Ray Bryars: More affordable housing units needed
This is in response to an excellent column by Darrell Berkheimer (Feb. 15) that appeared in The Union.
Darrell pointed out that the single family housing developments that are now under construction in Grass Valley will do nothing to solve the need for lower income housing in the Grass Valley area. He identifies what is really needed is affordable studios apartments of 300 to 400 square feet, one bedroom units of 400 to 500 square feet and two bedroom units of 500 to 600 square feet.
I believe he is exactly right, but is Grass Valley doing anything to encourage this? Nothing that is obvious to me.
The Dorsey Marketplace has moved through the Planning Commission meeting with a proposed 172 apartment units ranging from 1,013 to 1,600 square feet. No flags were waved about the sizes of these apartments. No request to City Council to address low-income housing. We all know this is a major community issue, so why don’t our leaders take a stance?
I attended a recent Grass Valley City Council meeting where the Dorsey Marketplace was on the agenda and made the following comments: “There is also an opportunity for the city in conjunction with Dorsey Marketplace developers (to) make another big step forward by working together to increase the number of affordable housing units:
“Currently Alternative B calls for 172 units ranging from 1,013 to 1,600 square feet. If at least 20 of those units were 600 square feet it would make it possible to increase the number of units by at least 12. There may be other sizes that would work, but the goal should be to increase the number of units available for lower income renters.
“Note that Regional Housing Development requires that Grass Valley create a regulatory environment and adequate sites to accommodate 269 units that are affordable for very-low and low-income households from 2019 through 2027. This development is a huge opportunity to ensure that happens. It would be unforgivable if this was not on the table for this development.”
I was shocked that there was no serious discussion about working with the developer to facilitate smaller units in this development. I’m sure there are constructive actions that the city could make to make more smaller units more financially viable.
The community wants and needs more low-income properties and we know that the economy will benefit from more low-income rentals.
I wonder where the Nevada County Economic Resource Council is when these developments come before City Council. What are they afraid of? We know that bringing new young talent to the area will require housing that they can afford. I challenge them to step up to encourage low-income housing in what will be the biggest development that Grass Valley has seen in years. Where are they? Is there some politics that I’m not aware of?
Let’s all take advantage of this once in a generation opportunity to do the right thing.
Ray Bryars lives in Nevada City.
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