I read the letter to the editor “A rising tide floats all boats” in the October 16th edition of the Valley Courier with some dismay. The exciting opportunity of a hotel to anchor business to the downtown is not coming without some growing pains related to the change. Unfortunately, the information presented in that letter was not entirely accurate and left several key points out. The crux of the concern was that “17 vulnerable families who live in the Over the Rainbow Apartments,” which are located above La Puente’s Rainbow’s End Thrift Shop, will be displaced by the downtown hotel development. Nothing could be further from the truth. Under the desired design for the hotel, 30 public parking spots will remain in the public parking lot in addition to the 24 on-street parking spots on the same block for a total of 54 public parking spots, far more than what would be needed for those 17 families. If the developer is unsuccessful in purchasing two aging buildings (not the Over the Rainbow Apartments) owned by La Puente in the middle of the planned development area, then the design would need to be adjusted and more parking spots would need to be dedicated for the downtown hotel. However, 24 spots would remain for public parking on the same block, still able to serve the 17 families.
Equally incorrect is the assertion that “our city government will reverse a long-standing promise of parking.” The Over the Rainbow apartments are in the central business district. Most businesses know that by locating in a downtown environment, parking is always a consideration and if it is an important part of their business plan, they invest in property to serve that need. When La Puente purchased the Over the Rainbow Apartments, there was never a promise that the lot near it would remain public parking. La Puente has raised this argument with the City before, and the only documentation that La Puente has been able to produce to justify any interest in the public parking lot is a letter of support that a previous City Manager wrote for the application of a grant. The letter indicates that the residents will be allowed to park in the parking lot (obviously since it’s public parking), but it in no way guarantees that the parking lot would remain at all, let alone that it would remain the same size, nor that it was dedicated to that project. In any event, a City Manager would not have the legal authority to restrict a public asset in that way; it would require City Council action.
It is disappointing that La Puente would use disinformation in this public format to pressure Council on a key negotiating point relating to this development.