State denies housing plans

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

The state has rejected Calaveras County's bid to get its almost unchanged General Plan Housing Element recertified.

The element was denied because it did not properly label land that could be used for affordable housing, and did not say how such housing would be promoted through government regulations or public or private programs.

Also, the county must adopt a five-year plan for how Housing Element policies will be put into action, according to a letter from Cathy Creswell, deputy director of the Department of Housing and Community Development in Sacramento.

Calaveras County's Housing Element was due for its five-year update this year.

But just before sending the element to the state in October, supervisors cut out several proposed amendments that would have more aggressively promoted affordable housing.

County staff members who had worked on the amendment objected. Even the county Planning Department warned that, without the updates, the element might not meet state requirements.

The Planning Department was right. Creswell's letter arrived this week, telling the county where it had gone wrong.

Another update must now be forwarded to the state by the end of the year for approval. Under state regulations, housing elements must detail a five-year strategy for providing homes affordable for low- and moderate-income families.

Without a certified housing element, Calaveras County could be ineligible for thousands of dollars in state grant money.

Calaveras County Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell and Acting Planning Director Robert Sellman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Supervisor Merita Callaway who voted with colleague Lucy Thein against sending the unchanged housing element to the state said that in the future, the county must take a more active role in promoting affordable housing.

"It's easy to say 'If there's a market, people will do it,'" Callaway said. "There is a market, but people aren't doing it."

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The Union Democrat
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