Turlock City Council advances Vista student housing project

An architectural rendering shows The Vista, a four-story student housing complex proposed for Monte Vista Avenue facing California State University, Stanislaus.
An architectural rendering shows The Vista, a four-story student housing complex proposed for Monte Vista Avenue facing California State University, Stanislaus. Coleraine Capital Group

The four-story student residential complex proposed across from California State University, Stanislaus, took another step closer to opening its doors. The project will return at a later meeting for final approval.

The Turlock City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to move The Vista project forward, despite objections from a sprinkling of homeowners that live behind the lot that fronts Monte Vista Avenue between Dels Lane and Crowell Road.

The three votes, taken in quick succession after more than an hour of discussion, ruled there were no significant environmental issues, amended the general plan and rezoned the acreage for the 600-unit project geared exclusively for college students.

In a revised site plan, the three buildings and a consolidated recreational area with pool were moved away from single-family homes behind the lot, shifting parking to the southeastern corner that borders the backyards. A wooden fence with screening plantings of evergreens will block noise and views from the buildings, the closest of which is an angled 90 or so feet from the neighbor it dwarfs.

“I appreciate the accommodations you made,” said Councilman Matthew Jacob before the votes, noting the original project called for 800 units.

City planners recommended the taller of two site plans submitted by Amcal Stanislaus, preferring three 50-foot tall structures to the option of four three-story buildings with less parking. Developer David Moon said the building will meet rigorous energy efficiency standards, and a covenant on the deed will assure it remains housing for students.

726 Number of students living in campus dorms, 9 percent of undergraduate students

But neighbors remain opposed. “Having a four-story in a residential area is ridiculous,” said Nanette Snoke, who also raised concerns about co-ed living and student water use. “We have a water problem in Turlock and there’s going to be 600 toilets flushing, 600 showers,” she said.

Other objections raised by neighborhood residents and area business owners included having so many pedestrians crossing Monte Vista could tie up traffic, and that drinking and partying by college students would blight the area.

Moon described the project as having managers on site 24/7, with resident advisers on every floor and a requirement that parents sign the zero-tolerance lease that would allow eviction of problem tenants. Each unit is a lockable bedroom with its own bathroom, most sharing a kitchen and living room with other units.

“As a parent myself, I wish this type of housing were available when my kids were in college,” Moon said.

In other business, the council heard a report that the city has met its state-mandated water conservation target in some months, but not others. Municipal Services Director Michael Cooke said compared with 2014 use, Turlock water use was down 36 percent in May, over the 32 percent it must average.

But conservation dropped in June, with use 19 percent lower than a year ago. July use came in 35 percent under July 2014, but August failed to hit the target with water use 26 percent below last year. To encourage conservation, the city handed out 678 warning citations in July and nearly 1,000 in August. Fifty-six resulted in fines, and those taking an online water conservation course could get the $50 fee waived, Cooke said.

“We’re not after the dollars. We want the water,” he said.

Winter watering restrictions, scheduled to begin Nov. 1, will limit landscape watering to one day a week. If Turlock looks likely to miss its target, that could be moved to Oct. 1, Cooke said.