A recommendation to consolidate two 40-year-old Pleasanton housing projects into a new 150-unit facility for low-income seniors on Kottinger Drive failed to gain the support of at least two members of the Pleasanton City Council Tuesday night, although the plan is expected to come back for further consideration in mid-January.
Councilwoman Cindy McGovern and Councilman Matt Sullivan indicated that they would vote against moving the recommendation by the Kottinger Task Force and city staff to a predevelopment stage when the proposal comes before the council again in mid-January. Both Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Councilman Jerry Thorne indicated they would favor the plan to hire consultants and outside contractors to provide more detailed cost and design estimates, which they said would enable the council and the community to take a better look at the proposed consolidation plan.
Once again, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, who was not at Tuesday's informal workshop discussion meeting, could cast the deciding vote on whether the task force plan will be rejected or move forward.
The task force has been studying the needs of the aging 50-unit Kottinger Place and 40-unit Pleasanton Gardens independent living facilities for the last five years. Both are filled to capacity with long waiting lists of older residents with qualified low incomes asking for apartments when they become available. The average age of those now living in the two facilities is in the 70s, with some much older. Rents range from lows of $80 at Kottinger Place and $118 at Pleasanton Gardens to highs of $700 and $610, respectively, based on residents' incomes.
After determining that the units at both facilities are below standards set for today's affordable housing, the task force reported that it would be better to tear both facilities down and replace them with two- and three-story buildings where Kottinger Place now stands at 240 Kottinger Drive. The property which Pleasanton Gardens now occupies at 251 Kottinger Drive would be offered to the city of Pleasanton for other uses and development.
The estimated cost of the project was given as $44 million, with the bulk of the funding to come from federal and regional housing agencies and about $4 million from the city of Pleasanton.
Kottinger Place, built in 1970, is owned and operated by the city of Pleasanton's Housing Authority. Pleasanton Gardens was built in 1969 as a community effort by local churches and is privately-owned and operated as a nonprofit by its own board of directors.
"I think it's important right now to move this plan forward so that we can come up with a plan that is consistent with what we need to accomplish," Thorne said. "We need to get started."
But Sullivan and McGovern questioned the wisdom of tearing down the garden-type single independent living units now at the two facilities to require those residents to move into what McGovern called "institutional style" living quarters, with their apartment doors opening into long corridors instead of to outdoor porches and flower beds as they now do.
"I think 150 units on the Kottinger site is too dense," Sullivan said. "It doesn't fit and I don't think it will work there."
"What I would really like to do is to put the 150 units on both sites and, if we designed it right, perhaps a large number of the new units could still have garden-like settings," he added.
McGovern said she favors adding more apartments for low income seniors but suggested they be built at other locations, keeping the ones at Pleasanton Gardens and Kottinger Place.
"To me, you are recommending that we tear down 90 good units already in place and paid for by taxpayers so that you can re-build them again with taxpayer dollars," she said. "I have a problem supporting that in this day and age when dollars are so hard to come by."
"Also, I think that $44 million for 150 units of senior housing is an enormous amount of money," she added.
Assistant City Manager Steven Bocian, who has been the city's representative on the task force study, said many of the apartments at both Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens are too small, some don't meet standards now in place for disabled tenants and that the cost of rebuilding those units would be far greater than a new building complex.