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Placer Sentinel

Placer Affordable Housing Advocacy News

Oct 13, 2020 12:00AM ● By Veronica Blake, CEO, Placer Community Foundation

Photo courtesy of Placer Community Foundation

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PLACER COUNTY, CA (MPG) - Persistence, patience and a positive outlook are what make a difference in the fight for affordable housing. It’s helpful to lean on this wisdom, especially in the long game when it has been months between advocacy opportunities and years between the construction of units. So, when we see a flurry of progress, it is time to seize the moment and celebrate!
In this update, I have three victories to share followed by important information on where your support and advocacy for affordable housing is needed next.
Hard Work Pays Off:  Three Victory Laps!

  1. Placer County has broken ground on Mercy North Auburn, a 79-unit apartment and townhome affordable housing project at the Placer County Government Center. Our persistent efforts at every step of the government center master planning process, is evident in this win. We leaned in and made sure that this surplus land was used for affordable workforce housing. See Placer County’s groundbreaking video further down in this email.  
  2. The Board of Supervisors enacted a clear policy on in-lieu fees and inclusionary requirements. The public hearing last Tuesday, October 6th concluded a four-year fee study and move to implement the Affordable Housing and Employee Accommodation Fee Program ordinance with an inclusionary housing requirement. The unanimous vote resulted in a $2.00 per square foot fee for residential and non-residential development (with some exemptions), tied to the Building Cost Index that will be adjusted annually. The new ordinance also included a 10% inclusionary requirement for developments of 100 or more units. While this result is not a complete elimination of in-lieu fees as we called for it to be, it did establish a clear and consistent policy where one did not previously exist. Further, the $2.00 psf fee is nearly double the average fee collected over the past two decades. This is a valuable policy improvement to build on moving forward. Watch the entire BOS meeting here
  3. We are no longer debating: the affordable housing crisis is real. For the first time, the tone and position among our elected leaders is unanimous on this issue. Discussion at Tuesday’s public hearing acknowledged the dire story our RHNA requirement dashboard has been telling us year after year. With only one year left in the eight-year needs assessment timeframe, Placer County has developed 120/2,322 housing units for very low and low income households. In contrast, the number of above moderate income units has already exceeded the requirement by 386. While the RHNA numbers are sobering, they are an undebatable data point and validate this crisis in the minds of our leaders. The significance of this mind shift is that it moves us past the first step. We can now start future conversations from a shared basis. As the Skin Horse wisely said to the Velveteen Rabbit, “Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

Where We Need You Next:  Diligence in the Housing Element Process
Each jurisdiction in Placer County is in the process of updating its Housing Element right now. This process only takes place every eight years, so it is a critical time to keep diligent and attentive in our advocacy efforts. Our affordable housing advocacy leadership team has been engaged in assisting the County and cities with their housing element updates and inclusionary housing ordinance development. We are asking that everyone keep a close eye on Housing Element updates and advocacy opportunities near you. Here are direct links for you to either engage in your local process or connect with the Planning Division staff in your jurisdiction.


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