Neighborhood Loses Battle Against Low Income Apartments

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SACRAMENTO-

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors is moving forward with a plan to build affordable housing and a new grocery store, despite neighborhood protest.

The Butano Apartment project will place 148 units in an abandoned parking lot on Butano Drive close to Watt and El Camino Avenues. Residents who have seen the decline of its once high-end malls say there are enough rental units in the area.

"They are just continuing to dump everything low end into our community the can find," neighborhood activist Michael Seaman said.

The Sacramento Housing Alliance backed the project that would help reduce the 93,000-unit shortage of affordable housing units in the county. Executive Director Darryl Rutherford says formerly homeless tenants will be joined by familiar low-income tenants.

"Teaching assistants, nursing assistants, our workers within the restaurants, all the folks who are the fabric of our community," said Rutherford.

But many residents say they don't have any problem with tenants. Instead, they said the county planners failed to account for increase vehicle and foot traffic, endangering tenants and homeowners alike.

They want a traffic light at Butano Drive and Cottage Way.

"There's really no money to pay for it, it's just problem after problem," said Seaman.

Housing advocates say there are retail services near the project as well has public transit, but some neighbors insist the RT bus that runs in front of the proposed complex won't be used.

"We all just laugh at that because we all know that the bus service here is horrible," said Seaman.

Rutherford acknowledges that the area may have its share of rental units, but says private low-income housing developers need to leverage tax credits, grants and property costs in order to make needed projects worth their while. Funding for such projects aren't available right away in newer neighborhoods.

"Affordable housing developers then are going to have to the place where land is cheap and where they can make their projects pencil out. It's where it needs to be, it's where the market can bear it," said Rutherford.

Members of the Country Club Community Alliance, which has been fighting the project, say they will now meet to decide the next course of action. A lawsuit is possible, but some question whether legal action can be successful.