Open space policies increase housing costs | TheUnion.com
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Open space policies increase housing costs

The fire safety issue for restricting housing is a red herring. This safety issue is just another way of creating open space.

During the 1800s, many foothill towns burned down. Why? They had built homes and commercial buildings out of combustible material, wood. They had also built the structures next to each other without any fire stops. Firefighting technology at the time could not deal with these fires. Town leaders passed ordinances to require that new structures be built with noncombustible material for exterior walls (masonry).

The towns did not resort to open space or lot setbacks as a defense for fires. They understood these solutions were inefficient uses of land. If open space had been used to stop the fires, what would downtown Grass Valley look like today?



If we are truly concerned with fire safety in parts of the county, then we should require fire-safe materials be used in the construction of the homes. Defensible space rules should be enforced both during construction and after. If everyone does their part in clearing their land of brush and making it fire-safe, we can build housing anywhere without fear. Require that fire-safe materials be used in the exterior construction of the structures.

In the Aug. 8 issue of the Appeal Democrat, Thomas Sowell wrote a column on open space. Everyone should read his column. The point of the article is that there are great social costs to the feel-good open-space policies. These policies force more people out of the housing market by increasing the cost of housing.




Do we really want to create a community where our fireman, police officers, teachers, nurses, secretaries, etc., cannot afford to live in our community? This will happen just so some people can feel good about creating open space.

Open space rules will only create elitist communities. Don’t fall for the fire safety red herring. It’s just another way to create open space.

David Behr

Grass Valley


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