A controversial plan to build twin, five-story student dorms at Coffee Road and Stockdale Highway has failed to win over Bakersfield city planners.

A staff report released in advance of a public hearing on the project Tuesday concludes the 660-bed, off-campus dorms "would not appear to be essential or desirable to the public convenience or welfare" based on community opposition and vacancies within existing student housing at nearby Cal State Bakersfield.

The staff recommendation to the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment does not necessarily sink the project. Even if the board agrees with its staff and denies the project a conditional use permit, its decision can be appealed to the City Council.

As the report notes, more than 90 people have submitted written comments opposing the project, and only 12 people have turned in comments in support. Additionally, opponents have turned in two petitions with more than 1,000 signatures stating they are against the dorms development as proposed.

Supporters include the mayor of Turlock, who according to the report commended the project's developer, Monterey-based Coleraine Capital Group, for earning the support of residents who were initially skeptical of a similar dorms project at California State University Stanislaus.

Others who wrote in favor of the project stated there aren't enough student housing options near CSUB and that the dorms project is close enough to campus to reduce car emissions. They also stated the university's classroom hours are scheduled such that the project won't cause too much traffic.

But opponents to the dorms, including CSUB's leadership, raised many concerns. These included increased pedestrian traffic in the area, noise and the possibility the project will affect the value of surrounding homes.

Addressing the question of whether the project is essential, the report notes the occupancy rate of CSUB's existing dorms stands at 64 percent.

"Vacancy rates increase and decrease based on a multitude of factors," the report states. "However, given that there is still adequate capacity within the existing on-campus student housing, there does not appear to be a pressing need for additional off-campus student housing."

Coleraine President David Moon did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on city staff's recommendation.

Tuesday's hearing is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at City Hall South, 1501 Truxtun Ave.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at Bakersfield.com for free newsletters about local business.

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