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150 houses are essentially 75 homes with 75 attached dwelling units all owned by Cambay
leenar homes
This Lennar Homes neighborhood with four homes along a 175-foot driveway is what River Islands is modeling its rental neighborhood after.

River Islands at Lathrop is getting ready to roll out what could be the largest rental neighborhood ever built in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

But it will be more like renting an apartment.

That’s because all upkeep — front yard landscaping, routine maintenance from a leaking faucet and malfunctioning door locks to broken sprinklers — will all be taken care of for the renter by Cambay Group, the developer of River Islands.

The neighborhood of 150 homes — 75 two-story structures — will be primarily in clusters of four along a 175-foot long driveway much like an existing Lennar neighborhood.  

But instead of  having one structure function as a freestanding 2,800 square-foot single family home, it will consist of two separate housing units.

The primary unit will be 1,800 square feet or so and occupy the ground floor and part of the second floor .

The second unit will cover the balance of the upper floor and have a separate entrance.

Cambay Group will retain overwhip of all 150 homes.

And, if they are ever sold, they will be sold as 75 separate properties.

That means future buyers — should that occur — will be buying a primary home with an auxiliary dwelling unit for rental income.

Unlike traditional duplexes, there is a larger  unit that is right-sized for most households that would normally be buying a home.

 The ADU would allow the buyer to soften the monthly impact of mortgage payments or, if they own the property outright, to be able to have income flowing in to supplement wages or retirements funds.

ADUs are seen by many California leaders as one of the cost effective ways to put a dent in the state’s long-running  housing  shortage.

It is why Sacramento lawmakers have adopted — and are considering more — laws and grant programs to cut government red tape and encourage adding housing units in older established neighborhoods.

River Islands is essentially following the letter and spirit of California’s new ADU housing laws to roll out what is essentially a new housing product.

“I haven’t heard of anyone else doing it,” said Susan Dell’Osso, president of River Islands Development.

Builders on River Islands — and elsewhere in the South County — offer model options that include casitas.

In housing lingo in the United States, the Spanish word is used by developers to describe living space that is part of a free standing home that has a separate entrance.

In some cases they have sperate kitchens.

Most of the time they are like casitas that are popular at Oakwood Shores on the western end of Woodward avenue in rural Manteca. They feature a sperate exterior entrance, a larger bedroom and bathroom area and a separate but small living area that often shares an interior door that accesses the main living area usually via the kitchen.

They are popular as in-law quarters or for older children.

The ADU concept incorporated into a new home takes it to the next level where there are two sperate living quarters for two households.

And because state law haws essentially eliminated the idea of single family home zoning meaning building a home designed for one household only, the development that River Islands hopes to break ground on early next year and be renting in late 2024 is legal.

Actually, federal fair housing laws for years have precluded local government from somehow enforcing a perceived rule that only one family can live in a house designed as a single family home.

It has been common for years for not just multiple generations to live in the same household, but separate families that aren’t related.

Typically the Manteca-Lathrop-Tracy-Mountain House area has new home neighborhoods where more than one unrelated family are living under the same roof are in houses with larger footprints.

There are also buyers of new homes — single people or couples primarily — that will from the day they move in rent rooms out for additional income to help cover mortgage payments.

State law now allows an existing house — such as the so-called McMansions that are in excess of 4,000 square feet, to be reconfigured to allow for up to three of four sperate living areas complete with their own kitchens and restrooms and separate entrances.

The laws require such older neighborhood ADU projects to be exempt from growth-related fees — or pay sharply reduced fees — given such housing piggybacks on established infrastructure such as main lines for sewer, water, and storm systems as well as streets.

River Islands is also preparing to submit plans for its first 220-unit apartment complex.

Given they are a new housing types for the 15,001-home planned community, River Islands does not plan on carrying the burden of apartment construction costs on their own for the initial projects.

The tightening money market in recent months have taken apartment construction lending from 75 percent to a 50-50 split for projects to go forward.

The idea for the two homes under one roof approach, came from brainstorming on how River Islands could provide housing opportunities for those households headed by people who help support the overall population such as teachers, firefighters and police officers.

 And while there are firms — and individuals — that own multiple properties roperies they are not usually clustered in one location.

They may use property management companies but not on the scale of service River Islands plans.

“It will be the same level of maintenance services and upkeep you’d expect living in an apartment (complex),” Dell’Osso said.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email