Danville Express

Newsfront - September 14, 2007

Danville working to provide affordable housing

Report shows compliance with state regulations

by Jordan M. Doronila

Balancing affordability and affluence remains a challenge in Danville. But town staff and developers have been working together to provide affordable housing.

The Danville Town Council at its Sept. 4 meeting gave its blessing to its annual housing report, which lists affordable and generic residential building activity.

"It's an ongoing accountability," said town Planning Chief Kevin Gailey. "It's a compliance report. It's an obligation to the state annually of how we are doing."

The report covers Danville's affordable housing projects from 1999 to September 2007, Gailey said. He said developers have built or have secured approvals to build three apartment complexes for people earning a moderate income, which is an affordability category designated by California.

The state designates "moderate income" as between 81 percent and 120 percent of area median income, which is $58,700 for a one-person household; $67,000 for two; $75,400 for three; $83,800 for four; and $90,500 for five.

The affordable rental units in town correspond with people earning a median income, Gailey said.

"It's how they are deemed affordable," he said.

Sequoia Grove, one of the newest apartments, on Podva Road, has been designed by its developer for moderate income earners in a multi-family zoning area. The builder cannot charge more than $1,413 a month for a single-person household; $1,621 for two; and $1,819 for three.

The town has created specific density land uses for builders to create affordable housing, including 55 residential units behind Navlet's Garden Center on Camino Ramon and 34 units on Fostoria Way, Gailey said. Like the Sequoia project, there will be a cap on how much tenants can be charged.

The builder of the Navlet's center had requested an amendment to the Danville General Plan to change its property from commercial to mixed use; the developer of the Fostoria units asked for a residential use.

"It's a homerun for the town," Gailey said. "The town was proactive in getting those sites for multi-family use."

"You can get affordability by product type," he added. "They are affordable by design."

The town was also involved in building Sycamore Place, a Bridges housing complex for seniors with "very low" to "extremely low income" on Hartz Way. It purchased the land south of the Danville Library, set aside housing money, and worked with Bridges, a nonprofit developer, to build the 78 units around 2003.

"That's a once-in-a-30-year process," Gailey said. "We don't have the funds to do that every cycle."

Sycamore Place resident Bob Worthington, 72, said he enjoys his home.

"I love it here because I'm a block away from downtown," he said. "I can walk to the library."

"The rent is all in a sliding scale from 20 percent to 40 percent of the market value," he added.

He noted the town and Bridges keep up with the apartments' maintenance.

"I guess you could say management is excellent," he said. "They are just a little strict with the rules."

The town also plans to promote affordable housing downtown. It purchased the Rose Street property and has housing set-aside funds although plans are still being developed.

In addition to all of its building activities, Danville continues to be an active participant in the Tri-Valley Affordable Housing Committee.

Gailey said town staff compiles all the housing data and submits it to the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The state wants all levels of government and businesses to ensure there is enough affordable housing for all Californians, according to a strategic plan by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

Only 19 percent of California households could afford to buy median priced single-family homes in November 2004; while nationwide, affordability was 55 percent. Also, the state's population continues to rise and projections are it will gain around 600,000 people annually over the next decade, according to the plan.

Along with other communities, Danville is following the state's plan.

"It's the cornerstone for all efforts," Gailey said. "We are obligated under state law to develop and approve and implement a housing element as part of our general plan."


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