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Whittier City Council Eyes $1.035 Million Purchase of Bright Avenue Property for Parking Expansion A



Whittier, CA – The Whittier City Council is set to make a decisive move in response to the escalating parking crisis in the Uptown Area. In an upcoming meeting scheduled for November 14, 2023, the Council will consider a resolution to purchase the property at 7037 Bright Avenue, aiming to expand parking facilities and alleviate the growing tension among residents over scarce parking spots.


The Proposal in Detail


The City Council's proposal, as detailed in the Agenda Report by Ben Pongetti, Community Development Director, is a strategic response to the chronic parking scarcity in Uptown Whittier. Resolution No. 2023-79, at the heart of this proposal, involves a significant real estate acquisition. The City Manager is recommended to proceed with the Purchase and Sale Agreement for the property at 7037 Bright Avenue, which historically housed the Bright Motel. The property, which has remained vacant and boarded up since May 31, 2012, has been a subject of community concern due to its dilapidated state and underutilization.

The proposed purchase price for the property is set at $1,000,000, a figure negotiated down from the original asking price of $1.2 million listed on Loopnet. This purchase price represents a calculated investment by the city, reflecting both the market value and the strategic value of the property in addressing the parking crisis. An additional $35,000 is allocated for covering various acquisition-related expenses, including due diligence, title searches, appraisals, attorney fees, and escrow closing costs. This financial strategy is aimed at utilizing the General Fund to transform an area that has been an eyesore and a source of community concern into a valuable public resource.


Further Considerations and Steps


Further steps outlined in the proposal emphasize a meticulous approach to the acquisition. The city plans to conduct an ASTM Phase I Environmental Site Assessment and a Preliminary Title Report to ensure the property meets environmental standards and has a clear title for transfer. This diligent process underlines the city's commitment to responsible and sustainable development. The resolution’s budget of $1,035,000 from the City’s General Fund reflects a comprehensive plan that considers both the immediate financial outlay and the long-term benefits of reconfiguring the adjacent parking areas. By purchasing and redeveloping 7037 Bright Avenue, the city aims to significantly increase the number of parking spaces in Uptown Whittier, thereby directly addressing one of the most pressing issues faced by its residents.


Background of the Property


The property at 7037 Bright Avenue, known as the Bright Motel, holds a complex history within the fabric of Whittier's urban landscape. Since its closure on May 31, 2012, the motel has become a symbol of unutilized urban space and potential. Its significance was first assessed by the Historic Resources Commission on November 14, 2012, which concluded that the property did not qualify for listing on the City’s Local Register of Historic Resources. This decision opened the door for potential redevelopment, moving the property away from a heritage preservation framework and towards a more utilitarian approach in urban planning.

The property's journey from a functioning motel to its current state was marked by a series of development considerations. Initially, there was interest from developers in transforming the entire block, including the Bright Motel. In the fall of 2013, a developer entered into an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with the city. However, after more than a year in the entitlement stage of predevelopment, the project was deemed economically unfeasible. This outcome left the property in a state of limbo, exacerbating its status as a blighted area within the community.


The Motel's Role in Community Support

In the early 2000s, before its closure, the Bright Motel served a critical role in the community beyond its primary function as a lodging facility. It became a temporary haven for homeless individuals, offering a place of respite and shelter in a city grappling with the growing challenge of homelessness. This phase in the motel's history highlights a period when it was more than just a commercial property; it was a lifeline for some of the city's most vulnerable residents. This aspect of the motel's past adds a layer of social significance to its story, underscoring the complex roles urban structures can play in addressing societal issues. The property's transition from a supportive space for the homeless to a vacant and underutilized building reflects broader changes in the city's social and economic landscape. The Property in the Present Context

Fast forward to the present, and the Bright Motel site has been publicly listed for sale, garnering attention as a potential key piece in solving Uptown Whittier’s parking crisis. The listed price on Loopnet, a commercial real estate marketplace, was $1.2 million, reflecting both the property's prime location and its potential for redevelopment. Despite its dilapidated state, the property has been viewed as a valuable asset in the strategic planning of urban space in Uptown Whittier. Its transformation from a neglected structure to a possible parking facility represents a shift in the city's approach to urban renewal, focusing on practical solutions to contemporary challenges while navigating the complex dynamics of historical significance, urban development, and community needs.



A night view of a crowded parking facility located south of the motel and behind the Teriyaki Bistro restaurant.
The parking facility at Bright and Wardman was packed at 721 pm on November 11 2023. During this time parking is almost impossible to find in the parking facility which is located south of the Bright Motel and behind the Teriyaki Bistro. Photo taken by Rebecca Canales using REVVL 6 Pro.


Fiscal Impact and Resolution Details


The financial implications of the proposed acquisition of 7037 Bright Avenue are substantial, with the City Council considering a total expenditure of $1,035,000. This figure not only covers the purchase price of $1,000,000 but also an additional $35,000 for various associated costs. These costs include due diligence in the form of environmental assessments and title reports, as well as appraisals, legal fees, and the expenses associated with closing the deal. This financial commitment represents a significant investment from the city's budget, aimed at addressing the long-standing parking issue in Uptown Whittier. The decision to allocate such a considerable sum underscores the city's prioritization of urban development and community needs, particularly in improving the parking situation in the densely populated Uptown area.


Source of Funds and Budgetary Considerations


The funds for this acquisition are to be drawn from the city's General Fund, which is the primary operating fund of the city. This fund is typically used for financing the general operations of the city and is sourced from various revenue streams such as taxes, fees, and other general governmental revenues. The allocation of over a million dollars from the General Fund for this project highlights the city's strategic decision to invest in infrastructure improvements that have a direct impact on the quality of life for its residents. Resolution No. 2023-79 specifically outlines the budgetary amendments necessary to accommodate this purchase, reflecting the city's commitment to fiscal responsibility while addressing critical urban challenges. This decision to use General Fund resources for the property purchase is a testament to the city's dedication to finding long-term solutions to the parking crisis, even in the face of significant financial outlay.


The Bigger Picture: Parking Scarcity and Community Strain


The Uptown Area of Whittier has been grappling with a severe shortage of parking spaces, leading to neighborly disputes and even feuds over available spots. This purchase is seen as a critical step towards alleviating these tensions by providing additional parking spaces in a reconfigured layout.


Impact on Local Residents

The acquisition and redevelopment of the Bright Motel property into a parking facility are poised to have a significant impact on the lives of Uptown Whittier’s residents. The chronic shortage of parking has been a source of daily stress and conflict, with residents often struggling to find parking spots near their homes. This has led to disputes and has strained neighborly relations. By potentially adding a substantial number of parking spaces, this project promises to alleviate these tensions. Improved parking availability is expected to enhance the quality of life for residents, reducing the time and effort spent in searching for parking. This change could also lead to a safer and more harmonious community, as reduced competition for parking spaces might lessen the frequency of disputes and altercations that have been a troubling aspect of the current situation.


Impact on Local Businesses

For local businesses in Uptown Whittier, the parking expansion project could be a game-changer. The current parking scarcity has likely deterred potential customers, impacting the foot traffic and revenue of these establishments. Easier and more accessible parking would encourage more visitors to the area, potentially boosting local commerce. Businesses that have struggled due to the parking situation may see an increase in customers, rejuvenating the local economy. Additionally, the removal of the dilapidated Bright Motel and the creation of a new parking facility could enhance the aesthetic appeal of the area, making it more inviting for shoppers and diners. This project, therefore, holds the promise of not just resolving a logistical issue but also contributing to the economic vitality of Uptown Whittier.


What Lies Ahead


The City Council's decision on this matter is eagerly awaited by the community, as it promises to address a long-standing problem that has affected the quality of life and community relations in Uptown Whittier. The outcome of the meeting could mark a significant turning point in the city's efforts to balance urban development with the needs and wellbeing of its residents.


The Road Ahead: Anticipation and Planning

As the Whittier City Council approaches its decision on the purchase of 7037 Bright Avenue, there is a palpable sense of anticipation among the residents and business owners of Uptown Whittier. This decision is not just about addressing the current parking crisis but also about shaping the future landscape of the community. The potential transformation of a long-vacant property into a functional and much-needed parking facility is seen as a pivotal moment in the city's ongoing efforts to balance growth, community needs, and urban aesthetics. The council's decision will set in motion a series of actions that will have lasting effects on the Uptown area, from the immediate commencement of property redevelopment to the long-term management and utilization of the new parking spaces.


Expectations and Long-term Vision

Beyond the immediate resolution of parking scarcity, this project carries broader expectations for urban renewal and community revitalization. Residents hope that this initiative will lead to more such projects, addressing not only practical issues like parking but also enhancing the overall livability and appeal of Uptown Whittier. There is an expectation that successful implementation of this project could serve as a model for future urban development initiatives, demonstrating how thoughtful planning and community-oriented decisions can lead to substantial improvements in city life. In the long term, the city council's decision and the ensuing developments will likely be seen as a crucial part of Whittier’s journey towards becoming a more accessible, vibrant, and cohesive community.

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