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Council OKs Riviera Terrace Expansion

Council grants apartment complex owners 50 additional units after they meet state density bonus requirement.

The Los Gatos Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow the owners of the Riviera Terrace apartment complex to expand by 50 additional units.

The decision came after the Council found that the complex owners, Sobrato Interests, meet the state law that allows a housing density bonus for property owners who provide at least 20 percent of their units at a below-market price rate.

The town’s Planning Commission rejected the proposal at a Sept. 14 meeting, however, the town’s Planning Department recommended that the Council approve the expansion due to the density bonus statute.

Of the 50 proposed expansion units, 25 are planned to be affordable housing, 24 are planned below-market price, and one is planned to be a moderate-priced unit. The units would go into two new buildings that would back up close to the .

The six-acre property at 135 Riviera Drive is already home to 123 units, mostly one-bedroom, with a swimming pool and recreation area that will relocated to make room for additional buildings for the expansion.

Tim Steele, director of real estate planning for Sobrato Interests, said the expansion was important for Los Gatos residents as well as an opportunity to restore the surrounding habitat.

“This proposal calls for investment in aging property and allows us to improve the interface of creek habitat with landscaping and improve the existing storm drain,” he said.

The plan also calls for the increase of its current 164 parking spots to 220 spots.

After mixed public comment, voiced by residents who supported and opposed the expansion,  Councilmember Joe Pirzynsky made the motion for approval, which also had added provisions for the property owners to provide a conditional creek riparian restoration plan as well as a plan from the Santa Clara Valley Water District to increase the water buffer in the creek.

Another provision of the plan is that Sobrato Interests provide a transitional housing plan for current residents that meet the salary requirement for affordable housing.

Pirzynski said he approves of the addition because of the value of providing affordable housing for residents while maintaining Los Gatos’ small-town feel.

“I thought this was an attractive benefit to the community,” he said. “We are a values-driven community and this isn’t typically done by most developers.”

Vice Mayor Barbara Spector said she was content that Sobrato Interests had come to the Council with a more detailed restoration plan.

“I’m very happy that the developer has a riparian corridor restoration plan,” she said. “They didn’t have one when they went to the Planning Commission."

Steele and his group will return to the Planning Commission with their restoration and architecture plan for approval at a later date.

In other news, the council voted unanimously on the consent agenda—which allows the body to approve several items with one vote and no public comment— to extend its custodial services contract with Sunnyvale Building Maintenance for the rest of the 2011-12 fiscal year for $70,000 as well as the 2012-13 year for $150,000 and the following two years pending budget approval.

According to Town Manager Greg Larson, Sunnyvale Building Maintenance was the lowest bidder in Los Gatos' search and started contracting its custodial services six months ago. They maintain town facilities such as the Los Gaots Library, Civic Center, Town Hall, the Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police Department offices and two yard houses.

Larry Arzie January 18, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Lets see: there exists 123 units. With 1 and 1/2 parking spaces normally needed per unit they would need 184 spaces. They only have though 164 spaces so they are already deficient by 20 spaces, but grandfathered in I suspect and legal. Now their adding another 50 units that normally would require 75 spaces but there only adding 56 spaces, or about another 20 spaces short. Thats about 40 spaces short total when everyones home, not including guests. Add 10% for guests at any given time and thats almost 60 cars parked on the street. Approval was unanimous Am I missing something here.
Ganeshamouse January 18, 2012 at 07:57 PM
This decision was a horrible mistake on the part of the town council. Greed wins again. The destruction of the tree garden, the hive level of density, the shortage of parking, the increase in traffic to an already saturated neighborhood, all of it pains me. Sobrato has failed in their civic duty to maintain this lovely property and the riparian corridor on it and basically threatened the town that they would not rehabilitate the creek property unless the project was approved as is. I'm all for low-income housing. I'm not all for cramming five buildings onto this property and destroying a beautiful and historic corner of Los Gatos. They could have scaled this project back considerably and still increased their already immense profits, with plenty left over to fix the riparian corridor. I am livid.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) January 18, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Hi Larry, according to Los Gatos senior planner Suzanne Davis, the parking required by the state density bonus law is 220, one space for one-bedroom units and two spaces for two-bedroom units. The applicant has included 261 parking spaces. Hope this answers your question. Thanks for the comment.
Larry Arzie January 18, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Oh I get it. The state trumps local parking requirements for people making less money, so they can park on the streets. Works for me, I think, but then again I can be big about it as I don't live on University Ave.
Kristy Mathenia January 18, 2012 at 11:32 PM
The greedy win again. Great job. None of the council members are in danger of living in apartments are they? I have seen this place and it was very nice. Won't be for long. I hope the owners are prepared for a mass of lost rents because I doubt that the tenants will stay through the destruction - I mean construction.
Kat Ewing August 29, 2013 at 06:05 PM
I live on Towne Terrace. The parking is already horrible. Let's think about this, a 1 bedroom should have two spots (husband & wife) and a 2 bedroom should have 3 spots, but the city planner doesn't view it that way. They're adding 50 units and 56 parking spots. So, as we all know, it's not proper to think a 1 bedroom will only have one car, so where are these extra 50+ cars going to park? The city planners should have driven down Towne Terrace at night to see how horrible the parking situation currently is...if they would have done that, these plans would have never been approved!!
Larry Arzie August 29, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Kat, you can thank our town manager Greg Larsen for this. He is responsible for all staff decisions. If you don't like the way he runs our town, send a letter to the town council and ask that he be replaced.
Kat Ewing September 12, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Larry, I sent the email below to Greg Larsen. "My name is [***** *****] and I live on Towne Terrace here in Los Gatos. I noticed in the article above the parking spaces mention for the expansion of Riviera Terrace. As you know, most people who live in a one bedroom have two cars, example: married couple, and if it's a two bedroom two to three cars. The math mentioned in the approval is a little concerning. I was wondering before you gave this approval if you happen to drive down Towne Terrace and the connecting streets of Avery, Milbrae, and Rushmore at night when everyone is home and parked on the streets? I ask, because without the Riviera expansion it's near impossible to find parking and sometimes we have to park on Chester or University and hike it to our apartment; forget about inviting guest over as parking is nonexistent. The math provided in the approval doesn't suit real world needs of how many cars are actually being used by these apartments. With that being said and taking into consideration the parking situation in the area is out of control, how are we going to fit all these extra cars on the public streets mentioned above that won't be able to fit into low amount of allocated spots in the Riviera expansion when at the current state there is no parking at night?"

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