34-home gated community comes to Colfax

By: Mindy Schiller, Staff Writer/Page Designer
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Construction of the Sierra Oaks Estates, a development of 34 single-family homes off Iowa Hill Road in Colfax, is slated to begin in April of 2019. Approval of the final plan was given at Wednesday's City Council meeting. The development, which has been in the works since Dec. 2016, is a gated community targeting empty-nesters looking for a quiet retirement in the Foothills. It will feature walking trails, private roads, and scenic views of the American River Canyon.


“I’ve always loved the Sierra Foothills,” said Eric Stauss, head of Sierra Oaks Estates, LLC. “And I’ve been interested in building a community designed for ‘empty nesters.’ Colfax offers a unique blend of quick access to the snow country, and a short drive to shopping and dining.”


Stauss said he thinks Colfax can be a big draw for people looking for a low-maintenaince lifestyle or a more active schedule.


“You can look out your window at 7:00 am and say, ‘It’s a nice day!  Let’s go skiing!’ and after a leisurely breakfast, you can be at the slopes before they open.”


Sierra Oaks will be located adjacent to the existing Pinetop Apartments, near the southwest corner of Iowa Hill Road and Grand View Way. A homeowners' association will enforce covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) related to architectural standards, preservation of the existing wooded areas, landscaping and walking trails.


The 34-unit plan will consist of lot sizes ranging from 10,000 to 70,441 square feet, none of which will have fences. Homes will range between 1,900 and 2,400 square feet, offering one- and two-story floor plans. Streets will be 20 feet wide to preserve the rural character of the area, with minimal street parking to preserve the canyon views. All homes will have three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. The development is estimated to house approximately 140 people.


Stauss believes the development will be a boon for the town of Colfax.


“Colfax’s time has come,” said Stauss. “Sierra Oaks will expose the long list of virtues and the high quality of life available in the foothills.”


Mayor Pro Tem Marnie Mendoza isn't as sure. While she does concede that adding homes to Colfax will alleviate the much-talked about sewage burden by reducing each household's monthly bill, she's worried about what too many homes will do to the character of Colfax.


"We're a quaint little town, a one big family. We don't want to turn into Auburn. The people of Colfax want to keep their charming town."


Even more important, though, she sees this development as targeting people from outside of Colfax -- people from the Bay Area, specifically.


"I'm more about the people that live here already," said Mendoza. "Kids that grew up here and are renting now. These are the ones I want to see achieve the American Dream."


The houses will be priced from the high 400s to high 600s. Mendoza says this is a price 30-somethings living in Colfax cannot afford.


"These are too pricey. And we already have a housing crisis," she said. "I don't support this development, but I couldn't stop this one."


Mendoza says there is another housing development in the early stages of planning that has not yet come before the City Council for approval, but it would offer roughly 20 homes at half the price of the Sierra Oaks development homes. "That builder -- he's after that American dream for our young families here."


Stauss is upfront that his development is a bit higher end. But, he says, it will not change the character of Colfax.


The development is planned to protect the woodlands surrounding the homes and mimic the rolling hills on which the homes will be built.


Sierra Oaks will start building and selling the first five homes in April. The rate of building the next set of homes will depend on the rate of sales. Those interested in learning more may sign up to receive email updates at