Camarillo gives green light to build 67 affordable apartments, townhouses for sale

Vista Campanario

A planned housing development will add 67 affordable housing units near Lewis Road in Camarillo.

The Camarillo City Council gave developers Many Mansions and the Area Housing Authority for the County of Ventura the go-ahead last week to build affordable apartments and townhouses on the 2.5 acres of land where Stock Building Supply once stood.

“This type of a project doesn’t come before us very much,” Councilman Kevin Kildee said. “I have been on this council for 25 years, and this is the first project of this magnitude in affordability that I’ve seen.”

The development, to be located at 2800 Barry St., will be called Vista Campanario Apartments and Vista Campanario Apartments. In Spanish, “vista campanario” means view of the bell tower. The site is located near the St. Mary Magdalen Chapel in Old Town Camarillo.

Developers will construct 59 apartments that will be restricted to extremely low-income, very low-income and low-income households.

Low-income households make up to 80% of the area median income. Very low-income households earn up to 50% and extremely low-income households make up to 30%, according to the city’s housing element. The current area median income in Camarillo is $92,913, housing document says.

The developers will also build eight, three-bedroom townhomes that will be sold to low-income families.

Fourteen of the apartments will be reserved for households with family members who are disabled or veterans, said Jackie Lee, the city’s principal planner. Seven of the units will be single-occupancy units, which are small, studio-type apartments with their own kitchen and bathroom intended to be rented for one or more months at a time, she said.

Michael Nigh, executive director of the Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura, said tenants will only pay 30% of their income in rent each month. A family of three earning $50,000 a year will pay about $1,250 per month for a two bedroom apartment. Nigh said the average market rate for a similar apartment is about $2,400 a month,

“This is going to be a model on how you can do affordable housing well,” Councilwoman Susan Santangelo said. “How you can do it and still maintain the character of your community and be able to meet the housing need of so many.”

The developers will build a 60th apartment for the property manager in addition to the 59 affordable units, as well as a playground, picnic and barbecue area, community room and laundry facilities.

A total of 128 parking spaces will be provided in a two-story parking garage, though some of the spaces will be located outside of the structure. The townhouses will have their own two-car garages.

Nigh anticipates construction to begin as early as December 2022 with residents moving in on July 1, 2024, a year before the original estimated completion date.

The total estimated cost for the project is approximately $37 million, he said.

To make the development possible, the City Council changed the designated use of the property from industrial and commercial to high-density residential. The council also changed the zoning from light manufacturing to residential development with a maximum of 30 housing units per acre.

The project’s 67 affordable housing units can help the city meet guidelines set forth by the state. According to Camarillo’s housing element, the state is recommending the city support the construction of 597 affordable housing units by 2029.

The housing element is a document that identifies the housing needs within the city and offers solutions to those needs.

The City Council also approved a waiver for the requirement to underground surrounding utility lines and poles.

The city will donate the 2.5-acre property to the developers, which was purchased in 2018 for $3.6 million, to support the construction of the project, Lee said. The city will also issue a $4.9 million, 55-year loan to the developers.

During a public hearing at last week’s City Council meeting, local resident Stephan Lovstedt said he was concerned about the number of residents the residential development would add to the area. He explained street parking is already crowded and wondered how the flow of traffic would be affected.

“Less people in a small area seems like a nicer community to live in,” Lovstedt said.

Armando Delgato, a member of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Local 805, spoke out against the project. He acknowledged that while an environmental assessment of the project found no significant impact on the quality of the human environment, it failed to adequately account for air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

“How do you study an out-of-area workforce coming from Lancaster or Santa Maria,” Delgato said. “That’s a lot of vehicles on the road.”

Instead, he encouraged the developers to hire local contractors and subcontractors to help the carpenters union’s apprentices grow in their careers.

Nigh said the Area Housing Authority of Ventura County has a record of hiring local skilled laborers and encourages its general contractors to do the same.

Article Originally from VCStar by Brian J. Varela