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The lead-up to the Coastal Commission hearing on July 14 to determine the continued affordability of 161 Moro Cojo homes has become heated with CHISPA and a variety of Monterey County politicians and leaders claiming that organizations and individuals who oppose lifting the affordability deed restriction are anti-farmworker and uncaring about affordable housing. Monterey Bay Partisan readers will likely be interested that the organizations and individuals painted with this brush include the Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, LandWatch, and by implication, former North County Supervisor Marc Del Piero and many Partisan readers themselves.

You would rightfully be confused at this accusation. It has happened because last fall those organizations and individuals persuaded the Coastal Commission to not accept the January 2016 decision by the Board of Supervisors to allow the homes to be sold at market rate. Coastal commissioners discussed the letters and scheduled a de novo hearing where the affordability requirement could be discussed in depth. That’s happening on the 14th; details can be found at the end of this article.

The accusations are included in letters sent by CHISPA, and in form letters signed by Salinas Valley leaders such as Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter, Gonzales Mayor Maria Orozco, Monterey County Supervisor Simon Salinas, former Supervisor Fernando Armenta, Greenfield political figures  John Huerta and Jesus Olvera-Garcia, Soledad Mayor Fred Ledesma,  and the Most Reverend Richard J. Garcia, bishop of the Diocese of Monterey. As noted, they claim anti-farmworker and anti-affordable housing bias.

The irony is that those organizations and individuals charged with bias were acting to preserve affordable housing, while the organizations and individuals allegedly most interested in affordable housing are acting to convert affordable housing to market rate!

And we’re down the rabbit hole.

At issue is the affordability restriction that  keeps the subsidized homes’ selling prices capped at prices affordable to future qualified low- and moderate-income buyers. That figure currently is $290,000, roughly $100,000 more than Moro Cojo homeowners originally paid. If the selling prices weren’t capped, Moro Cojo homeowners could likely profit by twice that when they sell, netting $200,000 instead of $100,000. CHISPA and 161 of the homeowners want the higher profit and they’ve persuaded Salinas Valley leaders to support them.

The issue began back in 2000-2001 when the Moro Cojo subdivision was developed as an affordable housing project. The approval process was challenged in a Coastal Commission appeal in the 1990s, and later in a lawsuit that was settled by making the 175 single-family homes permanently affordable. The subdivision includes a large park, 90 multi-family units and 175 single-family homes  in the coastal zone near Castroville.

The Coastal Commission’s legal duty at the hearing will be to determine whether granting the application to terminate affordability on the 161 homes is consistent with North County Coastal Plan policies. The relevant policy is remarkably clear and simple:

“LUP Policy 4.3.6.D.1. The County shall protect existing affordable housing opportunities in the North County coastal area from loss due to deterioration, conversion, or any other reason. The County will:

a.) Discourage demolitions, but, require replacement on a one by one basis of all demolished or converted units which were affordable to or occupied by low and moderate income persons.”

And here we have another irony: Using tortured logic, the July 14 staff report claims on pages 13-16 that terminating affordability is consistent with LUP Policy 4.3.6.D.1!

Astoundingly, no replacement units are proposed. This is important. The cost to replace 161 homes at $300,000 each would exceed $48 million. The 161 Moro Cojo affordable homes currently exist. Removing the affordability restriction would help current Moro Cojo homeowners, but deprive future eligible purchasers of the chance for homeownership.

Partisan readers who want the Coastal Commission to keep the subsidized 161 Moro Cojo homes affordable should submit comments to the Coastal Commission by July 7, so commissioners will know Monterey County residents really do care about affordable housing.

If you need convincing about what a great community the affordable Moro Cojo subdivision is, drive on Castroville Boulevard just beyond North County High School. You’ll see play equipment for youngsters and a soccer field in a large public park surrounded by well kept homes. Hopefully, those homes will, as clearly intended, remain permanently affordable to future moderate- and low-income purchasers beyond July 14.

The de novo hearing is scheduled for July 14. It is agenda item 7a on the staff report.

Comments can be emailed to diana.chapman@coastal.ca.gov or snail-mailed to Brian O’Neill at California Coastal Commission Central Coast District Office, 725 Front Street, Suite 300 Santa Cruz CA 95060. Comments should mention Project A-3-MCO-16-16-0017 and arrive by July 7.

Jane Haines is a retired lawyer and long-time advocate for affordable housing. 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • John Dalessio July 2, 2017, 10:17 pm

    I served, for a time, as a Commissioner on the Housing Authority of the County of Monterey (HACM). During my tenure we saved the HACM complex for the disabled at Rippling River and negotiated favorable tease terms for the large apartment complex owned by (on our leased land) by American Baptist Homes of the West.
    When presented with the present “deal” by CHISPA, the original developer, the HACM Commissioners unanimously rejected it. It made absolutely no sense to the Commission to turn affordable housing into market rate housing, for no determinable reason, at a time when affordable housing was in critically short supply.
    The CHISPA representation argued to both the Monterey County Planning Commission (MCPC) and the Board of Supervisors, that the residents of the homes deserved a break, as the market rate value of the homes now exceed the agreed upon – and relatively affordable – sale price agreed upon by the home owners and now would be sellers at the time that they had purchased their own affordable units. One could view the positive County decisions as compassion for, or pandering to, the present home owners. At a minimum they were ‘screw future persons in need of affordable housing’ decisions.
    The issue for the Coastal Compassion, which is supposed to represent the regular folk, is, if we endorse this kind of back sliding, and permit affordable housing to be converted to market rate in order to appease the present affordable home owners, how will we ever get control of our affordable housing needs? This question needs to be presented to and addressed by the Coastal Commission.

    • Jason Keen July 16, 2017, 1:09 pm

      There is no other “low income” housing development for single family homes with a perpetuity term. All other affordable housing projects of this kind have some sort of term designated for affordability, such as 15 years. With that said, it is clear that these people are being discriminated against. I believe this issue should be brought before a superior court judge and its constitutionality challenged!

      • Jane Haines July 19, 2017, 9:36 am

        Habitat for Humanity homes sometimes have an affordable “perpetuity term.” http://www.habitatebsv.org/About/Our-Services states: “Our homes are sold with deed restrictions which are intended to promote long-term affordability and prevent financial windfall to homeowners. Habitat homes are intended to serve as an owner’s residence and not a means for profit. All of our homes have resale restrictions in place, although the specifics vary by city and for renovated homes. Many restrictions expire after a prescribed time period, while others are enforced in perpetuity – that is, forever.”

  • david fairhurst July 2, 2017, 11:23 pm

    It would seem simple, You bought a home upon a contingency that when you went to sell it the price would continue to reflex that “low income” status you bought that home at. It would appear someone is trying to rewrite their contract under the guise of wanting an undeserved obscene profit. The same thing was tried at Los Palmas, some of the people that were able to buy their houses at “low income” then tried to sell them at full market rate. How unfair to those that paid full price. An abuse of “redistribution of wealth” policies? Perhaps there shouldn’t be any “low income” housing if it is so easy to pervert “low income” housings noble intentions. Strange how those that benefited most from “low income” housing don’t want to pass that social kindness on.

    • Jason Keen July 16, 2017, 1:16 pm

      Maybe you should educate yourself on this particular project. If you did, you will find that these people did not just buy there homes but actually built them! “Sweat equity” is a “hand up” not a “hand out”! These people made tremendous sacrifices for there homes and deserve to be treated the same as every other homeowner. The perpetuity clause was as a result of a lawsuit filed from people like yourself who are racist and don’t want more affordable housing built in the area period!

      • Jane Haines July 19, 2017, 9:45 am

        The perpetuity clause is required by the stipulated judgment in Case No. 102344 filed in Superior Court of Monterey County. The stipulated judgment, filed on November 28, 1995, is signed by CHISPA’s attorney, Anthony Lombardo, on behalf of CHISPA. It is also signed and me and another attorney on behalf of our client, “Alliance to Enforce Mandates Governing Project Review Procedures and Water and Traffic Standards.” The court retained jurisdiction.

  • Janet Brennan July 3, 2017, 5:59 am

    Even greater irony is that both the League and LandWatch actively supported the Pebble Beach Affordable housing project in the face of significant opposition from the neighbors. LandWatch was the major force behind the T&A farm worker housing project. Finally, LandWatch opposed both the Rancho Canada Village and Carmel Rio Road projects because they did not meet the General Plan’s requirements for affordable housing. Those attacking LandWatch were no where to be seen!

    • Jason Keen July 16, 2017, 1:21 pm

      Funny how there was only a handful of Landwatch people present at the coastal commission meeting and all are good friends with “Jane Haines” who is the leader behind all of this. I sat behind an individual who had a generic letter in his hand obviously written by someone else, which I could see, Hello, my name is xxx” written in the letter which opposed the removal of the perpetuity. Also it’d funny how all were middle aged white male and females…Can we say “Racist”!

      • Jane Haines July 19, 2017, 9:47 am

        Jason, the letter you describe is something I know nothing about. I have never seen such a letter. Plus, I’m 83 years old. That’s hardly what I call being “middle aged.”

  • Bob Oliver July 3, 2017, 7:36 am

    On the Monterey Peninsula, as late as 1976, you could buy a 3 bedroom low priced home all day long for under 20,000 dollars. As the end of Kennedy’s life he was going to get us out of the Federal Reserve System. At the end of the Eisenhower Presidency, he told us “Beware of the Congressional Military Complex.

    All toll, and all told, we are under a financial system so burdensome on us that it is controlled by a small group of people from the top down, and we don’t acknowledge it. They use television,radio, and print to tweak (or twitter) our thinking. We are the most dumbed down species on the planet. Wake-up . And, we don’t need a desal plant.

  • Tim Goncharoff July 3, 2017, 10:58 am

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” – John Steinbeck

  • Judy Karas July 3, 2017, 11:51 am

    Thanks for the reminder to write to the Coastal Commission about this. My father was on the Board of Supervisors and worked with CHISPA and other groups to provide affordable housing. He’d be speaking out against this, if he was still here.
    There’s a slight correction to the above from Jane Haines: the project number/appeal number is A-3-MCO-16-0017, not A-3-MCO-16-16-0017, as mentioned above. Thanks to Jane Parker for her dissenting vote when the Board of Supervisors voted to change the Mojo Cojo deed limits in January of this year.
    To read the original staff report:
    https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2016/8/w16c-8-2016.pdf

  • Beverly Bean July 3, 2017, 1:12 pm

    Hope to see lots of people at the Coastal Commission meeting on this item…speak out against turning affordable housing into market rate housing, for the benefit of a few owners. Everyone who is going to the Cemex hearing, please add this item to your concerns!

  • Alan Haffa July 6, 2017, 3:06 pm

    Thank you Jane for raising awareness. Below is the letter I sent today:

    Dear Coastal Commission Members,

    As a Monterey City Councilmember I wholeheartedly oppose a gift of public funds by removing the affordability deed restriction from the homes in the Moro Cojo subdivision.

    First, doing so removes the mitigation value of the original deal that permitted construction of those homes.

    Second, the list for affordable units in our county is so long that people who need assistance wait years to get into affordable units. Removing units from the affordability pool will worsen this situation.  You help 160 families by enriching them but at the expenses of many hundreds more who can’t afford homes at market rates.

    Third, homelessness in Monterey county is a serious public issue and this will worsen the situation by reducing the supply of affordable homes. People who might have bought these homes will instead compete for the small pool of affordable apartments. People who do not get into those affordable apartments because of increased demand and reduced supply will end up on the streets.  Homelessness is the single issue I hear about the most from my constituents.

    Fourth, to replace those homes with new affordable homes will cost tens of millions of dollars at a time when the state no longer allows jurisdictions to use Redevelopment money as incentives.  These units will not be replaced and the truth is that we need more such affordable homes.

    Please do not do this.  No doubt people who stand to reap a windfall of a hundred thousand dollars or more based on your decision will show up but think of the thousands more who don’t know about this hearing who in the future will not have an affordable home that they can purchase because you allowed these people, who knew what they were buying, a windfall profit.

    Sincerely,

    Alan Haffa

    • Jason Keen July 16, 2017, 1:27 pm

      there can never be a fair way to do low income single family dwellings, only apparent complexes! It is common sense that these people be treated as everyone else. There are no other housing developments like his that are required to stay low income indefinitely! Can we say “Racist”?

  • Jane Haines July 14, 2017, 5:58 pm

    Result of July 14 Coastal Commission hearing on Moro Cojo affordability is the 161 homes will remain affordable. It was a tie vote, 5-5. That means CHISPA’s application to terminate affordability was not approved. Deep thanks to those who sent comments. Hearing lasted over 3 hours.

  • Jane Haines July 17, 2017, 11:17 pm

    I will be very happy to go to lunch with you and explain the real reason I’ve spent nearly 20 years trying to keep Moro Cojo homes affordable. I read your letter and your sister’s letter in the Coastal Commission packet; I’m sorry about your mom’s recent passing. Please email me at janehaines80@gmail.com so we can make arrangements to discuss this over lunch.

  • Jane Haines July 19, 2017, 9:51 am

    Jason, I search my email in hope you’ll respond to my July 17 acceptance of your offer to go to lunch and explain the real reason i’ve spent nearly 20 years trying to keep Moro Cojo homes affordable. I also would very much like to hear more about your claims regarding what you consider to be racist and unfair.