Redding City Council Members Express Anguish Over an Affordable Housing Project

A developer ready to start on a $20 million, 97-unit affordable housing complex came to the Redding City Council on Tuesday in search of a break on some $1.5 million in impact fees.

A divided council voted 3-2 to send the matter back to city staff, but not before expressing some of the anguish that results from balancing the needs of disadvantaged residents against a duty to shrewdly manage the city’s finances.

The Affordable Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) wants to build a complex on Lowden Lane. Its units would be available to residents 62 and older whose incomes are 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income.

AHDC hopes to finance the project by using low-income housing tax credits from the state, and for help in securing the highly competitive credits, the corporation asked the city to defer the impact fees—money that pays for the streets, parks, sewer and other services required to accommodate growth—for 15 years.

Redding’s policy allows for the deferral of impact fees for up to three years, and only in certain situations where, for example, a project will create new jobs. Deputy City Manager Greg Clark said what housing-assistance funding the city had has been committed to K2 Land and Investment for its proposed mixed-use project involving the former Dickers department store in downtown Redding.

Clark told the council that the staff recommended it deny AHDC’s request. Granting a 15-year deferral would establish a worrisome precedent and furthermore, there’s no guaranty the funds would be available to pay the fees when the 15 years are up.

Laurie Doyle with AHDC said the lack of funds available for low-income housing developments required the company to seek a 15-year fee deferment. A similar loan worked well in Paso Robles, she added.

Tom Tenorio with the Community Action Agency of Butte County, a partner in the project, said the wait time for affordable housing units is already one to two years.

Marcus Partin, a Redding developer, spoke in favor of AHDC’s request. He said it was a “$20 million shovel-ready project ready to go that fulfills a need” and won’t cost the city any money. “They don’t want a reduction in fees, just to string it out,” Partin said.

Freshman Councilwoman Julie Winter, while acknowledging the need “to pay as we go,” said she leaned in favor of AHDC’s request and making an exception in the city’s policy “to give voice to those without a voice” and taking steps to address the crisis-level shortage of affordable housing.

As a developer who also owns a lumber yard, Mayor Brent Weaver said he’d love to give fee reductions to builders, but agreeing to requests like AHDC’s would amount to giving an advantage to one developer over others.

Councilwoman Francie Sullivan said that despite the need for affordable housing, she could not justify going against city policy and essentially “spending $1.5 million of taxpayers’ money” and taking the risk that AHDC would not be able to repay the loan. “This is one of the gut-wrenching parts of being on the council,” Sullivan said.

Councilwoman Kristen Schreder made the ultimately successful motion to refer the matter back to staff, saying she was not necessarily in favor of the idea but that enough questions were raised to justify more research. Her motion passed on a 3-2 vote with Weaver and Sullivan voting in opposition.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

Continuum of Care & the homeless

–Voted 3-2 to award a contract to SiLK Consulting Group out of Orland to coordinate the Redding/Shasta Continuum of Care (CoC) through the end of the year.

The Continuum of Care is a partnership of agencies, nonprofits and service providers tasked with delivering services to the homeless.

If the selection of the SiLK group is also OK’d by Shasta County supervisors, the coordinating duties will be assumed by Suzi Kochems, the head of the SiLK group.

Kochems will oversee CoC activities that cover Shasta, Del Norte, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Sierra and Siskiyou counties. Duties include seeking grant funding, preparing the application for annual funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducting the homeless point-in-time count each January.

Selecting a coordinator is a key step in Shasta County’s “Path Forward” plan that was created by City Manager Kurt Starman and Shasta County Executive Officer Larry Lees.

The divided vote came about when Councilwoman Schreder, who spearheaded the Redding Area Homelessness Coalition Project, sought to include two provisions in the SiLK contract that would 1) require the purchase of software designed to manage information on homeless populations and services and 2) formalize a coordinated one-stop entry system to streamline the delivery of services.

Both requirements, she said, are essential if Redding and Shasta County are to obtain federal funding in an increasingly competitive environment.

Weaver agreed with staff’s opinion that those date-specific requirements did not belong in the contract and Councilman Adam McElvain and Councilwoman Sullivan sided with the mayor. The contract will pay SiLK Consulting $48,575. The contract will be funded with a combination of Community Development Block Grant money, leftover Redding Redevelopment Agency money and contributions from Shasta County and the McConnell Foundation.

Keswick Dam Road repair update

–Heard a report from Public Works Director Brian Crane on the status of repairs to the storm-damaged Keswick Dam Road. A portion of the road collapsed earlier this month when rain-swollen Sulphur Creek flooded and washed away the road base.

Public Works Director Brian Crane updates the council on Keswick Dam Road repairs. Photos by Jon Lewis.

Public Works Director Brian Crane updates the council on Keswick Dam Road repairs. Photos by Jon Lewis.

The damage threatens a 30-inch water line and a 4-inch PG&E gas line. At its Feb. 7 meeting, the council authorized an emergency contract for the repair work. Crane said the work, including the replacement of 80 feet of culvert, should be completed in two to four weeks at a cost of approximately $300,000.

Crane said he was optimistic the city would be fully reimbursed for the repair costs by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following President Trump’s approval of a major disaster declaration for Shasta and other north state counties.

Crane said the FEMA funds should also be available for repairs to Park Marina Drive, other streets and portions of the Sacramento River Trail damaged by the pounding rain and flood-level releases from Keswick Dam. Those repairs could total $475,000 or more, he said.

Bethel Music

–A certificate of recognition was presented to Bethel Music in honor of the Redding-based church’s record label’s recent success at the 47th annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in Nashville, Tenn. Bethel Music received nine nominations and won Dove Awards for Worship Song of the Year, Inspirational Album of the Year, Children’s Music Album of the Year and Instrumental Album of the Year.

Mayor Brent Weaver, left, with Joel Taylor, Jenn Johnson and Brian Johnson of Bethel Music.

Mayor Brent Weaver, left, Joel Taylor, and Jenn and Brian Johnson, the founders of Bethel Music.

Joel Taylor, Bethel’s chief music officer, said the label started seven years ago with one employee and one intern and it now employs 60 people. “We love Redding,” Taylor said.

Fraud Prevention Fair

–Heard a brief presentation from Stephanie Bridgett, chief deputy district attorney, who said her office is hosting the second annual Fraud Prevention Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at the Red Lion Hotel on Hilltop Drive.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announces the March 8 Fraud Prevention Fair.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announces the March 8 Fraud Prevention Fair.

The free event is geared toward seniors and veterans, two of the most targeted groups for fraud and identity theft. More than 40 vendors will be present and speakers will give presentations on how to avoid becoming a victim.

The fair coincides with Consumer Protection Week. Bridgett said nationally there are 32 million victims of fraud each year with damages approaching $50 billion.

Tai Chi mediation garden

–Voted 5-0 to approve Redding Tai Chi’s plans to use flagstone pavers to construct a 55-foot diameter Tai Chi Tu (also known as the Yin Yang symbol) on the north side of the Sacramento River just upstream from the Sundial Bridge.

The round design will be part of a multi-use stone pad for those who practice Tai Chi, a slow-motion form of exercise and meditation. The area also is expected to be utilized by those practicing yoga and dance. Construction of the garden will be funded by Redding Tai Chi.

Rotary Contribution to Kids Kingdom

–Gratefully accepted a check for $27,500 from Rotary Club of Redding and Redding East Rotary Club in support of the Kids Kingdom II project. Ray Stewart and Andy Main, the respective Rotary Club presidents, presented the check.

Kim Niemer, director of the Community Services Department, called the contribution a “pivotal” donation for the $310,000 makeover of the popular playground in Enterprise Park. The ambitious project has been funded with contributions and grants; it is expected to open this summer.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.
8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments