Greg Zaller: Open letter to the Board of Supervisors
This is an open letter to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.
At the Dec. 12 supervisors meeting, the planning department will be presenting you with options for reducing restrictions on building second dwelling units. As you know, a shortfall of affordable housing has reached a crisis, and reducing these restrictions could make a big difference.
Since 2009, I have been providing group homes to individuals who were formerly homeless as a means for them to become productive contributors and welcome neighbors. It is an education process requiring steps, and it works. At this time I rent to approximately 30 individuals with plans to expand further to meet the demand. One of the requirements for this opportunity is that my tenants agree to total abstinence from drugs, including marijuana and alcohol.
For this recovery opportunity be attractive and successful, it is essential for affordable housing to be available when they are ready to move up. Placer County supervisors recently unanimously voted to lower restrictions on second units to accomplish this.
I propose a win-win regulation that would allow second units to be built by off-site owners but also require that they be professionally managed and have rent restrictions to ensure affordability. The low cost of second units coupled with fee reductions allows for profitability even with rent restrictions, and professional management makes sure they are successful and the renters are good neighbors. My clients need affordability and support when they move into permanent housing, and these regulations would provide for that.
Please give these ideas your most careful consideration and do something now to address the need for affordable housing, even if it is on a trial basis. Wise and carefully crafted policies will move the county toward reducing homelessness. The use of second dwellings to increase the supply of affordable housing is too important to wait for better ideas somewhere down the road.
Greg Zaller lives in Nevada City.
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