A planned apartment complex in northwest Fresno may become the target of legal action as neighbors say the design intrudes on homes and impacts severely limited parking.
“This is not NIMBYism, these are real concerns.” — Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi
The Lincoln Park Apartments will have 82 units in a four-story design at the northeast corner of Herndon and Prospect avenues.
Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi says a complex with that height and density has never happened on that part of Herndon Avenue.
The owners of Lincoln Park — Land Value Management, LLC, of Fresno — are reportedly working on an indemnity agreement with the city of Fresno absolving the city of any legal liability, according to Karbassi.
Calls and emails sent to Land Value Management were not returned.
As developers prepare to break ground, one northwest Fresno resident says she and other neighbors are exploring every option to stop the project.
Land Rezoned as Part of Infill Push
The problem for the hundreds of residents surrounding the area is that in 2015, then-Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and the Fresno City Council changed zoning during the General Plan update.
The four-acre property changed to multi-family zoning, allowing between 16 to 30 units per acre. It had previously been designated for a neighborhood shopping center.
When people bought their homes there, they weren’t expecting a four-story building, Karbassi said.
“This is not NIMBYism, these are real concerns,” Karbassi said. “It’s not that it’s an apartment complex, it’s that you’re taking something that was built for a much smaller density, you’ve upzoned it and I’m sorry for this, they’ve screwed that neighborhood.”
Balconies Look into Backyards, Parking Pushes Out to the Street
Many of the building’s balconies will directly look into backyards and homes. Karbassi said demand from the complex will push parking out onto the street.
Northwest resident Vicki Allen-Westburg says their objection isn’t to the apartment, but to the density.
“You take a large, four-story apartment complex, build that on this piece of property, we’re just exacerbating the parking problem because there’s not going to be enough,” she said.
According to permitting documents, the complex will add 154 parking stalls. The requirement is 123 stalls.
But Karbassi said doing state minimums doesn’t meet the real need.
“The reality is the minimum is just not enough; people in Fresno like to drive cars,” Karbassi said.
Traffic on Prospect Avenue Already Impacted
Turning onto Prospect Avenue from Herndon Avenue, drivers bottleneck to a one-lane road before running into a roundabout. Five hundred feet down the road is Orchid Park.
Allen-Westburg fears with 82 new units, traffic will back up on Herndon Avenue.
Recourse Limited, but Karbassi Says He Plans on Placing Conditions
Because the land is zoned for multi-family, options are limited, Karbassi said.
While he can’t kill the project, Karbassi said, he will place as many conditions on it as possible to address concerns when it goes to the city council.
He said setback requirements may keep buildings further away from the property line close to other residences.
As long as the complex stays under 50 feet, there is nothing he can do about the building’s height.
Neighbors of the Lincoln Park Apartments have consulted with attorneys, Allen-Westburg said.
If a “back alley” deal was made around the zoning change in 2015, there may be ground against the city of Fresno, Allen-Westburg said. She said they haven’t decided if they want to pursue it, but they want to explore their options.
“There are all these little lots that need to be infilled,” said Allen-Westburg. “We need to stop building out — leave farmland, infill inside. Nobody disagrees with that. But we need to do it smartly.”