Saturday, April 02, 2005

County housing cost now at a crisis level



Placer County supervisors were told Tuesday that the housing affordability gap has reached crisis proportions.

Speaking during an informational workshop on affordable workforce housing, Deputy CEO for Redevelopment Rich Colwell produced statistics showing that while median incomes had grown slowly and steadily, housing prices have skyrocketed out of most people's reach.

Statewide, the median price of a house in November was $473,260.

Comparing income levels to the median, Colwell said that means less than 17 percent of Californians can afford to buy a home.

"It's gone from an issue or a problem to a crisis," Colwell said. "It's not just a social problem but an economic problem if you can't get workers to live in places they work."



Colwell's presentation also highlighted a recent survey that found California has nine of the 10 least affordable housing markets in the nation. Colwell said the Tahoe area inside Placer County would easily fit into that list if smaller areas were considered.

The rest of the county is rapidly becoming less affordable, he said.

The median price of a home in February in Auburn was $453,000 - nearly double July 2001's median of $236,000. For new homes in Placer County, the median sale price last month was $538,990.

Supervisors were told that staff is developing a new tools to help put more workers in affordable homes. Planning Director Fred Yeager said a voluntary program with homebuilders has already been started, with a goal of 10 percent of a development being devoted to housing for moderate or lower-income homes.

Planner Charlene Daniels outlined county efforts to develop an inclusionary workforce housing ordinance. Several communities in the area already have instituted ordinances, including Sacramento County, Nevada County, Roseville and Davis.



Supervisor Ted Gaines, who represents the Granite Bay area, said one of the challenges for the county is to provide higher densities in the face of increasing development pressures while retaining the county's unique features.

In other board business:

  • Supervisors approved the use of $30,000 in park dedication fees to renovate the lake at Auburn Recreation District's Regional Park in North Auburn. A report from the Department of Facility Services said the shoreline is deteriorating and needs stabilization.


  • Private investigator and former Marine Don Guiles was appointed to the Meadow Vista Municipal Advisory committee. Sandra Elder was appointed to the Penryn Area Advisory Council and Kurt Sandhoff was chosen for the Weimar-Applegate-Colfax Municipal Advisory Council.


  • Staff was given approval to go out for bids on a project to extend B Avenue in DeWitt Center by 1,200 feet to the west to provide access to the soon-to-be-constructed Children's Emergency Shelter. Estimated cost is $2.3 million.


  • Supervisors authorized contract amendments totaling $945,000 for completion of the county's conservation plan. Supervisors are expected to consider the plan for the first time near the end of the year. The plan is intended to consolidate federal, state and county permitting on wildlife preservation planning.


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