Supportive housing project appeal denied by self-described 'compassionate' Elk Grove City Council

The proposed Oak Rose apartment complex in Elk Grove, Calif., would have provided supportive services for individuals trying to escape homelessness. | 

After hearing lengthy public testimony, the Elk Grove City Council unanimously voted to uphold a denial by the Elk Grove Planning Commission for a proposed permanent supportive housing project. The proposed Oak Rose supportive 67-unit apartment project was on a vacant 1.3-acre parcel in the city's Old Town Special Planning Area (OTSPA) on Elk Grove Boulevard. 

On June 2, the Elk Grove Planning Commission unanimously denied the application by Oak Rose LP, saying it did not conform with the OTSPA. The project proponents attempt to gain approval based on California Senate Bill 35, which provides a streamlined approval process for cities like Elk Grove that fail to comply with affordable housing goals.  

The Planning Commission denied the application from Oak Rose LP based on the special planning area zoning. Specifically, the application was rejected because it did conform to one condition for the planning area. 
After a thorough explanation of the supportive services by Sarah Bontrager, the city housing manager, the city council heard a presentation by the proponents, Ms. Dana Trujillo of Long Beach, Calif.-based Excelerate Housing Group and Ms. Erin Johansen of Hope Cooperative. Both emphasized that the project would provide permanent services to assist people out of homelessness, many of whom would be disabled.

"It's really an apartment building for those people that have the most need," Trujillo said. "They are in need of really great amenities and awesome walking space and things to do, just like people of higher means."  

Attorney Karen L. Hallock of the DLA Piper law firm's Los Angeles office defended the project. Hallock noted the apartment project fulfilled all but one qualification - land use. 

Specifically, the Old Town SPA requires that no residential units be on the structure's first floor. However, Hallock noted in May that the Planning Commission approved a market rate project in the OTSPA with residential use on the first floor. 

"The city cannot wave the standard for a market rate project and then not wave it for an affordable housing project when the waver is allowed, even mandated under state density bonus law," Hallock said. 

During their deliberations, Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her four city council members stressed Elk Grove is a compassionate city that wants to help the unhoused. However, without identifying an appropriate alternative, each said the Old Town site was not the proper location for the supportive services apartment complex. 

Vice Mayor Darren Suen said the city council "strongly believes in being compassionate and caring" and that they were not attacking unhoused individuals the project could have served. However, he noted Elk Grove has tried to build affordable housing, and no regional city is in compliance.  

During her comments, Singh-Allen stressed that even though the city council rejected the supportive housing units, she claimed the city cares about assisting unhoused individuals. 

"There is no shortage of compassion in the City of Elk Grove," Singh-Allen claimed. 

However, in her rejection, Singh-Allen noted there was "only one question" they had to consider, and that is the OTSPA standards were not met.  

"I believe in [the] support of our staff report," Singh-Allen said. "I think they provided sound reasoning as to why we should deny the appeal."   

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Eye on Elk Grove said...

What a pathetic orchestration of an Elk Grove City Council deliberation; one used repeatedly over the years, and totally predicable.

Here's how it goes: Go to the overpaid city attorney with a, “Give us an out.” City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs, right on cue, as called upon by Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, dives into long-winded legal BS, blaming it all on SB35.

Then BSA calls on Pat Hume, who is “ready” for his closeup, “I am in the hot seat” speech with “if you had only come to me,” I would have helped you. And as scripted, the rest fall in line.

Interesting to note when one speaker commented on the city of Elk Grove being a compassionate city, and essentially asks where the Elk Grove City Council’s is, caused the most “doth protest too much, me thinks” visceral, overly defensive reaction. One council member, angrily, said he was “insulted.” Someone give the man a hug!

Renegade said...

Yeah, the writing was on the wall long before the Old Town property owners ratcheted up their neighbors to fight this project. This project was never gonna pass CC muster when no $$ was being donated to their campaign coffers from the applicant. That's how business is done in EG (any many other municipalities), it's a well-known fact.
These neighbors did nothing to affect the decision of the Council, despite their starry-eyed beliefs that they could sway the vote with their large numbers and emotion.
For the council, it was a win because they came off as being receptive to THE PEOPLE whom they represent, when in truth they couldn't care less about their concerns.
All the talk of compassion and caring was completely empty and transparent as this article states. If they cared, CC would have directed staff to assist this applicant to find a solution at this site or helping them find a secondary site for their project. NONE of the council members even mentioned these options. If they truly cared about the homeless, disabled, the veterans, staff would have found a solution. No, they flatly denied the appeal, that was it. So much for compassion and caring. Actions talk, BS walks.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Since when has a development project being inconsistent with a plan ever stopped the Rubber Stamp Council from approving it? If this were say, a fast-food joint, the Old Town plan would have been amended and the french fry truck would have already been parked out front!

Lots of votes were harvested last night--that's about as compassionate as it gets!

Spoons and Forks said...

Years ago as a young mother and I had to escape an abusive husband. For a time I was homeless with a baby in diapers and had no place to go or to help me. Thankfully I was helped by WEAVE. Had WEAVE not helped me and directed me to services for me and my child I can't imagine what would have happened.

I am very disappointed that the city council, and especially Mayor Bobbie and Councilwoman Stephanie don't seem to care about helping people. What harm would it be to have those apartments for people trying to get help. These two are heartless and uncaring women and I am saddened.

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Renegade! Great point. No jumping in to help with another solution. Here's a sad fact, as of March, 2022, "Veterans account for 11% of homeless adults in the US. California has the highest number of vets living on the streets."

Where was the Elk Grove City Council's compassion when that fact was noted to them in an email before the council meeting? Crickets!

White Hat said...

Renegade, had you been there, you would have heard Pat Hume say he had already talked to the developer about finding a more appropriate location. I'm sure there might be a suitable location near you.

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