San Fernando voters will choose from among six candidates to fill two city council seats in the upcoming election on Tuesday, March 7.
Incumbents Mayor Robert Gonzales and Mayor Pro Tem Joel Fajardo are running for re-election. They are being challenged by Gilbert Berriozabal, a former San Fernando City commissioner who has sought a council seat in three previous elections; David Govea, Jason Hayes and Marvin Perez.
Among the hot-button topics defining this year’s election are the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Overlay Zone Project, in which the next council will decide whether to change or amend the city’s general plan determining the density of residential zoning, and ballot measure SF, which would make the city treasurer an appointed position by the city manager or council instead of someone elected by voters.
The TOD and the zoning of affordable housing is a particularly sensitive issue among residents.
According to the San Fernando Community Development Department, the TOD should amend the San Fernando Corridors Specific Plan — or “Specific Plan” — to address issues like a no-density limit in the downtown area. For example, a property owner with an acre of land or a 43,560 square foot lot in the downtown could build 3.5 times the size of the lot. That would provide the owner with more than 150,000 square feet of commercial and/or residential space on that property.
Other items that should be addressed, the department said, include allowing housing in areas of the Specific Plan that are a half-mile distance of public transit including the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station, subject to a Conditional Use Permit, and to adjust Specific Plan sub-district boundaries so that certain buildings that are currently legal non-conforming uses fall within a new sub-district that allows the use by right.
In addition, as part of the department’s analysis, is the evaluation of potential housing units that could be built over the 15-year planning period of the Specific Plan, which for the purpose of the environmental assessment has been projected at 759 new residential units. Those projected units include101 dwelling units previously approved by the City in in 2012 that would be incorporated into the Specific Plan Area, and the proposed but yet to be built 101 affordable housing units that are part of the JC Penney’s Building Mixed Use Project within the downtown area approved by city officials in 2014.
An Environmental Impact Report would be developed to assess any environmental impacts resulting from the proposed zoning update and amendments to the City General Plan.
The election will end the campaign sniping.
Representatives of the organization Residents for a Better San Fernando protested mailings that link present Councilmember Jaime Soto with past Councilmembers Maribel De La Torre and Brenda Esqueda, who were responsible for the city’s two sordid sex scandals and responsible for the city’s near bankruptcy.
Flyers have been placed on car windshields excoriating Soto while claiming candidates Hayes and Perez are not home grown but instead are from Tarzana and Van Nuys, respectively.
Gonzales and Govea have an endorsement, from among others, the Taxpayers For a Better San Fernando, according to a mailing that lists its office in downtown Los Angeles.
Neither candidate lists or mentions that particular endorsement on their election websites.