Task force: Mid-scale housing in GV sparse | TheUnion.com

Task force: Mid-scale housing in GV sparse

A task force studying a lack of middle-class housing in Grass Valley has found few houses and no land within the city to build a new housing project, even if a developer is interested.

A Work Force Housing Task Force was not able to find a big enough piece of land within Grass Valley city limits to build a 20-unit project, said Ed Sylvester, a task force member.

Annexations are key to building work force housing, as is a Dorsey Drive interchange, said Sylvester, a principal in SCO Planning and Engineering. Transportation officials are studying an interchange with Dorsey Drive and Highway 49.

“A lot of peripheral things are key to the ability of developers and builders to put together that kind of housing,” Sylvester said.

Task force members gave an update on efforts to jump-start housing for middle-class people at a presentation Friday at a luncheon at Christopher’s Catering, sponsored by the Nevada County Business Association, the Grass Valley/Nevada County Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada County Contractors’ Association.

The task force was formed in 2000, after businesspeople said their employees could not find nearby housing. The task force is trying to figure out how to build homes for police officers, firefighters, teachers and other middle-class employees.

As median home prices shot up here in recent years, some middle-class workers found themselves with incomes above the limits for home-buying assistance programs, but not high enough to buy many of the houses on the market.

“If we can fill in the gap that has developed here … between higher-end and middle-class housing, we’re going to have a lot healthier community,” Sylvester said.

A recent look at home sales listings for Grass Valley and Nevada City revealed a bleak picture for home buyers searching for homes under $200,000.

Monty East, a task force member and sales agent for Gateway Real Estate, said a lot of homes have turned over to new owners in 2001, making the prospects among existing homes “slimmer and slimmer.”

East said Jan. 19 real estate listings showed only five houses under $200,000 in Grass Valley city limits, and seven more near the city. In Nevada City, there were three homes from $175,000 to $200,000, and nothing below that price. In Nevada County, there were a total of 39 homes under $200,000.

Five projects that could provide work force housing are planned for Morgan Ranch, East Main Street, Penn Valley, La Barr Meadows Road and the Loma Rica area.

Business people also told stories of employees who could not afford to live in the area.

Two doctors with student loans are having trouble finding affordable housing under $300,000 after two years in the area, said Nancy Dekker, human resources service leader for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

A Hansen Bros. Enterprises heavy equipment operator told Vice President Sue Peterson he could not afford to buy a larger house for his growing family, even though his wife works.

“Two adults working full time, making two incomes, and they can’t afford to live in this community,” Peterson said.

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