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Olympia Garden vote set tonight

An Auburn landlord is asking Grass Valley to let him go forward with a plan to convert apartments into condominiums without installing separate water meters at each unit as required by city law.

City Council members will vote on the matter at tonight’s meeting, which starts at 7.

Council members also will vote on changes to the city’s traffic policy that would speed development planned along streets feeding into the intersection at Idaho-Maryland Road, East Main Street and the Golden Center Freeway, and to move forward with a roundabout at that intersection to ease traffic congestion.



Property owners Alan R. and Barbara Kilborn, of Auburn, are converting the Olympia Garden Apartments on Sutton Way with partner Alan Brant. The city requires that all converted condominiums have separate meters for electricity, natural gas and water. The apartments already have separate electricity and gas.

But Alan Kilborn is arguing that the water conservation promoted by individual meters is outweighed by the cost of installing them. The city Planning Commission turned down his request for a waiver, and he is appealing to the City Council. Both appeal processes have cost him nearly $1,500 in filing fees.




The developers’ argument appears to be based on the opinion of one plumbing contractor, who piped the complex when it was built.

“In his professional opinion, the cost of re-piping the water lines to accommodate individual service could easily exceed $200,000,” wrote Kilborn, the general partner in the project. He estimated the total cost to make all related repairs could reach $250,000.

That cost would come to nearly $5,700 per unit.

At a public hearing in February, Bill McCrea of Nevada County Plumbing testified that individual meters would require breaking through cement slabs beneath the buildings to reach the water mains. He also said the tubs, toilets and vanities of each unit would have to be replumbed, requiring sheetrock to be removed and re-installed. He estimated the cost to be up to $4,500 per unit.

Kilborn is proposing that a homeowners association for the complex pay for the water, then charge each unit a flat rate. Many condominium complexes throughout California operate on similar systems.

The Olympia Gardens complex has 44 units that were built in 1990 on 2.23 acres of land. The two-bedroom, two-bath units are 866-square feet in size with separate parking. Most buildings have eight units per building.

Kilborn has said the units would sell for $200,000 to $250,000.

The city’s housing specialist determined that low-income families would be able to buy some of the units with the help of the city’s First-Time Homebuyers Program, according to city records.

The project would help the city reach its goal of having more high-density, lower-cost housing available for sale. The city is requiring that 20 percent of the units be set aside for buyers with low to moderate incomes.

However, the city’s conversion ordinance does not require that the other 80 percent of converted units be owner-occupied.

Current tenants would have first option to buy, and 120 days notice to vacate if they don’t buy their units, according to the terms of the project.

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To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail trinak@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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