A city of Lodi policy designed to keep growth in check has cost a small developer thousands of dollars, the developer says.
On Wednesday, the developer, Kathy Haring, will have a chance to tell the City Council her story.
Kathy Haring and her husband, Brett Haring, bought land on South School Street with the intention of building a seven-unit condominium project. The land currently sits vacant and Kathy Haring thought it would make a good infill project.
Last year, when she wanted to start building, the city told her she must go through the growth management allocation process, which delayed her project at a time when property values are dropping.
In 1991, Lodi passed an ordinance to limit growth to 2 percent. Each year, development projects compete for a certain number of allocated residential units.
"It's basically a beauty pageant for new development," chief city planner Peter Pirnejad said.
In 2006, there were 450 units up for grabs. Since the large developments of Reynolds Ranch and Southwest Gateway were given allocations over a period of years and other developments were put on hold, the demand did not reach 450 units, Pirnejad said. However, all developments are subject to the review process, he said, even in a non-competitive year.
It took more than a year from the time Haring submitted her application until the Planning Commission approved her building allocations last month. The process was delayed because Haring originally planned for six units and had to resubmit plans for a seven-unit development. It cost Haring $2,500 to go through the city's development plan review process.
Haring says that the lengthy review process set her development back during a year when property values have plunged 14 percent. In an open letter to the council, Haring said median home prices in Lodi are $50,000 less than last year.
"If we had been allowed to build a year ago, we could have beaten the downturn in the real estate market," she said in the letter. "When we finally receive our allocations, we will put a for sale sign on our property and forget all about our dreams of a secure retirement."
Source: City of Lodi.
At Wednesday's council meeting, Haring and developer Taj Khan are expected to receive allocations for their projects. Khan's project, 19 units on East Olive Avenue, is on land that was annexed for the Southwest Gateway project.
Haring wants small infill projects like hers to be exempt from the growth management process.
"You ignored my pleas entirely," she wrote to the council. "The delay has cost my family tens of thousands of dollars. We are a teacher and a firefighter. The financial loss has been devastating. Your misuse of growth management has reached into our pockets and stolen the money. The unnecessary delay has caused the death of our project."
Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock, a staunch supporter of the city's 2 percent growth limit, said all developments of four units or more must be subject to the process without exception, even in non-competitive years.
"It's an excellent process," she said. "It has served for orderly growth. I don't think anyone wants to mess around with the 2 percent growth management ordinance."