Why Old Town Clovis, CA Won’t Have New Apartments

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Much of the growth of the Fresno area in recent years has taken place in Clovis. Here is its iconic sign in the old town.

Fresno Bee File

Clovis city council voted on Monday to close a 40-unit development project near the old town of Clovis, as neighbors expressed concerns about traffic jams, overflowing parking lots and the ‘monolithic’ height of the building. apartment building planned.

Council voted 3-2 to reject proposed amendments to the city’s general plan and a rezoning that would have allowed the three-story multi-family apartment to be built on 1.6 acres of land just north of Second Street on the east side of avenue Osmun and on the west side of avenue Baron. The area is zoned for medium density residential single family homes.

Council members Drew Bessinger, Lynn Ashbeck and Bob Whalen voted to reject the general plan change and zoning. Mayor Jose Flores and city councilor Vong Mouanoutoua voted to continue the project.

“I feel very protective of this neighborhood,” Ashbeck said, justifying her vote. “It’s this special little enclave; he has the story of Clovis.

The decision to refuse the proposed amendment and rezoning went against the recommendations of the Clovis urban planning commission.

The council, however, unanimously endorsed the environmental findings of a mitigated negative statement that will allow an easier path for future housing developments.

Osmun_Ave.jpg
The 1.6 acre property in Clovis that once housed a church was the proposed site for a three-story, 40-unit apartment complex. However, city council voted on Monday to deny zoning that would allow development. City of Clovis

“The old town of Clovis has become a gem and people want to be there,” said Flores. “What this development promised was that there could be more people who were going to be intellectuals, professionals, our future, who would pay high rent.”

Market rate project initially proposed to compensate for the lack of affordability

Clovis, like the rest of California, has an incredible housing need, especially for those with low and very low incomes, according to the California Regional Housing Needs Allocation.

In an April 2021 court ruling, the city was found not to comply with the State Housing Components Act, which requires all local governments to “plan adequately to meet individual housing needs.” in the community ”. Although RHNA does not require cities to develop housing, the city must have planned sites available to developers.

Clovis City Council voted unanimously in May 2021 to appeal the court ruling of Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Culver Kapetan, who ordered the city to implement a new housing program to meet RHNA 2016 requirements including planned sites for 4,425 low-income households.

When the Osmun Avenue development was first proposed by TGP Investments LLC and Flyline Investments in March 2021, it was proposed as a higher density project that would help the city meet the need for low income housing. because there were more than 20 units per acre – even though the units would be leased at market rate.

The project requested that the area designated as medium density residential be modified to allow very high residential density by Clovis standards – up to 68 units, although only 40 were proposed by the developer.

The planning and development department report to city council stated that “the project was to serve as a potential ‘replacement’ for properties in the existing inventory of low-income housing sites that could eventually expand with non-residential projects. eligible “.

However, the California Housing and Urban Development Department explained that for the project to be considered low-income housing, the units must actually be affordable for low-income residents.

As a result, market-priced apartments would not help the city meet the state’s low-rental housing requirements. The clarification freed the board from having to make a decision on whether to improve RHNA.

“We can do whatever we want on this one,” Whalen said at the meeting. “Our hands are not tied by the state of California.”

Although the project does not meet the housing needs for low-income people in the city, the Planning and Development Department report noted that the project would have helped “to achieve a variety of other goals, including encouraging a mix of housing possibilities, facilitating infill housing and adding to inventory housing in the old town of Clovis.

“There may be benefits to trying to provide infill housing and increasing our housing inventory in Old Town Clovis, but nothing is going to cause us problems with the State of California if we say no to that,” Whalen said.

Parking, height problems persist

Currently, the property houses a vacant church and is zoned for up to 11 single family homes. Dirk Poeschel, a senior planner who represents the owner, said the 40 two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments would be rented for around $ 2,400 per month.

“We are fighting for the high end of the market, not the low,” Poeschel said, noting that the apartments would not be for low-rental housing.

When the project was first presented to the board in March 2020, the board asked developers to conduct a traffic study, although a February 2021 traffic assessment showed that the impact would be so minimal that a full study was not necessary.

The study showed that even during peak hours, the increase in traffic was not significant, with an estimated total of 218 vehicle trips per day. According to WalkScore.com, the region is also very practicable on foot.

The project was presented to the board twice before the November 8 meeting, when developers’ requests were denied.

At this point, the developers held several community meetings regarding the project and agreed to make changes including the location of the garbage cans, relocating part of a building, adding sidewalks and a block wall, and increased landscaping, to create more of a barrier between multi-family apartments and single-family homes.

The development company was willing to give in on several points, but neighbors reported that at a community meeting on November 7, the developer used swear words and made them feel uncomfortable. Poeschel, who represented the developer at the city council meeting, called the community meeting “very unproductive”.

“It feels like you’ve done everything you need to do, and yet the community still doesn’t seem to support it, from what I’ve heard,” Whalen told Poeschel at the meeting. ” I do not understand ; I do not understand why ; I mean, why don’t we just drop this deal and move on to the next upcoming deal? ”

The biggest sticking points for neighbors were overflow parking issues and building height, which are common concerns among communities opposed to new development.

Seven community members spoke out against the three-story development during public comments, with most saying the large building would be moved, an eyesore and lower the property’s value.

“It’s too big for this area, the height is too big, too many units. Two stories, I would feel a lot more comfortable, ”said a woman who did not give her name during public comments. “I am also concerned about the value of our properties. We already had a neighbor… who sold his house after two months as soon as he found out it was offered.

Several members of the community said they would be more in favor of a two-story building, with one saying he was “not a NIMBY guy” and another saying they would like to see development in it. domain.

“There has to be a compromise. It’s zoned for 11 and you want 40, but there’s something in the middle, and I feel like the neighbors say something in the middle would be nice, ”Ashbeck said. “I can’t help but think that you could have found a compromise. ”

Poeschel said two stories would not make financial sense to the owner and that demand for multi-family infill is high.

“There is a huge need for this project,” said Poeschel. “It’s in a great location, just north of the city center, just south of the regional shopping center. It is passable on foot.

However, some members of the community, including a man who owns a rental property across from the proposed development, said at the Nov. 8 meeting during public comments that the three-story project did not fit the “Clovis way of life. “.

Frensoland documentary filmmaker Heather Halsey Martinez contributed to this story. To read his full notes on the November 8 meeting, visit fresnoland.com/documenters.

This story was originally published November 12, 2021 5:00 a.m.

CORRECTION: The article has been corrected to indicate that the developer, and not his representative, allegedly used profanity at a community meeting.

Corrected on November 12, 2021

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