Following the demise of the EMQ FamiliesFirst facility, the new property owner has submitted a formal planning application to build an apartment complex that would provide high-density apartment units on the property along 5th Street, bordered by the U.S. Post Office to the west and commercial buildings to the east.
The project is expected, if approved, to provide abundant student housing. The “student site” would “consist of a four and 5-story, 203-unit university student apartment project, which would include 727 beds.” According to the Social Services Commission staff report, “The project would include a mix of 1-bedroom to 5-bedroom apartment units ranging in size from approximately 500 square feet to 1,700 square feet. The 104 4-bedroom/4-bathroom units would comprise the largest share of the 203 units (51%) and 727 bedrooms (57%).”
According to staff, “The development is designed with University of California (UCD) students in mind as the target population, but would not be restricted to students.” The project is proposed as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified, Silver level, project, and would include a six-story parking garage.
It is the density of the project, along with the large number of likely vehicles, that has neighbors, particularly those in the Rancho Yolo mobile home park, concerned about traffic and other impacts on 5th St.
However, the purpose of the Social Services Commission meeting is to evaluate the affordable housing plan. Staff notes, “The project is proposing payment of $2,025,000 in affordable housing in-lieu fees, the equivalent of the required $75,000 per unit fee for 27 affordable units. These funds would go into the City’s Housing Trust Fund and be used for affordable housing development of this site.”
The proposed “affordable housing site” would “consist of a four-story, 41-unit apartment building, with a maximum building height of 54 feet.” According to staff, the 41 low, very-low and extremely low income “affordable apartment units would be developed adjacent to the Student Site in order to meet the City’s affordable housing requirements.”
Staff writes, “The main project is focused on student housing needs. Early on there was discussion about including the 68 affordable units within the overall project, but as discussions progressed on the project and as part of the pre-application discussions at the City Council, staff was encouraged to explore more creative options.”
With ongoing discussions regarding issues of homelessness and the need for extremely low income housing units, “the project developer landed on a concept that would provide an affordable housing site that could be more focused on the greatest affordability needs within the community.”
The project developer selected and has been working with Mutual Housing California in planning this affordable housing proposal for the site. Staff notes, “Consistent with the Cannery affordable housing site and similar past projects, final selection of the affordable housing developer is at the applicant’s discretion, with final approval required by the City.”
While this project could be required to provide a land dedication site or to develop units on-site within the market rate project, staff “believes that the developer’s alternative proposal (Project Individualized Plan – PIP) will go further in addressing local affordable housing needs by doing the following:”
- Providing deeper levels of project affordability, including extremely low income units, not otherwise provided by the City’s standard low (80% AMI) and very low (50% AMI) requirements for the on-site development of units.
- Providing the combination of land and in-lieu fees that will increase the likely success of the affordable housing project being developed in a timely manner and through resources the City will have available from the market rate portion of this project.
Staff therefore recommends the following:
- Sterling Fifth Street Apartments shall create a secondary parcel of no less than 0.84-acre in size, the affordable housing site, and obtain the required planning entitlements and complete the surrounding site infrastructure improvements, including clearing and preparing the site, to develop a minimum of 41 affordable units. Building permits for market rate units shall not be issued until this parcel is created and conveyed to the developer of the affordable housing site or the City of Davis.
- The rental units developed on the affordable housing site shall remain affordable in perpetuity and be comprised of at least 20 units, or fifty percent of the affordable units, at rents affordable to 50% of Area Median Income (AMI), including at least 10 units at rents affordable to 35-40% AMI. The remaining affordable units shall be developed at rents affordable to households at 60% AMI or below. Developer of affordable housing site will seek to increase affordability to the extent feasible given available funding sources. This requirement shall be established in a deed restriction or covenant recorded on the property, subject to review and approval by the City Manager’s Office prior to issuance of building permit on the affordable housing site.
- Sterling Fifth Street Apartments will pay $2,025,000 in affordable housing in-lieu fees, equivalent to an additional 27 affordable units, to the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which the City will use for the development of this site, subject to actual project need at time of financing. Building permits for market rate units will not be issued until this payment of in-lieu fees has been made.
- The developer of the affordable housing site shall diligently pursue financing for the affordable apartments. If the affordable apartments have not commenced construction within five years of the first building permit issued for a market rate unit in the student site of the project, the developer of the affordable housing site shall transfer the parcel to the City of Davis, for use as permanently affordable housing. The land shall be free of any encumbrances or unusual easements, subject to the review and approval of the City Manager’s Office and the City Attorney.
- The developer of the affordable housing site will pursue programs with Davis Community Meals and other local service providers and volunteers that can provide housing and services to special needs populations (e.g. housing and services to address the needs of families and individuals who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness) to the extent additional resources are available and these programs are allowed by the affordable housing’s lenders and investors.
- The developer of the affordable housing site and Sterling Fifth Street Apartments shall work together to create an agreement around shared services between to the two sites, including discussion of the: parking garage, planned community events, and a potential student mentoring program. The agreement shall be submitted to the City for review and approval.
- The affordable housing site and the market rate housing site shall both be developed with all units being accessible or adaptable to fully accessible for persons with disabilities.
—David M. Greenwald reporting