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Board holds off on housing


With too many questions and a board member absent, Calaveras County supervisors tabled their vote yesterday on a long-term plan to bring more affordable housing into the county.

Instead, supervisors will revisit the proposed four-year plan Monday, Sept. 22, and could vote then.

The plan is a proposed update to the county's general plan housing element. It lists policies and guidelines to help bring more affordable housing for low-income residents.

State law says the county must have its new element certified by Jan. 1, when the current element expires. Supervisors must approve the new element and have the state review it before the plan can be certified.

However, some supervisors and audience members questioned the proposed element, particularly a section requiring builders to provide affordable housing as part of their projects or contribute to affordable housing elsewhere.

A few audience members said builders might not make profits if forced to provide affordable housing.

"People are not going to want to build here because so much would be imposed on them," said Lisa Muetterties, speaking on behalf of the Calaveras County Realtors Association.

Supervisor Tom Tryon, acting as board chairman in the absence of Supervisor Paul Stein, criticized the plan's suggestion that affordable housing be kept at a fixed price — well below market value.

Part of owning a house, Tryon said, is being able to improve it so its value will increase.

"It shouldn't be that you have a ceiling and are going to be forever mired in poverty," he said.

Muetterties also said a lot of the data cited in the existing housing element is outdated.

Supervisors admitted that might be so.

But District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway — the board's strongest supporter of the proposed element — said exact numbers aren't so important, and if the numbers are updated, they will show an even greater need for affordable housing.

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