My Turn: When is affordable housing not? | SierraSun.com

My Turn: When is affordable housing not?

Al Turner

Question: Has Placer County done its homework? Let’s try again. Does the North Shore need workforce, affordable and low-cost housing?

If so, would Truckee be too far to drive? The Town of Truckee in some ways is light years ahead of Placer County right now when it comes to affordable housing. Is that a good thing? Yes and no.

We can sure learn from their mistakes. What mistakes? The same one Placer County is about to make with “our money.” In rank order, as in “smells,” the Boulders Project would come first. California law requires that all new subdivisions of more than four units set aside 15 percent of the units as affordable. The idea is that you cannot distinguish the affordable unit from the market-rate unit.

Good idea as far as it goes. Where the rub comes in is if the affordable unit does not sell in reasonable amount of time (as set by the governing agency), the builder has the right to covert the affordable unit to market rate. The contract with the governing agency determines how long the builder is required to hold the unit in the affordable market. The problems with that are: Who is responsible for advertising the affordable unit? If the town missed that one the first time around, we’ll give them a slap on the wrist and tell them not to make that mistake again.

Then there is Grays Crossing and the affordable-housing units built in conjunction with that development. Yes! You’re right, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Set that aside. Would you buy an affordable-housing unit that is in a complex of all affordable units? Sounds like the projects they build in good old San Francisco right after World War II. The reason they tore them down was the high (as in very high) crime rate they generated.

Now you’re selling these units at an affordable rate and your first customer comes to the door. What’s the first thing they see and hear? Why, the freeway of course. When they do not sell these units in the allotted time and they revert to the builder, they might make a good apartment complex.

Next, we have Spring Creek. I have nothing adverse to say about this development. It’s a model on how to do it right (they can pay me later). It’s a mixed-use development in that you have both affordable and market-rate housing in the same complex and Johnny doesn’t need to know mom and dad are broke. It’s away from freeways and noise and close to schools.

But! Yes, there is always a but. In talking to the sales person, I learned that the time limit before the affordable units revert to market rate is near. Did they advertise? Yes. The problem seems to be getting people qualified ” as in, a financial score that will allow the lenders to put up the money.

Now we come to Placer County and the Redevelopment Agency. Let’s put in a word they understand. With affordable-housing units waiting for buyers in Truckee, why do we (as in you’re using my money) want to build the Vista Village Project, which will only add to the glut of affordable-housing units on the market that no one at this time can afford?

I can see the developer licking his or her chops right now. They get the county to fund the project to the tune of ” at last count it was in excess of $500,000 ” and then they revert to market rate. Who is going to point fingers at RDA for trying to do the right thing?

Reminder. This is the Cedar Grove project re-visited. The local community thought they had put this thing to rest two years ago. Time to sharpen your wooden stakes and read the Environmental Impact Report. Be sure to read the fine print!

Al Turner is a Carnelian Bay resident.