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Mayor Alice Patino, left, and Councilman Dr. Michael Moats listen during Tuesday's council meeting to a presentation on Cox Bungalows, a planned senior housing development in the northwest part of Santa Maria. 

Looking to expand the availability of affordable senior housing in the city, the Santa Maria City Council on Tuesday approved plans for 30 apartments in a development in the northwest part of the city.

The Cox Bungalows project — which will be built by Halsell Builders at the corner of Cox Lane and Blosser Road — is slated to include 30 residential units alongside a community center on a 1.3-acre lot. The plan includes 29 one-bedroom units for seniors ages 62 and above and one unit for an onsite manager. The project will be open to seniors earning up to 60 percent of the area median area income.

The City Council approved the project with a 3-0 vote. Councilmembers Jack Boysen and Etta Waterfield were absent.

The lot, which is located in a neighborhood of single-family homes, also required the City Council to approve a zone change from low-density residential to high-density residential.

Community Development Director Chuen Ng said the project would contribute more senior housing for Santa Maria’s residents and that development was a residential use that was compatible with the neighborhood.

The lot currently includes a 3,000-square-foot home, which will be demolished to make room for several single-story structures. Urban Planning Concept’s Laurie Tamura, who represented the developer, said the project was designed to fit in with the community, noting it would be made up of single-story structures like the other homes in the neighborhood.

Councilman Dr. Michael Moats asked whether the project’s parking spaces will be sufficient for the number of residents. “There are 29 residential units and 15 parking spots,” he said. “I know this has been a source of some controversy in the past and people have come before the Planning Commission to comment. Can you comment on how many parking spots are required for senior housing?”

Ng said senior housing projects generally have a lower amount of mandated parking spaces than other residential developments on the assumption that not all tenants will be driving. Based on its size, the Cox Bungalows project was required to have 12 parking spots and Halsell Builders proposed to build 15 spaces. “There are three spaces more than what is required by the code,” Ng said.

Tamura also said that there would be car services like SMOOTH available to residents and that not all seniors owned cars at the income level of the likely tenants.

“I think it’s a great project,” Moats said. “I think it’s aesthetically pleasing [and] it meets a need for the community.”

Councilman Mike Cordero said he was also in favor of the project. “I, like Dr. Moats, feel this is a worthwhile project,” he said. “It’s the kind of the thing we need. We’re going to be able to take a relatively small piece of land — 1.3 acres — and turn it into something much more useful than it is today and accommodate some of the senior members of our community.”

In other business, the City Council approved plans for a vocational training facility on a 6.2-acre lot in north Santa Maria. The project — which will be a roughly 30,000-square-foot, two-story structure built on a lot adjacent to Boomers! on Preisker Lane — is being organized by Community Carpenters, a nonprofit group.

Community Carpenters aims to provide students with an alternative to college. At the facility, students will be trained in concrete formwork, metal stud/drywall framing, building scaffolding and other construction-related skills.

Mayor Alice Patino said she was grateful to Community Carpenters for pursuing the project. “This is an investment in our community,” she said. “As you well know, not all kids want to go to college. This is a huge investment. As an educator, I certainly appreciate that because that is just immense for these kids.”

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed


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