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March 27, 2023

Large Watsonville housing development seeks extension

WATSONVILLE—The developer behind a 150-unit housing project off Ohlone Parkway is asking the Watsonville City Council for a one-year extension on the project’s approval.

First approved by the council in 2018 as Sunshine Vista, Hillcrest Estates was set to transform an 11-acre junkyard at 511 Ohlone Parkway into much-needed housing for the densely-populated city—including at least 30 affordable homes. But the project struggled to find funding after it significantly surpassed its initial $60 million price tag because of the high cost of labor and materials, developer Lisa Li told this publication last year.

Li, however, said Wednesday that there has been a renewed interest in the project from investors who are looking to partner with her to carry it to completion.

“We’re moving forward, we’re back on track,” she said.

The approval is set to expire this month, according to Watsonville Community Development Department Director Suzi Merriam.

If the council does not grant the extension, the project would have to once again undergo the public hearing process.

“This is the first, very important step to getting the project started again—getting this approval,” Li said.

The council will weigh whether to grant the extension at its Aug. 25 meeting. It is scheduled to start at 4:30pm.

The development includes 23 single-family, 40 duplexes and 87 rowstyle homes, as well as 300 resident parking spaces and 111 for guests.

It drew significant pushback from the community during the public hearing process, though it received unanimous approval from the planning commission and was greenlit by the council by a 5-1 vote.

Current Mayor Rebecca Garcia was the lone “no” vote. 

Residents of neighboring Del Rio Court took issue with the site’s primary access point. Li proposed the access road be built by extending Loma Vista Drive into the property, carving through an existing lawn area and garden between two homes—a frequent neighborhood gathering spot.

Neighbors instead suggested using nearby Errington Road as the primary access point, a narrow road that extends behind Del Rio and Paraiso courts. But project architect Peter Silva said that the road would be too narrow and that it would need to be widened to meet the City’s street-size requirement of 50 feet.

The project in early 2019 received approval from the council on an addendum that would require the developer to either make Errington Road a secondary access road or install a roundabout at Ohlone Parkway and Loma Vista Drive.

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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