Comstock's magazine 0119 - January 2019 - Page 39

income for a family of four would buy a $279,000 house, but the median home price is $538,000. But the town has made changes designed to give develop- ers a reason to launch projects. One is fee deferrals: Instead of paying up front, developers who build workforce housing and owe more than $25,000 in fees can defer payment until approval of the Certificate of Occupancy, the last step before move-in. A case study by the Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe-Truckee, a coalition working on solutions to the area’s housing crunch, concluded that for a hypothetical 77-unit multifamily dwelling, the developer would save $171,000- $287,000 in interest. Deferral proponents say these have an advantage over waiv- ers like the one that Sacramento passed: They don’t leave a hole in the budget. “We don’t want to do what Sacramento did and waive impact fees,” says Truckee Town Manager Jeff Loux. “One of two things happens: Either you short the infrastructure so you don’t build the road that’s needed someday, or you try to recoup that money off the back of later developers — say, market-rate developers — which technically isn’t legal.” During the Great Recession, Roseville’s housing boom nearly came to a halt. To incentivize growth, Roseville deferred devel- opment impact fees for select residential projects, and it proved so popular and effective at attracting new development, it has continued it ever since, says Economic Development Director Laura Matteoli. “As an incentive to our residential developers, we offered a fee deferral, and that really kept us going,” Matteoli says of those recession years. “We had the lion’s share of the number of per- mits pulled within the city, averaging about 600 single-family developments, and the majority of those used the fee deferral.” (Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office didn’t return requests for comment on the budget impacts of the city’s recent move. But a report by city staff projected that an average of 100 affordable units per year will apply for the waiver, and “addi- tional City funds may be needed to backfill revenue losses.”) ALTERNATIVE ADJUSTMENTS Truckee has made one other change designed to incentivize de- velopers to build smaller and more affordable units. The usual practice is to assess the same fee for every housing unit regard- less of size: a 2,000-square foot two-bedroom apartment pays the same as a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom. That policy de- ters developers from building the smaller unit, since there’s a financial disincentive. Instead, as of March 2018, Truckee is calculating traffic and public facilities impact fees based on square footage. For multi- unit projects, the savings from this change should get builders’ January 2019 | comstocksmag.com 39