Second-unit housing program falters, regulations cited
She secured a loan and prepared the ground. The 1,000-square-foot house would go up, and she would share her south Nevada County property with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson.
They would all be part of the county’s second-housing-unit pilot program. Or so Kelly Moran thought before hitting the same snags as others before her.
“There’s so many road blocks, so many hurdles, that I can’t ever do the program,” she told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
The 42-year-old grandmother isn’t alone. Since it formed one year ago, no one has participated in a program that was supposed to take in 30 applicants annually over three years to alleviate the county’s affordable housing shortage.
It’s why the board voted 5-0 to take another look at the issue. The supervisors agreed to form a task force that will generate possible solutions.
Moran’s frustrations are twofold and common among others turned off by the requirement, according to county planning director Mark Tomich.
The program prohibits allowing second homes – also called “granny units” – in “high risk” fire areas classified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The CDF classification encompasses most of the county. The second-unit program also requires building the home with handicapped-accessible features.
One thousand square feet is barely enough for a family of three, said Moran, who lives on Streeter Road and has enough acreage to add a second home. And the bathroom-size requirement would take up roughly 20 percent of that space, she said.
It’s a virtual shoe box for a daughter and son-in-law who have steady incomes but live in an affordable housing apartment to meet day care costs.
“Trying to find something for $200,000 is near impossible,” Moran said, “and then try to make the mortgage.”
Moran figures she can build the house for $130,000, and she’s already spent $12,000 for land preparation. The money spent so far, she said, is “for nothing” and she’s contemplating simply buying an existing house.
When the program first opened, Tomich said, about 30 people inquired about the program last February, March and April. But interest waned as word got out about its requirements.
Despite frustrations, public speakers at Tuesday’s meeting urged supervisors to preserve fire safety requirements. Board Chairwoman Sue Horne said that’s why CDF was included in talks.
The eight-member task force must come back with possible solutions in 45 days. Appointed as voting members are CDF Battalion Chief Frank Rowe, Peggy Cone of FREED, Betty Simpson of the neighborhood associations, Barbara Bashall of the Nevada County Contractors Association and Joan Lancaster of the Affordable Housing Task Force.
Non-voting members are county housing director Jim Carney, county building director Clint McKinley and county planner Randy Wilson.
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