San Anselmo

San Anselmo council to hear appeal of 16-unit apartment building at The Hub By: Richard Halstead (rhalstead@marinij.com) POSTED: Monday, July 18, 2016 – 12:00 a.m. UPDATED: TODAY A proposed apartment building in San Anselmo, as depicted in a design illustration for the developer, would include 16 units and a parking garage with 21 spaces. (Wright Architecture Studio) Neighbors are fighting a proposal to build a 16-unit apartment building near The Hub in San Anselmo. The project at 754 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., which already received the green light from the Planning Commission, would take advantage of the state’s density bonus law to permit a portion of the building to exceed the town’s two-story limit, its height limit and the maximum floor area ratio. The developer, Monfredini Properties LLC, has proposed a three-story 32-feet tall building, 2 feet over the limit. The building would have a floor area ratio of 22,929 square feet; the limit is 18,626 square feet on about a half acre. Four of the apartments would have two bedrooms and 12 would be one-bedroom units. A garage in the new building would contain 21 parking spaces. The project is eligible for special treatment under the state’s density bonus law because two of the 16 units would be deed restricted for 55 years to ensure they’re priced to be affordable to individuals with very low income. Advertisement In a letter to the Town Council, Faranak Asemi, co-owner of the property behind the proposed development and one of the people who appealed the decision to the Town Council, wrote, “The intent of this law is to give incentives to the developer to build affordable housing. It hasn’t been proven that these incentives are needed in order to make this project financially rewarding.” Asemi added, “The increase in the footprint of this proposed project is mind boggling, the proposed lot coverage increase from 25 percent to 46 percent, and the proposed floor-area-ratio is 121 percent while it is currently 31 percent.” Teresa Nelson, who lives in Asemi’s building at 20 Luna Lane, wrote, “We do not need more people and more cars added to an already congested area.” Annie Bates-Winship, another Luna Lane resident, wrote, “The traffic situation in that area is already very congested in the mornings and evenings, and the additional cars, of course, will make it worse.” But Robert Wright of San Rafael, the project architect, said a traffic study commissioned by the developer showed that the apartments would produce 147 fewer daily auto trips than the current use, if the existing retail/office building was fully occupied. A TCBY yogurt store used to operate out of the space. The existing building would be demolished to make room for the apartments. San Anselmo Planning Director Elise Semonian says the town has little choice but to comply with the state density law. “We can’t apply development standards that would preclude it,” Semonian said. “If we did then they would have the potential to sue us, and we’re required to pay them attorney’s fees and costs if we lose.” By agreeing to build two low-income units, the developer gets awarded the right to build up to an additional 15 market-rate units. Density bonus law also grants developers waivers exempting them from development standards that would preclude their project, if 5 percent of their units are priced for very low income households. And, if a developer can prove the additional market rate units are necessary for the financial viability of the overall project, the density law grants the developer “incentives or concessions” in proportion to the number of low-income units they are providing. “All we’re asking for is waivers,” said Wright. “When you ask for waivers you don’t have to prove the density bonus is necessary for the financial viability of the project.” Semonian said even if San Anselmo didn’t waive its development standards as it is required to do by law, the developers would be entitled to three concessions if they proved financial necessity. These concessions could be used to exempt the project from the height limits and floor-area-ratio cap. Semonian said the developer could squeeze many more units into the space he has by making each apartment smaller. She said if the developer proposed 21 units and made three affordable to very low income households, he would be entitled to an additional eight market-rate units under the density bonus law for a total of 29. Semonian said the area where the project is proposed is zoned commercial and lacks any limits on density. The town Planning Commission this week was set to discuss establishing a density limit of 20 units per acre for commercial districts. But even if such a limit were to be adopted, Semonian said it is unlikely it would be applied retroactively to the Monfredini project. The council will discuss the appeal when it meets July 26. Marketplace © 2016 Digital First Media v. 0.968 Contact Us Privacy Policy Copyright View Desktop Site David Nolen Swaim Owner Tam Realty Inc DRE-1070789 609 San Anselmo Ave San Anselmo CA 94960 415-710-5504 www.tamrealty.com

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