Pleasanton Weekly

Column - May 2, 2014

At last, better housing for city's low-income seniors

by Jeb Bing

For our low-income seniors living in Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens, there's better housing in the offing. After more than 10 years of debate and hundreds of hours of public hearings, study groups and task force meetings, the Pleasanton Planning Commission last week gave its unanimous approval to a $62.8 million plan to tear down both apartment complexes in phases and replace them with new structures that will double the size with 185 units upgraded to today's building standards.

Under the agreement, MidPen Housing Corp. and city staff are working together to obtain the necessary financing, drawing $10 million from the city's affordable housing funds, grants and federal funding. MidPen expects to receive approval next month from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which currently owns Kottinger Place, to demolish that center. It received approval from the Pleasanton Housing Commission Feb. 20 for its rebuilding plans, which will also need final approval from the City Council once the project is ready to proceed. That's expected within the next couple of months, with formal action on an ordinance to allow the project to proceed next year.

The redevelopment plan has been under study since 2004 when the Kottinger Place Redevelopment Task Force was established. For 10 years, the task force held numerous public, neighborhood and resident meetings before reaching a consensus to rebuild and expand Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens.

MidPen is a Foster City-based developer that is the owner and manager of more than 90 properties with 25% of them senior communities. Here, MidPen will own, finance and manage the newly named Kottinger Gardens development, while the city of Pleasanton will retain ownership of the land the buildings will occupy.

The MidPen project calls for building 131 apartment homes on the site now occupied by Kottinger Place, and 54 where Pleasanton Gardens is now located, replacing the two aging, subsidized affordable housing developments with single-, two- and three-story apartments for seniors to continue living independently. Tenants, who range in age well into their 90s, will be able to stay in place during the reconstruction or move to temporary housing nearby at the developer's cost.

The new Kottinger Gardens will help meet an ongoing and rising need for subsidized housing for Pleasanton's low-income seniors. There are so many applications that managers at both sites now only accept new requests every several years, typically for a single day.

The apartments will have far more kitchen, bathroom and closet space than current units have and will feature upgrades in electricity and plumbing, and perhaps most important for its elderly residents, air conditioning. Also, with a single management team, social services and other senior-focused amenities should be better and more efficient.

Along with members of the task force who have met regularly over the years, Assistant City Manager Steve Bocian also deserves praise for championing the project with detailed explanations about the plans, security issues and other concerns that gained everyone's support.

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