St. Helena affordable housing approved by planners

2013-08-21T16:20:00Z St. Helena affordable housing approved by plannersJESSE DUARTE Napa Valley Register
August 21, 2013 4:20 pm  • 

ST. HELENA — An 8-unit affordable housing project on Pope Street has the green light after the St. Helena Planning Commission approved it Tuesday in a unanimous vote.

Commissioner Grace Kistner praised the project as “a step in the right direction” for a city that needs more low-income housing. All eight units will be rent-controlled, and tenants will have to meet income requirements to be eligible.

The design proposed by Calistoga Affordable Housing “fits in beautifully” with the surrounding neighborhood, said Commission Chair Matthew Heil.

A lack of parking was one of the biggest concerns raised by neighbors, who said the project should have more than eight parking spaces.

Rather than add more spaces, commissioners ruled there should be a strictly enforced limit of one car per unit. Another option would have been to add tandem parking spaces to bring the total to 13.

The city ordinarily requires two parking spaces per unit, but CAH asked the city to relax that restriction, in part because the project is within walking distance of downtown.

State law allows affordable housing developers to request concessions to make their projects more viable. The five concessions approved by the Planning Commission related to parking, floor area, the height of the building, the number of units, and yards and setbacks.

CAH representatives met with a group of neighbors earlier this month to discuss parking and other concerns that were raised at the commission’s July 16 meeting. Although one neighbor sent the commission a letter recommending changes to the project, none spoke at Tuesday’s hearing.

The project won’t need to come before the City Council unless neighbors appeal the commission’s decision within two weeks.

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