We need to find  ways to encourage the development of affordable and decent housing –there may be no other issue, currently, that impedes our economic growth. One piece of recent legislation will help ... but we need to still do more.

Businesses here have a harder time competing for new employees who would have to move to this community, because it’s hard for them to find affordable quarters.

Lately, we’ve been talking about the impediments to robust housing development ... and it’s mainly been in relation to the issue of homelessness. How are you going to get people off the streets and into homes if there are no affordable homes to move them into?

But the issue goes well beyond that single issue. The issue is slowing down our economy.

If you’re in business and you need to hire help that will need to move into the area, you’ve got a problem. It’s not hard to sell this area as a great place to live ... except for the fact that there’s a shortage of places to live and costs may be higher than a recruit wants to spend.

The Camp and Cascade fires in the past two years wiped out thousands of homes in the wider region. A fair number of those left homeless pulled up roots and moved into surrounding communities –including ours. 

We’re very pleased with the passage of local Assemblyman James Gallagher’s AB 430. The bill temporarily eliminates some of the barriers to speedily building new housing in the communities of Biggs, Corning, Gridley, Live Oak, Orland, Oroville, Willows and Yuba City.

The new law cuts away at the time it takes to get from permitting to construction, which can currently take a year or more. Part of the reason for the wait is meeting requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

“Obviously, the primary focus was more housing for people displaced by the Camp Fire, but we know that the entire state is experiencing a housing crisis, so we do need to build more housing in the region to meet those needs,” Gallagher said in a recent article. The bill could come in handy for communities where they’ve already planned development, he added.

Brian Miller with the Development Services Department for Yuba City, said in that article that housing demand was growing before the Camp Fire. He said he expects to see continued development interest for subdivision of lands and for apartments and single-family residence rentals.

Cities must have standards that must be met when developing properties. But anything that can be done to cut the time for developers, or cut expense for developers –without putting members of the community at risk or unduly shifting costs to other residents – should be undertaken.

Housing development needs to be one of the major themes for candidates to address in the upcoming election year.

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