The projects varied in size and scope, ranging from a 68-unit complex in San Mateo built on less than an acre at a cost of about $480,000 per unit to a larger but less expensive project in Union City, with 120 units built on just over four acres at a cost of about $124,000 a unit. The San Mateo rents range from $677 to $1,186 -- depending on income -- for a two-bedroom apartment, while the Union City rents for a similar two-bedroom apartment range from $486 to $1,092, again, depending on income.
Other complexes fell between the two, such as two adjacent developments in Santa Clara, offering studios that go for $543 to $850 and two-bedroom units for $421 to $1,376, similar to those in San Mateo and Union City
With the exception of the studios in Santa Clara, all the complexes offer single to three-bedroom apartments, and most offer four-bedroom units as well.
At Riverwood Grove in Santa Clara, Dolores Martinez offered the group a tour of the home she shares with her daughter. While it looks no different from a typical apartment, her two-bedroom home costs her $250 a month, because she's disabled and her rent can be no more than a third of her income.
All the complexes are near either train or bus service, as would be the case in Pleasanton, and most of the complexes are tied to commercial space, which is considered key to transit-oriented housing, since many residents either don't own a car or share one with other family members.
A Starbucks is at one corner of the property in Union City, a property once occupied by run-down apartments and a used furniture store. In San Mateo, small commercial units line the front of the building along South El Camino Real, a site that was once home to a tire center. A complex in Redwood City is adjacent to city hall, and restaurants and small shops run along the street in front. Generally, the commercial spaces are sold off as condos, according to Nevada Merriman, a MidPen Housing project manager who led the tour.
A diverse group of about 40 toured five properties built and managed by MidPen, a nonprofit developer that builds apartments for low-income families. The group on the tour was a mix, largely of fair-housing advocates but also including housing professionals and some from the Hacienda Task Force. The task force was created to work out guidelines for an 850-unit, transit-oriented housing project in the Hacienda Business Park, and recently finished its job, adopting a vision statement that gives direction for property owners and developers.
John Carroll, a member of the now-disbanded task force, said his impressions changed after seeing some new possibilities. Carroll said the task force had only been to see affordable housing in Dublin, where affordable housing means five-story buildings.
"It (the tour) gave me the impression that to have that density, you don't have to have these tall structures," he said.
Mike Serpa, a construction consultant who works with developers to get project approvals, brought a business perspective to the tour.
"It was really the capital management I was concerned about," Serpa said.
Serpa said any development at Hacienda similar to those on the tour would probably be a joint effort involving the developers and the nonprofit.
"It's going to have to be a partnership between the two, and I think both sides are open to it," he said.
The tour was organized by the Greenbelt Alliance and sponsored by it, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, MidPen and EBHO, East Bay Housing Organizations, with help from former Pleasanton City Councilwoman Becky Dennis, founder of Citizens for a Caring Community, a local fair housing group.