YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

Calexico Council limits Woo to 10 apartment units

June 20, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The City Council will not allow the Woo family to build more than 10 apartments on its land at the corner of Second Street and Dool Avenue.

The council voted 4-0 on Tuesday to reject the Woo family's appeal of a Planning Commission decision that had capped the total number of apartment units the Woo family could build at 10 due to city regulations.

Councilman David Ouzan abstained from the vote because George Woo Jr. is his accountant.

The Woo family had asked the Planning Commission for the right to build 14 apartments.

After the commission made its decision to cap the number at 10, the family appealed to the council.

Now that the council has backed the commission, the family has to decide if it still wants to build apartments or build something else at the corner.


Rosemary Wong, the daughter of Woo patriarch, George, and George Jr.'s sister, said Wednesday the family has not decided what it will do.

Before the council's vote Tuesday, Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa explained why he felt the family should only be allowed to build 10 apartments. He repeated much of the same information he told the Planning Commission weeks earlier.

To build more than 10 apartments the Woo family would have had to qualify for a "density bonus." The city only allows a developer to build 20 apartment units per acre. The Woo family's plot is roughly .47 acres.

Hinojosa told the council the Woo family could have qualified for a density bonus and been allowed to build 14 apartments if they had submitted a management plan that specified how the apartments would provide an unmet housing need.

"They didn't do that," he said.

Before the council voted, a number of Second Street residents complained about some of the Woo family's former tenants.

Ricardo Casada lives next to a house and the now-vacant Woo family grocery store that sit on the Woo property. He said the Woo family rented the house to people Casada described as gang members.

He said a fight broke out at the house one night that U.S. Border Patrol agents couldn't control.

Casada's wife, Sylvia, and her neighbors Pearl Zertuche and Rosalba Espinoza, told the council they don't think the Woo family will follow through with their plans to rent the apartments in their complex to professionals due to their past lending history.

The women said the family didn't do anything about the former tenants after a number of neighbors complained.

Zertuche asked the councilmen to not look at the issue as businessmen.

She asked them to think of the issue as if they lived next door to an apartment complex that would house around 60 people.

After the residents made their comments, Councilman Victor Carrillo took them to task for what he called personal attacks on the Woo family.

He said the neighbors did not mention the years of community service the Woo family has given to the city of Calexico.

During the meeting, George Woo Jr. said the apartments will be a major improvement to the area that would increase the property values of the neighboring homes and bring in revenue for the city.

He said the Woo family would be happy to set up a Neighborhood Watch program to address any concerns of gang activities or drug use in the neighborhood.

"I don't feel opposing this project is doing something about it," he said.

Wong said Wednesday the family might consider applying for a density bonus by providing the city with a management plan that shows how the apartments would be rented to low-income residents or seniors who qualify for financial aid.

In that scenario the commission and the council might approve the density bonus and allow more than 10 apartments to be built at that corner.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles