FAIRFIELD — The hunt for reasons behind crime in the city led one resident to point to low-cost apartments as a cause – a conclusion city officials dispute.
The woman spoke during the April 30 community meeting about crime and said Fairfield had built many such multiple-family units.
“You are now paying the price,” she said.
Councilman John Mraz doesn’t think so.
“I don’t buy that,” he said. “There’s no huge increase in crime because someone lives in a multifamily development.”
Police Chief Walt Tibbet said building issues – such as how design can help prevent crime – arise but not the assertion that apartments contribute to crime.
“I don’t really get that one,” he said of issues raised with him about crime.
State Department of Finance figures for Fairfield show 8,101 multiple-family rental units, including condominiums, in the city – 21 percent of the housing stock.
Brian Miller, an associate planner for Fairfield, said rental units are a needed part of housing in a city with a range of incomes.
“The city needs to provide a variety of housing.” Miller said. “Not everyone wants to or can afford to, or chooses to, purchase a home.”
Vacaville reports 8,160 multiple-family residential units, including condominiums – 24.5 percent of the housing stock. A major apartment complex is now under construction on Quinn Road in Vacaville.
Emily Cantu, housing director for Vacaville, said crime and apartments is not a matter before city officials.
“I don’t think it arises as an issue,” said Cantu, who added that on occasion some people raise the matter.
Vacaville has more Section 8 housing vouchers than Fairfield. The vouchers are the federal government’s major program to assist low-income families, the elderly and disabled.
The Vacaville Housing Authority has a maximum of 1,193 vouchers and 1,074 now being used. Fairfield reports 851 maximum vouchers with 810 now used.
Offenses, such as drug sales, can result in loss of vouchers. Councilman Mraz said the municipality monitors such matters carefully.
“We’re on Section 8 housing like a shark,” he said of Fairfield.
The City Council last September, after a staff report that the Bay Area boom in apartment construction bypassed Fairfield because developers believe high city impact fees prevent profitably building apartments, cut park and recreation development impact fees by 50 percent.
The measure reduced the $4,285 per-unit fee to $2,143 and associate planner Miller said developer inquiries to the city about multiple-family unit construction, as well as single-family homes, have followed.
No significant apartment construction has occurred in Fairfield since state Department of Finance figures were released in 2010, according to the city.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]