New residential development has been slow in Yuba City since the economic downturn. Today, single-family dwelling permits are holding steady at approximately 50 per year, compared to a peak in 2004 at 991 permits.

It’s easy to see how much the city was impacted by the recession.

City officials want to change that and have developed a building guide and action plan in hopes of stimulating residential development. City Council members will discuss the new plans at tonight’s meeting before deciding whether to adopt the document – called “Future Foundations: A Residential Building Guide.”

“We are doing everything we can to be proactive to try and ensure new residential development occurs in our city,” said Darin Gale, deputy city manager. “(The guide) is a living, breathing document so it can change, but it’s not just covering single-family or multi-family dwellings. We are looking at any residential type of development in our city.”

There are several factors likely contributing to the lack of new housing start-ups. Those include the lack of improved parcels that were entitled and improved before the recession; areas where development can occur within the city – the western portion of the sphere of influence – haven’t been development with proper roads and utilities; difficulties coordinating plans due to there being many smaller acreage landowners and no large acreage landowners; homebuilders aren’t familiar with what the city has to offer; and there isn’t a large enough gap between development costs in Yuba City and costs in the Sacramento region that would make it worth it.

Gale said after meeting with the region’s builders, developers and engineers, the biggest issues they raised in terms of building in the city came down to the costs associated with developing the area and how much homes are selling for.

“A lot of our vacant properties that could be developed are not being advertised. So, that’s our job, to go out and tell them we are open for business. We can process these new projects in a timely manner, quicker than any other jurisdiction in the Sacramento region, and help builders get under construction the quickest,” Gale said. “Time is money, and the quicker we can get them into building, the better it is for them.” 

The building guide covers topics like regional and local settings – basically what sort of benefits there are to building in the city – residential land availability, an overview of the city’s development impact fees, a development financing tool box and a five-year action plan.

Council members will have the option to adopt the guide and action plan, direct staff as to what should be modified, or cancel its implementation. It’s likely the council will move forward with it as members directed staff to establish the plan in September.

Tonight’s meeting will be held inside the council chambers – 1201 Civic Center Blvd., Yuba City – starting at 6 p.m.

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