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Council-Kottinger Place task force to meet tonight on new senior complex

Plan could include combining Pleasanton Gardens, Kottinger Place into 150-unit multi-story development

The City Council will hold a joint workshop meeting at 7 p.m. tonight with the Kottinger Place Task Force to consider a plan to replace the city's 50-unit low-income senior housing complex on Kottinger Drive with a new two- and three-story 150-unit affordable housing complex.

The project could include adding the 40 low-income senior housing units now at Pleasanton Gardens across Kottinger Drive to the new city-owned complex. Under an agreement already in place, Christian Church Homes, a nonprofit that focuses on low-income housing, would conduct a pre-development plan for City Council consideration.

A council-appointed task force has been studying improvements to the aging Kottinger Place housing complex since 2003. Numerous public hearings have been held with considerations ranging from downsizing the complex to increasing its size to include Pleasanton Gardens, a privately-owned senior housing development.

The task force studied approximately 10 potential site plans before deciding on a three-story and two-story plan with the three-story building to be located on the Vineyard side of the complex. According to this plan, access to the new Kottinger Place would continue to be available from Kottinger Drive and also from Vineyard, although the roadways would not connect through the site.

The board of directors that operates Pleasanton Gardens has agreed to be part of the planning process as long as the total number of units stays at 150 or more. If not, the board would reconsider its involvement.

Pleasanton Gardens currently is facing a five-year timeline for continuing its Section 8 low-rent status, which is scheduled to end in August 2014. If the new Kottinger Place complex is built and available by then, it's expected that the Pleasanton Gardens property would be sold to the city of Pleasanton for possible redevelopment by a private contractor.

Kottinger Place, which was constructed in 1970, operates as a .S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) low income senior public housing project by the Housing Authority of the city of Pleasanton, which has the City Council as its board of directors. The 50-unit development provides housing and services at rents ranging from 80 to $700 a month, with $300 a month the average rent. Rent is based on 30 percent of a household's income, adjusted for medical and other expenses.

Nine years ago, the city's Housing Commission identified a number of major issues related to the long-term needs of Kottinger Place. These included an aging and inefficient utility system, aging structures, apartments that are no longer compliant with current accessibility standards, a lack of features designed to meet senior needs, expensive landscape maintenance, overall demand that exceeds the available number of living units and space constraints that allow only the minimal social services expected to facilitate aging in place.

The report concluded that while the redevelopment of Kottinger Place was potentially feasible, a better option would be to focus on pursuing a different site to house a new senior housing project and to concentrate on updating Kottinger Place. It also suggested onsite redevelopment options which would include a two- or three-story development over parking spaces.

At the same time, a subcommittee of the Housing Commission held a workshop with the Pleasanton Gardens board of directors to explore the potential of a joint development that could meet the needs of both projects.

Like Kottinger Place, Pleasanton Gardens maintains a mission of providing affordable housing for very low income seniors capable of independent living.

Consisting of 40 living units, it was developed in 1969 as a community effort by local churches to provide affordable housing for seniors. Operating as a 501(c)3, its board of directors is comprised of local residents who handle all project management, including HUD grants and Section8 programs as well as tenant services and more.

Bruce Fiedler is the Pleasanton Gardens administrator.

Tonight's public meeting will be held in the City Council chambers at 200 Old Bernal Ave.

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