A rendering from CKA Architects shows the proposed town home development at 3212 Mission Drive.
(Patrick Riley/Lookout Santa Cruz)
Government

Santa Cruz County planning board OKs proposed 21-unit townhome project with some low-income housing

The commission unanimously backed the proposed development, which would bring 21 three-bed room units across 11 buildings to a 0.88-acre parcel at 3212 Mission Drive. It now heads to the board of supervisors.

A proposed 21-unit townhome development near Dominican Hospital that would include some apartments for low-income tenants is moving forward after county planning commissioners approved the project Wednesday.

The Santa Cruz County planning commission unanimously voted in favor of the proposed development, which would bring 21 three-bed room units across 11 buildings to a 0.88-acre parcel at 3212 Mission Drive. The project still needs approval from the five-member board of supervisors and is tentatively scheduled to come before the group on April 13.

The two-story development would reserve two units for moderate-income tenants and one for “very low-income” residents.

The recommendation to approve the project comes on the heels of Watsonville city leaders giving their support to two projects that include units for low-income renters as Santa Cruz County and its cities look to bolster the stock of more affordable housing in the region.

A rendering from CKA Architects shows the proposed town home development at 3212 Mission Drive.
(Patrick Riley/Lookout Santa Cruz)

The fact that the Mission Drive project would include three below-market-rate units was not lost on planning commissioners Wednesday.

“We need housing,” Commissioner Tim Gordin said. “We need as much as we can get. The three bedrooms are incredibly hard to find so I appreciate that the applicant has taken the extra step to make sure that we could get three bedrooms out of these units. I think that’s really important.”

Developments like this one bring challenges, he said, among them traffic and parking — a concern brought up by some residents who worry that the townhome tenants won’t use their garages for their cars and instead park along nearby roads.

“I completely understand that,” Gordin said. “And I understand the community’s need to, you know, see more parking on site.”

But parking is based on state law and state code, leaving local jurisdictions with not “a ton of leeway,” Gordin said. The project proposes two parking spaces per unit and developers, trying to alleviate concerns from neighbors, added six additional spaces on site.

A site plan from CKA Architects shows the proposed town home development at 3212 Mission Drive.
(Patrick Riley/Lookout Santa Cruz)

Though Gordin said he understands that the state is in a “painful growth pattern” right now, the ultimate goal is to build more housing because the community needs it. “I think this project’s really appropriate for that location,” he said.

Others on the commission agreed.

Commissioner Rachel Dann highlighted the three units reserved for lower income tenants. “That is (a) really important component of this project,” she said.

Among the worries for some residents were parking woes in the area that they say the project would exacerbate.

Charles Bruffey, representing Radiology Medical Group located near the proposed development, said parking in the area is already “really tight” and that very few of the garages are ever going to be used for parking. That means, Bruffey said, that “we’re going to have anywhere from 15 to 20 cars are going to be on Mission Street, and probably Thurber (Lane) as well.”

“I think something needs to be done to make sure we address the fact that we’re not going to just flood Mission Street with a whole bunch of cars from this development,” he told commissioners. “And I can tell you right now, that’s what’s going to happen.”