The Cloverdale City Council recently approved the design review, development plan and map for a 28.42-acre development in south Cloverdale, formally named Baumgardner Ranch.
The development was initially brought forward as having 304 units, with 79 single-family homes, 59 row homes and 166 multi-family units. However, after further discussion with the city council, eight single-family lots will be removed to allow for a 1.3-acre park. Additionally, the project includes infrastructure to the undeveloped area, as well as open space.
Councilmember Marta Cruz recused herself from the Aug. 26 discussion, since part of the discussion included information about Thyme Square, which is near Cruz’ residence.
“We started working on this development over three years ago and have relied upon local stakeholders, leaders and residents to help mold the vision of this property into the development you have before you tonight,” said Jake Lingo, vice president of Integrated Community Development (ICD), the developer of Baumgardner Ranch. “We’re excited about what the future holds for south Cloverdale and the opportunity this project presents to have a real impact on the community.”
ICD is the same developer that took on the Cloverdale Family Apartments, which was completed in 2017.
“This is the first and only Leed Platinum, net zero, multi-family apartment building in all of Sonoma County and we’re extremely proud of that development and the positive impact it’s had on your community,” Lingo said about the 37-unit apartment complex.
Lingo said that, in the years spent developing the Cloverdale Family Apartments, they’ve found that the city is great, but it’s also growing and needs more housing.
“It needs more rental housing, it needs more single-family homes, it needs to increase its revenue and provide the opportunities for families to flourish,” Lingo said.
According to Lingo, a 2019 study funded by ICD found that housing development in the city has stalled since 2007, with only eight single-family homes built in the past 13 years, with the last home being built in 2009. This compares to the roughly 400-750 homes built per decade since 1980.
“Of course, this is going to lead to a housing shortage,” Lingo said. “People grow up in Cloverdale and they can’t take up roots and start a family in their own community because they can’t afford it or they can’t find a place to buy or rent. How can a community regenerate and grow if it builds zero new houses for its workers, its teachers, its families? It’s not a sustainable system.”
The Baumgardner Ranch development, he said, would help remedy the lack of development and “hopefully spur new development south of town.”
Visuals and floor plans
“I think the real takeaway here is it’s going to look a lot like Cloverdale Family Apartments, which is a project that’s been in town for a while and accepted and liked,” Assistant City Manager and Community Development Director Kevin Thompson said when describing the architecture of the multi-family units.
The apartments will be made up of two, three-story buildings. For the single-family homes at Baumgardner, Thompson described the design as:
“There’s (four) different models, so that’s going to provide sort of a varied streetscape, recessed garages which is nice so there isn’t a garage dominance, the entries are pulled forward to kind of emphasize the pedestrian entry, not the car entry, so it gives kind of a nice look to the street; cantilevered second floors, modern floor plans, bright rooms and large windows, natural-toned colors.”
According to Lingo, the single-family homes range from 1,150 to 1,650 square feet and sit on lots that are around 2,500 square feet. The homes are going to have four standard designs and will be a mix of one-story and two-story plans.
The row houses being proposed follow a similar theme, with the second levels of the homes being pushed back to break up the exterior. They will be between 1,300 to 1,550 square feet with six different floor plans.
“The front facade is really just pedestrian, with service entrances through alleys in the back,” Thompson said, adding that the garage for each home is accessed through the back of the home.
Both the multi-family and row homes have community clubhouses, and the project includes 6.8 acres of open space.
For the open space, Thompson said that the developer is planning on creating trails and making the area easier to traverse.
While the project was moving through the planning commission discussion process, it was suggested that the community rooms be wired for generator use in case a Pacific Gas and Electric Public Safety Power Shutoff is issued.
Each of the community rooms is going to be designed to look like ranch-style buildings that are reminiscent of the county’s agriculture industry. Additionally, each community room will contain a computer lab and classroom space for the residents.
To help “make the project work,” Thompson said that the developer is seeking three waivers — one would allow them to reduce the amount of off-street parking from 341 to 184 off-street parking space, one would require a rear yard setback of 20 feet for a single-family home and the other allows a lot size reduction from the city-set 3,000 square feet to 2,500.
The waivers are part of the California Density Bonuses Law, which requires cities to provide development incentives or concessions for developers producing low-income housing units.
“We don’t really have a lot of discretion, it’s kind of if they meet the standard they’re entitled to them,” Thompson said.
During public comment, resident and Cloverdale Unified School District board member Todd Lands voiced the district’s concern that a lack of sufficient parking spaces would result in people parking throughout the city’s other areas and on school district property.
Lingo disagreed with the notion that the development will be low on parking, noting that the development follows the state’s parking requirements. He added that the single-family homes and row houses will have ample parking, with the multi-family apartments having less parking. Lingo said, however, that the apartments will follow the same parking ratio that the Cloverdale Family Apartments has.
How will the project impact the city?
When it comes to how the additional 296 homes will impact the city’s income, a fiscal analysis found that it will contribute approximately $114,000 to the ad-valorem fund and will generate around $30,000 in SB1 gas taxes. While it will generate money from the gas tax, the road maintenance is expected to annually cost $61,000.
To help make up the $105 per unit gap, Thompson said that the city is speaking to the developer about creating a community facilities district for the development.
Lands also brought up district concerns surrounding the district’s limited operating capacity. Should the development bring between 300 and 600 kids to the district, it doesn’t have the operating or facility capacity to handle such a dramatic influx of students.
Other concerns brought up from council members revolved around water use and impact fees.
Lingo said that in the third-party studies they conducted, it was found that the development would have a “less than significant” impact on the city’s water system. Additionally, Lingo said that the impact fees that the developer would be paying the city nearly equal the cost of putting in a new well for the city’s water supply.
“I understand that there are some future questions with regards to the Russian River, but those are things that are out of all of our hands at this point and something that’s going to play out throughout the entire county of Sonoma. So not knowing really at this time, other than paying our share of the fees, with the studies that are in place we do have a less than significant impact,” Lingo said.
Included in the council discussions about the project was the potential of a land swap between ITC and the city of Cloverdale. The land swap, proposed by Mayor Gus Wolter, would involve the city trading Lot A of Thyme Square for the inclusion of a community park in the Baumgardner Ranch development.
The park would take the place of eight single-family homes located on the westernmost side of the development that faces where the development’s open space would be.
All of the city council members advocated for the park space being included in lieu of the eight homes, saying that park space is needed given the layout of the development.
“If you’ve got that many apartments and it’s three-story, people are going to need a way to walk away from that type of being that close, and need a place with some picnic tables and more playground equipment. That’s a lot of folks, so it would be a deal-breaker for me if we didn’t get more parks space in there,” Councilmember Mary Ann Brigham said, adding that she was hesitant to approve a tentative map for the project at all.
“I will make the commitment to you — you can have the park,” Lingo said, adding that he would still like to see the city let ICD develop part of Thyme Square, but that he understands that the council wants a guaranteed park to feel comfortable with the development.
The council approved the tentative map for the project, with the amendment that eight units will be removed in favor of a park space.
To read more about the land swap, view our article here.