Our View: Need for housing again rears its head | TheUnion.com

Our View: Need for housing again rears its head

The Union Editorial Board

You've got to admit, that really is a nice little tomato garden near Alta and West Main streets.

This quaint spot, just over eight acres, is the proposed site of a 30-unit housing development. Grass Valley has yet to receive formal plans for the tentatively named "Gilded Springs" project, though its developer already has gotten an earful from residents.

People are upset. Fears of congested streets and a changed aesthetic, among other worries, could lead to conflict through every stage of this development.

This isn't a bad thing. In fact, it's how our government should work. A property owner or developer makes a proposal, it grinds along bureaucratic tracks and folks give their input at plenty of stops along the way.

In a perfect world the owner/developer works with residents to bring a project to our community that benefits everyone. More likely a city council or the Board of Supervisors chooses winners and losers in a split vote.

And no one likes being a loser, which can lead to some heated discussions.

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Opposition is a recurring issue Nevada County projects face. It's regularly found in developments that fit all the guidelines and meet all the rules. Makes you wonder if we're developing a reputation for fighting any form of change.

Dollar General and the Margaret Lane methadone clinic are two examples. The property owners in these cases wanted to use the land in a way that zoning and the law allows. No governmental hurdles outright restricted these developments from progressing.

Opponents needed a better argument than "I don't like it" to stop property owners from a legal use of their land.

Government leaders, along with plenty others, encourage infill developments. People here yearn for more housing. Gilded Springs hits both points.

There's also a nearby bus stop, which encourages fewer drivers on the roads. It's an easy walk to downtown Grass Valley, another plus. Fire and police protection already exist in the area.

Few would argue our county needs less housing. Sure, the $400,000 to $700,000 homes in Gilded Springs don't exactly count as affordable, but we've got to start somewhere.

And new houses within an easy stroll to Main Street seem like a good start.

We can argue as a community, and have, that we need a diversity of housing. Cohousing, container housing, tiny homes — put them all on the table and let's build something.

Because our current status quo solves nothing.

We need a countywide plan. Not the state required high-density plan forced on us a couple of years ago, but a vision statement for our leaders to follow.

This isn't just about housing, though housing is a major component. We need to chart the course this county will take. People are moving this direction. Our decision on housing stock will determine if they stay.

The sky-high cost of housing already has made that decision for some of us.

We need some housing that spans a wide cost spectrum. Apartments, duplexes, condos — and 30 homes tucked into a neighborhood by Alta Street.

Gilded Springs isn't a sure thing. This project has many steps to climb before it reaches reality.

Anyone in this community has a right to speak to their local government and share their opinion about the project. We'll have a handful of opportunities to tell them our thoughts.

Weigh in. Make sure your elected officials know where you stand.

No one should be excluded from this community conversation, especially the owners of the land where that tomato farm sits.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.