Home News Is bigger always better? Housing development divides Contra Costa County officials, neighbors

Is bigger always better? Housing development divides Contra Costa County officials, neighbors


MARTINEZ — A seemingly simple three-story, 24-unit apartment complex has pitted Contra Costa County’s top legislative officials against their own appointed housing advisors — illustrating a stark difference in opinion about how local governments should build homes in the East Bay.

Located less than two miles inland from the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, a proposed 22,000-square-foot building is poised to replace long-overgrown weeds on a 0.77-acre lot near the intersection of Windhover Way and Pacheco Boulevard — a plot of land that has sat vacant in unincorporated Martinez since 1989.

Blueprints for the Windhover Terrace apartments project aren’t overly flashy: 12 one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units, 40 parking spaces and a covered carport for 16 of those stalls. The developer, West Coast Land and Development, also has agreed to build two communal gathering areas, 7-foot walls around the project perimeter and pay the county $150,000 for other community improvements.

The proposed three-story proposal, however, was still too overwhelming for the county’s seven-member Planning Commission, even though the parcel has been zoned to accommodate multifamily high-density and act as a transitional buffer between higher-use areas and residential streets for more than three decades.

Commissioners rejected the project in August 2023, largely concerned that the project was too tall, dense and traffic-heavy to adequately fit in the adjacent neighborhood of townhouses, duplexes and single family homes.

Commission Chair Kevin Van Buskirk said he was discouraged that county officials pushed for the density bonus that added more units to the complex — arguing that the move gave developers full reign without any opportunity for local recourse.

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