Home > Uncategorized > Deadline for comments on Housing Element

Deadline for comments on Housing Element

gpu_housing-elementMonday, April 6 is your last chance to submit written comments on the Housing Element of the General Plan Update.

The Planning Commission’s final decision — including whether to allow the hot button issue of Inclusionary Zoning — may be decided at its April 16 meeting.

From the Healthy Humboldt website:

In the last housing cycle, housing production utterly failed to meet our community’s needs. Fewer than half of the needed affordable housing units were actually produced as large developers capitalized upon the hot “market” by building nearly double the required number of above moderate income homes.

In the past, housing policies and development choices have yielded what are known as “exclusionary zoning” practices. Lower income residents have been effectively excluded from owning and often accessing homes in our community.

Healthy Humboldt has joined with Housing for All in advocating for “inclusionary zoning” practices to ensure that housing is available for a variety of income levels in more places, creating income-integrated neighborhoods.

What is “inclusionary zoning”?

Inclusionary zoning is a requirement that a given share of new construction be affordable to people with low to moderate incomes in a mix of “affordable housing” and “market-rate” housing in the same neighborhood to reduce the effects of concentrating affordable housing in ghetto-type fashion. It is an effective policy tool used to ensure that affordable housing is both available and attractive in a given community – rather than segregating low-income residents away into neighborhoods with fewer parks, services, and access to jobs.

Send your comments to:

Planning Commission
c/o Martha Spencer
Community Development Service
Humboldt County
3014 H Street
Eureka, CA 95501

  1. 421
    April 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Can anybody name somewhere this zoning has worked? It wasn’t just low income housing that was under-produced, it was housing at all levels. That’s why the price goes up. See econ 101 cliff notes.

  2. John Conwell
    April 5, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Inclusionary zoning seems so wrong.

  3. Anonymous
    April 5, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    421. So why did the price then go down? Over production?

  4. Ed
    April 5, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    I was raised in a neighborhood that had both blue and white collar folks. It was well balanced in that all us kids were introduced to the attitudes of several economic backgrounds,the ones that visualized, and the ones that actually produced. It made for a wonderful community experience. In the Eighties, the blue collars began to lose their jobs to overseas workers and the neighborhood quickly became a yuppie ghetto. Inclusionary zoning seems so right.

  5. Anonymous
    April 5, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Why stop with inclusionary housing? Why not have inclusionary automobile dealers and grocery stores?

  6. John Conwell
    April 5, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Forced “diversity” is BS.
    Ed was raised in a neighborhood that wasn’t forced, which is why it was cool.
    If you can’t afford a house, you can’t afford a house.

  7. John Conwell
    April 5, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    How about inclusionary news?
    For every hour of Democracy Now that you watch, you have to spend an hour with Bill O’Reilly.

  8. Moving on up!
    April 5, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Just think of the reduction in GHG emissions there will be when the criminals don’t have to drive all the way to my neighborhood. Now they can rob me and simply walk down the street to their house (that I paid for). Great idea!

  9. Moving on up!
    April 5, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    A ghetto here, a ghetto there, a ghetto, a ghetto- EVERYWHERE.

    You can run, but you can’t hide!

  10. April 5, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    It wasn’t just low income housing that was under-produced, it was housing at all levels.

    Uh, no. In the unincorporated county, moderate and above-moderate income housing were over-produced, particularly above-moderate which was over-produced by over 80%. Roughly 60% of low-income need was met, and 30 or 40% of very low income housing need was met. It’s in the first section of the Housing Element.

    Also, I believe the deadline is specific to written comments on the DEIR of the housing element, although time is certainly running short for comments to the planning commission on the element proper.

  11. A Non A Me
    April 6, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Don’t forget Patterson. Why don’t builders build housing for low and very low income? If a builder can not build for a profit for that market, they will not build. The courts found in Patterson that there was no nexus between market rate housing and the impact on affordability, in fact the argument can be made that when market rate housing is built, this brings to the market more affordable housing.
    Inclusionary zoning is essentially housing welfare. Let those who can afford housing pay for those who can not, but the sorry twist is that the marginal buyers will be out of the market because of it!

  12. 421
    April 6, 2009 at 7:07 am

    946 – yes, in a sense. the loose credit allowed a temporary spike since there were more so called qualified buyers in the market. you don’t see liar loans anymore, so there are less people who can afford homes and therefore less demand. our prices have not dropped significantly compared to areas that actually overbuilt like sacramento and phoenix, where you can pick up a nice place for $125,000.00 as opposed to 280,000 here. 10 years ago these same homes in humboldt were going for 115,000.00 and you are saying the price has dropped.

    Chris they were not overproduced, they exceeded the state minimum standard, there is a difference. If you make more than minimum wage, are you overpaid?

  13. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Moving on up! Says: low income people are criminals.

  14. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 7:31 am

    If people wanted to live in Sacramento or Phoenix houses there would be worth more. Sucks to live in a nice, not over built place!

  15. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I followed the Healthy Humboldt link. Who are these people anyway. The site has no Board of Directors no member list just a short list of other organizations most of which also don’t list directors or members. the ones that do seem to keep listing the same five people. I don’t get it. Are they afraid to tell us who they are? Are there so few members that they will lose all credibility if they listed their members?

  16. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Housing for all income levels is not just about home ownership, it is also about affordable rental housing. With persistent over-population the economic principles of supply & demand forecast chronic shortages of resources available to poor people (and for that matter, ultimately all people).

    Be clear on the difference between poor people, the vast overwhelming majority of whom are WORKING POOR, and criminals.

    The facts are clear– the developers decrying the efforts of our democratically elected government to serve the needs of all county citizens under cover of concern for supplying housing to county residents are the same ones who building only for the wealthy.

    This is a classic example of talking out of both sides of two faces.

    BTW 421, can anyone point to any examples of where no-rules economics has successfully provided housing for working poor?

    For that matter, isn’t it obvious at this point that no-rules economics is exactly what led to the pillaging of our national economy by the incompetent bonus pigs of wall street.

  17. Chris
    April 6, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I grew up in an inner city ghetto and can relate to the poor.

    However, I don’t want poor neighbors or a ghetto developed closeby. Hypocrite? Maybe. But that’s just the way it is when you have worked hard to get out and don’t want your family around it.

  18. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 10:08 am

    ghetto– environment of isolation
    an environment where a group of people live or work in isolation, whether by choice or circumstance

    neighborhoods of mixed income housing is what prevents ghettos from forming– the segregation of poor people into the crappy parts of town is the issue and a significant source of crime and desperation.

    Again there is a consistent prejudice that poor people are criminals. in fact poor people are the most common victims of crime, whether it is perpetrated on the street or in corporate boardrooms.

    hypocrite is actually the nicest thing I can think of to describe the attitudes you declare

  19. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 10:15 am

    ghetto– an environment of isolation
    an environment where a group of people live or work in isolation, whether by choice or circumstance

    mixed housing is exactly what prevents the formation of ghettos and the desperation and crime that results.

    again, the casting of the poor as criminals is the real problem in the outlook of people. in fact, the poor are the people most often victimized by crime- whether it is street crime or the crimes perpetrated by the greedy scum inhabiting corporate boardrooms.

    frankly “hypocrite” is the nicest description I can conceive for the vile prejudices displayed by chris at 9:34 am

  20. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 10:16 am

    sorry all for the double post at 10:08 & 10:15– i thought my first comments had gotten dumped–

  21. A Non A Me
    April 6, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Well, I have a close neighbor who lives in an affordable home, an old manufactured home with a blue tarp for a roof and at last count nearly 20 junk cars on the lot. This is not to mention several large piles of scrap lumber and old appliances. There have been several attempts by the County to clean up the place, but it was only temporary. So, lets have these dispersed throughout each neighborhood?

  22. 421
    April 6, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    anon 757 i don’t believe i advocated for “no rules economics” anywhere and i submit to you that fanny and freddy getting into the subprime market contributed to our current situation as much as any “no rules economics”.

    i can point to numerous apartment complexes in humboldt county that have rents of 300 – 600 per month . one could also buy a two bedroom fixer or a trailer and live in a trailer park. why does low income or housing for the working poor have to be brand new and why should the nieghbors subsidize people who can’t afford to be there? if you want a cheap car, you sure don’t go looking for a brand new one.

  23. Anonymous
    April 6, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    421, How are the neighbors subsidizing people “who can’t afford to be there?” The point of Inclusionary Zoning is to have it so more people can “afford to be there”. But in the end, how are the people with higher-cost homes subsidizing lower-cost homes?

  24. Mr. Nice
    April 6, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Can anybody name somewhere this zoning has worked? It wasn’t just low income housing that was under-produced, it was housing at all levels. That’s why the price goes up. See econ 101 cliff notes.

    Many places in the Bay Area have or have had inclusionary zoning development taxes. Looking at the neighborhoods in the East Bay—Co-Co and Alameda County in particular—inclusionary zoning has had a profound effect on housing.

    Instead of segregating low-income people into low-income ghettos, inclusionary zoning brings the hood to everyone’s doorstep. Before such policies took effect, there were hardly any fast cash jobs for youth in the Bay apart from those at High St., Fruitvale, and such. Now, with new low-income housing smashed into (formerly) middle-class neighborhoods, any kid can make ducats slanging base rocks and diesel on their block.

    Inclusionary zoning has lessened the brain drain effect on the hood. It used to be that a new home away from the ghetto would cost a reasonable amount. Now, having such a house costs so much that nobody can afford to leave the ghetto.

    Inclusionary zoning had the added benefit of artificially increasing the value of existing houses which when combined with the housing bubble made some middle-class people think that they were rich for a few years. These people took out huge loans to buy new tvs and such, neglecting to consider the possibility of their current foreclosure.

    Let’s recap the success story:

    Did away with the segregation of ghettos and middle-class neighborhoods, letting us all come together as one bigass ghetto.

    Stifled new development.

    Provided dope juggling jobs to middle-class youth.

    Kept successful middle-class people in the hood by driving the price of new houses in suburban neighborhoods beyond the price point of the average family.

    Prompted existing homeowners to borrow their way into foreclosure, ensuring the continued homogeneity of the rich white neighborhoods in the hills.

    Inclusionary zoning gives middle-class WASP Democrat-voting idealists what they’ve always wanted: to be equal to poor black and Hispanic folks in the hood.

  25. A Non A Me
    April 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    12:45, get real! With Humboldt’s requirements, land costs, the only way for a project to have “affordable” that is less expensive – someone has to pay. If you require low and very low income housing to be part of each new “development” and the builder must build them, the only way to make it happen is to charge more for the other units, unless there are grants and taxpayer funds available, but oops! that increases the cost because of prevailing wage requirements, etc., etc. The affordable housing built with government “funding” is being built for about $200 a square foot.
    Just saying, let it happen, does not let it happen.

  26. Mr. Nice
    April 6, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    When 10-15% of housing is “affordable,” what happens to the other 90-95%? It becomes unaffordable.

    San Francisco is often cited as a lovely example of helping perpetually broke people to live amongst working people via taxing developers (and thus taking potential jobs away from working people). In your average downtown San Francisco steel-door secured drug-infested apartment complex, 15% of the apartments are affordable and the rest are like two gs a month. Instead of paying a mortgage, most San Franciscans get to rent an unaffordable apartment down the hall from an affordable one. Working families even have the luxury of being forced to split their unaffordable rent with roommates.

  27. Eric Kirk
    April 6, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Can anybody name somewhere this zoning has worked?

    Well, here’s an article on a study which asks the same question. The conclusion seems to be that it works, but isn’t a panacea. The more successful IZ ordinances apparently have flexibility.

  28. A Non A Me
    April 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Read the San Francisco article and find that it is difficult to compare what works in that huge metropolitan area to our area. First, there are very few developments of any size here, since there are only a few hundred building permits issued a year in the County. How about Eureka? Hardly any — Arcata? Very few. So to attempt to have current rates of development support inclusionary zoning is simply rediculous. If each house had an additional inclusionary zoning fee of $20,000 you may get one or two units a year, hardly enough to meet the deficit.
    Density bonusus? Even smaller lots than the proposed plan? Should all new construction be like apartments? So much for our rural life style. I am sure everyone came here to live in a crowded urban setting.

  29. Eric Kirk
    April 6, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Well, the question I answered was whether it’s helped “somewhere.” As to whether it would work in a rural area as opposed to an urban area, I don’t know. I’ll see what data I can find when I have some time, but I think you can argue that it would actually have more positive impact in a rural area where you have more maneuverability to plan. You can set up mitigation zones outside of the target area and you can plan infrastructure and economic development around lower income needs.

    I really think the only question is whether we have the will to do it.

  30. Voter
    April 6, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Arcata has Inclusionary Zoning, and is the only jurisdiction that came close to meeting the low-income housing needs in the last planning cycle. Also have not noticed development grinding to a halt in Arcata…

    Also, note that the low-income housing requirements are state mandates, not optional. The shortfalls in low-income housing from the last 5 years will have to be made up in the next cycle, along with the projected needs for the future. The longer we wait, the harder it will get to fulfill these needs.

  31. Moving on up!
    April 6, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    And can Voter tell me which jurisdiction has the highest house prices (for those of us not on welfare)???

    HINT: It starts with an “A”.

  32. Eric Kirk
    April 6, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Actually, it starts with a “T.”

  33. 421
    April 7, 2009 at 7:16 am

    if people run the numbers out like above they will see it does not work. only problem is there’s an industry out there with a monetary interests in seeing inclusionary zoning go through.

  34. Anonymous
    April 7, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I am trying to post a link to the California Redevelopment web site at http://www.hcd.ca.gov/rda/05-06

    Redevelopment is also being put into the mix in the General Plan as the Planning Commission believes this will build low income housing. As far as Arcata building lots of low income housing, it certainly doesn’t look like it on the web site as cities with Redevelopment Agencies report how many low income housing has been built because it is a requirement with redevelopment. The site also shows a couple of counties that have inclusionary zoning and what they have done for low income housing – not much.

  35. A Non A Me
    April 7, 2009 at 9:30 am

    The basic point is who is going to build low income housing? If you could build and rent housing and cover your costs and have a potential of a profit, then builders would be building. I certainly hope that you are not suggesting that somehow builders should build at a loss, gee, that would be like GM and how does that work?
    Humboldt County has done a very poor job of helping housing be affordable. How many of the advocates for inclusionary zoning have ever completed a project dealing with the Planning Department and Public Works? If you want a wake up call, try that! To complete a project plan years and years of red tape and bring huge buckets of money.
    Does anyone see that working to improve our economy may be the single greatest way to help people get into housing. If you have a good paying job, you may be able to buy a home.

  36. Eric Kirk
    April 7, 2009 at 9:47 am

    . I certainly hope that you are not suggesting that somehow builders should build at a loss, gee, that would be like GM and how does that work?

    GM isn’t forced to build cars at a loss. They did that to themselves.

    Inclusionary zoning should not force you to build at a loss, but it does force you to build at not quite the profit margin you’d have without it. Obviously it’s not as profitable as without, but then the zoning wouldn’t be necessary if it was. The point of the zoning is to prevent the economic cleansing of an entire community, as happened in several places in the Bay Area before the ordinances started to get passed.

    Like other zoning and regulation, it’s simply added to the cost of doing business. Presumably, like any tax or fee, it gets spread around to the consumer. And maybe at some point there will be federal and state grants, perhaps there already are, which will help mitigate the losses of potential profit. But gentrification is a negative impact just like any environmental, social, or infrastructure impact. If you’re going to be in the business which has that impact, it makes sense for you to bear the costs and, if you can, spread them around by passing some of them on to your consumers. That’s how it works with every other industry. Why should development and construction be specially exempt?

  37. Anonymous
    April 7, 2009 at 10:41 am

    And can Moving on up! tell me which jurisdiction has the lowest affordability index? (Meaning most unaffordable to its residents)

    HINT: It starts with an “F”.

  38. Bill Barnum
    April 7, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Eric, you asked: “Why should development and construction be specially exempt?”

    Several reasons:

    First, Inclusionary Zoning does not operate in a vacuum. The Humboldt County housing economy does not consist of just what gets built in the next planning year or housing cycle. It is a living, breathing entity with 60,000+ units of existing housing (this includes rentals). The price of that housing is subject to market forces. IZ aims at what will happen in the next year and next housing cycle. But this year’s count of new construction units can neither make that housing stock (existing inventory) more or less affordable. Market conditions do that.

    From 2000 to 2004 housing starts in the County increased from 192 to 310 units, but the median price rose from $129k to $252k, and the “affordability index” dropped from 42% to 23%. It did not matter that the rate of construction rose more than 60%, the demand ran the price up more than 50% anyway! Since then housing starts have dropped precipitously (to 165 in 2008) and affordability has dropped through a low of 11% to stand now at 15%.

    This all happened during a time of “funny money” lending which is now over, never to recur. Meanwhile, as I stated. the County issued only 165 single family building permits in 2008. 4 in November. Anyone with a modicum of economic sense will note that adding 165 units to a supply of 60,000 makes no meaningfully measurable difference. And that low rate of new construction is likely to continue for years due to a tight lending market, low inventory of building lots, lack of adequate infrastructure, and the prescriptive planning process in our County.

    Thus, it follows, that if the County imposes unprofitable burdens on our few remaining, willing builders, they are not likely to build much, don’t you think? If builders do not build much, how will that solve the affordability problem we face?

    Second, a reason why “development and construction” should be “specially exempt” is that pesky old constitution. It simply is unconstitutional to force one segment of our society to pay the marginal cost (loss or no profit from their labors) to fix this social ill (lack of affordable housing). If we all agree that we need more affordable housing, and you can include me on that list, the issue is not whether we work to provide it, but how do we do it within the constraints of our constitutions (state and federal). There is simply no economic evidence that building new housing in 2009 contributes to the shortfall of affordable housing.

    Think about it.

    If the County is unable to demonstrate that new construction has a “deleterious impact” upon the affordability issue, it cannot constitutionally impose the economic burden of Inclusionary Zoning, and it should not matter whether that comes in the form of increased in lieu fees to pay for some marginal number of new government-managed “affordable” units, or in the form of other zoning exactions.

    Respectfully, Eric, “gentrification” is not occurring in Humboldt County.

    My hope is that reasonable people can agree that it is not the social obligation of the building community to provide a new house to anyone, any more than any one part of our society should be singled out to provide anyone a new car, new clothes, or a new bicycle. Where will such thinking end? If I should go in to buy a new car this year, should I pay an in lieu fee so someone who cannot buy a new car is given one on a subsidized basis? It makes no more sense to do so with new housing.

    One thing is crystal clear to me, however, and that is based on our local historic economic experience, the imposition of IZ exactions upon the building community will not achieve the goals for which it is intended in this County. It simply won’t work.

  39. Anonymous
    April 7, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Housing is not cars. It would be more accurate to compare it to food. Something we do subsidize.

  40. Eric Kirk
    April 7, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Bill, I don’t have time right now, but I’ll respond in more detail later. However, inclusionary zoning has been upheld as constitutional (Homebuilder’s Association v. County of Napa I believe). And I disagree that we aren’t facing gentrification here. With Baby Boomers retiring in urban areas throughout California, they’re looking for places to move. Humboldt County is perfect. They’re selling their places for over a million and buying up two homes here. Not at this moment maybe, but over the past decade. If you remember a few years ago homes weren’t even on the market for a day before being sold. And it wasn’t just the “funny money” loans.

    If left to the market forces nearly all new housing will be upper crust development. That’s what makes the money, and since we don’t have jobs here the retirees will be the only buyers with the money.

    This is California. Everybody wants to live here. Humboldt County has only just been discovered. We have the benefit the Bay Area and Orange County don’t have, namely foresight. We can learn from their mistakes. If they’d done it earlier, working people wouldn’t be commuting to SF from Sacramento and Modesto.

    Anyway, I’ll respond in more detail to your thoughtful points later. We need this discussion.

  41. Ed
    April 7, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    On the other hand, when building is at a relatively low level, contractors work with what they can get. Just like the rest of us.

  42. Eric Kirk
    April 7, 2009 at 1:15 pm
  43. Bill Barnum
    April 7, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Eric,

    Read the opinion in: BIACC vs. City of Patterson, as modified March 20, 2009 (no citation yet).

  44. Eric Kirk
    April 7, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Found that decision Bill.

    http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/F054785.PDF

    It’s not logged on Lexis yet, which kind of pisses me off, but anyway I skimmed it and I would hope we could draft laws which don’t run afoul of that decision, namely that we don’t reserve the right to spontaneously jack up in-lieu fees from $700 to $21,000 per unit. As liberal, socialist, and “anti-business” as I am, even I was shocked over that. Obviously we can draft an in-lieu fee provision which provides a formula allowing for less discretion on the part of the county.

    The ordinance itself wasn’t struck down, only the application of it and the application appears to have been struck down by operation of the language itself. Obviously the city had decided that the fees were too low to make any kind of difference and the developers were probably universally opting for it instead of the other three choices. Personally, I like the choice which allows for mitigations by dealing with other projects wherein the developer pays another developer to incur the inclusive obligations. I’m sure some developer out there would be enterprising enough to sell their rights to build the more expensive housing and specialize in low income housing by drawing grants to supplement the money raised through the mitigation provision and the sales of the lower to moderate income housing.

    I think it’s doable and will save the county in the long run. Otherwise, welcome to Carmel Valley the sequel. Actually, the second sequel after South Lake Tahoe.

  45. Anonymous
    April 7, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I’m not trying to bag on you here Eric, but YOU moved up here, and yet you decry it when others do it as well.

    I guess we are all hypocrites when it comes to ourselves (myself included). Where do we draw the line?

    That’s why there are all of these stands against Home Depot, the Richards Grove realignment and other items which ultimately end up pitting resident against resident. It’s kind of a bummer actually, because I really think that most of us, be we progressive or conservative, probably agree on most of the issues pertaining to our little slice of paradise.

  46. Bill Barnum
    April 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks Eric for reading the modified City of Patterson decision.

    What appears to be a breakthrough consideration by the court in Patterson is the finding that new housing developments have no deleterious effect upon the need for a community to provide affordable housing. The need may well already exist; a new project does not cause the need. Thus, it follows, under the takings analysis in the California Supreme Court’s decision in San Remo, that new developments need not bear the financial burden of solving the pre-existing shortfall of affordable housing.

    That seems right on to me.

    Do we need affordable housing? Of course we do. But in Humboldt County we have 60,000 units of housing and at the extremely slow rate of building, Inclusionary Zoning will not be an efficacious means of providing new affordable housing. It simply will not work.

    I think we have planned our local housing economy into a planned doldrums. New construction is in the tank.

    For all I know, it appears that is what the planners intended. It certainly is what they’ve got to plan with now.

    Another way to say it is this: we are down to 165 new single family homes in 2008, and that is what has happened under the existing Framework Plan (called Option D in the Update Process). Does anyone think that Options A, B or C will produce more housing that Option D has in the last decade? Of course not. We will have less.

    So, that must be what they want. It may not be “no growth,” but it certainly will be extremely slow growth, and my point is that extremely slow growth will not bear an additional burden of IZ and have it do any good for our community.

  47. 421
    April 7, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Housing is not cars. It would be more accurate to compare it to food. Something we do subsidize.

    Then spread the costs across our society as a whole, don’t just pick the poor saps who decided to buy a home after 2008. Do you think that is fair to target a small group of people and dump the housing problem on them? I’m sure everybody is willing to pay another $100 on their property taxes to house the lower income folks, just put it on the ballot and we will see how willing everybody is to help somebody out when it is coming out of their own pocket.

  48. Ed
    April 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Wow, eight dollars a month to help people have a home of their own. Gee I don,t know, what’s in it for me?

  49. Anonymous
    April 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Real productive there, Ed. Your parents must be very proud.

  50. April 7, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Sarcasm is lost on Anonymous.

  51. Ed
    April 7, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Bill Barnum thinks we have planned the housing construction industry into the doldrums. I think that’s extremely myopic. Do you think affordable housing is a real threat to the building community? Don’t you see that affordable housing actually stimulates building in a depressed economy, and stimulates the local economy from the ground up? Or maybe you can’t see that from a high profit, gated community perspective.

  52. funnygirl
    April 7, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    No growth, slow growth – whatever. Supply & demand. Santa Barbara here we come. The demand for property in Humboldt will not abate. Prices will rise. Not for 5-10 years and then, affordability will be a thing of the past once again. You will have seemed to be a genius if you only had bought property when it was cheap. And don’t blame the realtors. What would you rather do, sell a house for $165,000 or one for 1.6 million? Sell ten houses, or sell one for the same money. That is a no brainer.

  53. Ed
    April 7, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    And another thing, it’s no wonder Barnum ignores the whole country’s depressed housing market in his analysis, He’s sitting on thousands of acres of land he overcut during the boom of the last decades. Ouch! A little foresight might have helped but the point is, we don’t see the wisdom of cut and develop anymore.

  54. Bill Barnum
    April 7, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Ed at 6:52 and 7:23:

    Who are you talking about when you sarcastically comment, “Or maybe you can’t see that from a high profit, gated community perspective”?

    My family lives in the Ridgewood neighborhood in a 3 bedroom, 1300 square foot, spec house built by the McKennys in the late 1980’s. No gates here. Get off your high horse, Ed.

    Your economic analysis is certainly unique. IZ is a threat to the building industry; that’s why they oppose it.

    Your later comment: “He’s sitting on thousands of acres of land he overcut during the boom of the last decades. Ouch! A little foresight might have helped but the point is, we don’t see the wisdom of cut and develop anymore,” is also not factual.

    My family has been in the timber business for four generations; my great-grandfather began it in the 1920’s. Our family-owned business has not overcut our forest lands; in fact, our forests are thriving and amount to thousands of acres of near-wilderness that we are very proud to own and manage. Unfortunately, market conditions have not been very good for several years, and we have prudently preferred not to harvest in Humboldt County for the last 9 years. But we are committed to our long term forestry and are not developers on our forest lands. What lands we have sold have paid for our continued management of what remains.

    Care to take some more uninformed pot shots, Ed?

    You see, ad hominem attacks are simply Ed’s way of not talking on the topic. Any thoughts about IZ, Ed?

  55. Ed
    April 7, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    You make very good points Funnygirl, that’s why we need to plan for our community’s sake. I for one want to preserve our ag. and tpz lands sustainably, bring back the salmon, and preserve the livelihoods of the hard working producers in this area, not the folks who only make a living with other people’s money, but the ones who provide society with the economy’s foundation.

  56. 421
    April 7, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    ed, how in the hell does selling a houses for less than it costs you to build while charging the neighbor across the street 30% more stimulate the economy? if the “rich” neighbor doesn’t buy, the poort guy doesn’t get one either. i don’t think you really understand what this inclusionary zoning is. it is not “letting people in”, it is charging certain people more in order to charge other people less.

    well ed, put it on the ballot and we shall see. 60,000 homes X 100 = $6,000,000.00 that will get you, what, around 20 houses. how short are they again?

  57. Ed
    April 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Your talk about sustainability is laughable Mr. Barnum. This is evident in your choice of Steve Horner as your forester.

  58. 421
    April 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    ed, why have they employed a forester while they are not harvesting? you think mr. barnum is going to wait until the day before he dies and cut it all? get real.

  59. Anon
    April 7, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    There is some new construction just up from the Mall on Harris. Looks pretty cheap. Cheaply built, that is- Wonder what the asking price is for those units.

  60. Eric Kirk
    April 7, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    What appears to be a breakthrough consideration by the court in Patterson is the finding that new housing developments have no deleterious effect upon the need for a community to provide affordable housing.

    Well, they found that the city in that particular case had not met its burden in proving that. But I don’t know what kind of evidence they produced, I’ll have to go back and read it. In the next lawsuit the government party may very well submit studies such as the one I cited in another thread. There is certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence that high end development does have a deleterious effect on affordable housing. I’d cite several communities in Marin County where new developments wiped out the nearby working class communities by creating a “nice” neighborhood with increased prices in the surrounding areas. You buy the nearby home at a high price from a very grateful working class owner, you’re liberal enough to not mind living in a working class neighborhood as your older neighbors are gradually replaced with shiny rich new ones, each upgrading their homes, and driving the prices up.

    Wouldn’t be such a bad deal except for the economic cleansing effect.

    I think the construction slowdown here has to do with the lack of stable and well-paying jobs. All of the school districts are in declining enrollment. Inclusionary zoning won’t be a panacea, but it may be part of a solution to maintain the county as a vibrant family-oriented community.

    Bill, we don’t oppose the unregulated developments because we have a thing against developers. Many of us are from the Bay Area. We don’t want history to repeat itself. There aren’t many places like Humboldt County left on the planet.

  61. Eric Kirk
    April 7, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Then spread the costs across our society as a whole, don’t just pick the poor saps who decided to buy a home after 2008.

    I’m all for the expansion of state and federal grants for the construction of low to moderate income housing. But it won’t be enough because we can’t provide enough money to compete with the push for the high end product. Low income housing will consist of servants’ quarters.

  62. Eric Kirk
    April 7, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    My family has been in the timber business for four generations; my great-grandfather began it in the 1920’s. Our family-owned business has not overcut our forest lands; in fact, our forests are thriving and amount to thousands of acres of near-wilderness that we are very proud to own and manage. Unfortunately, market conditions have not been very good for several years, and we have prudently preferred not to harvest in Humboldt County for the last 9 years. But we are committed to our long term forestry and are not developers on our forest lands. What lands we have sold have paid for our continued management of what remains.

    Seriously though Bill, have we reached a point where the potential development value of land is permanently higher than resource value? It’s certainly that way in other parts of the state, especially the valley where we are losing precious farmland at an alarming rate.

  63. Eric Kirk
    April 8, 2009 at 12:05 am

    I’m not trying to bag on you here Eric, but YOU moved up here, and yet you decry it when others do it as well.

    I guess we are all hypocrites when it comes to ourselves (myself included). Where do we draw the line?

    You’re assuming that I’m asserting the desire to live up here as immoral. That’s not my point at all. It would be great if everyone could live wherever they want, but there are all sorts of limitations on that in legal, practical, financial, and spatial terms. If I was retiring I’d probably want to live in a place like this. I simply don’t believe we can accommodate everyone’s desire and maintain the community with the character which brought us here.

    Seriously, the reason I like it here? It reminds me of what the Half Moon Bay coast was when I lived there as a kid. What happened was that more people like me and my family moved in. Prices went up. Some of us tried to pass controlled growth measures back then (by this time I was in Pacifica). We failed. And more people like us moved in. Eventually the “conservative” majority was gentrified right out of the community. People like me run the San Mateo Coast now. But the character of the place has changed. The Coast Side I knew is dead, replaced by homogenized yuppie arrogance, all the dirt roads paved to keep the beemers clean, all the old places similar to OH’s and Parlatto’s replaced with pretentious California cuisine bistros. The “Feed and Fuel” place is still in HMB, but now it’s a boutique theme shop.

    What I’m saying is that if you pursue unregulated development policies, people like me will take over the community and culturally sterilize it. It’s already happening.

  64. 421
    April 8, 2009 at 6:10 am

    if i had i nickel for every time i’ve heard “i moved here to get away from that”. at least eric is honest enough to admit he is part of the problem.

    nobody is pursuing unregulated development policies, although his would certainly provide affordable housing.

  65. A Non A Me
    April 8, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Ah, another “drawbridger” in Eric. “I came here to save you from yourself”. I am a sorry member of the lot who have been here for generations and must suffer from some form of inbreeding that does not give me the clear vision of the people who came here to escape the mistakes of other areas.
    Give me a break! Attempting to say that we will “suffer” the growth like Santa Barbara or Santa Rosa simply shows a complete lack of understanding about the economic forces that control growth.

  66. Eric Kirk
    April 8, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Actually, I said like Half Moon Bay and Pacifica.

  67. Eric Kirk
    April 8, 2009 at 8:20 am

    And mark my words, you won’t be bringing in new people who have been here for generations.

  68. A Non A Me
    April 8, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Most important is to keep our young people here with good paying jobs.

  69. Anonymous
    April 8, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Have to agree with “A Non A me” when he/she said we will “suffer” the growth like Santa Barbara or Santa Rosa simply shows a complete lack of understanding about the economic forces that control growth”.

    No matter what Erik says re where this will be it is different in Humboldt County and for the people here that say that we will become like “everyone else”. I don’t think so unless we agree to “inclusionary zoning” that some counties have that have not worked to produce low income housing at all. Redevlopment that has not even worked to produce low income housing in very large counties and certainly not in Humboldt County.

    Somehow we need to get together and plan for everyone’s future here and I don’t think that is being done.

    I believe that everyone is entitled to have a roof over their head even if it is a motel room. Lots of people will never be able to afford a house to purchase and we all know that. It is a roof over your head if you want one. Apartment, shelter, etc. That is a roof over your head. If some want to sleep under an overpass on the highway or on a beach then that is their decison.

    Why hasn’t the Planning Commission ever talked about small mobile homes like the FEMA homes that they have thousands of sitting around the country for being low income housing. Eureka voted a year or two ago to have low income housing in motels to only be “150 square feet” and that was probably because they either owned or were going to own a motel where the rooms were that small.

    Inclusionary Zoning is not the answer unless everyone here wants their house tax to go up.

    In some parts of Santa Rosa the taxes that get added to your “regular” tax bill are $31,000 or more. Do we think we can afford this? I can’t. That will certainly turn us into the “Santa Rosa” factor that is what we don’t want. That not only incusionary zoning fund but Mello Rouse funds that are being added for “services” such as fire, police, street maintenance, water, sewer connections, etc. to all new houses that were built. That would certasinly stop any new housing even low income housing.

    This could be our next cost that will be added. Want to pay $20,000 or $40,000 additional on your tax bill. Keep it up and we will be there. Planning Commission is looking for a way out and it would be pretty easy to decide that certain areas could have a tax added to homes – new homes as well as old homes. Who would be able to afford those taxes? Not many so the no growthers would like this but all of us will end up paying if it doesn’t work.

    Want to lose Proposition 13? Can your afford your house if your tax doubles, triples or more? Time to think about our State’s budget shortfall and what could happen to all of us. Sometimes I look on the internet to see if I can find somewhere else I would like to live and it is hard to imagine moving from here but just might have to happen

  70. Ed
    April 8, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Spoken like a true real estate agent 9:52.

  71. Eric Kirk
    April 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Redevlopment that has not even worked to produce low income housing in very large counties

    That’s simply not true.

    Inclusionary Zoning is not the answer unless everyone here wants their house tax to go up.

    And that doesn’t even make sense.

    Want to lose Proposition 13?

    A county ordinance cannot overturn state law, especially not a constitutional provision.

    And FEMA homes are not the answer to low income housing. You need land to put them on, and if the available land is only dedicated to high end housing, which is where the unchecked market forces will push it, there won’t be any available.

    The county is already changing in ways which I saw happen to the San Mateo coast side in the 70s and 80s. The similarities are eerie actually, and the irony I keep trying to point out is that the ascent of progressive politics over the past 10 years is one strong indicator. If I only cared about “winning” political contests I’d say “bring it on.” But it the communities will lose their charm and character and many working people will have to find another place to live. They probably will anyway if we don’t come up with some plans for economic development to replace the resource industries which aren’t limited to retail.

  72. 421
    April 9, 2009 at 7:14 am

    So what do the people on the san mateo coast do for a living?

  73. 421
    April 9, 2009 at 7:18 am

    ok eric i just looked at a map. i hope you would agree that the proximity of good paying jobs may have something to do with the development of the areas you are referring to. we do not have that here. not many people can work in the city earning six figures and commute to a nice place out of town like they can in the bay area.

  74. A Non A Me
    April 9, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Humboldt County is near the bottom for median income for the State. How does this relate to housing? If you have a median income like Marin or San Francisco counties, the level of disposable income for those who make at or above the median is significant. Since Humboldt has a significant population with low incomes, there is little disposable income available for housing.
    But does it cost significantly less to build in Humboldt? No. Housing is expensive compared to incomes. The scale of development in Humboldt does not lead to efficiecies. I did a “simple” three lot infill development and the cost was over $70,000 for each lot for utilities, road improvements, and enginering. So, how affordable can housing be if development costs are increased to meet inclusionary zoning demands?

  75. Eric Kirk
    April 9, 2009 at 11:50 am

    ok eric i just looked at a map. i hope you would agree that the proximity of good paying jobs may have something to do with the development of the areas you are referring to. we do not have that here. not many people can work in the city earning six figures and commute to a nice place out of town like they can in the bay area.

    Doesn’t account for Anderson Valley, also in the throes of a Marin County type gentrification, as well as the Mendo Coast and northern Sonoma Coast. What will drive it up here is the massive retirement crowd, looking to stay in California and stretch out their retirement assets. I think that’s part of what’s happening in Mendo, though the wine industry expansion over all else is also a factor.

    So, how affordable can housing be if development costs are increased to meet inclusionary zoning demands?

    The costs are spread through the more profitable high end development sales. That’s the whole point.

  76. Ed
    April 9, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Eric, I know how frustrating it is to warn people when you see history repeating itself but you’re doing a good job and keeping a more level head than most including me. We’ve seen just how fast development happens in this State and unfortunately it doesn’t require the same geographical conditions it once did. Your analysis about gentrification through retirees is accurate, and we better plan now or low income housing will be impossible and the traditional lifestyles of Humboldt Co. will be a thing of the past. So much has already been lost and in only one generation.

  77. Anonymous
    April 9, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    What do you consider “high-end”?

    How many of those are built each year in ‘Boldt?

    What is a reasonable cost/fee to charge each “high-end” unit?

  78. Bill Barnum
    April 9, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Eric, from your post at 11:50, you said, first quoting 421:

    “So, how affordable can housing be if development costs are increased to meet inclusionary zoning demands?

    The costs are spread through the more profitable high end development sales. That’s the whole point.”

    Eric, what “profitable high end development sales” are you talking about? In Humboldt County, only 165 single family building permits were let by the county in 2008. None of those, not one, was in a tract development of “high end” developments because there are none. Zero. Most were one or two home projects, some as many as three or four. One McKinleyville project sold tens of mid-priced homes. There are no tract-style developments (with model homes) in the entire county. Not one.

    I just want to understand your argument here. Are you intending to put an IZ tax only on “the more profitable high end development sales”? Because if that is what you mean, there are none to tax. If you mean to tax every single home that is built, there were only 165 permitted last year. If each was taxed $10,000, that would raise $1,650,000. After say 25% administrative costs, you’d have $1,237,500 to spend. “Affordable housing” by firms such as Danco runs $200 per square foot to construct (land and development). This would produce 6,187.5 square feet of new housing, or about a 6-plex.

    We agree we are 2,200 affordable units short in our county’s housing stock. Your tax every home $10k plan would produce 6 units. It ain’t gonna work. The economic effect you desire will not be produced by your plan.

    See my point yet?

  79. Anonn
    April 9, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    None of those, not one, was in a tract development of “high end” developments because there are none.

    What is the definition of high end development? I’d say any project that costs over $400-500 per square foot in residential construction should be defined as high end. Bay Area high end is probably in the $600 psf and up.

  80. 421
    April 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I believe the majority of those 165 homes were under or around $200/ square foot. Please somebody remind me again why affordable housing has to be brand new?

  81. Eric Kirk
    April 10, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Bill, I’m primarily concerned about major developments. I’d have no problem exempting any projects under 5 homes to be constructed. Maybe the number can even be higher. Certainly if somebody builds a nice house on a lot that they want to move into or sell I’m not interested in forcing him/her to build another one at a low income price.

    There may not be any “tract housing” projects underway or even in the works, but it was precisely an affluent tract housing project suggestion which generated the TPZ controversy.

    And again, the case you referred to incorporated a fee/tax in lieu of actual low housing construction. I’m not sure that’s the model I’d support either. It didn’t work for that city obviously.

    But Bill, if you don’t think tract projects are going to happen then what is the problem setting up zoning rules which which would only apply to them? If they don’t come, it’ll be a useless effort at worst.

  82. Anonn
    April 10, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Bill provides legal services for many developers in Humboldt. Protecting their interests is his job. He would never support any zoning rules that would limit a developers return profit on any project, from large scale scale track home developments to small single lot spec projects.

  83. Eric Kirk
    April 10, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I don’t know about that, but his point is that there are no tract housing projects in existence. We are discussing the general plan however, which is a 20 year plan, premised on the notion of a hundred year plan to some degree. I think it’s only a matter of time given the beauty and the gradual improvements in infrastructure and all I’m calling for is an ounce of prevention with what I regard as an inevitability.

    If inclusionary zoning had been placed on the golf course development to the south of HMB, it might be a very different place today.

  84. 421
    April 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    eric the county is not saying large high end developments, they are saying all development. that means minor subdivisions too.

  85. the last stone
    April 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Eric:

    Bill’s got a point. Taxing development may not generate the income necessary to address the need for affordable housing.

    Continuing to subdivide and sell small lots of residential housing into a declining housing market and rising unemployment rates may do more to bring down local housing prices than taxing the same level of development — at least in the short to mid term. Especially if landowners hard hit by the current timber market doldrums feel they have little choice but to sell property to prop up cash flows through this down cycle.

    While current home owners may not appreciate the loss in equity the next time they need to refinance, some associated opportunities may arise.

    I hear that Habitat for Humanity is buying foreclosed properties in bulk for renovation rather than building new homes. Prices are well below appraised value and well off of market peaks.
    http://www.wxii12.com/news/18963538/detail.html

    Perhaps there are alternatives to hiring Danco to build “affordable” housing at $200 a square foot.

    Of course the “Habitat” model would still be a subsidy, it’s just that the mechanism for providing the subsidy would be more market friendly.

    If we see a further 10-15% decline in Humboldt housing prices, how much does that cost each current home owner?

    Personally, I think I’d rather pay the $100 a year parcel tax.

  86. Bill Barnum
    April 10, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Eric,

    I think we are getting closer to a mutual understanding of our positions.

    IZ will not work in Humboldt and I doubt any rural county. Here we do not have the zoned capacity for tract developments, and mainly I think that new construction cannot be shown to contribute to the need for affordable housing. As someone else said above, where does it say that affordable housing has to be new?

    When I was a young lawyer, my first house purchase was from a family I knew whose grandfather had passed away about a year earlier in his home. It was a 60-year-old fixer-upper. We really liked that house. It had one bedroom. The price was $48,500.

    Certainly it was affordable, but it was not new, nor did it have 2-3 bedrooms. We compromised to get what we could afford.

    I simply think other means need to be found than to tax new construction with IZ or in lieu fees. There simply is not enough new construction in our county to do anything meaningful with IZ.

    And in the next 20 years we do not have the means or the will to expand infrastructure to allow a high rate of new construction. So, the 1990 high of 445 units will not be happening in the next 20 years.

    Meanwhile, the county’s RHNA number is over 2,500 units for the next 5 years. We have never had year to year averages of 500 units. The 10 years from 1986-1995 we averaged 325, then it dropped to 249 per year from 1999-2008. And as I stated above, 2008 we had only 165 starts. This history does not support an IZ approach to the problem. It will not work.

  87. Eric Kirk
    April 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Real quickly, certain developers are requesting that the GPU reflect a projected growth of six percent annually. I don’t see how that projection makes any sense in terms of subdivisions of existing parcels/lots and filling in existing spaces. Somebody is anticipating new subdivisions and tract housing, and given the mounting pressure of demand on rural counties in California, I think the will and means will follow.

    I’d love to be wrong, because if you’re right and “kingdom” type development is only a pipe dream and we’re only talking about filling in a lot here and there, then you’re right, there’s not much to worry about. But I think it’s only a matter of time.

    I’ll respond to your other points, and Stone’s, later on.

  88. Anonymous
    April 13, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    I started to get all teary-eyed reading how Bill Barnum wants affordable housing but doesn’t think IZ will get’er done.

    Is this the same Barnum that was fined $10,000 for improper scheming to develop 16 big lots next to the Eureka golf course, where the worst offending sewage spills enter the bay via Martin Slough and Elk River? Mostly during crab season… Nice to fund all those colas and hot dogs for little league while local kids, domestic, and wild animals and livestock wonder through the poop forests of Eureka. (Have any similar stories of Grandpa in Arkansas in 1920?).

    IZ will not do more harm than these good ‘ol boys have accomplished, and it’s a lot better than building-moratoriums, eminent domain, or taxing empty city property for is actual value to the public.

    Linkage, or in lieu, fees can also be a less painful way to provide the increasing numbers of poor with one of the fundamental pillars of civilization. Otherwise, watch the headlines fill with more and more crime, ooops, they already are! Warning: it will become increasingly harder to condemn those lazy homeless if they can’t take a shower, cook a meal, or rent an SRO that enables a minimum-wage worker to save a little money, you know, to have a vested interest in society.

    Or, we can leave it up to these geniuses, like Barnum’s Martin Slough neighbor Mr. Ken “recreational bulldozing” Barrellis. He somehow got the city of Eureka to try and trick a retired school teacher at the foot of “J” Street to sign easement papers instead of standard occupancy permits to accommodate 6 pricey homes, once again, in sewer-ville. Guess they didn’t know she was a teacher. With a lawyer.

    Like fighting cancer, it will take everything to build affordable housing; in lieu fees, IZ, state and federal grants, matching funds, regulatory incentives, and the kind of “get ‘er done” resolve that matches the local culture of entitlements held by local developers.

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