In response to a large shortfall in available funds for construction, developers of the previously approved San Ramon Valley Apartments project have requested that the city of San Ramon support their decision to re-characterize the property as 100% affordable units with an emphasis on housing for military veterans.
In order to close an approximately $17 million funding gap, Santa Clara-based ROEM Development is seeking the city’s support in re-characterizing the project, as the developers seek additional funds from the Proposition 1, California's veteran housing bond approved last year.
“ROEM has (more than) 30 years of experience in affordable housing and understands the importance of providing affordable housing in today’s real estate climate,” ROEM vice president Stephen Emami wrote in a letter to the city. “A 100% affordable project of this size, with close proximity to the amenities of San Ramon will have numerous positive impacts on the city and community of San Ramon. Emphasis on producing a market-rate quality design, while providing housing for those most in need will be our guiding principal on this project.”
Approved by the San Ramon Planning Commission on Nov. 16, 2016, but not yet completed, the project is located at 2251 San Ramon Valley Blvd. and is proposed to consist of 169 apartment units and 6,146 square feet of ground-level commercial space, according to a staff report by San Ramon division manager Lauren Barr.
Emami said that the overall design will remain the same, the only changes to be made would include removing the pool and replacing it with a tot lot, and changing the use of common space from market-rate amenities to supported services -- which have not yet been specified.
In order to follow through with the re-characterization, ROEM developers are asking city staff not only to provide their input on the process, but to also issue a letter of support for the project, and waive its affordable housing in-lieu fee -- which would be worth approximately $118,500 to the city -- as a way to financially contribute toward the project.
The waived fee, in addition to the letter of support from the San Ramon City Council, would be used by ROEM as evidence of San Ramon’s support during the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act hearing for the tax-exempt bonds from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee.
In the staff report, Barr added that one area worth considering “is the potential ongoing revenue impacts from a property tax exemption associated with a qualified Proposition 1 project.”
“Preliminary estimates are that the city impact from the property tax exemption is estimated at approximately $23,000 annually over the 55-year deed restriction period (1.26 million for 55 years),” Barr added. “This estimate does not consider any additional tax impacts to the special districts who receive direct property tax allocation.”
If converted to 100% affordable housing, units would be reserved for people earning 80% or less than the area median income, with a preference being placed on veterans applying. Emami wrote that for perspective 80% annual median income for a family of four in Contra Costa County equates to $93,000.
Emami added a major motivator for building housing in San Ramon -- affordable or otherwise -- is its proximity to major employment hubs such as Bishop Ranch, which is home to a large and diverse collection of businesses.
“This employer base results in some of the strongest demographics in the country. San Ramon’s median household income of $121,000 is the third highest in the country for cities with more than 50,000 residents,” he wrote. “While this is a major benefit to the city and is evidence of the positive environment that has been diligently cultivated, the fact remains that many people who provide vital services in San Ramon are not able to live where they work, namely our veterans, teachers and workforce.”
The San Ramon Policy Committee -- a subcommittee of the City Council that reviews and makes recommendations on various policy-specific issues -- plans to provide in-depth analysis and discussion on the San Ramon Valley Apartment Project at its regular meeting on Thursday, where it will make an official recommendation for final approval by the City Council at a future date.
The Policy Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday, 4 p.m., in the San Ramon City Hall Large Conference Room, 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road.