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Calaveras County Supervisors Approve County Housing Plan

By Vanessa Turner

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 10:34 AM CDT

A promise to look into easing restrictions on affordable housing is what´s included in Calaveras County´s Housing Element that it just sent to the state for final certification.

This step comes four years after a plan was supposed to be implemented to address housing needs for the period of 2001 to 2009.

State law requires the county to update the element every five years.

In early 2003 the Board of Supervisors turned down a plan that could have satisfied the state´s requirements and instead opted for a plan that was essentially unchanged from one adopted in 1991.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development rejected that plan in December of 2003 and the county hired consultant Amy Augustine to rewrite a plan the state would accept.

Augustine delivered the plan late last year, which was sent on to the state for consideration.

The state answered back that the plan was a considerable improvement but needed a few minor changes. Augustine made the changes and some subsequent ones, which is what the Board of Supervisors approved Monday.

In its latest letter to the county, the state wrote, “The department is pleased to find the revised draft element addresses the statutory requirements.”

Many recommendations in the plan simply call for the county to “look into” ways to lift burdens on the affordable housing community.

“They´re letting you get by this time,” Augustine said about the state.

She´s talking about the absence of an inclusionary housing clause in the plan, which has been an item of much controversy with the board.

The premise of such a program requires residential developers to provide on-site affordable housing or pay a fee.

“In the next round, I would not be surprised if they went more enforceable on inclusionary housing,” Augustine added.

Supervisor Steve Wilensky asked what could be done in the meantime without those types of strict enforcement measures.

Augustine said there is no answer to that. The market dictates what takes place when there are no government regulations, she said.

Supervisor Tom Tryon who is against any kind of inclusionary housing said, “The greatest obstacle to affordable housing is government.”

The county is making an effort to expedite processing the plan in order to qualify for Community Development Block Grant money, which the deadline is nearing for and requires a certified housing element.

With the boards adoption the plan can now be sent to the state for final approval and certification.

The plan can be reviewed on the county´s website at www.co.calaveras.ca.us or at the county Clerk´s Office.

From the Calaveras Enterprise