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Planning Commissioners Split on Pomeroy Avenue Townhome Project

Planning Commissioners discussed a proposed townhome project located at 1530-1540 Pomeroy Ave. on Aug. 22, and in a 3-3 split vote, decided to forward the plans to City Council with no recommendation.

The proposal for eight residences with three and four-bedrooms within two-story townhomes includes two-car garages for each unit and three guest spaces for the whole development. The plans were originally for three-stories but were scaled back to better match adjacent single family homes. Planning staff had recommended the project to the Commission describing it as, “a good infill project.”

Commissioner Lance Saleme said he would support the project if the number of units were dropped from eight to six. The developer responded that a six-unit project wouldn’t be feasible.

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Chair Suds Jain and Commissioner Yuki Ikezi voted in favor due to the City’s housing shortage; Commissioner Steve Kelly found no issues with the project. However, Commissioner Anthony Becker and Vice Chair Raj Chahal didn’t think the proposal was appropriate for the neighborhood.

An update to the City’s zoning code is underway and staff gave a presentation about the process at the meeting. The current code was created in 1969 and is deemed outdated in format and in style. The update will align the planning code with the General Plan, fix ongoing issues, make it more consistent and incorporate the input of stakeholders such as developers.

Specific categories of focus for the zoning code update include standards for electric vehicle parking, making zoning districts more relevant, creating reasonable standards for townhome development and codifying guidelines for single family homes. Staff estimated that the zoning code update will be completed by next summer. Commissioners commented about setting standards for micro-homes, among other topics.

“Young people would like an opportunity to start into the homeownership market and they’re not going to be able to afford a traditional home, but a 400-square-foot home would be a possibility,” said Kelly. “We should be using some of the money builders pay in to the fund for these micro-homes so young professionals or couples can get a leg up and not just pay money every month for rent.

“What I would like to see is that we have a policy that gives young people the opportunity for homeownership,” he said.

In addition to two more Planning Commission study sessions regarding the zoning code update, three community meetings will be held at the Santa Clara Senior Center, room 232, on Sept. 17, Oct. 15 and Dec. 3. The September meeting will focus on parking requirements, while the October and December meetings will be about design criteria for historic homes and group living accommodations, respectively. An Aug. 20 meeting already took place, which dealt with single family home design criteria.

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