56-unit affordable housing project could get fast-tracked | TheUnion.com
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56-unit affordable housing project could get fast-tracked

John Orona
Staff Writer

Nevada City could get fast-tracked funding for a 56-unit affordable housing complex on Ridge Road and Zion Street, if concerns over traffic and evacuation routes are satisfied.

The Nevada City Council and Nevada City Planning Commission held a joint workshop Tuesday to review the Cashin’s Field project. The project was made possible through special disaster tax credits and federal Disaster Recovery Multifamily Housing Program funding that stems from the 2017 Lobo Fire. That fire burned 880 acres and destroyed at least 30 structures near Rough and Ready.

The project has been expedited by a 2017 state law that requires counties which have not met their minimum requirements for affordable housing supply to streamline the approval process for affordable housing developments meeting state requirements.

Because the project falls under that law, the city will only be able to review the project using objective criteria, not by discretionary standards like whether a development matches the city’s aesthetic.

If a project meets the city and state’s objective requirements, the city will be required to approve it. The bill also exempts the project from the California Environmental Quality Act process.

The project will go to the Advisory Review Committee on June 8 and the Planning Commission June 18, before going before the City Council. Each body would have limited purview over the project.

The city will know if funds were awarded to it in September. If approved, construction could begin Spring 2021 with completion expected in Summer 2022.

CASHIN’S FIELD

Initial designs of the 51,000 square foot project feature two outdoor/play areas, a community center with public-facing patio, and open green space. The complex would include 11 one-bedroom units, 30 two-bedroom units, and 15 three-bedroom units, with one manager unit and 81 parking spaces.

The project is targeted at the local workforce and would include solar panels to meet zero net emission standards. The six-building development would be multi-leveled, with some areas going up to three stories. It would not include elevators.

Social programs, which are part of the project’s funding requirement, could include after-school programs, personal finance classes, resume building classes and English as a Second Language classes.

Six units will be dedicated to tenants making 30% or less of the area’s median income, with another six units having tenants making 40% or less. Half of the units, 28, will be eligible to those making 50% or less of the area’s median income, and 15 would be allotted for tenants making 60% or less of the area’s median income.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey five-year estimate, Nevada City’s median income is $43,098.

Using 2020 data, rent estimates range from $480-$960 for a one bedroom, $580-$1100 for a two bedroom, and $670-$1300 for a three bedroom. However, units will be price based on 2022 data.

During the meeting, residents were wary about how much the project would contribute to traffic issues, which were already a concern in the area.

Members of the public expressed concern about the project only having one entrance and exit. According to Nevada City Fire Chief Sam Goodspeed, while the current design satisfies requirements, he would like to see another exit included.

Developers said adding an additional exit toward any street would be an issue due to elevation differences, but they will look into adding a one-way exit onto Sears Street.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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