Off-campus student housing proposal gets denied by board of zoning adjustment


Fernanda Martinez

A large crowd gathered at Bakersfield City Hall South on April 9 to hear the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s decision on whether to grant a conditional use permit to Coleraine Capital Group to develop off-campus student housing located on the corner of Stockdale Highway and Coffee Road.

Fernanda Martinez, Editor-in-Chief

The Bakersfield Board of Zoning Adjustment voted in favor to reject the proposal for the off-campus student housing on the corner of Stockdale Highway and Coffee Road intended for CSU Bakersfield students.

All three members of the board voted to deny what would grant a conditional use permit for the student housing, as it is currently zoned for commercial use.

City Hall South was full of opponents to the project; most of the same residents that had attended developer David Moon’s meeting last month.

The City Planning Department recommended the board to deny the project as it did not meet requirements and did not appear desirable to the public after receiving 90 letters against it and 12 for it.

Colleen Falke was one of the Stockdale Estates residents who spoke in opposition, stating that CSUB did not have a problem with student housing and that the project “aim[ed] to solve problems that don’t exist.”

More than ten people spoke to the board against the project for nearly an hour during the public hearing. Only three, Moon included, spoke in favor of the project.

Linda Morales was the only person who spoke in favor and had no association with Moon. She wanted to express to Moon that she understood as the parent of a college student how expensive on-campus housing can be.

Opponents showed up with signs that discouraged the project.

Karyna Wilson was the resident from Stockdale Estates who made the signs and distributed them to her neighbors.

“When I got my notification in my mail in February about the meeting, what I didn’t realize was that my neighbors weren’t aware of it, only me and four other residents,” said Wilson. “I felt that it was right for everyone in our neighborhood to have that information and have their voices heard.”

For Wilson, the main problem she sees with the project is parking. She was afraid that the limited amount of parking spots Moon proposed would drive students to park in her neighborhood.

She stated that she and her neighbors are looking forward to seeing commercial offices built in that area, that would only be occupied from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week.

During the rebuttal period, Jennifer Self was the only person affiliated with CSUB to speak. She is the director of public affairs and communications for the university.

Self reminded the board that President Lynnette Zelezny had stated her opposition in a Bakersfield Californian op-ed stating that the project would not allow CSUB’s goals to expand on-campus student housing.

“One thing I do agree with Mr. Moon is when [he] said students who live on campus do better. That is true,” said Self. “The corner of Coffee and Stockdale Highway is not the CSUB campus.”

Self added students needed to be engaged with student life on campus and that they would have better access to the library and their faculty and advisors.

Another of Self’s statements was that if Moon had approached Zelezny to know her plans, he would have not proposed his off-campus housing, as Zelezny has been “in a year-long process to bring housing costs down.”

Moon had previously told The Runner he made several attempts to meet with Zelezny but was unable to because of her schedule. Moon had met with CSUB’s Vice President for Business and Administrative Services, Thom Davis, instead. Zelezny did confirm that the two met on several occasions.

Self told The Runner that the new rates for on-campus student housing had just been finalized but she did not have the numbers with her during the meeting.

“This has long been in discussion,” said Self. “April 15 is when we are going to officially open the application process for student housing for the fall term.”

Moon and his company, Coleraine Capital Group, can appeal the board’s decision to the City Council within 10 days but has not decided yet.