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Resident and Vocal Anti-Juliet Project Leader Has Huge Conflict of Interest

Courtesy ACC Docket.

 

 

By Brian Hews

Over the past several months, the Cerritos Planning Commission (PC) has conducted a comprehensive and thorough public review process of a residential development proposal by MLC Holdings Inc. at Shoemaker and Artesia known as the Juliet Project.

The controversial project has become a lightning rod in Cerritos, with some residents accusing Commissioners of playing political football in an attempt to gain voters for a future City Council election and detractors accusing the ABCUSD, the 1st CEB, the City, and the Cerritos Chamber of a conflict of interest.

MLC’s Facebook page, Juliet at Cerritos, has over 1,000 “likes” and boasts feel-good videos of the project, including one from Cerritos resident Moses Kim who is on MLC’s team.

Several Cerritos-area Facebook pages, who’s administrators will not go public, and have far less “likes,” routinely post vitriolic and hate filled posts slamming the project and anyone who is in favor of the development.

Some of the residents who post on the pages have spoken at PC meetings throwing out unsubstantiated conflict of interest claims against the Cerritos Chamber and the ABCUSD, both of whom support Juliet, because they received “donations” from MLC.

MLC gave money to the ABCUSD Education Foundation not the ABCUSD. The foundation is a separate entity from ABCUSD and gives money to teachers and students for school supplies.

MLC joined the Chamber paying membership dues and then sponsored two events. Detractors also claimed Commissioner Jim Giordano had a conflict since he was a member of the Chamber.

But the detractors somehow failed to notice their own conflict of interest.

Charles Joslin and his wife live behind the complex. Charles has been the ringleader on the ground, organizing residents, handing out protest cards at council meetings, and checking off names on a clipboard.

He has pushed hard for the owners to keep the building as an office complex, and not build homes, “it is zoned for an office complex, ” he said.

And HMG-CN found the reason why Joslin might be pushing so hard.

Joslin is the Southern California Business Development Manager for L2 Specialties, Inc. a Santa Ana firm that specializes in large office-building interior design and customizing.

On his Linkedin account Joslin states, “As Business Development Manager with L2 Specialties, I’m here to assist you – the designer, architect, general contractor and owner maximize your new and existing space utilization. I’m here to work together with you to create the best solution for flexible and creative space.”

Joslin also has a history of fighting projects he does not like in Cerritos.

A few years ago, Goodwill wanted to open a store where Daniel’s furniture is located at Carmenita and Artesia.

At a heated 2012 City Council meeting, where both Bruce Barrows and Carol Chen said Goodwill “wasn’t a good fit for the community,” Joslin spoke out against the store.

Joslin stated, “There will be transients, and lots of dumping of used goods in the entire parking lot, and none of us deserve having to be subjected to this type of potential harm and abuse.”

Now in 2018, Joslin has made it clear that he does not want the Juliet project built.

In a letter sent to HMG-CN Sat. Feb 17, Joslin wrote, “There are many reasons for denying, but we want to share the primary reasons you should be against this. The density they’ve proposed for “single family homes” is less than nearby townhomes and close to half the lot size of the surrounding RS-5000 zoned neighborhoods. Also, half of the homes don’t even have driveways which has never been allowed for single family homes before in Cerritos. This was done to get as many homes on 2.5 acres. If approved they would remove over 50 of the beautiful mature trees Cerritos is known for and that have provided beautiful privacy for over 30 years. They plan to put large 2 story homes only 10’ from many adjacent residents’ backyards and are suggesting an unnatural fabric as a screen for privacy and potted trees.”

“Another great concern is the intersection at Shoemaker and Artesia is one of the worst in Cerritos. Observing bike lanes and yielding to residents coming onto Artesia is abysmal and this project would only further this. Less than one guest parking per home will also cause overflow to adjacent neighborhoods and cause great friction.
The current COP zoning, Community Office Professional, they propose changing is needed by our local businesses and residents for work. City Council is even considering rezoning another property to this designation currently. Finally, the Cerritos General plan calls for infill projects to contribute to further development of the surrounding neighborhood (eg, improve circulation, contribute to or provide neighborhood community unity, eliminate blighted area, and enhance the existing quality of life.) Juliet does not do this and must be denied – join us and let City Council hear you!

HMG-CN checked on Joslin’s letter and found that some statements were not true, and were addressed at a Jan 8 workshop and at the last PC meeting.

MLC spokesperson Moses Kim told HMG-CN, “The Open House we held on January 8th was critical in developing the three alternatives we proposed. Almost 100 residents attended over the course of four hours, and many of them worked with our architects and planners to sketch out suggestions on blank site plans. We took that feedback and incorporated it directly into our updated proposal, resulting in a 17% reduction in dwelling units and increased parking and privacy landscaping.”

And even more anti-Juliet detractors stretched the truth, writing on social media that MLC “just added cosmetic tweaks, they are doing nothing.”

To the contrary, MLC told HMG-CN they did the following after the Jan 8 meeting:

• Reduced project to 24 homes which is 9.5 dwelling units per acre.

• 50% of the homes (12 of 24) now have driveways capable of holding 2 cars

• Parking ratio increase from 3.0 to 3.75 spaces per home

• Eliminated gated entry and vehicle stacking concern on Shoemaker

• Added an additional egress for residents to exit directly onto Artesia Blvd

• Increased the setback on the Northern boundary to 20′ (100% increase)

• Added builder installed “vertical green screen I trees” to preserve neighbor privacy

• Increased the average lot size by 39%”

None of this was mentioned in Joslin’s letter to the editor or in posts on social media until HMG-CN challenged one post on Facebook.

Kim continued, “as a general summary, we reduced density, increased parking, added driveways, increased setbacks, increased average lot size, added a vehicular egress, and added measures to preserve neighbor privacy.”

The project process started in November 2017, when the PC held a public hearing to review and consider the project.

At the time, it was proposed as a 29-unit detached single-family residential
development.

The PC denied the initial proposal. Later MLC submitted a letter requesting reconsideration with the PC voting 3-2 to reconsider the project at a future meeting.

That is when MLC hosted the workshop on January 8 at the Cerritos Library Skyline Room. City staff members and two (2) Commissioners attended, there only to observe the proceedings.

Based on the meeting, MLC submitted three alternative plans to be reviewed by the PC and the public at a study session on Jan 17, finally submitting a completed version and requesting a review of the project on Feb. 7.

The PC once again voted 4-1 to deny the revision by MLC, which had cut the number of homes from 29 to 24.

The next day, MLC filed an appeal of the PC’s decision; the final proposal will be presented to the City Council for review and final consideration at the upcoming Feb. 22 meeting.

The Council can affirm, reverse, or modify the PC’s decision; in any case the Feb 22 meeting is sure to be well attended and raucous.

Any reversal or modifications must be accompanied by a written statement setting forth the reasons.

If the City Council affirms the decision, it will be final and effective immediately.

If the City Council elects to reverse or modify the determination, they can refer the matter back to the PC for a report, or they can adopt a resolution approving the appeal and reversing the decision of the PC.

HMG-CN has been attempting to gather comments from detractors, most simply do not want the project.

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McMahon
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McMahon

Re: Juliet proposal………… Problem is not with the proposed Juliet Project Proposal, problem lies in re-zoning from commercial to residential. City has no overlay zoning amendments to residential. ………..premature to try to downsize to RS2000 Lots. Personally in agreement with the surrounding 1970’s neighborhoods, there’s a problem with the alignment of the small RS2000 square foot Lots, they’re not in alignment with the existing surrounding RS5000 sq. ft. Lots; plus Juliet wants to have private roads, so overflow parking will flow in to the surrounding neighborhoods. That is not fair for the residents who have lived in the city for… Read more »

J. McMahon
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J. McMahon

Mediate Juliet Proposal: Redesigned the blueprint/ thumbprint, so the perimeter proposed Juliet homes are in alignment with the RS5000 square foot existing 1960-70’s homes. In the center of the Juliet project, & or closer to the arterial highway intersection, they can have smaller Lots maybe RS300- square foot Lots; plus split level floorplans & or with floorplans with basements, and they would not interfere with the existing RS5000 square foot Lots. Parking seems to be a big issue, AKA: Bleeding Hangnail; but the developers has a deaf ear to addressing elevator lift parking in the garages, that’s having a lift… Read more »