By Daniel Borsuk
The push to build affordable housing in Contra Costa County took a detour when supervisors took two separate actions Tuesday to shore up the county’s housing stock for those with lofty incomes and capable of living in the leafy environs of Lafayette and Kensington.
It was only last month, supervisors had approved a 193-unit, $60 million affordable income apartment development in unincorporated Bay Point at the intersection of Port Chicago Highway and Willow Pass Road.
Lafayette In-Fill Project
Supervisors brushed aside the appeal of Lafayette residents Bruce Last, Hanna Cervenka and Prem Cervenka over the proposed development of nine split level houses on lots in a hilly part of unincorporated Lafayette that would require the removal of 16 trees and 18,000 cubic yards of soil. Each residential development is projected to sell in excess of $1 million.
The 7.5 – acre site is located at Taylor Boulevard and Gloria Terrace Court.
With lots measuring from 22,600 square feet to 73,301 square feet each, Last, who lives nearby the proposed Gloria Terrace Estates, a joint development of co-owners Gloria Terrace and H. F. Layton, said the hill’s steep slopes presented fire safety access problems for Cal Fire.
“This development presents a fire safety issue with Cal Fire regulations because of the steep slopes where these homes will be constructed,” Last said.
Last also said the split-level design of the proposed new houses are out of character with the area’s single level houses.
Supervisors were informed each house will include sprinklers to minimize fire hazards in the area. In addition, the hill top will be lowered so that it won’t present privacy problems for those living down the hill.
County Senior Planner Francisco Avila told supervisors since February when the Gloria Terrace Estates was presented to the county planning commission, the developers have agreed to plant 24 new trees because 16 trees will have to be removed for the development.
In addition, the developers, Avila said, agreed to provide six on street parking spaces to help resolve parking problems. The developers had already agreed to provide three to four guest parking spaces per lot.
New Law Gets Test in Kensington
Some residents in the tony unincorporated community of Kensington are not pleased county supervisors adopted the state’s new law that replaces the term second unit with accessory dwelling unit.
Signed into law, earlier this year, to spark the construction of more housing throughout the Golden State by lowering or eliminating altogether parking requirements while boosting the accessory dwelling unit floor space 30 percent to 50 percent of the attached dwelling unit, the new ordinance is getting its first Contra Costa County test in Kensington, and some residents don’t like what they see coming down the road.
Concerned about potential parking impacts, visual impacts and overcrowding impacts, Kensington resident Joseph Holsom said, “I think this is a step backwards.”
Barbara Holsom predicted there will be other single-family houses like the one she lives across from that will become an Airbnb rental once the county adopts the ADU ordinance that provides more incentives than the old ordinance. “The owners don’t live there anymore. The house is used as a motel, “she complained.
Supervisors approved a bulk of the ADU ordinance with the understanding some technical points will be brought back for board action at a later date.