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Appeal filed against draft housing plan

A local land-use watchdog group is challenging the Nevada County Planning Commission’s approval of the county’s draft housing element for not taking into account the impacts of the decision.

The Nevada County General Plan Defense Fund filed its appeal Friday against the commission’s Feb. 12 approval of the draft housing plan. Don Rivenes filed the appeal on behalf of the General Plan Defense Fund, which was formed in the early 1990s by a number of local groups during the initial general plan process.

The 1995 general plan, Rivenes said, set a buildout population cap of about 150,000 people. That number essentially stayed the same after countywide rezoning in 1998.



But the appeal said the commission’s approval of the draft plan includes “programs and land use designations … that increase the buildout population cap, which will result in environmental impacts such as traffic impacts, noise impacts, erosion, wildlife habitat reduction, and reduced demand for numerous public facilities and services.” All of which, the appeal said, are not permitted in the 1995 general plan.

The General Plan Defense Fund is also appealing the commission’s finding that there are no major environmental impacts associated with the housing element.




“We’re challenging the negative declaration. They haven’t revised the tables to reflect the density in the general plan,” Rivenes said. “It’s not really the population itself that is important, but it reflects in the zoning.”

Meanwhile, the state’s housing element law mandates that local governments plan to meet existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community every five years. Certification is required by the Housing and Community Development Agency, and the deadline for the Nevada County certification is April 2.

While cities and counties aren’t required to actually build, for example, apartment complexes, their zoning policies must adopt land-use plans that provide opportunities for, and do not constrain, such development.

For the period 2001-2008, HCD is calling on Nevada County to target providing 937 housing units in the very low income level. Currently, the county is able to identify about 350. At the low-income level, the county is required to target about 885 units. The county is 250 below that.

Rivenes said the General Plan Defense Fund recognizes the regional housing planning program. He said the appeal isn’t directly linked to the housing-needs numbers.

“Certainly, we’re not opposing any affordable-housing measures,” he said. “There are good things in the housing element. But you just can’t gloss over the buildout.”

On Tuesday, the appeal will be scheduled for a future Board of Supervisors meeting, board Chair Robin Sutherland said.

“The reason why it’s on our agenda is to schedule it,” Sutherland said. “I haven’t looked at (the appeal) in depth and all the supporting documentation. I will be more prepared to discuss it at a later date.”


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