Senior housing should pay its own way |

Senior housing should pay its own way

Growth should pay its own way, most of us in this growing community agree, yet the ways that this belief are realized sometimes are surprising.

The Grass Valley City Council tonight will take its first look at an ordinance ensuring that one recent type of growth – assisted-living and independent-living housing units for seniors – pay its own way. The ordinance makes sense and should be adopted.

In the past five years, senior housing complexes blossomed around Grass Valley, and more units are on the way.

For those most part, those complexes are good additions to the community. They provide homes for good folks. They meet the needs of an aging population.

But they also bring some challenges. Firefighters, for instance, have been called with increasing frequence to help with non-emergency situations in which a resident of a senior housing complex has fallen and needs help. Who pays the cost for that call? The taxpayers of Grass Valley.

Transit officials worry about their ability to provide service as more residents of senior housing complexes turn to public transportation. And planning officials wonder how the needs of moderate-income seniors will be met if new complexes are targeted toward those with higher incomes.

The proposed ordinance would require that senior-care facilities have enough staff to deal with routine problems such as a noninjury fall, would require that larger facilities provide their own transportation service and that new complexes set aside some units for poorer seniors.

None of these challenges reasonably could have been foreseen before the boom of senior complexes began, and there’s nothing wrong with the city’s efforts to learn from its experience.

And while the city can’t impose new rules on existing complexes, the proposed ordinance would require that senior housing complexes meet the new standards whenever they’re sold.

The plan shows the willingness of the city’s staff and leadership to learn and grow, and it demonstrates their desire to keep their eye on a target we all share: growth that doesn’t burden the taxpayers.

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