Any illusion that the Mallard Pointe developer is interested in our community or dedicated to creating affordable housing was shattered by the last article in The Ark (“Mallard Pointe kills two units to set up key waivers,” Aug. 3, front page). The city of Belvedere made it clear that to qualify for waivers under the state density bonus law, the developer needed to increase the number of affordable units from four to five.
However, instead of agreeing to make one additional unit affordable for a low-income individual or family, Thompson Dorfman is now pretending that two of the three units it previously labeled accessory dwelling units simply don’t exist. This “on-paper-only” move reduces the number of countable units in the development from 42 to 40 so that the four paltry low-income rental units it is proposing would just barely meet the 10 percent threshold to potentially invoke the density bonus law.
Why are the waivers so important to the Mallard Pointe developer? Because it needs them to sidestep Belvedere’s development standards, such as height, setback, open space and parking requirements — to maximize its profits at the expense of our community.
However, meeting the 10-percent threshold only opens the door wide enough to compel waiver of local development standards, but not wide enough to bulldoze all other Belvedere zoning provisions.
In particular, one section of Belvedere’s zoning code prohibits the construction of an apartment house in the R-2 zone, where Mallard Road is located. While the developer (not surprisingly) expresses disagreement, prohibited uses — such as apartment houses — are not development standards. And since only development standards are subject to the density-bonus waiver, the zoning code’s prohibition on apartment houses on Mallard Road is not waivable, even if the density bonus is triggered.
While city planning staff has determined that the proposed apartment house is prohibited by our zoning laws, it has not yet publicly stated whether this prohibition is a development standard that must be waived. That announcement may come soon.
— Jock Putney, Belvedere
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