By Roz Rogoff
Unaffordable GhettoUploaded: Mar 15, 2012
The San Ramon Housing Authority was reactivated a year ago in preparation for Governor Brown's dissolution of the Redevelopment Agencies, as the Successor Agency for properties designated for housing by the RDA. There are three properties now under control of the Housing Authority the two empty lots on Omega Road and the old bank building on Alcosta.
In my Friday blog last week I commented on the two vacant lots on Omega Road which were thrown as a bone to ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) to meet some of the affordable housing requirements the state imposes on Cities.
Here's what the Crow Canyon Specific Plan (CCSP) from 2006 says about the Omega Road lots: "The San Ramon Redevelopment Agency owns 1.3 acres of land at the northwest corner of Deerwood and Omega Roads, part of which is vacant and part of which is used as a Recycling Center." The Recycling Center was closed because a new contract with Waste Management provided home pick up of most recyclables and regularly scheduled recycling events throughout the year.
When the CCSP was planned in 2006 there was a potential builder for low income housing on the Omega Road lots. The developer backed out after the housing bubble burst with the bad economy. So the lots sit vacant since they cannot be used for anything other than housing.
The proximity of Morgan's Masonry and service commercial and auto commercial businesses all around these lots make them, in my opinion, unsuitable for low income housing. Donna Kerger also thought this was a bad place to put low income housing. It segregates working people who might not earn a high salary to what I consider a housing ghetto in the middle of an industrial area.
People who work in San Ramon doing necessary jobs need housing they can afford that's convenient to their jobs, but because these properties are across from a noisy, dusty brick yard, and adjacent to smoggy auto repair businesses, it would not be a pleasant place to live. That could result in stress, isolation, depression, and crime. That would be unacceptable and unaffordable for San Ramon.
As long as the City Housing Authority retains those lots they cannot be used for anything else but low income housing. The CCSP states that most of the surrounding businesses, especially Morgan's Masonry, are established businesses but "may change over time." So if housing was built there, the existing businesses would be there for some period of time, possibly a long period of time.
I attended the Housing Authority meeting on Tuesday to suggest that the Housing Authority turn over the lots to the RDA Oversight Committee to sell instead of the Mudd's property. These lots are suitable for commercial development and would be easier to find a buyer who could build an automotive related business or retail there that would generate income for the city instead of passively filling a housing quota for ABAG.
The Housing Authority couldn't answer Public Comment, but Jim Livingstone asked if I was aware there already is housing next to Morgan's Masonry. I said I was not, and I still am not. I looked on the maps in the CCSP and on Google Maps, and I don't know which parcel in that block has housing on it. Maybe one of my readers can point it out.
Jim Gibbon thought it might be on the other side of Deerwood Road, which is very wide with a median. The brick yard is walled off along Deerwood Road, but it is also walled off along Omega Road. However, there's a wide driveway into the brick yard from Omega Road where large (noisy and dusty) trucks make deliveries early in the morning. See accompanying photo.
I know some past and present members of the Planning Commission read my blogs, so if any of you want to chime in on the suitability of putting housing on these lots or letting the Oversight Committee find a buyer who would put something more suitable there please do.