City’s housing challenges addressed at SCNA forum

By Kathy Les and Erik Fay

Possible solutions to Sacramento’s housing challenges were discussed at SCNA’s Housing Forum in late May.

More than 80 people participated in the Zoom forum, listening to six speakers who offered varying perspectives on the city’s proposed strategies for housing in the 2040 General Plan Update.

City planners hope to address housing shortages through a new designation known as plex-zoning to create more “missing middle” affordable housing. Additionally, planners want to provide a pathway to live in neighborhoods throughout the city previously closed off to racial minorities by way of restrictive covenants and redlining. As a result of such historical factors, wealth and poverty are concentrated in different Sacramento neighborhoods.

The six speakers represented local government, leaders from other neighborhood associations, and an historic preservation advocacy organization.

A city proposal aimed at alleviating disproportionate concentrations of racial minorities by rezoning all R-1 properties to allow up to four units inside the building footprint currently allowed for a single-family home was a focus in the forum presentations. This would be in addition to state law, which already allows two Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on R-1 lots.

“The primary action cities can take is to provide more lower-cost options in the highest opportunity areas of the city,” said Matt Hertel, the city’s acting long-range planning manager.

Greg Chew, a senior urban planner for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, said,

“Sacramento needs to look at three themes:

  1. produce more housing;
  2. prevent sprawl and promote infill, and
  3. allow for more diverse housing types.”

Some speakers raised concerns regarding how rezoning may affect affordability and, conversely, potentially have a detrimental impact on already vulnerable low-income neighborhoods.

Housing Forum Speakers headshots

Chris Jones, project manager with UC Davis Information Technology, and a resident of the Colonial Heights neighborhood, recommended:

“Rather than up-zoning, we should enable ADU development in targeted communities, sustainable public financing in low and moderate-income neighborhoods, expedited permits, create an approved plan ‘library,’ and decrease taxes and fees on modest and affordable homes.”

Jones also suggested that abandoned and underutilized commercial properties should be converted to residential use.

Also participating were William Burg, president of Preservation Sacramento; Kirk Vyverberg, chair of the Land Park Community Association’s Land Use Committee; and Councilmember Jay Schenirer.

The 90-minute forum is available for viewing below.



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