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Optimism About Addressing Housing Challenges In Tuolumne County

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Sonora, CA — Dozens of local community members, including builders, realtors, business leaders, and elected officials, attended a Tuolumne County Housing Collaborative event on Thursday, themed, “A Blueprint for Housing Production.”

It was hosted in the Board of Supervisors meeting room by the Tuolumne County Business Council in partnership with the Tuolumne County Association of Realtors.

The forum moderator was Tamera Blankenship, the county’s new Housing Development Specialist.

She started the presentation by speaking about the overarching goals for housing, which were listed on a PowerPoint.

  • Foster a local environment that is friendly to residential development
  • Give landowners more opportunities to develop their property for a variety of residential uses
  • A future Tuolumne County that is vibrant and recognizable, where current and future residents are thriving

It was noted that the issue is far-reaching and impacts factors like economic development and quality of life.

There are current concerns about the county’s “housing ecosystem,” especially in relation to workforce housing and young families. Median home ownership in the US is 35 years old, but in California, it is 49 years old.

Blankenship also spoke about housing trends, including demographic shifts, especially around the need for multi-generational housing. She gave an update on the Housing Element process, including a “Prohousing” designation that the county is pursuing.

As an interactive element, participants were asked to write letters to future residents, in which they highlighted their favorite thing about living in Tuolumne County.

Toward the end of the meeting, several speakers gave updates on specific areas. Quincy Yaley, Community Development Director, provided information about a Title 17 Ordinance Code update and the benefits for residential development.

Mike Lemke, President of the Tuolumne County Building Industry, gave an overview of Objective Design Standards and the impact on local development. He noted that some past policies in the county were inherited and have made the housing development process cumbersome, but expressed optimism about the future.

James Evans, the owner of Yosemite Homes, spoke about how manufactured homes can help meet some of the demand for ADUs.

Jehiah DeMattei, the county’s principal plans examiner, spoke about the county’s transition to an online OpenGov system and the benefits related to building permits.

Blankenship stressed that Thursday’s event was just “part of the conversation” and “not the last meeting.” She encouraged everyone to take an active part in the housing process.

The Tuolumne County Housing Collaborative was formed in 2021 by a group of concerned citizens and elected government leaders to review solutions and opportunities related to the increasing housing crisis.