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Realtors Association: Nevada City property rights in peril

Teresa Dietrich and Kathy Hinman | Other Voices

Nevada City residents face a threat to their rights that would have far reaching and long-lasting consequences.

The expansion of the historic designation from 1945 and older to 1972 and older would render it much more difficult to make improvements and modifications to one’s home including retrofitting for fire hardening to reduce insurance costs and other upgrades/repairs.

By requiring architectural review for any exterior changes or additions, Nevada City has made making repairs and maintenance too expensive for many residents, leading to more derelict homes.

As the initiative indicates, 10% of homes in the district are not in sound condition. Last year, a home that was too expensive to repair and that the city refused to allow to be demolished or remodeled affordably caught on fire, causing a dangerous situation for neighbors and firefighters alike. Once the fire was contained, their neighboring homeowner found that while their home was salvageable, it was damaged.

There has been a climate within the city Planning Commission to negate the implementation of accessory dwelling unit laws and now to circumvent SB9, which allows ministerial approval of lot splits as long as neither lot becomes less than 1,200 square feet or less than 40% of the original lot size.

There was also a push for a cottage ordinance recently within Nevada City to allow homeowners to build additional housing that would provide for much needed workforce housing, allow families and or caretakers to have their own separate tiny home or ADU on an existing single family residential property.

The lack of workforce housing impacts the availability of workers for local stores, restaurants and bars, plus personal services needed like housekeeping, landscaping, and other in-home services. Many teachers, firefighters and other essential service providers cannot find housing in our area — how can Nevada City flourish or even survive without an adequate, locally housed workforce?

For property owners who purposely purchased a home newer than the historic designation age of 1945 or older, to have more freedom to make modifications, this initiative (Nevada City Historical Neighborhood District Initiative) reads and feels like a huge and unjust taking of private property rights — one worth engaging with the Nevada City Council about before council members vote on Aug. 10.

Citizens may also want to read a recent commentary in The Union by Miriam Morris that delves deeper into this issue.

Teresa Dietrich, legislative committee chair, and Kathy Hinman, RCE, represent the Nevada County Association of Realtors.


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