Tesoro promise of senior housing to be weighed against county’s affordable housing concerns

Tesoro project site.

A builder adding 820 homes to Tesoro del Valle is asking the county to allow increased density on the project in exchange for including 365 homes that would be designated for senior citizens.

Michael Schlesinger, vice president of community development for the Bristol Land Co., attended a public hearing Wednesday at the county’s regional planning office regarding plans to develop land next to Tesoro.

Schlesinger asked planners for a “density bonus” for having set aside a certain number of homes for senior citizens as part of The Highlands project, as captured on a county video recording of the hearing made available to the public online.

A density bonus is an incentive that allows the developer to increase the maximum number of homes he can build, in exchange for either funds or some kind of support for specified public policy goals.

“The developer is requesting a density bonus in exchange for dedicating 365 housing units for sale to senior citizens,” said Mitch Glaser, spokesman for the Regional Planning Department.

“We are working with the Community Development Commission to review the request,” Glaser said.

The commission serves L.A. County as an affordable housing, community and economic development agency.

“The county is committed to ensuring that new housing developments in the Santa Clarita Valley serve the needs of the (SCV’s) diverse population, including seniors and those with lower incomes,” Glaser said.

Developers can build more residential units on their property than what is allowed by code if they follow the guidelines spelled out in the county’s Density Bonus Ordinance.

A housing project may qualify for a density bonus if it has either affordable units or units set aside for senior citizens.

To be eligible for a density bonus, the project must reserve a minimum number of units for very low, low or moderate-income households.

Steve Jones, the regional planner handling The Highlands project, told the Regional Planning Commission Wednesday: “Staff has consulted with the Community Development Commission to ensure the appropriateness of how the project proceeds with the applicant’s proposal to help the county address affordable housing.”

Jones recommended a public meeting be held on the subject. That meeting is scheduled for Aug. 11.

On Wednesday, Jones reviewed a number of other requests made by the developer.

BLC wants to create 811 lots with 820 dwelling units and associated public facility, recreation/open space on 1,274.6 acres, all as part of the original Tesoro Master Planned Development.

The project is planned to be built northwest of the existing Tesoro community, north of Copper Hill Drive — opposite the Albertsons store.

calls for nine multi-family lots, 12 water-quality basin lots, three water-tank lots, one helipad lot, six senior-recreation area lots, 15 private parks, a senior recreation center, 29 lots reserved for open space and 24 private driveways.

The current plans require moving more than 18 million cubic yards of earth at the hilly site overlooking the San Francisquito Creek.

The terrain is described by planners as having slopes of 20 percent and greater.

Eleven oak trees would be cut down, for which the developer would need permission from Los Angeles County officials.

Although no one spoke at the public meeting Wednesday, the public gets another chance to weigh in at the next such meeting Aug. 15.

“Public input is essential in our efforts to meet this goal,” Glaser said, referring to meeting the needs of the valley’s diverse population.

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