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San Rafael gives OK to 134 homes, new park
Development of 134 homes on a 17-acre site between Los Ranchitos and Merrydale roads in San Rafael is expected to begin before the end of the year, 2002.
Ranchitos Park will include 63 townhomes and 71 single-family homes with a three-acre neighborhood park. Twenty percent of the units will be reserved for low- or moderate-income residents.
The developer, Signature Properties LLD, also will complete drainage work for the area, which floods in the winter.

"It's a model of in-fill development because it gives back to the community," said Bob Brown, San Rafael's community development director. "People in the neighborhood will benefit from it."
Signature received City Council approval after more than three years of meetings with city officials and the community to develop a design plan nearly all could embrace.
"The public came up with some very good ideas that Signature was amenable to," Brown said.
Greg Andrew, who represents the San Rafael Meadows homeowners' association, said the new homes will be situated closer to existing back yards than residents would like.
Most of the homes in the community were built in the 1950s with yards that range from 50 feet to 70 feet in back, Andrew said. Some homes on Corrillo Drive along the northern border of the plot are backed up into what is now the open space that the development will fill.
"A number were early homeowners here, and suddenly they are going to have a house 20 feet away," Andrew said.

Signature originally had proposed two-story homes, but agreed to one-story houses when neighbors complained second-floor windows would create an invasion of their privacy.
Andrew said residents also would have liked the developer to preserve native grasslands that adjoin the park site, but Signature opted to do preservation work elsewhere in the county.

Work on Ranchitos Park will not begin until Signature identifies a native grassland mitigation project and gains approvals for it, Brown said.

Elissa Giambastiani, chief executive of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, said her organization agreed to support the project if the developers would build more than the 10 percent affordable housing required by zoning regulations.
"This is a smart-growth project," Giambastiani said. "It is in-fill, near transportation, near job centers, and people can live here and actually walk or ride bikes to work."