Elk Grove clears way for affordable housing project that was relocated after lawsuits

Elk Grove city officials completed the final steps this week to authorize a familiar housing developer to build a long-term affordable housing project following months of controversy resulting in the relocation and renaming of the project.

During a zoning administrator meeting Monday, the city authorized Coral Blossom Apartments LP, a property development partnership owned by Excelerate Housing Group, to develop a permanent supportive housing project at 8484 Elk Grove Florin Road with 81 total units – 80 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit for an onsite project manager.

The apartment complex “will have one, 3-story building as well as indoor and outdoor amenities including a community room, conference room, courtyards, and lawn areas,” according to the zoning administrator’s report.

Excelerate Housing Group is the same real estate development company that proposed Oak Rose Apartments, which sparked controversy. Elk Grove City Council rejected the original proposal, which prompted a lawsuit filed by the developers, who wanted to build the project in the city’s Old Town Historic District. The project sparked backlash from residents nearby. The city council’s rejection of the Oak Rose project also led to a lawsuit against the city by California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

However, the city earlier this year said it reached a settlement agreement with the developers to relocate the original Oak Rose Apartments project in favor of submitting a separate application for a new project at an alternative site, called Coral Blossom Apartments.

Under the settlement agreement, the city had until June 30 to formally approve or reject the project; if the city did not do so, the developer could have chosen to terminate the agreement and the city would have have to pay $2.2 million to Excelerate.

That payment won’t need to happen following the city zoning administrator’s final approval to construct the new Coral Blossom Apartments, city officials said.

Elk Grove public affairs manager Kristyn Laurence said Monday’s action met the condition of the settlement agreement

“Such action has taken place within the necessary timeframe,” Laurence said in an email. “The project does not require further Council action.”

She said if someone wanted to appeal the zoning administrator’s decision, the next step would be to submit an appeal to the city clerk within 10 calendar days from the meeting date.

“The Appeal would be heard by the Planning Commission at a public hearing. If no appeal, the next step for the Applicant is to submit for building permits with the City,” Laurence said.

During a city council meeting on June 12, Elk Grove also approved a regulatory agreement to effectively secure affordable housing at the project’s destined location for the next 55 years, city housing and public services manager Sarah Bontrager said.

“The regulatory agreement is necessary in order to consider the density bonus the project is requesting and to waive the affordable housing impact fee,” Bontrager said.

The units will be preserved for households earning up to 80% or less of the area median income. According to the city’s website, the project would provide support services for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Bonta’s lawsuit argued that Elk Grove in rejecting the original Oak Rose development broke state housing law, specifically Senate Bill 35, a law that went into effect in 2017 and compels cities to expedite affordable housing projects. Under SB 35, the Coral Blossom Apartments project is excempt from environmental review.

Following the approval, the next step for the Coral Blossom Apartments developers is to begin applying for the necessary funds to complete the affordable housing project.

Excelerate Housing Group president and CEO Dana Trujillo said that funding should be coming toward the end of summer.

“The state funding hasn’t occurred yet this year, but they are scheduled for sometime this summer. They haven’t released the exact dates,” Trujillo said. “We will begin finding funding later this year and construction will begin next year.”