Large audience attends Elk Grove zoning administrator meeting for affordable apartment project

City staff attending the meeting included city attorney Jonathan Hobbs (left), innovations czar Chrtispoher Jordan, senior planner Kyra Killingsworth and planning manager Antonio Ablog. | 

The city of Elk Grove conducts zoning administrator meetings on an as-needed basis. These meetings substitute for planning commission meetings for minor design or planning items, and yesterday's was only the third of 2024.

While these open meetings at Elk Grove City Hall rarely draw an audience, yesterday's session drew over three dozen participants. The intense interest was for minor design changes to a supportive affordable housing project on Elk Grove-Florin Road, just south of Calvine Road.

The Coral Blossom project is an outgrowth of the controversial Oak Rose supportive housing project, which was first proposed in Old Town Elk Grove but rejected by Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and her city council. 

That rejection spurred a fair housing lawsuit filed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, which led to Elk Grove paying over $10 million to the Oak Rose developer, Long Beach, Calif.-based Excelerate Housing Group, to relocate the project to Elk Grove-Florin Road and rechristened as the Coral Blossom supportive affordable housing project.  

Elk Grove automatically approved the Coral Blossom project under California Senate Bill 35 conditions. Interestingly, Singh-Allen rejected the Old Town Oak Rose project, saying it did not qualify for Senate Bill 35 approval. This prompted the attorney general's lawsuit, which claims to this day that the city broke the law. 

The 30-minute meeting was conducted by Elk Grove's innovation czar Christopher Jordan and attended by city attorney Jonathan Hobbs, planning manager Antonio Ablog, development services director Darren Wilson, and senior planner Kyra Killingsworth, who made the brief presentation on the design changes. These typically are conducted by Jordan with a recording secretary. 

"Staff believes they meet the [SB35] criteria," Ms. Killingsworth said. "It must be multi-family."

The three-story complex will be on a 2.2-acre site with 81 one-bedroom units and 33 parking spaces. Residents will have on-site supportive services. 

There were three speakers during public comment. One speaker, Ms. Liz Marshall, made pointed remarks directed at the mayor and city council, saying they pitted one neighborhood against another, creating winners and losers. Marshall suggested the north Elk Grove neighborhood, which will facilitate the Coral Blossom project, was the loser.

"The city of Elk Grove has shown extreme bias by putting one neighborhood over other neighborhoods," she said

Additionally, Marshall reminded city staff and the audience that while the city crafted the $10 million taxpayer-funded settlement with EHG, the attorney general's lawsuit is still pending. Marshall's entire commentary can be seen in the video below.

"SB 35 does apply to [Old Town] Oak Rose. The city attorney is on record saying it does," Marshall said. 

Marshall added, "I'm counting on Rob Bonta to holding his ground and suing the city regardless of the stupid request by the mayor [Bobbie Singh-Allen] based on 'it's moot.'" 

After hearing public comments, the minor design changes were approved. One change was allowing the street setback to be 33 feet instead of 40 feet. 

Following the meeting, most audience members who live on or near Silverberry Avenue, which backs up to the project, convened in the lobby to discuss further strategy. One participant said they are considering an appeal to the Elk Grove Planning Commission, which requires a $2,500 filing fee and is a necessary step before a lawsuit could be filed. 

After Jordan had delivered his decision as the zoning administrator, Marshall made additional comments.

"It's permanent support housing, that's what it is, right? Just what you think, for people who are chronically homeless, that's what it's for," she said. "You can paint it another color; when you paint a turd blue, it's still a turd."

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Deejay Blutarsky said...

The Attorney General's ongoing lawsuit against the City is like a dark cloud hanging over the Mayor, Suen, and Spease's reelection campaigns. They might bamboozle the voters with glitzy campaign flyers, but if the judge orders the City to allow the Oak Rose transitional housing project to go in its original Old Town location, get ready for the mother of all storms!

Sid Vicious said...

This neighborhood doesn't have a chance because they don't give money to mayor and city council. Beyond that the mayor isn't going to respond to them because they know they already broke the law with Oak Rose, so they can't tempt fate. But still, I'd love to see Mayor Bobbie squirm if they file a lawsuit sometime before the election.

LMarshall said...

Let's be clear. I never said anything about winners and losers. This is about bias and violating state law. Period. When the zoning person would not clarify for some people if this would be Permanent Supportive Housing or just affordable housing, yes I spoke up. Transparency works wonders. Kudos to the city for having the meeting. While it really was for show, they did accomplish the goal of meeting the contractors deadline. Next stop - July 2 Superior Court of Sacramento.

LMarshall said...

Let's be clear. I never said anything about winners and losers. This is about bias and violating state law. Period! When the zoning person would not clarify for some people that this would be Permanent Supportive Housing or affordable housing, yes I spoke up. Transparency works wonders. Kudos to the city for having the meeting. While it was really just for show, they did accomplish the goal of meeting the contractors deadline. Next stop - July 2 Superior Court of Sacramento.

Deejay Blutarsky said...

L. Marshall, kudos to you for demanding transparency of our public servants! Being one of the "EGN Crazies", I would like to make a couple suggestions regarding your Superior Court comment:

While the zoning staff may not have disclosed the public appeal process at the conclusion of the meeting (which would be inexcusable!), you must "exhaust your administrative remedies" before you file a lawsuit or it will be rejected by a judge.

By this, I mean you must file an appeal of the Zoning Administrator decision to the Planning Commission. Then if necessary, you would then need to file an appeal to the City Council after the Planning Commission decision.

Us EGN regulars are not liked too much by the City, but I just wanted to help offer advice, because we have seen this rodeo played out by the City many times. Be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for the appeal application, because the City does not specifically offer reduced appeal fees like a lot of other cities that want to support citizen involvement.

Good luck!

Randy Bekker said...

There are no winners as the State AG currently is strong arming the city. Unlike other cities who flatly said no Elk Grove chose to fight this for the right to plan our city. Just before EHG bought the property on Elk Grove Blvd. the city updated the list of properties for projects like Oak Rose. The list is mandated by the state and the city like other low income/ affordable housing projects the city was prepared to work with the applicate in putting this project on one of the designated properties. Unfortunately EHG was not interested, lawyered up, filed lawsuits and used the AG’s office to strong arm the city. If the city caved and walked away then every dirt lot in the city could become an SB 35 project and Elk Grove could become the dumping ground for the county. The city said yes we are interested but not here but we do have properties set aside. EHG was not interested. The AG like other cities took a do as we say or else with no conversations but to sue the city. Even though SB 35 is needed to keep cities from saying no it doesn’t allow for cities to plan their city when property is set aside for projects like Oak Rose. The Elk Grove blvd. Property is to small offers limited services and the rooms were no bigger than 400sq. ft with no out side recreational area and very limited inside conference rooms. For the future of planning the city must fight this lawsuit to allow this case to be heard and like most lawsuits be arbitrated between the parties. The Elk Grove Florin rd. property is on the list as the Elk Grove property was never on the list of available properties for this type of project.

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Ms. Marshall, you are to be commended for speaking up for accountability. We have learned that standing up for "the process" is everything when dealing with this local government of ours.

LMarshall said...

Randy, Randy, Randy. You protest too much. This isn't the AG's fault. This is the mayor's fault. She got caught with her pants down. Please, don't come at this like you care about how much space they have. It's insulting. And the city will not be required to put PSH all over Elk Grove so quit acting like the sky is falling. If your going to post, post the facts.

Sid Vicious said...

It's funny how some people seem to blame the mayor's problems on attorney general Bonta. They seem to think the city is the victim, when in fact they are the rapist.

Randy Bekker said...

Ms. Marshall, my public comments on this project has been very clear, accurate and consistent to what I know and believe. I have had many conversations about this project with many community members. I am not going to go back n forth on here but offer coffee any time you may want to have a conversation. I wish you well in your endeavors.

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

The irony of the entire Oak Rose - Coral Blossom controversy is while the Old Town businesses and advocates may have won the battle, it looks like they will lose the war.

The Oak Rose project was only two stores. The new senior affordable Old Town project will be larger and have three floors, which these same businesses and Old Town advocates find objectionable.

They'll find almost anything objectionable - the definition of NIMBYs.

If the Oak Rose-Coral Blossom projects are fully resolved with Attorney General Rob Bonta, which is still in doubt, Mayor Singh-Allen and the city council will be hard-pressed to reject the senior housing project. The city council caved once, so who is not to say they cannot have a repeat performance?

Cowardice runs deep.

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