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Housing needs are becoming more apparent

In today’s edition of The Union, we tell the story of a Grass Valley police officer who wants to live in the community he works in.

Jim Amaral is 27, a husband and a father. His wife, Nicole, works as a title officer. These are just the type of people any smart community values.

Yet, there’s a good chance Amaral will someday join the other police officers who have left Grass Valley for bigger salaries and less expensive homes in Elk Grove, Rocklin and Roseville.



The median price of a home in Grass Valley is $399,500, which is an increase from $335,000 in 2004. In Nevada City, it has climbed from $375,000 to $470,000 in the past year. Penn Valley’s median price has went from $350,000 to $430,000 in the same period of time.

As these numbers climb, it will make it even more difficult for public servants such as Jim Amaral to remain in this area even though a substantial investment has been made in training him to be a police officer.




In the meantime, our local governments are just beginning to implement workforce housing programs.

The Union reported this week that since the city of Grass Valley implemented its “20-percent policy” in 2004, it has approved 46 affordable housing units from a total of six projects. Overall, these projects call for a total of 226 new homes, condos, duplexes and apartments. None of these units have been completed yet.

Nevada City implemented a 30-percent rule for housing projects in 2003. The first project approved under those guidelines is a 48-unit cohousing project. According to City Manager Mark Miller, 12 of those units are considered affordable under county guidelines and are being purchased by eight teachers, three nurses and a bus driver.

Nevada City has also approved the Vierra project, an 18-unit development that consists of three homes with apartments and 12 additional rentals. According to Miller, all of the rental units will be considered affordable.

It’s encouraging that our local governments are beginning to address the affordable housing crisis, but more needs to be done and quickly.

For the city of Grass Valley, that means making the necessary adjustments in the General Plan so the developers of the four Special Development Areas can get their proposals considered by a City Council that should make affordable housing its top consideration when evaluating the projects.


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