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Housing choices panel May 22 will include Aroner, Gioia

By Brad Caftel

El Cerrito, Richmond, and other West County communities are currently
considering mixed use housing and commercial developments, including in
El Cerrito the Mill and Lumber, Del Norte BART Station, and Albert's
Nursery sites. Whether these developments include affordable housing is
a timely issue for public discussion.

The shortage of affordable housing affects all of us. Our firefighters,
police officers, nurses, teachers, seniors, the workers in retail stores,
and many young adults who went to school and grew up here, cannot afford
to live in or near the community. Our roads are congested with people
forced to live far from their employment. Our businesses would benefit
from more customers to purchase basic goods and services. Miles from
here, open space and farmland are being developed for housing, with
harmful consequences to the environment and everyone's quality of life.

Prohibiting or discouraging new housing in the hope that fewer people
will move here is not a solution. Our population will continue to grow.
More people will crowd into the available housing units. Urban sprawl
will continue to devour the available land.

No community is immune from this problem, nor can one community solve it
alone. The problem is regional and requires regional planning. However,
each community has a significant role to play, and should do what it can.
In our community, we can encourage and support well-designed
developments, located near transit centers, which include commercial
space and housing for people of different income levels.

The El Cerrito Democratic Club, the West Contra Costa Group of the Sierra
Club, and Sustainable El Cerrito have supported smart growth including
infill and affordable housing. These three organizations are jointly
sponsoring Housing Choices for Livable Communities, a workshop on Tuesday
May 22 from 7:30 - 9:30 pm, at the Northminster Presbyterian Church, 545
Ashbury, El Cerrito. Come early to see exhibits showing attractive
developments with affordable housing that enhance the community.

Supervisor John Gioia and Assemblymember Dion Aroner will be joined by
moderator Letitia Moore and panelists Tom Jones of the California Futures
Network, Keith Nakatani of Urban Ecology, and Maria Benjamin of East Bay
Housing Organizations. They will focus on the affordable housing needs
facing West Contra Costa County and what we can do to make a difference.
Please attend and invite others.

For more information, call Lori Dair at 510-232-6466.

Run dates: 2001-04-30 - 2001-05-22

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