Placer looks to second-units to improve housing supply
August 23, 2017
Placer County approved a one-year housing work plan on Aug. 8 during its regular meeting in Auburn, Calif.
The plan addresses the shortage of affordable homes in the county, including the Lake Tahoe area. The plan presents several ideas to try and address the problem, including plans to explore a tiny home and co-op housing ordinance, as well an update to the county's secondary dwelling ordinance update.
"My intent is to get housing constructed," said District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, who represents the Lake Tahoe-area. "But before we look at a fee structure, before we can get construction on the ground, there are actions we can take now."
In addition to the one-year plan to address the shortage of workforce housing, the board also heard a presentation on the results of a recent housing fee study. The county already accepts payment of in-lieu fees from developers who do not wish to construct workforce, or affordable, homes with their projects.
The fee is intended to go toward other workforce housing projects, but has been controversial since some residents feel that it isn't enough and others feel it isn't fair to make developers responsible for the county's affordable housing supply.
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"I've never believed that the solution for making housing more affordable for some is by making it more expensive for others, and that's what we're talking about when we're talking about this fee study," said District 4 Supervisor Kirk Uhler, who represents Granite Bay and portions of Roseville.
"We're simply saying to the vast majority of the consuming public, 'We're going to make your house more expensive in order for the government to then go and address this issue," he said.
Multiple supervisors and commenters both said during the meeting that the fee should be a second priority, and that the county's focus should be aimed primarily at how it can begin to increase its affordable housing immediately.
"If we are looking at this issue of affordable housing holistically, all involved, at all levels of government, then I think we need to have an honest conversation about where government artificially increases the cost of delivering a product into the marketplace by adding in all kinds of requirements when it comes to a prevailing wage, and additional things that get rolled into a project the minute a government dollar touches the project," Uhler said.
"And if we are going to have a conversation not only at this leve,l but at the state level where it's currently going on as we know, are we having that full conversation to say, 'OK, what are the government impediments to make this product more available?"
Uhler said the county should also consider more mixed use development, where homes are built on top of retail and office space and help create more walkable communinities.
Montgomery emphasized the need to ensure that new housing stock was being provided, but also to make sure that existing residents weren't being displaced.
"There are some folks in the Truckee area who have taken some really interesting actions buying mobile home parks … while they're purchasing them for their own employees. And I laud them for that; it means they are actually dislocating people who actually live there already, which means you're not actually increasing your housing stock," she said.
Supervisors unanimously approved the plan under the condition that a comprehensive inventory of the already existing workforce housing supply be added.
Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @akrhoades.