Wildwood project falls short of goals
It’s disappointing to see that the county still seems willing to accept apartments attached to homes as a component of affordable housing in the Wildwood Ridge project.
The county’s housing policy calls for 10 percent of the units of a subdivision to be sold or rented at an affordable rate. The Wildwood Ridge proposal calls for 388 units. Of those units, 36 are being billed as affordable. This includes 24 duplexes that can be purchased, six one-bedroom apartments and six studio apartments. The apartments, some as small as 450 square feet, would be attached to a house’s garage and rent from $585 to $650 a month.
What’s wrong with this picture?
First, homeowners will not be required to rent the apartments. If they choose not to, which wouldn’t surprise anyone, the project will fall far short of the county’s already marginal affordable housing guidelines.
Secondly, the county already is bending those guidelines to allow the Los Angeles-based developer to do a project that initially called for 352 homes. Instead of requiring developer Brian Masterman to make 36 of 352 units affordable, the county has allowed him to add 36 units to a project that now falls short of the county’s own guidelines.
It seems that if the developer is now proposing 388 units, 39 should be affordable and homeowners should be required to rent the apartments for a pre-determined period of time.
This project has been an albatross for the county for years. The county was eager to find a developer. It recently forgave nearly $1 million in fines and fees so Masterman would take on a project with nearly $10 million in bond debt.
It’s difficult to determine the Board of Supervisor’s priorities with this project. Are they more concerned with adding developed property to the county’s tax rolls or with making sure the project is suitably profitable for the developer or with providing more affordable housing opportunities to people who live and work in this area?
Before this project gets final approval, the supervisors should demand that the apartments be put on the rental market and that a full 10 percent of the project’s units be considered affordable. An even better idea would be to dispose of the notion that future homeowners should provide the affordable housing by offering rentals and require the developer to offer other options.
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