Placentia City Council Gives Mixed Review of Old Town Revitalization Plan


Courtesy of City of Placentia
An architect’s conceptual drawing of a potential south-facing view of Bradford Avenue from Chapman Avenue.

By Daniel Langhorne

The Placentia City Council gave a mixed initial review of the Old Town Placentia Revitalization Plan, with two council members expressing concern about the potential impacts of incentivizing private redevelopment in the City’s historic core.

The Old Town Revitalization is one of two Placentia is considering to spur economic development around its future Metrolink Station at Bradford and Santa Fe avenues. If approved the plan would establish architectural and height standards to encourage developers to build multi-story mixed used buildings with commercial uses on the ground floor and residential on upper floors.

It would also foster a more pedestrian-friendly environment in Old Town by building wider sidewalks, creating one way streets and establish requirements for developers to pay for uniform benches, trash cans, street lights, trees and landscaping.

A similar plan is in the works for a transit oriented development zone between Crowther Avenue and the railroad.

Mayor Jeremy Yamaguchi asked city staff at Tuesday’s meeting whether a five-year sunset on building uses that don’t conform to the Revitalization Plan would drive out the Orange Central Korean Church of Seventh-Day Adventists at Chapman and Bradford avenues.

“I’m not in the interest of tearing down old building, churches and developments in that area to bring in four-story high-density projects,” Yamaguchi said. “If the free market wants to go that way, that’s one thing, but to go in there and say in five years if you’re not a conforming use you’re going to get out of here.

The proposed plan states, “beginning five years after the effective date of this Chapter, no Old Town zoned property may be sold or transferred unless it is brought into compliance with the requirements of this chapter.”

There are a few exceptions to this rule which includes the transfer of a property from a parent to his or her child. Also exempted is any property transfer from an owner to his or her employees, according to city documents.

City Attorney Christian Bettenhausen said city staff only suggested the time limit to incentivize property owners to sell.

“Ultimately, you don’t have to do that,” he said. “It might just make development move more slowly.”


Courtesy of City of Placentia
An architect’s conceptual drawing of a potential west-facing view of a one-way Santa Fe Avenue from Bradford Avenue.

Among the sitting council members who aren’t terming out this year, Councilman Chad Wanke seemed the most optimistic about the benefits of a plan to bring private investment to Old Town.

“I like this and I think it will allow us to capitalize on the Metrolink Station and also the parking structure.”

Mayor Pro Tem Craig Green said any money developers deposit into a proposed Old Town Community Facilities District, which would fund repairs and replacement of infrastructure, should not be used for any other municipal expenses.

“We want to make sure that funds that are generated go into account X and stay there,” Green said. “And make sure there are no loopholes that are used to pay for anything else other than for what was intended.”

Outgoing Councilwoman Connie Underhill said she is concerned that there will be so much development that it won’t look like Old Town Placentia anymore.

“It’s going to take away the uniqueness and individuality and ambiance that we experience down there and I’d like to see that maintained a little bit more.”

In response to Yamaguchi and Underhill’s concerns, Outgoing Councilman Scott Nelson said that the revitalization plan is a way for the City to gauge developers’ appetite for buying Old Town properties.

“It is going to be market driven,” Nelson said. “It’s going to propose a zone change to see what we get, what interest we get from developers, but I think what is going to be absolutely vital is the public input on this.”

The City Council will hold its second study session regarding the Revitalization Plan at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17 in the Council Chambers, 401 E. Chapman Ave.

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