DUBLIN — A developer’s proposal to build 573 houses in the east Dublin hills is expected to be approved by the Dublin City Council on Tuesday, just two months after it reluctantly quashed the project.
A petition by a group of residents opposed to the plans forced the council to scrap its previous approval of the project from Trumark Homes, a San Ramon developer. However, under state laws meant to encourage homebuilding in areas cities have previously designated for housing, this latest proposal cannot be rejected by the city council, city staff reports said.
Trumark plans to build the houses on 165 acres of land at a site called East Ranch, formerly known as the Croak Property, which straddles Croak Road, adding even more housing to an area where thousands of homes have gone up over the past two decades.
The land sits north of Interstate 580, east of Fallon Road and the Jordan Ranch housing development, south of the Positano housing development, and extends to the city’s eastern boundary.
Tuesday’s review of the proposal will mark the third time in the past six months that Trumark’s plans have been the center of focus at Dublin council meetings.
In December, the council unanimously approved the development, with council members saying they liked the design of the houses, and they were happy about the affordable housing deal the developer and city staff had hammered out.
Under that prior deal, Trumark would designate 18 of the 573 homes as affordable, as well as 50 granny units, and it would transfer some nearby land to a nonprofit to be used for up to 77 affordable apartments for people with developmental disabilities and with supportive services on site. The developer would also pay about $5.4 million worth of fees in lieu of restricting more homes as affordable.
The deal would have provided “superior affordable housing when contrasted with the type of affordable housing that would be provided” under the city’s standard affordable housing rules, according to a staff report. Those rules require developers of projects with more than 20 homes to reserve 12.5% of them at below-market-rate prices, meaning Trumark would need to designate 72 homes as affordable in its project. Vice Mayor Shawn Kumagai said the supportive housing would be a “huge” benefit for the area.
Council members also noted they likely couldn’t turn the project down since it largely complied with the city’s development guidelines for the area, with the exception of the customized affordable housing plan.
The approval came after a roughly four-hour discussion that included comments from about 20 people who opposed the project.
Some were residents who live in nearby developments that have been put up in stages over the last two decades, who said they were concerned that the environmental impact report for the broader land area was done nearly 30 years ago. Others said they think the new homes would add to traffic congestion and crowd schools in the area.
Following the approval in December, a residents group called Dubliners Against Overdevelopment, organized by Arunabha Chakma, collected about 5,200 petition signatures from residents opposed to the development, enough to force the council to either put the whole project on a ballot for voters to decide, or withdraw its approval.
The council chose in early March to repeal the approvals. City staff warned at the time that the likely net effect of the petition and the repeal would be that Trumark would come back with a very similar project, but the customized affordable housing deal would likely be scrapped.
Under the state’s Housing Accountability Act, the city cannot deny developments that comply with the city’s general plan and other “objective” development standards the city has already established in an area where a project is proposed.
The only portion of Trumark’s proposal where the council had “significant discretion” was the approval of a customized affordable housing deal, city reports said.
In its latest proposal, Trumark plans to follow the “objective standards” of the city’s affordable housing rules to “limit the city’s discretion” over the project as a whole. Trumark proposes to pay fees to account for 40% of the requirement, or 29 homes, and it will designate 43 homes in the project as affordable to low- and moderate-income households, accounting for the other 60% of the requirement, city reports said.
“Once a city designates a site for housing in its general plan, it must allow that housing to be developed except in very limited circumstances involving immediate threats to public health and safety,” the city staff report said in reference to the state law.
“Because none of the exceptions are present here, approval of this application is mandated by the (Housing Accountability Act),” the report said.
The Dublin City Council regular meeting will begin at 7 pm May 3, and will be broadcast live on Comcast TV channel 28 within Dublin, and will also be live-streamed on the city’s website at dublin.ca.gov/ccmeetings. Anyone who wants to take part in the meeting electronically can give public comment via Zoom but is asked to fill out a speaker slip, which will be available beginning at 10 am May 3 at dublin.ca.gov/ccmeetings.