Nevada City to consider cottage dwelling ordinance |

Nevada City to consider cottage dwelling ordinance

An update to Nevada City’s cottage dwelling ordinance could help increase the city’s affordable housing supply, but some residents feel the change doesn’t go far enough.

Nevada City has long desired an ordinance that would encourage developers to build small, affordable units, with the council making it a strategic goal since 2018. This month a draft ordinance went before the Nevada City Planning Commission for further direction, and was met with calls from the pubic to expand its scope.

The ordinance as presented would roughly double the the amount of small cottages (500 square feet or less) allowed per acre in R2 and R3 zones. In R2 zones, 18 small cottages would be allowed per acre, 14 medium cottages (750 square feet or less) per acre, and 10 large (1,000 square feet or less). R3 zones would allow 32 small cottage per acre and 24 medium cottages.

However, several public commenters asked the commission to extend the ordinance to cover all zones that allow for multi-family residential dwellings, which would include areas zoned Service Lodging, General Business, and Office and Professional.

According to Commissioner Laurie Oberholtzer, the ordinance as written would allow up to about 500 additional units to be built, while including the zones could add another 900 units.

Pubic comments in support ranged from residents who said they’re looking to downsize, to those looking to build cottages on their property, to those hoping to keep the new developments off the Airbnb market.

The ordinance will ultimately return to the commission before it moves on to the council, if passed.

“I just think we need more discussion on all these issues,“ Oberholtzer said. ”I think we need a lot more public participation. I only heard two Nevada City people in all of those (public) comments.“

People can provide comment to the Planning Commission by emailing

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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