Selma lays foundation for major housing projects

Selma City Council approves range of housing development applications, including a 144-unit apartment complex

Members of the Selma City Council listen to presentations during a regular meeting March 4, 2024. (Serena Bettis)
Serena Bettis
Published May 23, 2024  • 
12:00 pm

SELMA – More than 200 apartment units and single-family homes will be coming to Selma within the next few years after three different projects received the green light to move forward. 

Despite some resident objections to the new developments, the Selma City Council unanimously approved all entitlement applications related to the projects at its May 20 meeting. Council members said they understood the concerns about park space, traffic and additional impacts on neighborhoods that were brought up by residents, but needed to carefully weigh the variety of housing needs in the city. 

“Yes, there are some serious traffic impacts to consider and there are some neighborhood impacts to consider, but this is a good problem to have — where does the housing go?” Mayor Scott Robertson said. “Before, we didn’t have this luxury of asking where the housing should go.”

One of the most important considerations Robertson said the city needed to take into account was the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) that is a part of the city’s Housing Element. The RHNA is a state mandated metric used to determine how much space cities have available for housing that spans all types of densities and income levels. 

According to a draft of the city’s 2023-2031 Housing Element, Selma must be able to accommodate 1,492 housing units between July 30, 2023, and Dec. 31, 2031. Broken down by income level, the city must plan for 393 very low-income units, 165 low-income units, 233 moderate-income units and 701 above moderate-income units. 

“The state is Big Brother on this, they watch Selma and they require Selma to have zoning for just this type of housing, so this is necessary in order to comply with the state requirements,” Robertson said about the RHNA.

Apartments, custom-home neighborhood

Two of the approved projects plan to bring market-rate apartment complexes to the city: a 144-unit complex northeast of Nebraska Avenue and Highland Avenue and a 40-unit complex located south of Nebraska Avenue, between Mitchell Avenue and Thompson Avenue. Both projects also include land dedicated to future commercial development. 

The 144-unit complex will be built in two phases and each phase will include nine two-story buildings that have eight units per building. According to the city staff report, each building will be approximately 4,000 square feet per story and each unit will be approximately 1,000 square feet. A variety of two bed/two bath, two bed/one bath and one bed/one bath units will be available.

The planned complex will take up approximately 10.5 acres immediately east of Highland Avenue. It will border an existing neighborhood to the north along Fig Street and Eric White Elementary School to the east. Decorative block walls will separate the complex from the neighborhood and the school property; however, the developer said there will be an emergency-only access gate along Fig Street that would also grant pedestrian access to the school. 

Neighboring residents expressed concerns to the council about the amount of traffic this would add to the area, especially with its proximity to the school, and council members spoke about their concerns that the development could cause an increased use of nearby Ringo Park. Some residents who spoke during public comment also said they did not want to live near apartments because it could attract crime.

City staff responded to some of these comments, explaining that the complex will include its own designated open space for apartment residents, and they added that a 10-acre city park on Thompson Avenue is close to being constructed. Further, the land owner, Jay Singh, assured the city and the public that they intended to manage the property and maintain it at a high level. 

Just under four acres to the south of the complex is planned for future commercial development, with no specified use proposed at this time. 

The 40-unit complex will include five two-story buildings with eight units per building. All of the units are planned to be two bed/two bath apartments and the complex will also have open space and common areas with picnic and play facilities. The complex will border Economy Market to the east, an existing neighborhood to the south and a single-family home and apartment complex to the west. 

Added on to this project is also 3,000 square feet of commercial space in the northeast corner of the site, which is tentatively planned for medical or dental offices, general offices or a laundromat, developer Nick Sahota said. 

Also approved at the meeting was a 41-unit single-family housing development planned north of Rose Avenue, in between Amber Avenue and Dockery Avenue. This neighborhood is also being developed by Sahota and his company Central Valley Engineering and Surveying, Inc. (CVEAS). It will connect to an existing residential subdivision immediately to the west and consist of custom homes ranging between lot sizes of 9,000 to 13,000 square feet. 

Full maps of each development site are available on the city of Selma’s website as attachments to the May 20 meeting agenda.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter