After a two-week delay prompted by concerns about parking, the Simi Valley City Council Monday night approved a 415-unit housing project on one of the last vacant properties in the city's flatlands.
The modest price of the homes--to be built on the former Simi Valley Days carnival site--appealed to several council members.
"These will be much easier for the first-time buyers to afford," said Councilwoman Sandi Webb. "The townhouses give the advantages of a condominium with the feel of a single-family home."
The new development includes 147 single-family homes and 268 townhouses, 31 of which will be for low-income buyers.
Officials for developer Griffin Industries Inc. said the price of the homes will range from about $140,000 to about $190,000. The townhouses set aside for low-income buyers will run from $110,000 to about $113,000.
The development will have a park and several jogging trails.
The council delayed its vote Feb. 13 to allow the Calabasas developer to rework plans and make room for more parking in the development.
The new plans include 219 off-street guest parking spaces, increasing the total spaces to 755. To make room, the developer had to reduce the amount of open space in the development by about 1,150 square feet and eliminate one of the planned dwellings.
The council will also require the developer to alert potential buyers about the high water table on the property and the potential for liquefaction there, said Wolf Ascher, deputy director of planning.
Two wells operate continuously to pump water from the low-lying 44 acres, and if those pumps fail, there is potential for liquefaction, Ascher said.
"We wouldn't let them build on a piece of property if it wasn't safe," he said. "But the purpose of the disclosure is to explain why the water pumps are there and the ramifications if they fail."
Councilwoman Barbara Williamson, who asked that the notification be included, said before the council meeting that she was confident that the company was taking the necessary steps to eliminate any potential danger. But she added that she wants people to understand why the water has to be pumped from the land.
"You never know what is going to happen and this is merely giving a heads-up to anybody who is going to buy a house there," she said. "If Griffin feels they have eliminated that problem, they should have no problem explaining that to potential buyers."
Griffin officials said they will eliminate the threat of liquefaction at the site by "densifying" the soils, said Jake Faller, the project manager. The company will actually scoop out extensive areas of soil and repack the dirt to make it more stable. "We're taking extensive remediation on the site to eliminate the potential for liquefaction," Faller said.
The developers will have to build the housing foundations a foot above the level of a so-called 100-year flood, city officials said.
The developers will not be able to begin grading the property until the late summer and early fall, giving the soil ample time to dry out during the summer months.
Under the agreement approved last night, the developer will also be required to cordon off a 10-foot-wide landscape buffer on the south side of the development. The swath of land is on an incline, abutting the back yards of homes.
On one side of the landscape buffer there will be a five-foot-high wrought-iron fence. There will be a five-foot-high block wall on the other side.
The buffer will be maintained by the homeowners association.
Construction of the homes is expected to begin by late summer and to be completed within two or three years.