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Nevada City considers second-unit policy

The Nevada City City Council will consider on Monday a proposal to forgive city fees for landlords who promise to keep rents “affordable.”

Those who want a break on the mitigation fees would have to rent their “second units” at an affordable rate, said Laurie Oberholtzer, chairwoman of the city’s Planning Commission, who worked on the proposal with Mayor David McKay.

A second unit is an additional self-contained living unit, either attached to or detached from the primary residential unit on a single lot.



Oberholtzer, a professional planner, said the proposal will provide more affordable housing scattered throughout the city, and will encourage those who own illegal units to apply for a use permit and pay their fees.

She said she is confident people will comply with the law, and that administrative costs will be minimal.




In a letter to the City Council, however, City Clerk Cathy Wilcox-Barnes questioned the proposal, which she said will exacerbate the housing problem. “Our solutions to affordable housing need to be well thought out,” she said.

The longtime city clerk, who estimates the number of illegal units at 50, also wondered how the program could be administered.

While she applauds efforts to provide affordable housing and to legalize illegal second units, the ordinance rewards people for doing something illegal, she said. Those who have already paid the fees and promise to make them legal may have to be reimbursed, she said.

Altogether, people could save an estimated $8,600 in city fees, Wilcox-Barnes said Friday.

The City Council could recommend approval of the policy on Monday.

To become law, an ordinance would have to be drafted and adopted.

The policy, if adopted, would amend the city’s housing plan, which the state has never ratified. The city’s plan is expected to be updated later this year.

Also on the agenda:

— A fee proposal for the users of the American Hill water pump station.

— A proposal to ban glass containers at special events, including Mardi Gras.

— Legal findings to deny Howard Dewar’s proposal to renovate the Marsh House at 254 Boulder St.

— A discussion on the use of Reward Street, often used as a shortcut to Seven Hills School. Reward Street residents say the street is too narrow to handle the traffic.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Nevada City City Council, regular meeting

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall, 317 Broad St.

INFORMATION: 265-2496


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