Council OKs townhouses without park space
A last-ditch effort failed to add park space to an isolated townhouse development before the City Council approved the 70-unit project Tuesday night.
The Shea Homes project is the second phase of a townhome community at the intersection of East Evelyn and Moorpark avenues adjacent to the Sunnyvale border. The three-bedroom, three-story homes will have an average sale price of $700,000.
"Maybe there's some type of negotiation where we could create a park that would be open to the public," said member Jac Siegel, suggesting that the city use the project's $1.75 million in park fees to buy a half-acre of the site for a park. Seven homes planned to be built near the street would have to be removed from the project.
"These homes have three bedrooms, you're going to have kids here," Siegel said, adding that the developer might not lose money in the deal. "Even if we get in-lieu fees for parks in the future, there's no land available. We're going to build and build and we're not going to have parks."
Council members agreed that a park would be nice, but city staff said it could not be required of the developer, who seemed hesitant to embrace the idea. Members voted 6-0 in favor of the project without a public park, with Laura Macias abstaining.
Macias noted that the first phase of the project was approved in 2006, and that the isolated nature of the site wasn't unknown.
"We said this area's really disconnected, really isolated," Macias said. "In six years those facts haven't changed. That's why there was this discussion about parks and open space."
"Let's not design and approve projects that are so isolated," Macias said. "Really, what we're talking about is a project with car-only access, because it's just so hard to get around."
The project includes a central open space of 13,511 square feet. It could have been larger but the developer insisted on having 17 more guest parking spaces than required.
"We've done a lot of outreach to the community and the number one thing they want is more parking," said Dave Best of Shea Homes, referring to neighbor concerns that guests would park in the surrounding neighborhood.
Best said requiring parks in a project is more appropriate for "larger developments with a lot of space." Siegel said. "The problem is we get many smaller developments and we get nothing."
The first phase of the so called "Mondrian" project built 151 homes on the former industrial site. As the Voice reported in 2009, there are low levels of toxics in the ground, and the site is classified as a "voluntary cleanup area." Special membranes were installed under the homes to prevent toxic vapor intrusion.
With the additional of 70 similar units, "it will look like a 220-unit single development," Best said.
"We've sold very well," Best said. "We expect it to go as quickly as we can build them."
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