County housing element plan approved
Sun News Service A plan meant to address affordable housing issues in Nevada County was finally approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, just in time to qualify for valuable federal grants. The plan – known as the “housing element” – has been under scrutiny by the board, especially since missing its deadline for approval more than eight months ago. The state’s housing element law mandates that every five years, local governments plan to meet existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community.”We knew that if we met the deadline we could still apply for all these grants,” Supervisor Barbara Green, “and we knew we were going to meet the deadline.”The issue largely responsible for deadlocking the supervisors concerned a state requirement that encourages dense residential development in a 54-acre area surrounding Nevada City and Grass Valley. Previously, supervisors Peter Van Zant and Green had insisted zoning should be reduced in outlying areas to compensate for any increases that may affect the 1995 general plan population cap of 150,000 residents.Green said the original proposal would have “up-zoned” the area in the general plan, therefore increasing density and pushing the plan over the population cap. She said the next board will have to wrestle with the general plan’s numbers.”We got them to commit to openly discuss how to balance the population cap,” Green said. However, in order to meet the Oct. 15 grant-qualifying deadline, the supervisors compromised on several much-debated issues, including the responsibility of resorts to supply housing for employees, the formation of a “housing element trust fund program,” and requirements for disability access in remodeling by property owners.Compromise was not easily reached on the language concerning the population cap, however, and so the supervisors opted to leave it out for now. Van Zant proposed the paragraph be brought back to the board in the first meeting after the Nov. 2 election is certified. That would also be the first meeting with a full board because, according to election law, the vacant District 3 position will be filled immediately by the winning candidate either Bruce Conklin, Linda Stevens or John Spencer.”I’m willing to have this discussion one more time with a full board,” Supervisor Sue Horne said.The Sierra Sun’s David Bunker contributed to this report
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