LYNN HOOPINGARNER | Plans for San Vicente apartments are full of flaws – WEHOville

Deck Builder

Today, Planning Commission will be hearing a proposal for a new project for 24 condominium units (a requested Tract Map is also in the application) to replace an existing 13 rental housing units (the tenants were “Ellised out” in 2019) at 948-954 N. San Vicente. While on paper this sounds like a net increase in housing, the staff report leaves open a number of questions that I hope will be addressed by the Commission. I will not be able to make all my comments in three minutes so I thought I would share some of them here. 

Overall, this project is more of the same we see throughout the city. A large beige and brown box that pushes to the limit and beyond—every setback, height, greening and other requirement in our city code. However, a few things stand out from the staff report. 

Affordable Units 

First let’s talk about affordable inclusionary housing. Per our city code, and as cited in the Resolutions for the project: 

3.3) The inclusionary units shall be reasonably dispersed throughout the project, shall contain on average  the same number of bedrooms as the non‐inclusionary units in the project, and shall be comparable with  the non‐inclusionary units in terms of appearance, finished quality, and materials as approved by the  review authority…  

The proposed project includes 6 one-bedroom (four of which have been set aside for affordable inclusionary), 16 two-bedroom and 3 three-bedroom units. That works out to 25% one-bedroom and 67% two-bedroom. Thus, per the above language, at least two of the affordable units should be two-bedroom — if not three. What is staff’s rationale for making these all one-bedroom? 

One-for-One Replacement 

The staff report gives a clear outline of the state requirement that the 13 existing dwelling units be replaced with comparable affordability in the new units. The four “affordable” units discussed above are mentioned on p. 9 that they will be “deed-restricted affordable units” — this again implies that they will be condos. It goes on to discuss that there will also be “nine rent stabilized units” but what is unclear, both in the staff report and the Resolutions, is how one goes about having “rent stabilized units” in a condominium building.

Are they proposing only half the building be condos and the other half rentals? The proposed Tract Map is for 24 units which implies that they will all be condos and the language that the affordable units be “deed-restricted” implies the same. 

But more importantly, the state passed a law over three years ago that gives each jurisdiction the discretion to determine if the replacement units must be AFFORDABLE or only “Rent Stabilized.” Mayor Meister has asked staff multiple times over the years where the ZTA is that will codify the city’s decision (presumably to require Affordable) and yet nothing has been drafted to date. And now …….


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