City Expanding Affordable Housing

City Expanding Affordable Housing LOS GATOS, CA - The poor housing market may have a silver lining that would benefit the town's low-income residents. Los Gatos officials are looking for ways to create 360 affordable housing units over the next five years, so it is eyeing potential sites that could fill the bill. The housing target was set by the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Some of the places being considered include a former bordello on Ditto's Lane, the Riviera Terrace Apartments and the Landmark and La Mar apartments on Oka Road. "There are opportunities out there, particularly in this environment," deputy town manager Bud Lortz said. "This may be the perfect time to pull these projects together."

The town has $8 million in funding earmarked for affordable housing. "This money is restricted for affordable units," Lortz stressed. "We may buy land or buy down existing units that people can rent or own."

The Bay Tree Apartments at 347 Massol Ave. offer a glimpse into how that might work. When the town council approved the plan to convert the 56 apartments into condominiums, it specified that eight units would come under the restrictions of the Below Market Price Housing Program.

Using sales estimates from January 2008, Bay Tree's owner estimated a 1,052-square-foot, two bedroom, two bath unit could sell for slightly more than $649,000. Under the town's BMP code, that same unit would be $267,400.

The Bay Tree was cited in a recently completed report compiled by Seifel Consulting of San Francisco. The town hired Seifel to identify potential affordable housing locations, and its report will be discussed at the April 6 town council meeting.

The report notes that in 2001 the town rejected a proposal to convert the Riviera Terrace complex into BMP rental units, in exchange for allowing 100 new market-rate units to be built. "There might be an opportunity there," Lortz said. "Sometimes projects need to evolve from where they start."

Same for the Ditto's Lane property. The owner has previously rejected an offer from the town to buy the former bordello.

"It's one of many that we'll be looking at," Lortz said. "We're essentially exploring every possibility to create and achieve affordable housing for all segments of the community. We're looking at all options."

Lortz is also looking for suggestions from the town council and the community on ways to achieve the affordable housing goals. "The next phase is to see what projects offer the best opportunity and achieve the most affordable units," he said.

Lortz said people who could qualify for affordable housing are those who make "anything less than 80 percent of the median income." According to Money Magazine, the 2007 median income in Los Gatos was $150,556.

More Stories

Get The Newsletter

Get The Newsletter

The latest multifamily industry news delivered to your inbox.