Nevada County tenants group discusses issues, solutions for affordable housing | SierraSun.com

Nevada County tenants group discusses issues, solutions for affordable housing

Matthew Pera
mpera@theunion.com

Tenants of Nevada County hope to be a resource for local renters searching for affordable housing options, the newly formed group said at its second general meeting. The group’s organizing members have formed small sub-committees to tackle large issues they believe are contributing to the lack of affordable housing in Nevada County.

Group member Mike Berlin reported Thursday, Aug. 17, on ways to address the issue of short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb, which he said are reducing the number of available long-term rentals for local residents. Berlin urged those who attended the tenants meeting to show up to upcoming Grass Valley City Council meetings, where the regulation of short-term vacation rentals is soon to be discussed.

Cody Curtis, another member of the tenants group, said that working with local governments to allow property owners to more easily build second units is a “strategic low-hanging fruit” that could help increase the stock of local affordable housing. He advised stakeholders to attend the Nevada County Board of Supervisors’ Sept. 12 meeting, where he said the board is scheduled to discuss an ordinance that would change some requirements for property owners hoping to build what the county is calling “accessory dwelling units.”

Curtis also urged the tenants group to pat itself on the back for showing up to Nevada City government meetings in response to a recently approved development called “The Grove.” Curtis and other group members told the city council and planning commission that the development’s affordability plan wasn’t set up to meet the needs of local residents.

Recently, Amy Wolfson, the city’s planner, introduced a proposed “cottage dwelling development ordinance” to the planning commission, which would provide financial incentive for developers building small-unit residences in the city. In a staff report, Wolfson said the proposed ordinance was a response to “impassioned public testimony regarding the need for affordable housing in our community.”

“We’re already seeing how we’re shaping the conversation and how people are responding,” Curtis said at Thursday’s tenants meeting.

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Ani Kington, another member, said the group’s core organizers will soon craft a mission statement for Tenants of Nevada County. Kington asked the meeting attendees to discuss their visions for the mission statement and share their ideas.

The group is also exploring the idea of collectively purchasing land to operate as a “community land trust.” The land trust, the group said, would ensure long-term affordability through an agreement among the collective owners not to sell for profit.