Laguna Beach cuts housing assistance perk that helped top city employees buy million dollar homes

As reported by the Orange County Register:

LAGUNA BEACH —  A housing assistance program that helped some of the city’s highest-ranking employees get help with funding million dollar homes has been cut.

The City Council on Tuesday, July 11, voted unanimously to end a program that provided financial help through equity sharing and loan assistance to encourage high-ranking city staff to live in town. The idea was that if the employees live in town, they can respond quickly in emergencies and also get a better sense of the community.

The equity sharing allowed the city to pay a portion of the home purchase price in exchange for an ownership interest, and the loan assisted employees in the purchase of their equity interest in the home.

The program was put in place in 2000. Since then, six city employees were approved for the programs, including City Manager John Pietig; Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse, who will retire in August; Fire Division Chief Tom Christopher; Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis; former Water Quality Supervisor Graham Wright and former Fire Chief Mike Macey.

Since 2008, the employee loans have become a necessary component of the program, because lenders will not offer employees conventional mortgages because of the dual equity ownership. …

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