Community group challenges planning commission approval on 233-unit apartment building – Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ – The Calypso building faces its first legal challenge shortly after the Santa Cruz Planning Commission unanimously approved its construction and the non-residential demolition required for the project.
Gillian Greensite, a representative for Santa Cruz Tomorrow, filed the notice of appeal with the city on Monday. The call focuses on a traffic study which he says violates a number of land use and mobility clauses in the overall city plan.
The proposed traffic study only examined traffic along Center Street on weekdays. The call noted the high traffic density that accumulates on the street during summer weekends when backing from the nearby roundabout.
Transportation planner Claire Gallogly denied the project would play a role in excessive weekend traffic.
âWe did not request one for this location. The main reason isâ¦ this location is a fill location in a high traffic area, âshe said of the lack of a weekend traffic survey. âThe traffic there is not from the project. On weekends, these conditions do not exist because of this project.
The commission granted Calypso a categorical exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act for its infill development status. The future development site is currently home to a Hertz car rental agency and the Chris Bordner Auto Body store.
The petition seeks to have the exemption rescinded due to violations caused by the missing traffic study.
“Given the absence of a traffic study on weekends, such an exemption is called into question,” reads the appeal. “There is a reasonable possibility of a significant effect due to an unusual circumstance, namely traffic jam not studied on weekends and if this project has a significant impact, not only in terms of increased traffic , but also noise pollution and air quality. “
The planning commission approved the project on October 21 in a unanimous decision. Originally, the commission discussed maintaining demand, but ultimately decided to accept it when the developer proposed to allocate four additional units to affordable housing.
Calypso promises to provide 233 studios at 130 Center St., across from Depot Park. Thirty-five of these units will be accessible to very low-income residents earning 50% of the region’s median income or less. This allowance will help Santa Cruz move closer to its regional housing needs allowance targets.
The city is yet to create 123 ultra-low-income units by the end of 2023. Other projects, such as the redevelopment of the Pacific Station and the library’s mixed-use projects, will also help fill this need. These projects are expected to provide 24 and 107 very low income housing units, respectively.
The appeal also claimed that the town planning commission had approved a project that was less than the 20% required by the city in terms of affordable housing.
The 35 affordable units provided represent 22.5% of Calypso’s 155 base units, which qualifies it for a 50% density bonus. This density bonus adds 78 additional units to the building. Additional housing is not included in the percentage of affordable housing.
The density bonus also allows Calypso to exceed the 36-foot zoned height limit for Laurel Beach and South Area. The new building height is 75 feet.
The units will vary between three different sizes. There will be 78 micro-units, or 295 square feet. The least abundant units will be standard in size, at 68,328 square feet. The remaining 90 units are expanded and are 400 square feet.
A municipal ordinance requires that units of varying sizes be distributed among affordable housing units at the same ratio of affordable units to market price based on the number of base units in the project. This will provide 18 micro-units, six standard units and 11 extended units for very low-income residents.
It will also include 209 off-street parking spaces in a two-storey garage. Other amenities are a spa, game room, fitness center, open terrace and top floor terrace. If approval is maintained, construction is expected to begin in September 2022 and is expected to be completed within two years.