Those converting condos must consider affordable housing |

Those converting condos must consider affordable housing

For many of those who need affordable housing, that usually means one thing: an apartment that they can rent from month to month. Many working families cannot afford to buy a home, or even rent one, so apartments often are the only option for them.

Thus those who are interested in seeing that working families have a place to live in our community, as opposed to commuting from another town to work here, might naturally be concerned when owners of apartment complexes seek to convert them into condominiums for purchase. Simply put, not every working family is in a position to buy a condominium any more than they are a single-family home.

The issue became less abstract last year, when the owner of the Auburn Gardens Apartments on South Auburn Street received permission to convert the property into a condominium complex. The good news for residents is that owner Fred Daenzer promised not to evict anyone, but would instead sell the units as condos as they become vacant.

Furthermore, the city of Grass Valley, while reminding folks it has been providing affordable housing for its residents, decided to take a serious look at the condo conversion issue rather than addressing at it on a case-by-case basis.

The result is a new rule to regulate condo conversions. Under an ordinance approved Tuesday by the Planning Commission, property owners may have to make sure their properties comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and fire safety standards and provide enough parking and landscaping, among other things. Perhaps just as importantly, such conversions would be allowed only as long as the city continues to provide enough housing for its low-income residents. This is actually required by state law – technically – but it is not always enforced very stringently.

The city is to be commended for addressing this issue now, rather than waiting for conversions to happen. We hope the City Council will follow the Planning Commission’s lead and pass the aforementioned guidelines to regulate the conversions, allowing property owners to use their land they way they want while still providing low-income residents the affordable housing they need.

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