After more than ten years of overwhelming community opposition, an Appeals Court in San Francisco recently ruled in favor of a massive 315-unit apartment complex (“The Terraces”) near Acalanes High School. Save Lafayette is reviewing its options, as it believes there are substantial legal grounds to deny the project.
The City of Lafayette (“the City”) only has itself to blame that The Terraces ended up here. On numerous occasions, the City failed to either rezone the parcel in a timely fashion, deny the application or accept a much smaller project as proposed by the developer.
In April 2010, the City Council directed the City Manager and Staff to initiate a rezoning of the parcel to low-density housing. City Staff delayed the rezoning for 16 months, allowing the developer adequate time to file a completed application for The Terraces, causing the City Attorney to advise stopping the rezoning process. The rezoning could have been completed months before the application was deemed complete and would have prevented the project—a huge lost opportunity.
In 2013, as a City Staff Environmental Impact Report for The Terraces was about to outline multiple significant adverse impacts sufficient to deny The Terraces, other City Staff held secret meetings with the developer without input from the general public and agreed to a 44-unit single-family housing project with some additional amenities (“The Homes”). The City also allowed the developer the right to continue processing the initial massive apartment project, if the Homes project was denied. Save Lafayette, a local nonprofit organization, was formed to preserve the constitutional right of residents to vote on the housing project after the City denied that right. Save Lafayette gathered several thousand signatures in less than three weeks for a referendum; ultimately, an Appeals Court upheld the residents’ right to vote on the housing project, and the voters denied the project.
Prior to the Court’s decision on the referendum in early 2018, the City secretly turned down a proposal by the developer for the housing project without the amenities but with cash to relocate the amenities elsewhere in Lafayette – another lost opportunity by the City to avoid the Terraces. The City then allowed the developer to proceed with The Terraces, leaving Save Lafayette and the residents no other option than to bring suit over multiple serious environmental issues with the project and compliance with the law.
Save Lafayette has and will continue to work for our residents to preserve and protect the character and charm of our city, to support our downtown businesses and worthy initiatives like the last school bond, while opposing inappropriate development. We can only hope that the City listens to the community in the future to avoid similar mistakes.