The Walnut Creek City Council has given a tentative go-ahead to a developer that wants to convert the Woodlands Office Park near the city’s eastern border and Ygnacio Valley Road to 46 units of housing.
The council voted 4-1 to further consider the necessary general plan amendment, with Mayor Kevin Wilk dissenting.
V&T Sunny LLC wants to convert the 3.5-acre site, where two two-story office buildings now sit in the 3000 block of Citrus Avenue, into 14 smaller buildings of housing.
The development requires a general plan amendment to rezone the area from offices to low-density, multi-family housing.
The site is just north of Ygnacio Valley Road, east of Oak Grove Road, and south of the Citrus Marketplace Shopping Center, encircled by Citrus Circle.
After about a half dozen members of the surrounding community weighed in on the potential problems of the development, mostly concerning traffic, council members expressed their own issues.
“I can see trying to save it and keep it what it is, and I also feel the need for housing, so, I think there are possibilities for this to develop into something.”Councilwoman Loella Haskew
“I’m not a hard no on this project, but I am at a point where there are issues around traffic and the public benefits package that will need to be dealt with before I would be comfortable,” said council member Cindy Darling.
They also questioned the project’s lack of low-income units, what would happen to trees on the site, and the commercial viability of the existing buildings, which were constructed in the 1970s and purchased by P/A Design Resources in 2015.
The developer said both have high vacancy rates and need considerable repair, as does the parking lot. Assistant City Manager Teri Killgore said the buildings’ current vacancy rate — 15 percent — is comparable to rates in the nearby Shadelands business park and overall rates in the East Bay.
Council member Loella Haskew said the city needs to get its housing numbers up, but also sympathized with some of the nonprofits using office space in the building that might not find comparable space nearby.
“I can see trying to save it and keep it what it is, and I also feel the need for housing, so, I think there are possibilities for this to develop into something,” she said.
Wilk — the council’s only dissenting vote — said eliminating jobs and adding housing to the city’s edge would only increase traffic going down Ygnacio Valley Road and Treat Boulevard.
“I have serious concerns about rezoning office space to housing,” Wilk said. “We’ve made decisions as a council over the last dozen or more years to approve new housing downtown, where cars aren’t as needed — close to BART, and downtown stores, and help to prevent the suburban sprawl and keep our neighborhoods as congestion-free as possible.”
The proposal was only before the council to get feedback and an indication whether it should move forward. It would still require approval from the city’s design review board and planning commission before coming back to the council, which would likely take another 8-12 months.