Big Bear Lake, CA — The 53-unit, three-story affordable apartment complex proposed for Jeffries Road, on the almost three-acre parcel that is currently home to 12 cabins across the street from Big Bear Middle School, will not be moving forward, per a decision made by the City Council of Big Bear Lake in their meeting last night (June 28). This decision was not entirely made based on concerns of neighbors, however, but due to changes in the tax credit market and the additional subsidies that would be required from the City’s Improvement Agency, which would effectively amount to $7.7 million from the IA’s low-to-moderate housing fund. As explained by the City’s Redevelopment Director Lyle Haynes, who is working to develop the state-mandated 193 units of affordable housing for the City prior to a July 2012 deadline, “We feel that [the $7.7 million] is simply too high for development of this size and scope. It is not a reflection of [developer] National Core. It is just that the tax credit market is so down right now, it is not feasible to proceed.” Already, the City has fronted roughly $150,000 on the project, which is one of a few in the pipeline as the affordable housing is required to off-set other funding used for other redevelopment projects, including upgrades to the Village and the Moonridge business district. To the packed Hofert Hall, including over a dozen community members who spoke in opposition to the project, Mayor Liz Harris explained, “No matter where we plant workforce housing there will be people who say ‘not in my backyard,’ but this is not the reason this is being pulled now, but because of the financial subsidy commitment. We are going to be looking at workforce housing in our future, period.” Despite some tense moments during the hour or so discussion, the end result is that Council unanimously agreed to terminate the agreement with developer National Core. In the future, a new agreement will likely be formed, though it would include other potential sites for affordable housing. In the meantime, the 42-unit  (and aesthetically well-received) project billed as The Crossings is due to close escrow on Knickerbocker Road this week, which, per Haynes, will allow for construction to begin shortly.

City Council's Michael Karp, Bill Jahn and Liz Harris listen to public comment regarding the Jeffries Road project, though the public hearing had been pulled at the start of the meeting; the termination of the developer agreement did remain on the agenda. Jahn, who chairs the Improvement Agency, told the audience, "The agency is only a financing vehicle. We'd still be under the same requirements of the state."