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Nevada City to vote on Measure W: Results to potentially impact city living

Nevada City voters will be asked to weigh in with their votes on Measure W, also known as the Nevada City Historic Neighborhoods District Initiative, which will appear on the November ballot.

Senate Bill 9 plays a key role in the measure. Dean Pucci, the Nevada City attorney, in an impartial analysis states that SB 9 requires “in such single-family zones, certain proposed housing development that may allow up to four residential units must be allowed by the City without discretionary review or a hearing.”

Pucci continues: “Measure W would adopt an ordinance that amends the City’s general plan and municipal code to designate a portion of the City as a HND (Historical Neighborhood District.) The boundaries of the HND are … included in the ordinance and can generally be described as residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

“If the measure is adopted, approximately 869 homes will be within the boundaries of the HND.”

According to the state’s website, SB 9 is a “product of a multi-year effort to develop solutions to address California’s housing crisis.”

Those in favor of Measure W state that under Senate Bill 9, property owners in single-family neighborhoods can split parcels, including those as small as 1,200 square feet. They argue that the public would not have an opportunity to provide comment and design review is available to staff only.

“It is clear that SB 9 threatens the historic nature and small-town character of Nevada City,” states the argument filed Aug. 19. “For this reason, the Historic Neighborhoods District (HND) is proposed to take our small-town heritage and take back local land use control.”

The argument goes on to state that approval of Measure W would reinstate local control, and would return local zoning rules which have existed for more than 40 years and were recently rescinded by the state.

Proponents for Measure W state that passing the measure would allow residents to “Take back local control. Protect historic neighborhoods. Find real solutions for affordable housing.”

Signers of the argument in favor include Cathy Wilcox Barnes of the Committee for Nevada City Historic Neighborhoods, and Dan Ketcham, president of the Nevada County Historical Society.


Where there are those in favor of Measure W, there are also those against.

A rebuttal filed also on Aug. 19 states that Measure W would “over-regulate homeowners and make us a less vibrant community.”

The group claims that the passing of W would make it difficult for homeowners to afford to care for and protect their property investment.

Those rebutting the measure wrote in their document that the measure would overregulate exterior home improvements, making home repairs more costly due to the need to apply for architectural review permits and receive permission from the city’s Planning Commission for any external improvements to structures, including the change of windows, siding, and implementation of solar power.

The group stated that Measure W is misleading, and a “no” vote would be a vote for keeping Nevada City “vibrant.” They added that the City Council could expand the HND boundaries at any time without voter approval.

“Measure W proponents say our town will be overrun with new development because of Senate Bill 9, the California HOME Act,” wrote opponents of Measure W. “Measure W supporters fail to mention that because of its owner-occupancy requirement, SB 9 benefits homeowners, and homeowners alone.”

Those who signed the rebuttal include business owner Stuey Weills and former Nevada City Mayor Duane Strawser.

To review the documents, visit nevadacityca.gov. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com


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