riverwest investments

Housing: School district trustees take tour of proposed 3,600-acre development

June 23, 2006

If built, Villages of Laguna San Luis homes could generate more students than already in district

By Minerva Perez

A proposed development on the outskirts of Los Baños is more than just a few homes.

It is a large-scale community project that could generate more students than the school district currently has enrolled.

Trustees from the Los Baños Unified School District got a first-hand look at the actual scope and size of the proposed Villages of Laguna San Luis during a tour of the site on Wednesday.

“I’ve looked at the maps of the plan but when you see it and how big it actually is… we want to make sure that schools will be available,” said school district Superintendent Paul Alderete.

The proposed community located west of Interstate 5 near Highway 152 and Highway 33 has about 3,600 acres of development that will include houses and neighborhood retail stores. The entire project is within the boundaries of the Los Baños school district.

“We are envisioning a rural residential community. We want to have it (an elementary school) as a focus of the community.” said Brian Vail of River West Investments, the Sacramento-based real estate management and investment company preparing the project.

Alderete said he and Vail have been in contact for the past few months and are eager to mitigate the full impact of the project on school facilities. Since the development is still in the planning stages, Vail couldn’t say exactly how many homes will be in the community but he said the environmental impact report being prepared for the project doesn’t allow more than 15,000. Alderete said that many homes could generate about 12,000 students.

The proposed community will also include plenty of open space and scenic highway setbacks.

Currently, part of the project site is sprinkled with a handful of homes, truck stops and power lines, but Vail envisions a diverse community that will attainable to all socio-economic backgrounds.

He estimated home prices would range from $250,000 to $1 million.

“We pride ourselves on the diversity we offer. Our goal is not to create an exclusive gated community, so a lower priced home will be next to a more expensive one,” he said.

School district trustee Colleen Menefee said she believed people would flock to the Villages because of the project’s competitive home prices and given the average price of a new home in Los Baños.

“At first I was surprised that houses were built next to power lines,” she said as they drove around the handful of development near power lines. “But they [sold] like crazy - people were here overnight.”

She and trustee Mario Gonzalez said they were concerned the proposed development would cement Los Baños as a bedroom community for the Bay Area.

Gonzalez said although job creation is always welcomed, the (retail) jobs the proposed community will generate is not the type of employment needed in Los Baños.

“If we are going to change from an agricultural community to a more urban one we have to have jobs that are compatible with what is over the hill,” he said.

Enterprise reporter Minerva Perez can be reached by phone at (209) 826-3831, or by email at