Santa Rosa council to decide fate of 138-unit Roseland housing project
The Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday will hear a challenge to 138-unit development in Roseland from a group of neighbors with numerous concerns about the addition of a large amount of new homes into a relatively rural part of the city.
The Schellinger Burbank Avenue Subdivision, a project of the Santa Rosa-based Schellinger Brothers homebuilding company, would create 64 apartments, 62 standalone single-family homes and 12 attached single-family homes along Burbank Avenue south of Roseland Creek and north of Liana Drive.
Proponents of the development have emphasized the concessions already made and the amount of time poured into the project, which is set to widen a stretch of Burbank Avenue while adding new bicycle lanes and sidewalk at the expense of some oak and redwood trees.
“The plan we have submitted for your approval was thoughtfully conceived and very much in alliance with the housing goals of the city,” said Joe Ripple, director of real estate operations for Schellinger Brothers, at a meeting last Thursday of the Planning Commission.
But a resident who lives immediately south of the development, Mark Parrish, appealed shortly after the project first secured approval in February and has continued to fight the project over the past few months, with the help of some of his neighbors.
Parrish argues the city has shown “a lack of fairness” to Roseland residents by “fast-tracking” the development, which has advanced through official channels amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the new buildings will be three stories and nearly 35 feet high - modest elevations in other parts of Santa Rosa, but towering in this less developed corner of Roseland. Parrish said he’s also worried about the potential loss of privacy and increased traffic from the development, which will put him between another apartment complex to the south of him and his neighbors.
“I’m going to be essentially squeezed in,” said Parrish, who’s lived on his property for nearly 20 years.
Parrish and neighbors Erin and Nick Rineberg, who moved onto Burbank Avenue about a year and a half ago, say they’re not against new housing developments in the area, but they have concerns about this particular project.
“We support neighbors,” Erin Rineberg said. “We support responsible, ethical and compromising development.”
Schellinger Brothers intends to sell the apartment project to Waterstone Residential, a separate real estate investment entity managed by Peter Schellinger. Waterstone would develop that component of the site in conjunction with Burbank Housing, the Santa Rosa affordable housing developer, according to a letter Ripple wrote to the city in May.
As it stands, the project would be 100% market-rate, meaning Schellinger Brothers could face city-imposed fees to support affordable housing elsewhere, though Schellinger and Burbank both have expressed a commitment to develop the 64 apartment homes into a 100% affordable community.
The City Council expressed a measure of support earlier this year by co-signing a state infrastructure grant application for up to $5 million to defray the cost of building the project.
But Schellinger told the Planning Commission he’d received feedback from state housing officials that the project was “not dense enough” and would struggle to compete with other applications for housing projects in Santa Rosa. As a result, Waterstone did not move forward with that grant request.
Planning Commission chair Patti Cisco and other members expressed reservations about the project but decided their objections to the development weren’t substantial enough to deny it. For example, Cisco noted that the project would provide desperately needed housing but didn’t mix any of its three housing types, instead creating three distinct development areas.
“I just think an opportunity was missed to build a real neighborhood,” Cisco said.