For the second time in as many meetings, a developer came to the City Council seeking permission to downsize a housing development in response to the slow real estate market. And for the second time, the council granted that approval.
Over the past year or so, absorption of our homes has been less than one house a month, David Best of Shea Homes told the council on Aug. 12. It's become obvious that our homes are not being well received in the marketplace. There are several factors for that, not the least of which is affordability.
The trend is away from big-box-style homes and toward more efficient use of spaces. Smaller homes cost less to purchase and to operate; less energy is needed to heat and cool and light them. We can still provide the same living experience but in a smaller square footage.
Best requested elimination of the largest, 3,600-square-foot model in the Terra Ridge at Rivergate development in the area of Lone Tree Way, Canada Valley Road and Country Hills Drive. Surrounding neighborhoods have houses in the 2,000- to 2,500-square-foot range, he said.
Best also asked to reduce another model from two stories to one story so that 50 percent of the remaining 110 houses would be single-story, instead of 21 percent as previously planned.
Once again, this is adapting to the market, said Councilman Arne Simonsen in support of the downsizing request.
Councilman Reggie Moore was concerned that Shea Homes was still willing to build a 3,600-square-foot house upon request, which he feared wouldn't fit well next to the 2,400-square-foot dwellings. We don't want a monstrosity that sticks out, he said.
Best assured him that the additional square footage wouldn't be noticeable from the street because it's added to the depth of the home, not the width.
In other council action at the Aug. 12 meeting:
Mayor Don Freitas directed a police officer to escort a disabled veteran out of the meeting after declaring him out of order during his remarks in the public comments portion of the meeting.
Chip Stein, in his remarks to the council, said he was disappointed that the news that a mayor had been jailed turned out not to be Freitas' incarceration, and he asked why a governor's representative was visiting Antioch but that Freitas was avoiding him.
Freitas asked Stein if he was finished, and Stein objected to being interrupted. Freitas declared him out of order, banged his gavel, said that Stein was finished and asked a police officer to take him out of the council chambers. Stein objected that his civil rights were being violated.
Boat owner Rick Robinson told the council that he has a petition with more than 500 names on it requesting that the Roger's Point boat ramp remain open. We need more access to the river, not less, he told the council.
Councilman Arne Simonsen agreed, saying it also would be good to provide a park, gazebo and snack bar in the Fulton Shipyard area. Maybe that sandy area near Tommy's Harbor will be an area we can all jump into the water again, he said.
Freitas said the council has not made a decision on development in that area and is awaiting the results of an economic impact report studying it as one of three possible locations for a ferry terminal in Antioch.
City Manager Jim Jakel said staff would look into what waterfront funding sources are out there and bring it back to you.
Police Captain Steve McConnell provided an update on how police are dealing with Antioch's homeless population. He said police have started a program to reunite the homeless with their families, have worked with other law enforcement agencies to target alcoholics who are repeatedly drunk in public and are cracking down on loitering at the Amtrak station. Police are also enforcing the law against selling produce on street corners.
The council passed a resolution opposing the state government borrowing funds slated for local government, redevelopment and transportation in order to help balance the state budget.
The state is allowed to borrow three times in 10 years but then required to pay it back with high interest, said Simonsen. The problem is we have a backlog of road projects. We cannot afford to forego that money for several years. We are talking about $1.6 million to Antioch. Leave our local funds alone. The cities did not cause the state's problem.