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Placer details progress on housing affordability crisis

June 27, 2018

In just 10 months, Placer County has accomplished most of the tasks in its first-ever housing work plan to address the housing affordability crisis.

The county Board of Supervisors heard an update on the plan at their meeting today in Auburn, on the heels of a Placer County Grand Jury report released last week that acknowledged the county’s progress on housing affordability as well as some areas for continued focus.

The county’s housing work plan approaches the problem through four main focus areas: creating more incentives to build attainable and workforce housing, changing regulations to make building easier, advocating for state and federal assistance and furthering partnerships for meeting regional housing needs.

Since the plan was approved in August 2017, the county has completed most of the tasks belonging to each of the focus areas, with the rest nearing completion before the end of the year - addressing all recommended actions in the grand jury report.

To date, county staff have completed several key economic reports needed to better understand housing needs throughout the count, inventoried and mapped publicly-held land that could be used for housing projects and built new tools to better monitor developers’ progress completing their affordable housing obligations.

They’ve also helped purchase and secure supportive housing for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. Coming soon are proposed new ordinances for tiny homes and cooperative housing, both aimed at increasing the total number of homes and the mix of housing types available to county residents.

“I want to encourage all of us to keep our focus on this like a laser,” said District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. “We want to do this right, and we are doing it right. This is an incredible opportunity to continue this great work.”

Efforts in eastern Placer County and North Lake Tahoe have been focused on the unique housing challenges of its tourism-driven economy. As much as 65 percent of its housing stock is vacation homes, often occupied only seasonally. Since much of its local workforce is employed in the service industry, providing workforce housing is a requirement for new housing development in the region.

To better understand what incentives might encourage more homeowners to rent their second homes longer term, the county surveyed second homeowners in the eastern county in May. Based on their feedback, and review of incentive programs in comparable mountain resort communities in Colorado and Canada, county staff will develop incentive options for the board’s consideration later this year.

Placer continues to participate in and provide funding for the regional Mountain Housing Council, working toward regional housing solutions in the greater North Lake Tahoe and Truckee area.

The board today also approved county staff to move forward with a proposal by Mercy Housing Group of Sacramento to build a 79-unit multi-family and workforce housing development at the county’s government center campus in North Auburn.

Continuing its community outreach, Placer will launch the first in a series of short housing surveys this week, focused on housing costs and needs. The survey will be available on the county’s housing website, www.placer.ca.gov/housing.

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