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Completion of the O’Brien Homes’ Terraces of Lafayette

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After the referendum passed, O’Brien Homes reapplied for the original 315-unit terraces project, and Lafayette authorized it in August 2020. However, a month later, Save Lafayette filed a lawsuit against the project, alleging that it broke zoning and environmental laws. An enquiry for comment on Wednesday was not immediately responded to by Save Lafayette’s attorney.

Lafayette by Save Lafayette. Image Source: savelafayette.org

The Housing Accountability Act affirms that the Terraces did not violate environmental requirements and gave it a clear path forward. The Housing Accountability Act mandates local governments to accept projects that comply with their zoning restrictions.

Housing advocates declare the project a success, but its greatest significance may not lie in its revolutionary nature but in its ability to influence California housing policy. The effort doubled the impact of the Housing Accountability Act. O’Brien’s attorney asserted that it is the starting point for California housing laws.

According to O’Brien, the project held more than 120 public hearings over ten years. Regulations like SB 330, which restricts projects to five public hearings, were partly shaped by the study.

O’Brien said his company would look into project finance. “From the beginning, zoning and the overall plan permitted this. We had a strong belief that we could build,” O’Brien said. “We are committed to pursuing it, both for ourselves and the landowner,” O’Brien continued. 

Houses in Deer Hill Road by O’Brien Homes. Image Source: obrienhomes.net

Day one for the 315-unit building on 22 acres of Lafayette property zoned happened in 2011. It is for multifamily development at Deer Hill Road and Hill Road in Lafayette. However, there was strong community opposition to the idea, which prompted Lafayette to work with O’Brien on a different concept for 44 single-family homes – the alternate proposal. Lafayette finally accepted the said proposal. 

However, the San Francisco Bay Area Renter Federation sued Lafayette in 2015 for approving the 315-unit project. The interest in the project increased as a result of this case.

Community organizations preferred fewer homes but rejected the 44-home option. Save Lafayette reversed the city’s approval of the 44-unit development in June 2018, and their suit against O’Brien Homes led to the November 30 judgment.

About 12 years ago, O’Brien Homes unveiled Terraces of Lafayette. The developer intends to complete the apartment complex now that the final legal challenge has been overcome.

O’Brien Homes’ ability to move through with the 315-unit Terraces project, which received Lafayette’s permission in 2020, was upheld by an appellate court decision on November 30. 

Dennis O’Brien, the founder of O’Brien Homes, announced on Tuesday that his business would start securing building permits for the Terraces. Without further delays, it intends to break ground in 2023 or 2024.

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