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Fate of low-income supportive housing project to be decided by City Council

Sunrise Pointe, Abels Christmas Tree lot
A map provided in Planning Commission documents shows the proposed project site for a 47-unit low-income housing development at 7424 Sunrise Blvd.

Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights City Council will hold a final public hearing on Thursday and vote on whether to approve plans for a controversial low-income supportive housing project on Sunrise Boulevard near Oak Avenue.

The 47-unit project, called Sunrise Pointe, is proposed at the old Abel’s Christmas Tree lot at 7424 Sunrise Blvd. and seeks to provide permanent housing and on-site supportive services for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, those with psychiatric disabilities, and those with low or very low-income levels.

Citrus Heights Planning Commissioners issued a split vote over a key aspect of the proposal last month, voting 2-2 on whether to approve a “concession” request from the applicant to allow parking to be closer to the adjacent residences than currently allowed by the city’s zoning code. The developer, Jamboree Housing Corporation, has said the concession is needed in order to make the project financially feasible, noting that without the allowance for parking within 10 feet of adjacent residential properties, rather than the required 20 to 25-foot setback, the project would have to be reduced from 47 units down to 40 units.

“The reduction in units would result in a loss of over $2.5M in capital funding as well as annual operating subsidies due to the funding associated with those units,” Jamboree said in a Dec. 18 letter to the city, citing funding from project-based vouchers, state funds and tax credits. “The loss of capital funds and operating subsidies to the project would make it financially infeasible to build or operate. Furthermore, a loss in units would hinder us from providing the robust services that operational subsidies allow for.”

Site plan
A site plan shows the layout of a 47-unit apartment complex proposed at 7424 Sunrise Blvd. in Citrus Heights. // Image source: Planning Division.

According to city staff, state law allows for such a concession to be made for affordable housing projects, which the proposed housing qualifies as, due to rental prices not exceeding 30 percent of tenants’ monthly household income.

Several residents argued in favor of denying the concession request during a public hearing before the Planning Commission last month, saying zoning codes “exist for a reason” and expressing concern about privacy and noise from vehicles being parked close to their backyards. Others argued that the entire project was proposed for the wrong place, with one resident questioning rhetorically, “If this was going in your backyard — and it is going in my backyard — would you approve that?”

Two commissioners agreed with arguments made against granting the concession, resulting in a split vote on the parking aspect, although commissioners were united in 4-0 votes in favor of approving a design review permit and site plan for the project.

A staff report included in the City Council’s Jan. 10 agenda packet includes additional findings from research city staff conducted since the Planning Commission hearing. The report shows aerial images of four apartment complexes in the city where parking is within 10 feet of adjacent single-family homes — Greenback Ridge, Woodglen, Sierra Ridge and Spring Creek apartments. According to the report, code enforcement has not received complaints related to the parking layout.

See full Jan. 10 agenda packet: click here

The staff report also says “if this site was developed as a commercial development (i.e. medical or business office), which the zoning does allow, parking standards allow cars to be parked adjacent to the property line with an 8-foot landscape buffer.” The extended requirement of a 20 to 25-foot setback only applies if the development is residential, which is the case with the 47-unit apartment complex being proposed.

If approved, the development would include 11 one-bedroom units, 24 tw0-bedroom units, and 12 three-bedroom units, ranging from 622-square-feet to 1,050-square-feet in size. 18 of the units would be reserved for those with a a psychiatric disability. The proposed site plan features two main apartment buildings, a total of 99 parking spaces primarily along the exterior perimeter, a small dog park, an outdoor barbecue and play structure in the middle, and a half-court for basketball.

From Dec: Citrus Heights Planning Commissioners split over low-income housing proposal

The project is also proposed to have an 8-foot masonry wall surrounding the perimeter, along with a 10-foot landscape buffer. Based on comments from commissioners during last month’s public hearing, the developer is also proposing three recent changes to the project:

  • “Relocate the trash enclosure 50 feet to the west to provide additional separation from the adjoining residences.”
  • “Increase the height of the 6-foot fence to 8-feet in additional locations.”
  • “Reduce the height down to 2-stories from 3-stories for the portions of building 2 which are adjacent to the existing residential properties. This reallocation will increase the height of building 1 (adjacent to Sunrise Boulevard) to 3-stories for all portions of building 1.”

Several residents who live near the project site, have also referenced the possible existence of a 40-foot easement on the northern portion of the property. The easement is noted in a recently surfaced 1998 letter from the prior owner of the property, Sutter Health, but the easement does not show up on the current Title Report, indicating it may have been removed 20 years ago at the request of Sutter.

If the project is approved by the City Council, the site would have a full-time manager from TLCS, a Sacramento-based nonprofit offering supportive residential services, who would live in one of the units. Another part-time staff member would also help provide supportive services like after-school programs for tenants with children, connecting residents with employment services and working together with outside service providers who may be helping with substance abuse counseling or providing senior services like Meals on Wheels.

The City Council is slated to hold both the public hearing and final vote on the proposal at its Jan. 10, 2019, meeting at City Hall, which begins at 7 p.m. The council has the option to approve the full project with the concession, or approve the project without the concession. It can also impose additional conditions on the development.