Plaza 2555 is a triangular-shaped parcel of land across the street from Playfields Park and down the street from Davis Diamonds and the soon-to-be built Hyatt House Hotel. The 7.3 acre property located on two parcels, bounded by Research Park Drive, Cowell Boulevard, and Interstate 80 is currently zoned commercial, but the proposed amendment would see 200 housing units of a variety of types.
The applicant has continued to modify the proposal and now two-thirds are proposed to be three bedrooms or smaller (134).
At least 10 percent of the overall number of dwelling units are proposed to be “micro units” (20 minimum) of about 350 square feet each. The applicant is proposing a cap on the overall number of units with four or more bedrooms at 33 percent of the total (66 maximum) with around 10 percent of the units at five bedrooms (20).
Staff notes: “This represents a noteworthy change from the applicant’s original proposal, which contained more four and five bedroom units.”
Currently the project proposes a mix of housing types with both row-house style townhouses and stacked flat apartment units in two- and three-story buildings which would be separated by landscaping.
The project also includes a leasing office, café space, multiple indoor activity areas, pedestrian pathways, landscaped courtyards, common open space areas, approximately 380 vehicle parking spaces, and approximately 646 bicycle parking spaces.
The applicant has “significantly modified their original concept” for affordable housing. Staff writes: “The applicant has intentionally focused their proposed Affordable Housing Plan on serving low-income families consisting of single individuals, including low-income students.”
The Planning Commission, however, “voted to provide no recommendation on the Affordable Housing Plan.”
Staff explains, “The Commission was aware that the plan would be subsequently reviewed by the SSC and it is staff’s interpretation that their action was essentially intended to defer to the recommendations of the SSC. The SSC subsequently voted 4-2 in support of the plan.”
Two Planning Commissioners voted against a portion of the recommendation and “expressed concerns regarding the project’s density, affordability, and appropriateness of the location.”
In addition, the full Commission “voted to not take an action on the Development Agreement and affordable housing plan because they believed there was not enough information available to guide consideration of the Development Agreement and because they were aware the Social Services Commission would be subsequently voting on the Affordable Housing Plan.”
The Social Services Commission in September voted 4-2 to recommend the following for Council consideration: first, make an additional 10 of the micro units affordable, that would increase affordability to 20 percent. Second, reduce the number of four- and five-bedroom units. Finally, “Focus on floorplans that prioritize serving a diverse residency, specifically seniors and families.”
Staff notes that the two commissioners voting against those recommendation had expressed the preference for no four- and five-bedroom units and “a concern about approving an affordable housing plan that seems to be targeting students, given the number of recently approved student-oriented projects.”
Council will be asked to determine that the project is statutorily exempt from CEQA based on it being a Transit Priority Project. The Planning Commission agreed 7-0 with that assessment.
Staff states: “The project is consistent with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS) pursuant to SB 375. It meets all of the requirements of PRC related to this exemption.”
At the Planning Commission meeting, the biggest pushback came from Eileen Samitz.
She called the project “basically a reconstituted mega-dorm” and said it is “[i]n one of the worst locations in the city. How much more remote can it be from the campus?”
In a comment on the Vanguard she questioned why the project on a “huge” parcel would “not have an EIR since it will have impacts that need to be analyzed.” She asks, “Why is Plaza 2555, which is located right next to I-80 and a remote area being fast-tracked and not doing an EIR, like similar projects did? This is a significant land use change which would be a generous up-zoning, yet it is not focusing on the need for local workers and family rental housing.”
The configuration of the site continues to change somewhat. When it came before the Planning Commission it was proposed at 30 micro, 4 one-bedroom, 11 two-bedroom, 29 three-bedroom townhouse and 60 three-bedroom flats.
The number of four and five units remain the same at 46 and 20, but they have altered the configuration of the rest, with 20 micro units and now 114 units of one- to three-bedroom size.
Staff notes, “The total number of possible three-bedroom units continues to be a topic of discussion. Theoretically, as many as 57% of the three-bedroom units (114) could be proposed as three-bedroom to the exclusion of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Combined with possible four- and five-bedroom units the overall theoretical percentage could be considerable (90 percent).”
Staff emphasized: “The applicant has expressed that is not their intent and in addition that the capacity of the site could preclude this.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting