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Lafayette school loses fight against 12-unit housing development

The Lafayette City Council on Monday approved the 12-home Samantha Townhomes project on Stuart Street, denying the appeal of a neighboring school saying the development will bring too much traffic to the area.

The city’s planning commission signed off on the project on June 7. The dozen town homes will be built on two vacant parcels on Stuart Street, requiring the removal of 14 trees.

Appellants Jeffrey and R. Ann Whitehead are the owners of The Child Day Schools, also on Stuart Street. They said the project will eliminate public parking available to their business and the development’s driveways will be hazardous to pedestrians walking to the school.

Courtesy of the city of Lafayette Rendering of the Samantha Townhomes project, a 12-unit development approved by Lafayette City Council on Monday, July 26, 2021 for construction on Stuart Street in Lafayette, Calif.

The land is at the east end of downtown, adjacent to state Highway 24, on the east side of Stuart Street. The project will consist of three buildings and will include two units of below-market-rate housing, meeting the city’s inclusionary housing requirements, according to a staff report.

Councilmembers said they understood the school’s concern about increased traffic endangering children walking through the area, but applicant Bay Area Urban Development met the necessary requirements to develop the site.

Lafayette Mayor Susan Candell said she wished the city had some leeway to require the developer to include underground parking, precluding the town homes from having driveways near the school.

Candell said:

“But we literally can’t. Our hands are tied.”

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