Affordable Housing

Sweeping update to housing policy targets infill areas for more housing

Auburn, Calif. – Increasing the variety and affordability of housing in Placer County’s developed unincorporated areas is the goal of a series of policy changes approved Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors.

The updates align county code with sweeping changes to state law in recent years intended to address the growing housing affordability crisis in California. They also allow new housing types like moveable tiny homes and co-housing or “cottage home” developments.

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“The state’s approach to housing has challenged us by removing a good deal of our local regulatory authority…”

Cindy Gustafson, District 5 Supervisor

While Placer County has for years been working to reduce barriers to housing construction, the Board of Supervisors and community members alike sought an extensive public engagement process to ensure a balance between meeting state requirements and preserving the character of existing communities through this broad update to Placer’s housing policy.

Adapting to Change

“The state’s approach to housing has challenged us by removing a good deal of our local regulatory authority, though we share the goal of making housing affordable to more of our community members,” said Board Chair and District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “I greatly appreciate the extensive engagement from our residents to help us adapt to these changes in a way that will lead to more affordable housing but also be mindful of the changes and impacts to the character of our communities.”

Refined through years of community feedback beginning in 2018, the package of zoning, code and policy changes under the Housing-related Code Amendments project is designed to help steer new housing into underdeveloped infill areas within existing communities – especially those with public transportation connections and commercial areas.

Multi-Family / Multi-Unit

The project also includes a new design manual for multi-family housing. Multi-unit projects that meet the design manual standards can now be streamlined and approved by county planning staff, with enhanced requirements for public notice to neighboring property owners.

“Focusing on multi-family residential development in our existing downtown and main street areas makes economic and environmental sense,” said Shawna Purvines, deputy director of Placer’s Community Development Resource Agency. “It creates housing that’s more affordable for more of our residents and reflects a growing demand for housing options closer to transit and community amenities from so many of our community members.”

Tiny Homes

Other code amendments allow for moveable tiny homes as primary or accessory dwelling units and “cluster” lot developments such as cottage home communities or co-housing.

Moveable tiny homes will be allowed on appropriately zoned parcels in unincorporated areas countywide, including the Lake Tahoe Basin, but will have the same water, sewer and electrical connections requirements as other permanent structures. Their trailer chassis and wheels also need to be concealed behind skirting.

The changes take effect July 14.

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