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State Supreme Court Makes Affordable Housing Ruling

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San Francisco, CA — The state Supreme Court agrees that municipalities do have broad authority when it comes to requiring that builders of new housing projects include a certain percentage of affordable units.

The ruling came yesterday after the high court reviewed a 2010 San Jose law, contested by the California Building Industry Association, that requires some new residential developments to make 15 percent of their units for sale at below-market rates.

While the decision is bound to create waves with the building industry in other markets, Tuolumne County Deputy Community Resources Agency (CRA) Director Mike Laird points out that for builders in the county, including affordable housing within residential projects is voluntary. The caveat, he says, is that a builder’s development plans must be consistent with county guidelines. If smaller lot sizes or higher densities are requested, then a developer must either include a certain percentage of median to low units or pay an in lieu fee.

Laird says the county is starting to see increasing interest from developers towards providing affordable or “workforce” housing as the region recovers from the recession. He reports two 14-18 unit development projects currently in the planning stages; a parcel in Jamestown, between Racetrack, Johnny and Jamestown roads, by KORS Investors/Lemke Homes; and another in Columbia, at Parrotts Ferry and Quarry roads, by Tewolde Berhane/Menelik Estates.