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American Canyon approves affordable housing project

American Canyon approves affordable housing project

Lemos Pointe

Lemos Pointe is to have 186 affordable apartment units in American Canyon. It could be built by 2023.

American Canyon’s planned Watson Ranch community by the end of 2023 should have a 186-unit apartment complex, with 184 units for low-income renters.

The city’s Planning Commission on Thursday approved the design permit for Lemos Pointe apartments. The project is to be located along a future Rio Del Mar extension on the east side of Highway 29, near the ruins of a cement plant that is a city landmark.

“I love the affordable housing,” Commissioner Eric Altman said. “I think it’s fabulous and I’m thrilled it’s coming before us.”

Lemos Pointe will have eight three-story buildings, as well as a turf area, dog park, picnic area, tot lot, basketball half-court, and 301 parking spaces. It is to be developed by The Pacific Companies.

Officials with The Pacific Companies said the project could be underway this year and be done in 2023.

Lauren Alexander of The Pacific Companies said other affordable housing projects done by the company have had five to 10 applicants per unit. A project in Elk Grove had 10,000 applicants. A project in Sonoma County has applicants from three surrounding counties.

“There’s very, very high demand,” she said.

Altman was concerned that Lemos Pointe apartments might rent to people who are from areas far from American Canyon and Napa County.

“Is it possible to do something like a best-faith effort for housing locals first?” Altman said.

Alexander said The Pacific Companies typically works with local housing authorities, which usually have long waiting lists. Residents must go through such things as credit checks, reference checks and income checks to make sure they qualify for the affordable units.

“We try to prioritize people who are working and living in the surrounding areas, as opposed to taking somebody, for example, from up in Sacramento,” Alexander said.

The median income in Napa County for a family of four is $85,000. Lemos Pointe is to have 19 units affordable for those making 30% of median income, 28 for 40%, 75 for 50%, 62 for 60% and two managers units, city officials said.

Lemos Pointe will use modular construction. Buildings will be built at the Autovol factory in Boise, Idaho even as the site is being graded, then shipped to California. Another project was craned in place in 18 days, developers said.

Autovol on its website describes itself as a first-of-its-kind factory, with robots doing the "backbreaking labor." The Lemos Pointe project is to have 231 modules.

State law provides for relaxed development standards for affordable housing. As a result, Lemos Pointe will have 301 parking spaces instead of the usual, required 362 for a development of this size.

That raised concerns among commissioners. Commissioner Tammy Wong said there have been complaints elsewhere in the city about apartment parking spilling into their neighborhoods.

“When residents move in, there is an expectation they are choosing a unit where they’re not going to have a lot of available parking,” Alexander said. "And so people make accommodations."

The Pacific Companies encourages residents to use transit by doing such things as giving out free transit passes. One of the company’s housing projects in Oakland has zero parking, she said.

Watson Ranch is to someday have more than 1,000 homes on 309 acres, along with parks, businesses, and the Napa Valley Ruins and Gardens redevelopment of a century-old cement plant. Nothing has been built yet.

The city recently approved a 98-home subdivision that will be built in Watson Ranch. Lemos Pointe is the second project slated for what will be among Napa County’s largest communities in recent decades.

Watson Ranch must provide a certain amount of affordable housing under its development agreement with American Canyon. The Lemos Pointe project exceeds that requirement, a city report said.

Lemos Pointe is named after Fran Lemos, who has lived in the American Canyon area for about 70 years, moving there long before American Canyon became a city in 1992.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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