Dear La Habra Residents,
Have you noticed how aggressively La Habra is being overbuilt? We have, and we want it to stop. We especially want the City to stop selling out our few remaining open spaces to the highest bidder! The traffic is terrible, the overcrowding of the City is becoming unbearable, the resources of the City are in short supply — all leading to the loss of our suburban La Habra lifestyle, which was the reason we all moved here. As part of its long-term plan, the City is actively inviting large homebuilders to build aggressively in La Habra, ignoring the negative effects on the lifestyle of its residents.
If you are tired of seeing homes crammed into every available space in our City, tell the City Council that it needs to stop now!
Thousands of your neighbors have already joined our effort and are trying to make our voices heard. Please join your neighbors in helping the cause by:
Our strength in these areas shows the City Council that residents are unified against over-development of our City and want to protect our open spaces. The Council needs to control its spending and not try to patch their budget holes by overcrowding our City.
Time is short. Our suburban lifestyle and the City's open spaces are dwindling. Speak up before it is too late. Once they're gone, they're gone forever!
If you believe in our effort, please sign up below to receive updates. To become a campaign volunteer, please call (562) 242-2322 and leave a message or sign up below. One of our volunteer coordinators will contact you.
The Save La Habra Organizing Committee
The City Council is considering a request to change zoning to replace the City's largest open space with 400+ homes. Help protect property values, prevent more traffic nightmares and overcrowding, and stop our City from "patching" its budget problems by selling out our City's open spaces to every developer who comes knocking.
You can help by telling your neighbors, writing/visiting your Councilmember, signing our ballot initiative, and helping recruit volunteers before it's too late!
Show your support for our cause simply by coming out to join us for an event.
You don't need to prepare anything, and no prior experience is necessary. Just show up!
THE MYTH: This is only about the Westridge Golf Course. This only matters to people who live in Westridge.
THE TRUTH: If you ever drive down Beach Boulevard or Imperial Highway or shop nearby, THIS AFFECTS YOU! If you think our City is crowded and getting more crowded, THIS AFFECTS YOU! If you enjoy any of the few open spaces we have left in La Habra, THIS AFFECTS YOU! You don't have to live near Westridge to be affected by TRAFFIC NIGHTMARES, OVERCROWDING, and ENVIRONMENTAL HARM this development will create. In addition, the solution we're proposing is a ballot initiative that protects all OPEN SPACE within the City from being re-zoned without a vote of the people. That will protect EVERYONE. And who knows... that next proposed re-zoning might be next door to YOU.
THE MYTH: The Rancho La Habra development will provide a great benefit to the City of La Habra and ALL ITS CITIZENS to the tune of $2.2 MILLION in net revenues over the next 10 years to help fund vital City Services.
THE TRUTH: One might quibble over the actual dollar benefit, but the MORE IMPORTANT argument is HOW SMALL THE BENEFIT on an annualized basis and HOW GREAT THE COST! The COST is consuming the LARGEST REMAINING OPEN SPACE in the City, and all the traffic nightmares, overcrowding and environmental harm that will entail -- forever. The BENEFIT? Even taking the developer's number at face value, $2.2 million over ten years means an average of $220,000 per year. That's a TINY BENEFIT to the City of La Habra. The City Manager who has been NEGOTIATING BEHIND CLOSED DOORS for THREE YEARS with these developers is paid a fully-loaded salary of nearly $300,000. The entire project benefit DOESN'T EVEN PAY THIS ONE SALARY! (For those who are interested, the City Manager of La Habra earns more than 80% of the salary of the City Manager of San Diego -- however, San Diego's population is 1.4 MILLION PEOPLE compared to La Habra's 60 THOUSAND PEOPLE.) The City definitely has a spending problem, but try as they might, even this developer's money can't cure it!
THE MYTH: This is a done deal. The City Council has already made its decision.
THE TRUTH: In order to proceed, the developer MUST GET A ZONING CHANGE from the City Council, which requires AMENDING THE LONG-TERM PLANS of the City (both General Plan and La Habra Hills Specific Plan). These land-use plans are among the most IMPORTANT PROMISES that a City makes to its residents. If "the long-term plan" only serves as "the long-term plan" until the next greedy developer comes to town, what assurances do homeowners have about the future of their property? The next zoning change might be right next door to you! The voters must HOLD THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE to maintain the integrity of these existing plans. They must call and write their Councilmembers and come to City Council meetings to ensure their voice is heard!
THE MYTH: Everyone will have an equal chance to be heard by the City when it comes time for the City Council to decide the issue.
THE TRUTH: The City Manager and his staff been WORKING WITH THE DEVELOPERS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS for over THREE YEARS! The City wants the developers' money to provide a quick fix to their budget woes. They have been working on a Development Agreement and an Environmental Impact Report -- helping the developer to "dot every i and cross every t" on thousands of pages of documents to ensure SMOOTH SAILING THROUGH THE ZONING CHANGE process. If citizens wait until the day of the final City Council Meeting to be heard, they will each have exactly THREE MINUTES to speak their mind. How fair is that? The developers had THREE YEARS, the homeowners will get THREE MINUTES.
THE MYTH: There is nothing the citizens can do in the meantime to change the outcome.
THE TRUTH: We and our neighbors from the SaveLaHabra.com community have written a ballot initiative, which protects the LAST REMAINING OPEN SPACES in La Habra, including the City's parks, golf course, etc. The initiative DOES NOT PREVENT open spaces from being developed. Rather it ensures that there must be A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE before any of these open spaces can be developed. Since the City Council has demonstrated they do not know when enough is enough... the voters will serve as a final check whenever rezoning of open space is involved. How can YOU help make this initiative a reality? Volunteer to help us gather signatures by submitting your name on the contact form below. Once the initiative receives the required number of signatures, it will be placed on the ballot for a VOTE OF THE PEOPLE.
THE MYTH: The question about the future of the Westridge Golf Club site isn't whether it can continue as a golf course. That's decided. The question is what will be built there instead.
THE TRUTH: The Westridge Golf Course HAS NOT STOPPED operating. Period. It is true that the current owner is seeking a buyer for their property. Another golf course operator could certainly buy it, and such potential buyers have at least surfaced. However, when a homebuilder (who has the City Council in its pocket) can offer, say, FIVE TIMES THE GOING LAND VALUE AS A GOLF COURSE because of the ENORMOUS PROFITS resulting from building new homes, no golf course operator would ever be able to put in a winning bid to buy the property. The only thing standing between the greedy developer and their purchase of the land? They won't close on a sale until a ZONING CHANGE is granted by the City Council. If the City denies the zoning change (which, with pressure from citizens, they certainly are able to do), the market price of the golf course goes back down, and it is again within reach of other buyers who wish to OPERATE IT AS A GOLF COURSE.
THE MYTH: The golf course is closing simply because the game's popularity is declining.
THE TRUTH: First of all, the golf course IS NOT NECESSARILY closing. If it ever does close, the direct cause WILL NOT be the declining popularity of golf. The DIRECT cause will be that a GREEDY DEVELOPER DISTORTED THE MARKET PRICE of the land it sits on. Have you ever heard the phrase "worth more dead than alive"? When a greedy home developer comes to town and sets its sights on CHANGING ZONING for a piece of land, the business or golf course or park that sits on that land is immediately "WORTH MORE DEAD THAN ALIVE!" If the golf course dies, it will be because the DEVELOPER KILLED IT! How do we stop the killing? Tell the City Council they must DENY THE ZONING CHANGE!
THE MYTH: Traffic will not be significantly impacted.
THE TRUTH: We all know traffic has gotten MUCH WORSE in our community as these new home developments have opened. What used to be a 5-MINUTE DRIVE down to the I-5 Freeway now takes sometimes 30-45 MINUTES. How can this be? Don't all the developments have to study traffic impacts as part of their Environmental Impact Report? Yes, they do, but the calculation of the traffic impact on the NEXT HOME BUILT is often very different than the CUMULATIVE EFFECT that all these developments have over time. While one development might have a small impact (which is what's measured), it's the "DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS" or the incrementalizing of each successive project that creates the reality of the TRAFFIC NIGHTMARES on the roads that we drive every day. So... yes, the developers' bought-and-paid-for traffic study may say "no significant impact" but the REALITY that we as neighbors face is quite a different story.
THE MYTH: La Habra suffers from a "parks deficit" and this development will fix that problem.
THE TRUTH: Through a well-respected law firm and land-use experts, La Habra residents have explained to the City, in writing, that its calculation of "parks deficit" is NOT CORRECTLY CALCULATED. Time will tell if the City takes time to understand the errors in its ways. Even though this argument is quite technical, the BASIC CONCEPT is not. The developer wants you to believe that in consuming a HUGE PORTION of City's remaining open space to build houses -- if it SETS LITTLE SCRAPS ASIDE and CALLS THEM "PARKS" -- that somehow they have drastically improved La Habra residents' quality of life. THAT IS UTTER NONSENSE. In fact, this very logic is how the original Westridge project got approved. Without the developer's GUARANTEE of a golf course buffer, the project never would have been approved. Fast forward several years, and THAT VERY SAME DEVELOPER is ready to take THAT VERY SAME GOLF COURSE away.
THE MYTH: Rancho La Habra's plan to dedicate and develop 25 acres of new public parks for the enjoyment of La Habra residents will increase the amount of open space its residents are able to enjoy.
THE TRUTH: First, read the prior answer. If you're still not convinced, consider the following: The truth is that today ANY MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC can go to Westridge and hit some balls in the driving range... or host a wedding in the clubhouse restaurant... or play a round of golf... or sit and watch the endangered birds that nest there... However, that's NOT TECHNICALLY A "PARK", so the developer tries to MISLEAD CITIZENS by mincing its words. The truth of the matter is: a developer plans to BLATANTLY CONSUME THE CITY'S LAST LARGE OPEN SPACE, and justify it by GIVING BACK ITS SCRAPS. No matter how you slice it, THERE'S A MASSIVE NET LOSS OF OPEN SPACE TO THE CITY! Once the open spaces are gone, THEY'RE GONE FOREVER!
THE MYTH: The developer will build conservation areas, including an upland wildlife viewing and educational area, which will be of great value to all the citizens of La Habra.
THE TRUTH: We all know that developers' promises always SOUND BETTER THAN THEY TURN OUT TO BE. Need an example? TAKE A DRIVE over to Risner Way and Idaho Street, and have a look at the Native American Educational Center (a public park) that THIS SAME DEVELOPER built as part of the original Westridge development. You'll find a gazebo tinier than many backyard patios, broken glass and missing artifacts in the display cases, and oftentimes a full complement of graffiti and trash. Or if you need another example... hike up the Water Tower Nature Trail and Scenic Viewing Area that was open to the public when Westridge was built. Actually, YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO GET PAST THE LOCKED GATE. Because of poorly designed trails and security measures, the City no longer allows access to this trail.
THE MYTH: This development won't materially affect the views of residents because of CREATIVE USE of elevation differences and SENSITIVE LANDSCAPE AND COMMUNITY DESIGN to respect town, hillside and mountain views.
THE TRUTH: What? Sounds like the CREATIVE LANGUAGE of a PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT, doesn't it? If the developer wants La Habra residents to believe they're GOING TO BUILD 400+ HOMES and they'll somehow be NEXT-TO-INVISIBLE... there's probably a bridge somewhere they want to sell you... or better still, maybe a BRAND NEW HOME WITH A GOLF-COURSE VIEW! Remember, it was LENNAR HOMES who built and sold the Westridge development in the first place. Now THAT VERY SAME DEVELOPER is back to TURN THAT VERY SAME GOLF COURSE INTO MORE HOMES (PROFITS). So, even if you like the CREATIVE LANGUAGE of their ad agency, many think YOU CAN'T TRUST ANYTHING LENNAR SAYS in the first place!
THE MYTH: The proposed homes aren't really an overcrowding issue because they are COMPATIBLE HOMESITE SIZE AND HOUSING DENSITY with adjoining neighborhoods.
THE TRUTH: Notice how they always say "COMPATIBLE" and not "THE SAME"? The simple fact is that the new homes will be BUILT ON SMALLER LOTS than the homes in Westridge. The developer's plans even provide an option to build ADDITIONAL AND STILL HIGHER-DENSITY homes above the first 400. Consuming open space to build more homes MEANS, BY DEFINITION, HIGHER DENSITY. There's no two ways about it. And unless we all send a STRONG MESSAGE to our City Council, this will not be the last development of its kind. The Valentia development JUST ADDED 335 HIGH-DENSITY HOMES near Imperial Highway and Beach Boulevard. Right now, more developments are going up on La Habra Boulevard, Lambert Road, and elsewhere. Today, the Westridge area is the current site. Tomorrow, it could be the park or open space right near your house.
THE MYTH: The developer is acting RESPONSIBLY and is COMMITTED to providing a development THAT IMPROVES THE CITY'S CHARACTER AND LIFESTYLES OF ITS CITIZENS.
THE TRUTH: This is pure poppycock. Lennar is the largest homebuilder in America, and its shares trade publicly on the NYSE. Time has shown that large developers are motivated by one thing and ONE THING ONLY... the QUARTERLY PROFITS they report to Wall Street from the homes they sell. Do you think the corporate executives of Lennar live in La Habra? Do you think they plan to buy one of the homes they're going to build? NOT A CHANCE. They BUILD THE HOMES, collect the FAT PROFITS AND BONUS CHECKS, and they're off to the next project in the next City. Maybe another golf course or a park, where they can pick up land ON THE CHEAP and get a quick zoning change. THE BOTTOM LINE? Neither the developer nor the City staff are acting in YOUR interest when it comes to these issues. (In fact, the City Council is supposed to direct the City staff, but in this case, it often seems like it's the other way around.) YOU are the citizens of La Habra. YOU elect the City Council. YOU know what's best for YOUR City. YOU can and should MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!