Nevada County commission looks to increase affordable housing | TheUnion.com

Nevada County commission looks to increase affordable housing

Nevada County officials want affordable housing here.

Accessory dwelling units, sometimes called granny units or garage apartments, are a potential method of bringing that affordability.

The Nevada County Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved recommendations to the Board of Supervisors that, if enacted Sept. 25, could provide incentives for developers to build accessory dwelling units.

"This is as creative as government gets — we create more rules," Commissioner Laura Duncan joked.

Duncan added that in this case the proposed rules could help the county achieve its goal of affordable housing.

Developers who build accessory units could postpone paying mitigation fees, if they meet certain requirements under the recommendations, said Tyler Barrington, principal planner with the county.

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Developers could either rent to people for 10 years who qualify as low income. Or they could build a unit that's 800 square feet or less. Either option would enable them to delay paying road and sewer mitigation fees until someone rents the unit.

Commissioner Ricki Heck said she'd like the county to provide more incentives.

Commissioners also suggested discarding an existing requirement that property owners reside on land with an accessory unit. They also recommended no prohibition on short-term rentals, a request favored by some farmers.

Rich Johansen, who serves on the county's Agricultural Advisory Commission, said his board discussed letting market forces dictate whether an accessory unit is short term. He said restricting short-term rentals could hurt agritourism.

Commissioners also recommended units with a kitchen have a separate septic tank. Existing units would be grandfathered into existing rules.

Greg Zaller, founder and CEO of CoLiving Network, opposed requiring a second septic tank. He said it would add thousands of dollars to construction costs.

"I would like to see the ordinance have a little bit of flexibility," Zaller said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.