Land decisions underscored a series of votes by the Oakdale City Council on Monday evening, Nov. 5. After discussions, the council chose to re-designate 10 acres in the Bridle Ridge housing development from high-density to medium-density residential zoning, voted to purchase three parcels on Yosemite Avenue between H and J streets for the proposed community plaza and skate park, and moved forward for a new perimeter fence around the city-owned airport.
FCB Homes asked to have the city’s general plan modified to accommodate their plans for 54 homes to be built in the planned Vineyard subdivision along Crane Road and West J Street of the Bridle Ridge area.
The application brought concerns from Councilman Mike Brennan who characterized the move as a “sleight of hand” to get out of having to have low-income housing built in the city.
During the application phase, Associate Planner David Wage stated that the city’s modification of the Heritage Oaks Senior Housing site earlier in the year resulted in an additional 49 low income units which would offset loss of the city’s proposed 27 sites that would not be built if the zone was redesignated.
Brennan continued to be outspoken stating the city needed not only low-income high-density rental housing, but also low priced bungalows or small single-story houses to get low income citizens into the housing market.
Tom Doucette of FCB Homes addressed the dais stating the original plan may have stated it was to be high-density, but there was nothing requiring it to be low income housing. He added that with the current housing market, high density housing was not economically feasible.
“We need low income (housing) in the city,” said Brennan. “Developers seem to think ‘low income’ means rental housing, apartments, and duplexes that will turn into ghettos. Just because it doesn’t say ‘low income,’ doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking it.”
Brennan’s sentiments were not agreed with by Bridle Ridge residents who spoke before the council vote.
Troy Harris stated he was happy to see single family homes proposed for the neighborhood rather than apartments and praised FCB Homes for its decision.
“Apartments bring crime and graffiti,” said Harris. “There’s a better class of people for Oakdale with single family homes.”
Scott Hogg stated the plan of 54 single story family homes “greatly appeals” to him, but he was concerned if any of the residences would be two-story residences.
Doucette responded that the development would be “predominantly if not exclusively” single story residences. He said six of the lots, due to their size, may require two-story homes to accommodate the city’s requirements of lot depths. None of the two-story homes would back up to anyone. Hogg also said that a variance could be sought from the city to keep the homes all at single story.
The council moved forward to the city’s development of the skate park and unanimously voted to acquire three parcels of land and pay $700,000 for 2.9 acres of land.
The $4.75 million grant recently obtained by the city in March covers the cost of the purchase.
Councilman Tom Dunlop, who approved the motion, stated he still had concerns that the park would be “a drag” on city services.
“We’re getting into a situation of having another community center we don’t have the funds for maintenance of,” said Dunlop.
Grant Writer Amy Augustine told city officials that she concluded that costs for maintenance and operations would only be about $17,000 annually and the city budget showed the ability to raise approximately $19,000 a year.
Augustine said the city was in position to get endowments and sponsorships for some of the structures such as the planned stage, however until they had the property, she couldn’t get the sponsorships.
“I will support this, but I still have my reservations,” said Dunlop who felt the annual cost would be closer to $50,000 to $60,000.
City Treasurer J.R. McCarty told the group that the plan had a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” and that the plan needed more structure. He identified the Hershey building purchase and it being vacant as evidence of not having a strategy.
After the questioning and criticism on the agenda item, Mayor Pat Paul asked if there were “skaters” in the audience and solicited them to come forward to say, “Yay, we support this.”
Teenager Troy Holder came forward and identified himself as a BMX rider.
“I support this because I think it will be good for the youth in the future,” Holder said.
The city approved the purchase of the installation of a perimeter fence around the Oakdale Municipal Airport.
The cost of the fencing to the city is only $45,000 as part of a FAA federal grant covering $377,000 of airport upgrades. The city’s portion also comes with no impact to the general fund and is derived from airport operation revenues.
During discussions, Oakdale resident Bill Bradford, a critic of the airport’s condition and operation, addressed the council stating he would like to see a total FAA compliant fix to the airport.
Bradford said the airport was on the verge of “vaporizing” and there was no business attracting money to the facility. He said the biggest problem was that the city did not have a dedicated airport manager that understood the regulations, laws, and should be required to be a pilot.
“You’re doing piecemeal work and just putting a Band-Aid on the problem,” Bradford said.
Dunlop said the city needed to act soon before losing the FAA grant money.
“A small step forward is better than not taking any step forward,” Brennan said before his vote.