The Lodi City Council voted in favor of a new low-density subdivision on Interlaken Drive during Wednesday’s meeting.

Developer Dennis Bennett proposed a 25-unit subdivision located on 8.47 acres of property at 1164 Lower Sacramento Road behind the Target shopping center.

“The average-size lot is 12,000 square feet, which is consistent with what we have in Sunwest,” Lodi City Planner Craig Hoffman said.

The Planning Commission approved the proposed subdivision map at the May 8 meeting.

According to Hoffman, the city has seen an increase in both low-density housing and multi-family residential properties — with the Rubicon and Revel senior apartment projects near Reynolds Ranch. Those are the first apartments built in Lodi since 1986, according to Hoffman.

Hoffman said the city was been experiencing steady growth in recent years, but still below the city’s 2 percent annual cap.

Lodi recorded a growth rate of 1.7 percent in 2017 and 1.8 percent in 2018. Hoffman noted that most of the growth has been the result of infill projects, with the most recent annexation project being FCB Gateway West near Reynolds Ranch.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce emphasized the need for affordable housing projects in the community.

“I believe the average annual income in Lodi is $54,000, and if these homes cost upwards of $400,000, who will be able to afford them?” Mounce asked.

Mounce said that the high cost of housing is prohibiting residents from being able to purchase homes, and added that the prices are catering to people working in the Bay Area looking to live in the Central Valley because of its affordability.

“That is not the case in Lodi,” Bennett said. “Most of that affects towns closer to the Bay Area, like Manteca and Tracy. The cost of housing is going up because the materials to build homes is also rising,” Bennett said.

According to Bennett, the cost of building has gone up as a result of a housing boom that has created high demand for materials.

“In my 46 years as a developer I have never seen building grow like this, and with the wildfires in Santa Rosa and Paradise, we (developers) expect it will continue to rise,” Bennett said.

Mounce suggested that Bennett look to Lodi’s east side for potential opportunities to flip homes to help drive affordable housing for Lodians.

“For every 10 houses you build, you flip 10 houses on the east side,” Mounce said.

Bennett said he understands Mounce’s concerns, but did not see the prospect of flipping homes on the east side tied to new housing because the cost is too high and the availability of houses for sale too sparse

“Me and (City Manager) Steve (Schwabauer) discussed this, and following that discussion, I drove around the east side, and I could not even find 10 houses to flip,” Bennett said.

Mounce suggested the city consider reducing or abolishing impact fees for developers willing to flip homes on the east side.

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