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High density housing along Fulton Ave.?
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What to do about 28 acres in an area of northeast Ripon?

The property at Fulton Avenue and River Road is currently in the trust of Jacobina Den Dulk, according to Tom Wilson of Wilson Real Estate Group in Manteca.

She passed earlier this year but the hulling operation continues as talks are under way on a possible rezone.

The City of Ripon is considering making it high-density housing, with the City Council last Tuesday agreeing unanimously to direct staff to prepare a report on the available acreage for such usage.

“I would like to see more homes on the west side of Fulton like the east side,” said Mayor Dean Uecker, who would prefer this area be reserved for medium to low density housing.

Director of Planning Ken Zuidervaart noted that a good portion of that property, in order to achieve certification of Ripon’s Housing Element, is “within or directly adjacent to city limits.”

The City adopted a Housing Element along with General Plan 2035 in 1998. Couple that with General Plan 2040 some seven years ago.

“The state did not certify our Housing Element because it did not identify enough high-density sites to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment as mandated,” Zuidervaart said in the earlier workshop.

City Council, at the time, had a philosophy focused on providing low-income housing.  Elected leaders voted not to pursue certification, Zuidervaart added.

“Ripon had been proactive in offering low and moderate income housing,” he explained. “More than other cities, we provided more than 270 affordable units through our programs.”

RHNA is the State Housing Law for all income levels. Based on that, Ripon was mandated to provide 615 affordable units, from 2001 through 2007 otherwise known as the third RHNA cycle. “We built 268 units,” said Zuidervaart.

In order to be certified by late 2015 – or following the fourth RHNA cycle – Ripon must identify sites to accommodate 827 affordable housing units for an additional 480 affordable units.

“The fifth RHNA cycle (2014 through 2023) would be coming up,” Zuidervaart said. “This means we need 44 acres zoned for high-density residential.”

He listed four main consequences for not becoming certified, including:

•Only certified Housing Elements could be presumed legally adequate.

•Affordable housing projects might be able to proceed without City’s land use approval.

•Ripon could be liable for an attorney’s fee if the Housing Element is successfully challenged in court.

•Ripon may be ineligible for certain state and federal programs.

Zuidervaart pointed out that Ripon had no available land identified as high density prior to identifying the property on the west side of Fulton Road.

City Attorney Thomas Terpstra said the area could have to be zoned for residential, adding that state code could possibly allow for density bonuses.

Zuidervaart indicated that it’s not required for the 44 acres to be in one area.

“We need to rezone something for the next two years to get certified,” he said. “The next (RHNA) cycle could be reduced and, at that point, we may only need 30 acres.”

Other options would be to look within city limits.

“There’s the Canal Street Grill area, but there is better use for that property,” said Zuidervaart, who noted that annexation is usually a six-month process.

“Any land we pick for high density may not stay that way,” Councilman Elden ‘Red’ Nutt said. “If we know we can rezone, that land could be used for many things.”

Council is scheduled to revisit this item next month