Guest Commentary - The intent of Oak Rose Apartments is good but the location, site design set the project up for failure

 By Rod Brewer |

Elk Grove needs to step up with supportive housing for homeless individuals, but a current proposal to do just that in Old Town Elk Grove misses the mark on how best to achieve that goal.

Last month, I received information about the proposed Oak Rose Apartments from my friend, longtime resident of East Elk Grove, Randy Bekker. The purpose of the three story, 67-bed apartment complex is geared towards connecting homeless individuals with mental health challenges with supportive housing services through HOPE Collaborative. However, the proposed property location in Old Town Elk Grove and other technical issues present policy and safety challenges that make this proposal not feasible.

In my 12 years on the Cosumnes CSD Board, I have learned that communication with all interested stakeholders, on any issue, is a key ingredient towards coming to a pragmatic solution. In this case, based on the facts presented by city staff to the Elk Grove Planning Commission, rejecting the applicant’s proposal was the best option.

I was there for the June 2 Planning Commission meeting seated right next to Randy. I believe the Planning Commissioners were correct. Further, it is also my understanding that the project applicants did not provide outreach with community and business leaders in Old Town to discuss the project, its intentions, or how they can provide behavioral health services for its tenants who are looking to get their lives back on track. This becomes especially concerning to me when I think about just how close people who may be struggling with addiction will be to bars and microbreweries.

From my perspective, the intent of the program is good, however, the location and site design set the project up for failure. It is important for the project applicant to collaborate with all the aforementioned parties to find a solution that better meets the community’s needs and allows for the protection of the integrity of Old Town Elk Grove.

While I agree with the Planning Commission about this particular proposal to help our unhoused residents, I will continue to listen, learn and look for balanced solutions and engage with our community and elected leaders to identify ways to help get more people on the path toward self-reliance.

Rod Brewer is an elected member of the Cosumnes Community Services District Board of Directors and candidate for District 2 on the Elk Grove City Council.




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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Regardless of the type of project, out of town developers need to know how to play the game and what the price of admission is. The game in Elk Grove is no different than anywhere else, but it would be helpful if City Hall offered a procedure manual for out of town developers: "Greasing The Skids, a How-To Manual for Out of Town Developers"

Renegade said...

Glad to see Mr. Brewer join the conversation re this project. I must say I'm even more impressed with the fact that he was PRESENT at the PC meeting. I seldom see candidates attend city meetings until they are actually elected.
Mr. Brewer says all the right things, such as "communication is the key ingredient." There was a need for "Outreach towards the business and community leaders PRIOR to the hearing," and perhaps most novel, the concept of a willingness and even desire to "listen, learn and look for solutions."

Although Mr. Brewer didn't offer any "solution" to the homeless issue this project would have assisted with, he seems engaged, unlike his opponent who just shows his NIMBYism as his way to deal with the issue.

I'm not sold on Mr. Brewer, as he always seems to be disheveled and unkept when I've seen him in public, at least he says he's willing to engage, listen and learn. Most of our electeds know all the answers upon being sworn in and taking their seat. For that he just may have my vote. If he had a solution, he'd have my vote for mayor.

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