315 las animas avenue site plan
Gandolfi Investments submitted this site plan showing how a 501-unit housing project on 315 Las Animas Ave. could be laid out.
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City officials notified a developer looking to build 501 housing units on Las Animas Avenue through a state law that its application needed more information before it would be further considered.

On Dec. 14, Gandolfi Investments filed a formal application for the project at 315 Las Animas Ave. Plans call for 501 multi-family units, consisting of 50 two-story, 13,317-square-foot townhomes, three four-story, 81,121-square-foot apartment buildings, a 13,808-square-foot clubhouse building and a 1.6-acre central green space.

The site, a vacant lot zoned for industrial uses, is at the intersection of Las Animas and Murray avenues.

However, the developer cited the so-called “builder’s remedy,” which allows developers to bypass local zoning laws and build certain types of housing projects, even if those plans do not comply with a city or county’s zoning ordinance or general plan. A provision of the Housing Accountability Act, the builder’s remedy is triggered when a local jurisdiction fails to update its state-mandated housing element, or if the element is not found to be in compliance with California law.

Gilroy had its eight-year housing plan certified by the state in August after being adopted by the council in May.

In a Jan. 11 letter to Gandolfi Investments, city planner Erin Freitas wrote that the developer submitted its preliminary application in July, after the council adopted the Housing Element, and therefore the builder’s remedy doesn’t apply.

“When the Housing Element was adopted on May 1, 2023, it contained everything required by state law, and thus was in substantial compliance with state law,” she wrote. “Although minor modifications and clarifications were made thereafter, the changes did not result in any amendment of the Sites Inventory or substantive policy changes and did not alter the fact that the Housing Element, as adopted, substantially complied with the law. Consequently, staff has taken the position that the Builder’s Remedy under the Housing Accountability Act is not available to applicants pursuing housing projects in the City of Gilroy since May 1, 2023.”

The letter went on to state that the developer would instead have to apply for a General Plan amendment in order to change the zoning of the property.

However, the application “has been determined to be incomplete,” Freitas wrote, and must be resubmitted by April 10 with the additions or be deemed abandoned.

The letter then lists 17 pages of items that need to be included, such as parking and street dimensions, easement information, drainage plan and others.

In November, city officials rejected another builder’s remedy application on Hecker Pass Highway, citing the council’s May 1 adoption of the Housing Element.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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