When the City of Oakley announced earlier this month that its council would be considering granting a density bonus to Corporation for Better Housing, giving the developer permission to add an additional 105 units of affordable housing, neighbors took to the Web to voice their opposition to the plan.
There are currently 360 units at the Commons at Oak Grove Apartments, and 44 more are under construction. As Carol Lane residents have been know to vandalize property when creating short cuts to get across town, the density bonus would increase the complex’s units to 509, a number that worries neighbors.
The density bonus is guaranteed to the developer by state law, so the city hosted an informational workshop last week to explain the situation to residents. Charlie Brumbaugh, representative for Corporation for Better Housing, was on hand for that meeting, and after hearing the public’s concerns, he vowed to make the effort to be a good neighbor.
“We had a number of very productive meetings with staff, your city manager and others, and hopefully most, if not all, of your concerns have been worked out,” Brumbaugh said at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Brumbaugh went on record with a commitment to work with residents and erect a wall along the south end of the property to serve as a buffer between the apartments and residents of the Oak Meadow neighborhood. He is leaving the height of the wall up to the neighbors, who have preliminarily suggested a solid wall between six to eight feet tall.
Brumbaugh also said he’ll plant trees to help block sound and provide Oak Meadow residents with an increased sense of privacy. The trees will help obscure residents’ backyards from apartment residents in the proposed four-story unit.
To deter crime within the apartment complex, Brumbaugh plans to install a minimum of two security cameras per floor of each apartment building and install a camera in the main lobby of each building.
Councilman Randy Pope commended Brumbaugh for his cooperation and effort to strike a compromise with the neighbors. As the area has a history of break-ins, Pope requested that Brumbaugh install additional cameras in the parking lots. He also recommended that the developer use software with identification capabilities to provide greater protection to residents.
Councilwoman Carol Rios said she was pleased to hear that the additional development would include recreation for Carol Lane residents, including basketball courts and a small playground and park.
Residents who attended last week’s community workshop learned that while the council could challenge the state mandate and deny the 105 additional units, the decision would most likely end in a costly lawsuit that the city would likely lose.
Resident Lori Sprinkler submitted a comment to the council stating that she understood the necessity of approving the density bonus application to avoid a lengthy legal battle, but hoped Brumbaugh would follow through on his promises and work with neighbors to make their living arrangement more comfortable.
Concerned residents have also asked that in order to offer neighboring residents more privacy, the new buildings be three stories high instead of four. Attorney Bill Galstan informed the council that although details still need to be worked out between Brumbaugh and the neighbors, the council should go ahead with a vote.
With no opposing deliberation, the council accepted the density bonus application 5-0.