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County Withdraws From Application For Housing Project In La Mesa

The former Holiday Inn motel in this photo taken in February 2019 by Google M...

Credit: Google Maps

Above: The former Holiday Inn motel in this photo taken in February 2019 by Google Maps.

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The board voted 3-2 to withdraw an application to the state's Homekey Program which would have provided funding to improve a former Holiday Inn on 8000 Parkway Drive in La Mesa, located just east of San Diego.

Aired: September 23, 2020 | Transcript

An application for state funding to convert a shuttered hotel into housing for more than 100 homeless people in La Mesa was withdrawn Tuesday by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The board voted 3-2 to withdraw an application to the state's Homekey Program which would have provided funding to improve a former Holiday Inn on 8000 Parkway Drive in La Mesa, located just east of San Diego.

Had it been completed by Affirmed Housing Group, the $36 million project would have had 141 units, along with on-site services and 24-hour security.

David Estrella, director of county Housing and Community Development Services, said the program had a short application window, and any state money had to be spent by Dec. 30, based on a federal funding requirement.

The board approved a resolution Sept. 15 authorizing the county's joint application with Affirmed Housing to the Homekey Program, which offers housing to homeless people, or those at risk of homelessness and impacted by COVID-19.

Board members also wanted a report on La Mesa's actions in connection with the program.

The La Mesa City Council voted unanimously voted Monday to pull out of the Homekey proposal, Mayor Mark Arapostathis told the board.

The developer contacted only one council member, and that his city never approved a letter accepting the project, Arapostathis said.

"This project was imposed on us," Arapostathis said. "That's how our citizens feel about this."

Supervisor Dianne Jacob proposed withdrawing the application, describing the application process as "a rush to judgment."

"There hasn't been full transparency in the hearing process," Jacob said. "I for one don't feel it's worth the money to impose a project on the city of La Mesa. Most of the people I've heard from don't want it."

Supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher voted against withdrawing the application.

Cox said that with all due respect to Arapostathis and La Mesa's City Council, the project could be successful, despite a compressed timeline.

Affirmed Housing has an excellent reputation in similar projects that don't have a negative impact on surrounding communities, Cox said.

"I hope we can work with the city of La Mesa as much as we can," Cox said.

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