The San Ramon Planning Commission is expected to resume discussions on Tuesday on a townhouse project that would involve the demolition of the Golden Skate rink, which will soon close.
The proposed Windflower Fields townhouse project would include 47 townhouses for sale, with 16 accessory housing units (ADUs) and a small park, on the 3.5-acre site at 2701 Hooper Drive, the house current longtime Golden Skateboarder.
The proposal was first presented to the Commissioners at their October 5 meeting, where they provided comments to the requester, Land Advisors Organization. At stake in particular was the proposed use of ADU to meet affordable housing requirements, which the commission said did not appear to meet the criteria.
“I encourage you to think that instead of having a room on the first floor, or ADU, it’s to be creative, and maybe we can downsize the other units,” said Jean Kuznik, president of the Commission. “I still think not everyone needs such a large housing unit, as we have all come to believe we need them. Maybe we could downsize some and put in a garage. for a car and a suitable housing unit in these buildings. “
Kuznik stressed that the design of the proposal was ultimately the expertise of the developers, but also that it wanted to encourage more creative thinking to meet the needs of affordable housing.
“I’m just a curator; you are the creative architects,” Kuznik said. “So we’ll see if we can help you be more creative and come back with places where we really think people who need affordable housing will want to live, beyond just a studio in the house. someone else’s, or attached to that of someone else’s home. “
Commissioner Eric Wallis proposed to continue discussions on the proposed project on November 2, for which the committee voted unanimously.
Discussions on the proposal on November 2 included amendments from the applicant, intended to address previously raised concerns about the use of DSUs as affordable housing. The Commissioners expressed concerns that the changes to the proposed project would be received at the meeting, without being able to consider them in advance.
To complicate matters for the commissioners, the language of the housing crisis law was intended to speed up the process of resolving the housing shortage in the state by limiting meetings on projects containing affordable housing to no more than four sessions between the planning commission and the city council.
“I don’t think it was the spirit of the law, to limit the number of meetings, also to allow last minute changes like this that we don’t have enough time to be diligent reasonable and considerate in SB 330, ”Kuznik said on November 2.
Alicia Poon, of the city attorney’s office, said that while she acknowledged that the applicant’s failure to provide commissioners with amendments to the proposal in advance was reckless, SB 330, passed in 2019, is a relatively new piece of legislation that does not appear to have a precedent that allows for additional meetings in circumstances where a legislative body has not been informed of relevant changes to a proposed draft on time.
“It seems like an undue burden for us as a committee to deal with these issues in this kind of format,” Kuznik said.
Overall, the Commissioners remained dissatisfied with the proposed use of DSUs to meet affordable housing requirements, as well as the applicants’ failure to provide them with information on the proposed changes prior to the meeting of the November 2.
In addition to the fact that the proposed DSUs were small and attached to single-family residences, the major problem with this aspect of the proposal, according to the Commissioners, was that there was no guarantee that the DSUs, located in units at sell, would one day be on the market. Although the rent on homes is capped below market rate and affordable with low income, owners of homes offered for sale would not be required to rent them out in the first place.
“It’s one thing to say we’re going to get 16 affordable units off the books for our market,” Kuznik said. “It is true. But if these 16 units are never rented, and for the moment, as it is, there is nothing to say that they are obliged to do so, it is the same as not having 16 units. “
Commissioners voted 5-0 to continue discussions on the proposed draft at this week’s meeting, making it the third of four meetings allowed in total.
Windflower Fields LLC of Golden Skate owner Hassan Sharifi, which was incorporated in 2007, is listed as owner on application for the Windflower Fields townhouse project.
“We reopened the ice in May 2021 and hoped we could earn enough income back to a break-even point or better, but it has become clear that our hope is unrealistic,” Sharifi said in an open letter dated Oct. 17, which garnered media coverage and public attention early last month.
In addition to the impacts of the pandemic, Sharifi pointed to the decline in rink attendance over the years, which has led to the closure of a majority of rinks in the upstate. San Ramon in the letter of October 17.
In 2017, a much larger 227 unit complex was proposed for the Golden Skate site. This project did not come to fruition later in the year, after the commission and city council decided to reduce the density of housing in this area as part of the specific Crow Canyon plan.
The San Ramon Planning Commission is expected to resume discussions on the Windflower Fields townhouse proposal at 7 p.m. Tuesday (December 7). The agenda is available here.