Mitchell Again Seeking Berth On Chino Hills Council

(August 27)  Former Chino Hills Councilwoman Rossana Mitchell is seeking to return to the position she once held, vying against three incumbents and two others in the upcoming November council race. Peter Rogers, Ed Graham and Ray Marquez are seeking reelection and must face three challengers, Lou Alfonso, Debra Hernandez and Mitchell.
Mitchell told the Sentinel that she is running “because I think I can contribute to the decision-making process for our city. I have experience and I have an understanding of the issues. I’d like to have the opportunity to serve again.”
Mitchell, a practicing attorney based in Chino Hills, has remained abreast of the challenges facing the city and has strong feelings about them she is not afraid to express. Her tenure on the council a decade ago came about when she was elected, in 2003, in a special election to replace James Thalman after his death. The following year, she lost to Kurt Hagman. Mitchell has also served four years on the Chino Valley Unified School Board.
“One of the main concerns I have is that it seems that the city in the past six months has rezoned several developments from single family to multiple family units, which is completely contrary to the general plan,” Mitchell said. “When Chino Hills incorporated, we adopted zoning for residential in certain areas, higher density residential in other areas and commercial in others. It seems to me the city council is now going around the general plan by using state housing mandates as a loophole to make these changes.”
Mitchell’s reference is to state requirements that dictate a minimum amount of “affordable” housing must be included among each municipality’s housing stock. But the city has used sleight of hand in applying the state rules in a ruse to allow selected developers to build at a density that is not provided for in the city code, she said.  “They are not providing affordable housing to anyone,” she said. “By using the exception for state’s housing mandates, they don’t have to go to the public to change the general plan. They are giving certain developers the ability to build something they should not be entitled to. They are changing our low and medium density to multiple family and higher density. I want to see that stopped. They are not complying with the general plan or the wishes of the public in making these zoning changes. The increased density creates more traffic congestion and takes away from the rural way of life we all came to Chino Hills for.”
Mitchell continued, “We have also seen an increase in fees. The city council hired a consultant to address the issue of city fees. From there, they increased permit costs 30 to 40 percent. That is essentially a tax. If they need more in taxes they should generate more in sales tax, and not increase fees. If you buy a new water heater, it costs you $200 in fees to install it. Some people cannot afford that.”
A roiling local issue over the last two years has been the proliferation of maternity hotels, also known as Chinese birthing homes, in Chino Hills. In 2012 it was learned that Chino Hills was host to several such operations, at which wealthy pregnant women from China would stay during the final stages of their pregnancies and would then give birth at local hospitals so that, under the 14th Amendment, their children could claim U.S. citizenship.
In all of the cases, the homes were not licensed and alterations in their configurations had been made, including the addition of ten toilets at one such house, which overloaded the abode’s septic system. In one case, there was evidence to indicate as many as 30 women were being housed there at one time.
Mitchell was at the forefront of a group calling for action that resulted in the city’s code enforcement division citing the owner of one of the homes with numerous city code violations. Follow-up action involving the city attorney led to that specific home’s closure and some order of commitment that the home would not be put to that purpose again.
“I would like to comprehensively address the issue of maternity hotels,” Mitchell said. “We have identified nine alleged maternity hotels. You have women housed in those homes turned in and out of there in 30 days. I have personally made a complaint on three homes several months ago. Nothing seems to be being done. We have to keep this maternity hotel issue from getting out of control.”
Mitchell also said the city should rethink the tentative location it has settled upon for its dog park since its completion there is likely to be delayed for an unacceptable amount of time.
Mitchell said her commitment to the community recommends her as a candidate.
“I believe what distinguishes me from other candidates is I get behind what I believe,” she said. “I am someone who gets involved and makes things move forward. Anything I set my mind to I make happen. Actions speak louder than words. Most people talk the talk. I am a person who walks the talk. If I am elected people will see real positive change. I will make Chino Hills better, actually greater than it is now.”

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