Ralph Nieders: Cashin’s Field vote, will it solve the problem?
The Nevada City mayor and city council have approved the Cashin’s Field project. From the first presentation on May 13 to the vote on June 24, it appeared simply to be a formality for a done deal.
The developer has budged little, a few minor concessions. The need for affordable housing has been made very clear from all those who wrote about their hardships. The demand is greater than the supply. When this project is completed, hundreds will apply. Elderly looking to live closer to SPD Market, single moms, service industry workers, even educators who only found a 120-foot cabin with no bathroom.
The bottom line, while this vote will help solve the city’s state-mandated affordable housing quota, it will neither solve nor address the problem for hundreds of families that need a real solution. So the mayor and council will really need to make a decision, to actually deal with the problem or simply pass it on.
The mayor and council in conjunction with Grass Valley and other towns in Nevada County could come up with an innovative and real solution, but instead of developing a real solution, they are relying on outside developers to do it for them.
There is no question that affordable housing has become big business. ADHC proudly stated they have over 7,000 units in the state. They are all packaged under LLCs, Limited Liability Corporations, which means they have investors, and to attract investors, you have to offer a secure and profitable return. Tax credits make it so that developers can make money and offer attractive ROIs, Return On Investments, which attract doctors, lawyers and corporations. That is their bottom line.
Nevada City could create their own affordable housing business model, one which they can control the design and then use the generated cash-flow to fund more affordable housing units. But thinking out of the box is not what politicians do. Looking for the easy way out, looking for quick, short term solutions, looking at the next election, the California Assembly and may be even Congress.
I have been directly involved in banking, real estate development and dealing with government officials, from councilmen to the state governor to the under secretary of the Department of State in D.C. What people say behind closed doors and what they say in public are two different sets of reality. Bob Paine and I would sit and talk for hours. He served in World War II as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes. He saw the battles, the dead, and the casualties. That is why as a citizen, councilman and mayor of Nevada City, he wanted to do something good for Nevada City and the county, but that seems to have been forgotten by those who now claim to serve the citizens but advocate for developers.
There is not enough space or time in this letter to say what can be done, but to simply rubber stamp this project without thinking of the future, is to guarantee that nothing will be solved, nothing will change, and when you leave this world, it will not be a better place than when you found it.
Ralph O. Nieders lives in Nevada City.
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