Comstock's magazine 0119 - January 2019 - Page 41

in the city’s transportation fee — one of the largest of the impact fees — from a per-unit to per-square-foot calculation. She says that change shows the city is lis- tening. She goes to meetings between city officials and developers once or twice a week for collaborative discussions. “Amazing projects are being pro- posed,” Mohanna says. “Five to 10 percent [in costs] can make the difference in them getting built.” n Steven Yoder writes about business, real estate and criminal justice. His work has appeared in The Fiscal Times, Sa- lon, The American Prospect and else- where. On Twitter @syodertweet and at CELEBRATING 80 YEARS EMPOWERING PEOPLE AND STRENGTHENING NEIGHBORHOODS THROUGH AFFORDABLE HOUSING As the lead housing agency for the City and County of Sacramento, we’re changing lives for the better. We serve a diverse and growing group of people in need, and we support opportunities for a better life. Our success is only possible through strategic nonprofit, private and public partnerships. We work together to address the shared goal to create a broad spectrum of sustainable housing with amenities and economic opportunities that make communities thrive. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT • HOUSING FINANCE • AFFORDABLE HOUSING HISTORIC PRESERVATION • HOMEBUYER ASSISTANCE results closely: “For Sacramento to figure out a way to be able to offset or defer or waive impact fees on behalf of affordable housing is an amazing move, and I’ll defi- nitely be looking at what they did to reach that conclusion.” Fees may be a small piece of the big- ger housing puzzle, but they could be the difference in getting an individual project built. An August 2018 Mountain Housing Council-commissioned report concluded that housing development is driven less by fees than by market forces like real estate prices, costs and interest rates. In the Truckee region, the biggest cost driv- ers for multifamily developments are construction, financing and transaction costs — fees made up just 6 percent of the total. Still, they could be a deciding factor in where to develop, the report concluded. “I don’t think there’s a silver bullet. There’s no one thing that’s going to stimulate housing,” says the council’s Seana Doherty. But Doherty sees another function of fee reductions — signaling. In her role, she talks regularly to a team of area de- velopers about the barriers to launching housing projects. For developers, “Fees are a symbol of sort of ‘do you want us to come?’ and ‘Are you working with us or are you working against us?’” Doherty says. “They told us that it’s really a psy- chological thing. If you’re slapping on this high fee that really doesn’t make sense, then it just doesn’t seem like … you really want the project to move forward.” In Sacramento, the signal appears to be flashing green. Given the rising costs outside the city’s control, like construc- tion materials and labor, “Everything they can do will make a difference,” says Jim Lofgren of the California Apartment Association of the city’s fee and permit- ting reforms. “When I’ve spoken with de- velopers, they’ve complimented the city for their efforts.” One of those is Nikki Mohanna, the Sacramento developer of a new 11-story mixed-use residential and retail building at 19th and J streets, who’s also launched a second mixed-use residential project at 10th and K. She applauds a recent change 7 TH AND H Award-winning 150-unit 7th and H development by Mercy Housing • Reduces homelessness through high quality, service enriched housing. • Affordable, safe and attractive workforce housing in the downtown area. • Connects existing downtown neighborhood and the future Railyards development. January 2019 | 41