Some neighbors oppose Whittier Friendly Hills condo project directed to Planning Commission – Whittier Daily News

A 42-unit, three-story condominium project in east Whittier on the vacant 1.8-acre site of a former Marie Callender restaurant has drawn ire from surrounding residents over concerns centered around compatibility, parking and traffic.

The Whittier Planning Commission will consider it at its meeting on Monday, April 4 at 6 p.m. The city’s Design Review Board in November approved the design of the proposed project by Newport Beach’s Mission Pacific Land Co. for 9829 La Serna Drive, just south of the Friendly Hills neighborhood in Whittier.

  • Friendly Hills neighbors Scott Kalassay, left, and Stephanie Vallejo, right, talk about the 42-unit condominium project in east Whittier on the vacant new site of a former Marie Callender’s on La Serna Drive and Janine Drive in Whittier on Thursday March 31, 2022 (Photo by Keith Durflinger, Contributing Photographer)

  • Friendly Hills neighbors are upset about a 42 unit condominium project in East Whittier on the vacant new site of a former Marie Callender’s on La Serna Drive and Janine Drive in Whittier on Thursday March 31, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, collaborating photographer)

  • Friendly Hills neighbors are upset about a 42 unit condominium project in East Whittier on the vacant new site of a former Marie Callender’s on La Serna Drive and Janine Drive in Whittier on Thursday March 31, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, collaborating photographer)

  • Friendly Hills neighbors are upset about a 42 unit condominium project in East Whittier on the vacant new site of a former Marie Callender’s on La Serna Drive and Janine Drive in Whittier on Thursday March 31, 2022. (Photo by Keith Durflinger, collaborating photographer)

  • A 42 unit condominium is proposed for a 1.8 acre property located on the west side of La Serna and Janine promenades. (Courtesy of the Town of Whittier)

  • This rendering shows a proposed 42-unit townhouse project at 9829 La Serna Drive in Whittier. Here is the view from Janine Drive. (Courtesy of the Town of Whittier)

  • A nearly two-acre site on November 19, 2021 is pictured from the northwest corner of Janine and La Serna Drives in Whittier, where a 42-unit townhouse project is proposed. (Staff photo by Mike Sprague)

“It doesn’t go with the atmosphere, the aesthetic of the houses we have here,” said Rosemarie Rosas, who lives near Janine. “There will be more traffic than we already have and people will park in front of our houses.”

Three neighborhood meetings have taken place since residents learned about the project after the Design Review Board meeting.

Stephanie Vallejo, who lives only half a block east on Janine Drive, began organizing the opposition after learning about the project by reading an article about it in this news group.

“I was really upset,” Vallejo said.

“We are already having problems with a huge amount of traffic in the region. We have children walking down the street,” she said. “We have many traffic collisions or near traffic collisions on Janine and La Serna.”

However, city staff recommend the project, calling it aesthetically appealing.

“Overall, staff believe the proposed project would be a good residential development for this site,” said the written report by Ben Pongetti, Acting Director of Community Development; Luis Escobedo, Planning Services Manager; and Alan Hernandez, assistant planner.

“The 42-unit, three-story attached condominium residential development project will benefit the community by providing additional housing opportunities,” the three staff members wrote.

Mark Rael, director of acquisitions for Mission Pacific, did not respond to phone calls Thursday and “Friday for comment.”

But the company’s website for the project says it “will provide an attractive transition and buffer between active commercial uses along Whittier Boulevard and the nearby community of Friendly Hills.”

The company also claims that the project will reduce traffic.

“Friendly Hills Villas will generate one-third of the daily trips that a 9,200 square foot restaurant would generate (as previous use) and significantly less daily trips than alternative uses like retail stores or offices,” according to its website.

Nevertheless. there are other issues raised by nearby residents.

“Where are all these cars going to park? asked Raúl Lizarraga. “They won’t have adequate parking.”

The city staff report says each unit will have a two-car garage and there will also be nine uncovered parking spaces for guests.

Pamela Lizarraga said she’s worried many condo residents won’t use their garages, forcing them to park on nearby Janine.

Residents also say the project is not compatible with their one-story houses.

“I don’t think anyone here would disagree with building condos there — a single-story type of thing — but the size doesn’t seem appropriate for the area,” resident John Marzi said.

In fact, Marzi said he would prefer commercial development.

The Marie Callender’s – there is a second in Whittier that remains open – was one of 19 restaurants that closed in April 2019 when the chain entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The property was later razed.

The Friendly Hills Property Owners Association approved the project.

“It’s a little dense but I like that there’s a nice architectural design,” Allan Nakken, president of the association, said in November. “It will add value to this corner. It’s an abandoned lot now.

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