A slightly scaled down plan for the Elnoka senior housing project was presented on June 8 to Oakmont Community Development Committee, where support is considered critical to gaining ultimate approval by the City of Santa Rosa.
A plan for a 68-acre development just west of Oakment, which was formally submitted to city planners in June, has been an on-again-off-again controversy since 2005 when Oakmont Senior Living, owned by First Community Bank Chairman Bill Gallaher, first acquired the property. OSL, which is not affiliated with Oakmont, is making its third attempt to develop Elnoka.
The main Elnoka feature would be memory care and assisted living facillity. Proposed residential units include 74 cottages and 528 senior apartments supported by sports facilities, gardens and trails. Overall the plan calls for about 100 fewer housing units than envisioned last fall.
“I wish they would knock off 60 units for traffic mitigation,” OCDC Chair Sue Millar said in an email to the Oakmont News. “But they have restored a more craftsman cottage esthetic.”
Just how well the project will be received by its future neighbors is problematic at best. When the proposal was presented to a public gathering last fall, residents of Oakmont and neighbors next to Elnoka along adjacent Melita Road who spoke at the meeting generally hated it.
Among other things, they warned that increased traffic on Highway 12, plus the planned addition of another stoplight between Oakmont Drive and Melita Road, would significantly increase congestion. Project manager Steve McCullagh argued that traffic would be roughly half what would be created Elnoka was developed according to what the city’s General Plan would allow.
There will be plenty of time to worry about future impact. Developers said even their most optimistic estimates suggest it will take five or six years to complete the permitting process and finish construction.
Millar doesn’t find that all too comforting because over time “it will be hard to maintain vigilance over the changes that will come.”