Council OKs funds for affordable housing projects
The largest addition to the city's affordable housing stock in recent memory got its start on Tuesday after City Council members set aside $10 million in funding for three projects.
Council members voted 6-1 in support of funding the three projects totaling 85 units on Chiquita Avenue, El Camino Real and Rengstorff Avenue, despite worries from neighbors about parking, traffic and the perception that their property values would go down as a result.
"I'm a neighborhood preservationist, I do care about you and your neighborhood," Mayor Jac Siegel said to neighbors. "That said, you need to look at facts and not anecdotal data."
The council will vote on the projects' designs later.
Proposals included a Habitat for Humanity proposal for eight ownership homes for "very low- and low-income families" at 300 Chiquita Ave., where several households would have to be evicted to make way. The council allocated $2.8 million for it.
At 1581-1585 El Camino Real, First Community Housing proposes 25 apartments for developmentally disabled individuals with "low and extremely low incomes," replacing an apartment building and a commercial building. The city's price tag for it was $2.13 million.
The largest project would put 52 efficiency studios for "extremely low-income" people above 2,700 square feet of new retail at the corner of Rengstorff Avenue and Old Middlefield Way, replacing the 1948 building where the well-known La Costena eatery is located, and an adjacent duplex. The developer is ROEM Apartment Communities and Eden Housing.
Council member Inks was opposed to the final deal, which allocated only a third of the $8.67 million in recommended funding to the ROEM/Eden proposal until its design is found to be satisfactory.
If the design of the three projects are approved, the projects would receive most of the below market rate funds the city has received in recent years from fees on new housing projects.
"We have all this money and it is so difficult to spend it," said council member John Inks, who opposes the practice of charging developers for affordable housing.
The city had requested proposals from affordable housing developers, who ended up not having to compete for the funding because only three viable proposals were made. The three proposals were set to use $15 million of the $18.8 million available.
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