consensus among BCL board and staff on the need of additional library space and/or use of the property as well as the high-appraised value same.
“We are additionally used to going into communities that are united in their need for affordable housing and are desirous of our involvement. It is very difficult to spend lots of time educating a community that is unsure of where it stands on this issue. There needs to be community-wide support when we seek funding as we do not want to create conflict,” Duncan wrote.Another concern was the size of the original proposal targeting library property, said Jill Martinez of PSHH. “We are interested in doing something in Santa Paula and want the community to be proud of it,” but, “we can’t do that with one little parcel.”Martinez said PSHH would continue to scout out other sites in the city to utilize the $50,000 CDBG received from the city for the library housing study.“What you are saying is that you’re dropping the plan,” said BCL Trustee Gene Marzec.“It’s not viable for us to build on that one little,” parcel, noted Martinez.BCL recently approached the City Council to ask for financial help and during discussions the subject of the city absorbing the library was addressed.Martinez said PSHH also has concerns about property ownership after the council discussion.