By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
City chided for delaying study on condos
Placeholder Image
The city of Ceres has dragged its feet in dealing with the conversion of apartment units to condominiums, charged a representative of a real estate development company.

The Davidon Homes of Walnut Creek submitted a tentative map in August 2006 to convert the largest apartment complex in Ceres - Pine Ridge Apartments on Richland Avenue - into condominiums. The application cannot move forward because the city of Ceres has enacted a moratorium on condo conversions. The original moratorium - intended to give the city time to develop an ordinance - was enacted with a 45-day life last August, then extended for another 10 months. Last week the Ceres City Council extended the moratorium for another year.

Ceres has never processed an application for a condo conversion.

Ken Craig, director of Planning and Community Development, said his staff hasn't drafted an ordinance due to being very busy in other matters. But he said the city won't need another full year to write one.

Craig said he doesn't want to view Davidon's application until he sees what the council adopts. He said the administrative draft is in full circulation and hopes to get it to the City Council by the end of the year.

The city is concerned that losing Pine Ridge as affordable housing will hurt the city's goals of meeting state-mandate housing goals. Removing the 376 rental units from the rental stock in Ceres could cause the city to fall behind in meeting the city's regional share of housing for low- and moderate-income families. The state of California mandates Ceres' share based on a population formula.

Kathy Astrike of Davidon Homes protested the extension and asked for favorable consideration of the application. She said she offered the city help last year in crafting an ordinance but nobody took her up on the offer.

"Nobody has done anything on a draft for a year," said Astrike.

Astrike said she offered similar help to the city of Tracy and it not only accepted but developed an ordinance within five months. Tracy officials also approved Davidon's application there for a condo conversion.

Last year Mayor Anthony Cannella said he didn't want to see stakeholders driving the process but they would be allowed to comment on a proposed ordinance.

Astrike commented that she has not "seen the draft nor do I believe one exists."

Craig said that California has seen a large number of conversions and that to stem the losses of rental units, cities are passing ordinances. He noted that the city is concerned about the "impact on the folks in the community who are unable to afford their own housing."

Conversions can be quite profitable for owners of rental stock.

City Manager Brad Kilger said one reason that an ordinances are desired is to ensure that the conversion is done well. There are issues of parking, open space requirements and whether the project meets standards in the Uniform Building Code.

Kilger also apologized for the delays, saying he has his planning staff concentrating on two rather large residential master plans.

"It's a workload issue," he said.