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Landowners file lawsuit against city

Claim unfair affordable housing burden placed on property
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Two landowners filed a lawsuit against the City of Roseville Monday alleging that an unfair low-income housing requirement was placed on their 81.3-acre property, making the land unsalable.

The Martinez Family Trust and Computer Deductions Inc. are named as co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Placer Superior Court.

The development plan for the future Sierra Vista Communities shows 48 percent of affordable housing units to be located on the property owned by Martinez Land Trust and CDI.

Their land is in the most northeastern portion of the Sierra Vista Specific Plan, which was approved by the Roseville City Council in May 2010.

The 2,064-acre mixed-use development plan includes about 6,650 single-family and multi-family residential units, and more than 200 acres of commercial and business use. There will also be open space, parks, trails and schools.

The city requires that all new planning areas designate 10 percent of total housing units for low-income buyers. Of the residential planned for the Martinez/CDI parcel, there are 138 affordable units out of 282 total units, according to documents in the lawsuit.

The city also requires open space and parks designated at nine acres per 1,000 residents. Brigit Barnes, the attorney representing Martinez/CDI, said the plan includes a disproportionate amount of park space on their property.

In 2001, Martinez Land Trust and CDI entered into an option agreement with Mourier Land Investment Corporation (MLIC), the commercial development entity of JMC Homes, based in Roseville.

The agreement gave the company the exclusive right to purchase the property for seven years. In August 2008, the parties agreed to extend the agreement through September 2010.

But Barnes said sometime between when the original plan was created in 2006 and in 2007, most of the high-density affordable housing units were transferred by the city to the Martinez Family Trust/CDI property.

“Sometime during this time, the land use was significantly changed in an adverse way for (my) clients,” Barnes said. “It’s common for the big boys to do this. What is uncommon is not to close on it.”

In October 2010, the plaintiffs received noticed that JMC Homes had decided not to close escrow on the property.

Other developers have refused to buy the 81-acres because “with the foreclosure rate today who needs affordable?” Barnes said.

The lawsuit asks that the affordable housing requirement on the property be ruled invalid.

“I went to the city and asked for help and got politely blown off,” Barnes said.

She said the landowners felt they had no choice but to file the lawsuit.

“This is a private matter between JMC and the plaintiffs, but they’re trying to force the city to resolve the dispute,” said city spokeswoman Megan MacPherson. “This (lawsuit) is the latest attempt to make this happen.”

JMC Homes is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.