Grass Valley considers changes in hopes of sparking housing development | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley considers changes in hopes of sparking housing development

In an effort to attract businesses to the area and boost the local economy, the Nevada County Economic Resource Council is pushing Grass Valley to do whatever it can to help move housing developments forward.

According to Tim Corkins, the Resource Council's interim executive director, the organization has focused on bringing businesses to Nevada County in recent years. But a lack of housing, he said, is "a missing piece of the puzzle."

The Nevada County Contractors' Association is assisting the Resource Council with the push for housing by working directly with the Grass Valley on specific requests that may help stalled developments gain traction.

"It's common knowledge that we're experiencing a severe shortage of housing, especially in an affordable range," Barbara Bashall, executive director of the Contractors' Association, told the Grass Valley City Council this month.

Some local housing projects that were approved prior to the start of the Great Recession, Bashall said, have never been built.

Today, Bashall said, there is very little housing available to buy or rent, which has "affected every sector of our community — the ability to attract and grow businesses, the ability to attract a talented workforce."

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The Contractors' Association took inventory of developments currently in the pipeline and the constraints preventing them from moving forward.

According to Bashall, there are currently a small handful of stalled housing projects in Grass Valley that, with help from the city, could be built in the near future.

Finding Solutions

On Tuesday, Grass Valley City Manager Tim Kiser presented the city council with a range of ideas that he said could help lower costs for developers. Those ideas included small tweaks to the city's building requirements, such as looser standards on building sidewalks and extending sewer lines.

The council told Kiser to come back to a future council meeting with specific amendments for approval.

According to Bashall, those simple changes could make a big difference for developers.

The changes, she said, "will reduce the cost significantly so that those projects can move forward."

"Some of the building requirements are just so costly that it drives up the cost of housing. And then you can't sell the houses," she said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.