Michael Taylor: Stop talking about spying and start talking about building
I’m one of many residents in Nevada County who lacks trust for our local government and here’s why: violation of our property rights.
I recently attended the Nevada County Board of Supervisors Strategic Priorities Workshop where the program manager for Code Compliance suggested using drones for administrative code compliance; see slide 15 of this presentation: https://bit.ly/PDFcannabis-presentation.
It’s shocking to think of code compliance inspectors being stopped by someone’s gate only to fly a drone right over it. Yes, initially this ordinance is being proposed to regulate cannabis cultivation, but when you read the rest of the recommended amendments to Article 5 of Chapter II of Title 3 of the Nevada County Land Use and Development Code, you’ll see that it just as easily applies to any code violation — be it a home renovation, addition, shop, barn, outbuilding, or even generator that wasn’t installed with a permit: https://bit.ly/SR-19-0851.
Local compliance attorney Heather Burke wrote about her concerns with the county’s proposal in her blog post here at http://bit.ly/burke-enforcement. There’s a breach in trust between Nevada County residents and the Community Development Agency (CDA), under which the Planning, Building and Code Compliance departments exist, to name a few. As I’ve been canvassing the streets for my campaign, I’ve talked to many residential and commercial property owners, contractors, realtors, ranchers, farmers, loggers and cannabis cultivators. Across the board, people are openly expressing their discomfort with the County, and many will avoid having County staff on their property at all costs.
Instead of drones, as well as an ordinance that stomps on our property rights and further undermines our community’s trust, let’s have the County focus on making it easier to get people into homes. Instead of aggressive enforcement proposals, how about we make it less expensive and more painless to get permits so people aren’t afraid to pull them.
Placer County is leading the way in taking proactive measures towards dealing with local building issues. Last December, they dropped all fees associated with the installation of a backup generator (see https://bit.ly/PlacerFeeReduction). Placer County would rather know where generators are and help people understand the potential fire risks so they can prevent a costly disaster rather than collect minor permitting fees. In contrast, Nevada County requires an extensive site plan and an electrical load analysis that can run to $1,200 for a licensed electrician to complete (https://bit.ly/NCGenerator). Combined with the price of a whole house generator, the total expense can be an outrageous $7,000 to $15,000. When it comes to building, Placer County is leading while Nevada County is falling short.
Placer County is further streamlining processes by working to prepare one or more set(s) of pre-approved plans for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Once these plans are developed, Placer County is hoping to create a pilot program to provide low-interest financing to property owners that are interested in building an ADU on their existing single-family lot.
Instead of disincentivizing us from developing our properties, the Nevada County CDA needs to make the process simpler. The county has tried to avoid liability issues by keeping the rules as strict as possible. I suggest we put a stop to this and instead do what makes sense. We need more leniency and a more flexible interpretation of building codes.
Let’s reevaluate our Title 25 “rural owner-builder code” and follow the successes of our other neighbor, Butte County. In Butte, permits are valid for three years rather than six months. Also, occupancy is allowed before completion upon approval by the building official, and the use of alternative materials is allowed (https://bit.ly/ButteLeads). Nevada County has a unique situation with undoubtedly hundreds of already existing, unpermitted structures and in-progress improvements. Let’s put a stop to county inspectors looking for additional code violations and let’s start helping residents who already have property improvements bring them up to code.
Last but definitely not least, let’s reduce our outrageous fees and code compliance violation costs while we’re at it.
I’m running for supervisor in District 1 for many reasons, but I’ve listed some of the most important above. With your vote, I’ll bring much-needed common sense leadership to our county.
If you feel strongly about issues related to affordable housing and/or have had difficulties building or developing your property, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m working to build a coalition of concerned citizens. Together, we’ll ensure our voices get heard in Nevada County.
Michael Taylor is running for the Board of Nevada County Supervisors, District 1.
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