San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 02/17/14, 8:31 AM PST |

SAN BERNARDINO >> A substantial expansion of affordable housing and other developments at Waterman Gardens could be approved Tuesday, setting off what developers hope will be a renaissance turning around the lives of impoverished residents and what detractors fear could be an influx of jobless residents in poorly maintained units.

The proposed project would demolish the 252 public housing units built in 1943 and replace them with the same number of “mixed-finance affordable housing units” in addition to 73 affordable senior housing units, 38 for-sale condominium units, 48 market-rate rental units, and community facilities.

Neighbors raised a number of objections to the project when it came before the city Planning Commission in July, but after months of tweaks and developing answers to residents’ concerns, the commission voted 7-1 to approve it in December.

That approval means the City Council is scheduled to vote on the project when it meets on Tuesday, a day later than usual because of Presidents Day.

The strength of the opposition was unexpected, but seems to have been resolved, said Steve PonTell, president and chief executive officer of National Community Renaissance, the Rancho Cucamonga-based nonprofit behind the proposal.

While some doubted the ability of a bankrupt city to enforce its requirements, PonTell said he hoped the group’s 21-year track record in other cities — particularly local cities, including Rialto — would show the nonprofit’s credibility.

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