Nancy Weber: Flaws in Nevada City housing proposal |

Nancy Weber: Flaws in Nevada City housing proposal

Other Voices
Nancy Weber

The Cashin’s Field 56 unit low/moderate income housing development presented to the Nevada City Council recently has the potential to be a successful project. It will fit on the 5-acre parcel on Ridge Road across from the Presbyterian Church.

Attempts have been made to design the buildings to look like they belong in Nevada City. There is some outdoor space, many trees will be preserved and it is close to shopping, schools and the community. Comments from the council and the few Nevada City residents who somehow knew about the pending development were generally favorable.

It has some serious flaws: the most glaring of which is the lack of a second entrance/exit. This is an absolute NO in fire safety planning.

A second flaw: the existing multi-intersections on the Gold Flat/Ridge Rd./Grass Valley Highway/Zion Street roadways already create dicey traffic situations. The addition of one more access to Ridge Road with this project compounds the problem. Cal Fire’s Nevada City station uses Ridge Road to Highway 49/20 access for emergency fire equipment. Three schools with a total population of over 800 students conveyed mostly in private vehicles, but some in buses provide a heavy traffic input at starting and ending times of the school days. We already have a fire evacuation challenge in that area.

Do not, as a council approve this project as is. Insist on a comprehensive evaluation and review …

The council was urged to move quickly to take advantage of funding that is open til July 1, 2020. There has apparently been a traffic study but it is in draft form and not available for the meeting. A traffic count was deemed unneeded because of limited traffic due to COVID-19 restrictions.

So where is the Nevada City Council with this? If they approve it as is, they will help solve a housing problem but create a further safety hazard in a designated high fire probability area. Would the developer be open to sacrificing a few units to provide the secondary access route? Everyone needs to offer an idea to negotiate a deal. What can they do to make this project work? Get help from all sources with traffic planning and funding: Cal Fire, CalTrans (for the freeway access) and the local Transportation Commission. Nevada City lacks the capacity to get this done. Coordinate with Nevada County government to help, even consider doing it as a shared project. Seek help from state legislators and Gov. Newsom.

Do not, as a council approve this project as is. Insist on a comprehensive evaluation and review of possible solutions to the safety issues.

As a council and city staff, be open to the community with information on the project. From street rumors, the proposal has been known to city staff since the beginning of the year. Why is it now presented to the public with a very limited decision making time frame?

Make a good decision for the welfare of the community you serve. We elected you with the hope of that you would be able to provide that level of caring and competence.

Nancy Weber lives in Nevada City.

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