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Planning Commission gives Woo family the go-ahead to build apartment complex

May 14, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The city Planning Commission here voted unanimously to allow the George Woo family, owners of land in the 800 block of Second Street, to build 10 apartments where a popular market and home stood, despite the objections of more than 40 neighboring homeowners.

Woo had asked the commission for permission to build 14 apartments on his land. He said a 14-unit complex would serve the "best interest of all concerned."

Commissioners and city Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa disagreed, saying 14 units might cause a bit of over-crowding. Neighbors, meanwhile, don't like the prospect of apartments period.

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A designated homeowner representative, Rosalba Espinoza, said, "We feel (the apartments) are not going to benefit our neighborhood."

Before they voted, she presented the commissioners with a petition filled with names of people opposing construction of apartments on Woo's plot.

Espinoza said local residents think a large number of prospective tenants living in even a 10-unit complex could contribute to traffic, vandalism and gang activity. The residents don't think the apartments will attract professionals such as teachers to the area.

Chairman John Moreno noted the area is zoned for residential apartments. He asked Espinoza what she would like the commission to do.

She said, "The less people in that area is the best for us."

Espinoza's neighbor Elba Quezada asked why the city couldn't buy the land and make a recreational area there. She said an apartment complex would just "create trouble."

Neighbor Pearl Zertuche addressed Woo directly when she made her plea for him to consider building something else on his land, like a house or a new market.

"You don't live here anymore. You don't know what's going on," she said.

Moreno told the residents Woo is not to blame for the illegal immigrants in the area or gang activity.

Zertuche said something has to be done to help stem the rising tide of such activities. She doesn't think new apartments will be that something.

"We're not against what he's going to build but what it's going to create," she said.

Commissioner Genaro Grijalva sympathized with the concerns of the Second Street residents. He said he had brought up similar concerns about the traffic and dangerous conditions there in the past that had not been addressed.

Commissioner Arturo Selwick told the residents they need to bring their concerns about traffic and gang activity to the City Council. He said the Planning Commission has no power to fix those problems.

Selwick then noted that Woo had the legal right to build apartments on his land. With that, the commission voted to follow staff's recommendation, which was allowing Woo to build 10 apartments on his land.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or aclaverie@aol.com

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