Homeowner invokes Builders Remedie to build 20-unit condominium complex in Bay Area – Orange County Register
If you hear Sasha Zbrozek tell, the story behind his plans to demolish his four-bedroom home in clayey Los Altos Hills and replace it with an apartment complex is a simple tale about a young man’s California dream home, illuminated by the region’s infamous red Band is ruined – and his decision to “rage against the machine”.
How could Zbrozek, a 34-year-old electrical engineer and Stanford graduate, get away with his proposal to build 15 apartments and five townhouses in the wooded suburb of Silicon Valley, which has long resisted multifamily housing?
Enter the “builder’s cure,” a provision in the state housing code that could allow homeowners to defy local zoning laws and push through projects of virtually any size almost anywhere they choose.
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Zbrozek’s plan is one of the Bay Area’s first attempts to invoke the provision, which is designed to punish cities and counties that default on their state-mandated plans for future housing.
As of Saturday afternoon, Los Altos Hills was just one of 105 of 109 Bay Area cities and counties that had failed to get the state to sign off on its all-eight-year plans by Jan. 31. And proponents aren’t optimistic The billionaire’s paradise of Los Altos Hills, where the average home value is around $5 million, according to Zillow, is about to be approved.
Zbrozek said he came up with the idea of using the building material while trying to get the necessary permits and permits to repair his home after it was badly damaged by storms in 2019, not long after he bought it. Shortly after the January deadline for the housing plan, he submitted the proposal to the city’s planning department.
“There’s this option in front of me to do something completely different, and the city can’t say no,” said Zbrozek.
Zbrozek and his wife moved into the home on a 5-acre lot in a quiet neighborhood with many mansions near Foothill College in hopes of raising a family there. But if he could go ahead with the apartment complex project, he’d probably sell it to a developer to build and move back to the Southeast, where he grew up.
State housing legislation requires that at least 20% of the units in a building renovation project be affordable. Zbrozek said the high rents and sale prices that Silicon Valley developers can charge should offset lower revenue from cost-constrained units.
“Even my quarterback Monday morning in a spreadsheet says it’s probably pencils,” he said. “Maybe I can get paid for living in a dank house for three and a half years.”
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He also submitted a second, smaller proposal that would only include the five townhouses. If this project is approved, he might decide to stay there.
Zbrozek’s architect for the project, Mark Hogan, said developers have only recently attempted to apply the three-decade-old law — particularly on about 20 mostly massive proposed projects in Southern California. That means it’s possible Zbrozek’s plans will still become embroiled in bureaucracy and litigation, Hogan said.
“There is no precedent for anything like this in the area,” he said. “Nobody knows exactly how it will end.”
In a statement, Los Altos Hills City Attorney Steve Matias confirmed that the city had received the two proposals, writing that “staff will communicate next steps to the applicant in accordance with appropriate timeframes.”
Matias said the city is working closely with the state on its plan and is committed to meeting its increased housing target of 438 new homes for people of all income levels by 2031.
Anne Paulson, an attorney for the pro-housing group Los Altos YIMBY, is skeptical that city officials are making any real headway on the plan. Recently, a number of other ultra-rich cities in the region have been accused of attempting to sidestep their housing responsibilities through malicious policies. Woodside, for example, made headlines last year for designating part of town as a mountain lion sanctuary to discourage new homes from building in the area. And Hillsborough is considering building a project specifically for developmentally disabled adults, apparently to discourage new housing for other low-income residents.
At Los Altos Hills, Paulson said the planning process was “pointlessly picky and obscure and designed in every way to make construction difficult” and placate residents who oppose more housing.
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How might the neighbors there react to Zbrozek’s plans?
“You’re going to hate it,” Paulson said. “You will definitely hate it.”
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/02/14/homeowner-invokes-builders-remedy-in-brazen-plan-to-build-20-unit-housing-complex-in-los-altos-hills/ Homeowner invokes Builders Remedie to build 20-unit condominium complex in Bay Area – Orange County Register