Agenda Item 5.5 at the upcoming City Council meeting on Tuesday should put Oakley residents on notice that more low income housing may soon be built at Carol Lane upon City Council approval.
The Corporation for Better Housing (CBH) has submitted a Density Bonus application for an additional 105 units composed of low, very-low, and extremely-Low Income Level Housing at Carol Lane. Upon council approval, these 105-units could then potentially be added to the already approved 404 units that will eventually be built in three four-story tower units with a grand total of potentially 509 units potentially coming to Oakley.
Unfortunately, due to State Housing Laws and the City of Oakley Density Bonus Ordinance, the council has little choice in the matter and is stuck approving the resolution because the application follows the law. To put it bluntly, there is nothing the city or its residents can do to stop this project or density bonus approval; these towers are going up!
When this type of application meets all of the existing laws an requirements, it is very difficult to deny the application. State even uses the words “by right” that describe these types of projects.
While it’s easy to point fingers at this City Council, the real blame actually should be directed at State lawmakers and those serving on the 2002 and 2006 City Councils—excusing Councilmembers Jim Frazier, Randy Pope and even City Manager Bryan Montgomery from any public backlash on this particular project.
This is a result of housing advocates who have pushed hard on the Legislature for decades because so many cities worked cleverly to keep affordable housing out of their cities. Unfortunately, now we have many laws and requirements that take authority away from cities on these issues.
So why not just vote “no” on this Density Bonus application? Very simple, a “no” vote will ensure the City is sued by the State with a worst case scenario the State takes away Oakley’s cityhood.
Proof that the State does not mess around, just ask Pleasanton and the 2,524 low-income housing units they are forced to build by the State which will be located by the Fairgrounds. Pittsburg is also in a similar situation.
What the City could do is request more information and postpone the vote as I do not believe they have thought this through when they originally approval this project. Many concerns have not yet been addressed.
For instance, the staff report does not answer the following questions:
- What is the impact on Orchard Park School or other schools in Oakley? I believe that school is at full capacity.
- Will these units be subject to the supplemental tax that other Oakley residents pay for Orchard Park School? Why should these people be excused from this tax and others not?
- What is the impact on our police services?
- What is the impact on our fire services? It should be noted, Oakley does not even have a fire truck that has a ladder capable of reaching 4-story buildings—we rely on Antioch.
Until the Council has these answers, it should postpone the vote rather than blindly accepting the application. I would also suggest the council request in writing the developers intention with the Density Bonus which is also not stated.
According to the Staff Report, the City Council does have limited discretion over any requested incentives or concession made by the applicant. The city should leverage this very small power it has and request/suggest items be included in the project to protect Oakley citizens. The city should work with the bordering neighborhood to ensure potential problems do not continue to occur.
The following should be requested:
- Request a fire engine be included as part of the project—this would provide Oakley with its ladder engine it desperately needs.
- Encourage senior housing be the units closest to the fence line to reduce noise
- Trees and greenery to obstruct views—no one wants a 4-story building looking into ones backyard. I heard Cypress Trees will be planted which is not good enough, bigger and wider trees are needed.
- A completed 10-foot wall along the fence line—currently, it’s only partially completed.
- Replace the wooden fence on Montevino Ct. and replace it with a wall—it’s been replaced multiple times as people have knocked down boards to use it as a short cut to downtown.
- Zero tolerance for riff-raff should be assured.
What is disappointing in the entire process is the City missed the boat to work with residents and ease concerns. Outreach and education should have occurred prior to this being an agenda item as to what State and local law is on this issue and what actions residents could take.
With that being said, I’ve scheduled a meeting with Bryan Montgomery and residents who border this project for Monday at 5:00 pm at City Hall. I encourage you to attend in order to get down to the bottom of this.
Rather than complain about more low-income housing, this tower project, or the actions of the council, which ultimately will have no effect on the outcome, the appropriate focus residents should take is how to limit the damage this project will have on Oakley. Citizens and the City should work together to make strong recommendations.
Hopeful thinking is that with enough push back and restrictions, maybe the developer will chose not to include the approved 105 additional units.
Highlights from the Staff Report – to view the full report, visit City of Oakley Website
- Corporation for Better Housing (CBH) owns and manages an affordable family and senior community on a 17.81 acre site at the west end of Carol Lane. There are six buildings approved in a campus-like environment with a gated entry, common landscape areas, oak tree grove, and both family and senior community centers for the residents. CBH has submitted a Density Bonus application that would allow for up to an additional 105 units within a total of three four-story buildings on the project site.
- The subject site is in the Multi-Family High Zone District and has an Affordable Housing Overlay Zone. Pursuant to State Housing Law, the City’s certified Housing Element, and the Zoning Code, Density Bonuses for affordable housing projects are permitted by right and subsequent development applications are to be reviewed and approved administratively by Staff. Staff has provided a resolution for the City Council that confirms the Density Bonus application is in conformance with the City of Oakley Density Bonus Ordinance.
- Staff recommends the City Council adopt the resolution confirming the Density Bonus application (DB 01-11) is in conformance with State Law and the City of Oakley Density Bonus regulations.
- The maximum allowed overall density of the project site is 540 units on 17.81 acres. This would be a density of 30.32 dwelling units per acre. As proposed, the applicant is requesting up to an additional 1 05 units, which would bring the total unit count on the project site to 509 units. That is a density of 28.57 dwelling units per acre, which is 31 units less than the maximum allowed for the project site.
- This request is to only increase the density on the project site consistent with State Law and the Density Bonus Ordinance. The City does not have discretion over the type of unit provided, family versus senior, as long as the units meet the provisions of State Law and the Density Bonus ordinance.
- The City Council does have limited discretion over any requested incentives or concession made by the applicant; however the applicant is not requesting any.
- Oakley Municipal Code section 9.1.41 O(f) allows the remaining approvals for the project to be reviewed and approved by Staff.
- The 2007-2014 City of Oakley Housing Element identifies the CBH project site as being adequate in size to accommodate the remaining 88 Extremely-Low Income units of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) assigned to the City of Oakley. The City has met its allocation of Low and Very-Low Income units for this current housing cycle. It is anticipated that a percentage of the 1 05 units will be deed restricted as Extremely-Low Income units, although it is not known how many units the applicant will be able to provide.
- The applicant is not requesting any financial assistance from the City with this Density Bonus application. The applicant has indicated that if the City were able to financially contribute to this project in order to provide additional Extremely-Low Income units, each unit would cost in between $70,000 and $97,000 depending on the bedroom count.