American Canyon Needs More Affordable Housing

Following are comments that I made through the “ecomment” process on the City’s Website regarding approval of the Napa Cove Design Permit.

Dear Chair Navarro, Vice-Chair Mallare, and Commissioners Altman, Goff, and Wong,

My name is Rich Peterson. I am a local realtor and former planning commissioner. Please accept this statement in support of the proposed Napa Cove Design Permit.

As you well know, the region is suffering a significant housing shortage. In fact, the average price of 2 bedroom apartments statewide have risen over 16% in the past year to just under $3,100. American Canyon is not immune to this inflation with the current cost of a 2 bedroom at the Village at Vintage Ranch starting at $3,080. Using the standard that 30% of the household income should go towards rent, that means that the household would have to gross over $120,000. In 2019, the median income for a Napa County household is only approximately $88,500.

These 66 units are vital to securing additional housing for people working average paying jobs in the County.

Further, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job pays $29.63 per hour in Napa County (May, 2020) which is roughly equivalent to a $61,630.40 yearly income. Without additional affordable housing stock, individuals will continue to be priced out of Napa County creating additional traffic headaches. Napa Cove is precisely the type of project that is designed to meet the needs of these workers.

It is imperative that the City meet the needs of its residents for affordable housing. That is why I am strongly in favor of the Napa Cove Project.

I have several more thoughts on affordable housing in the City, County, and the rest of the region that I will continue to work on. The first, and most important, at the moment, is that it is time for us – as an industry – to move away from the the idea that affordable housing merely means apartment complexes. I’ve been watching all of the hand-wringing about how to get more people into homes and the simple answer is to make more of them, diversify the hosing stock, and make them cheaper.

I don’t mean that we should make them cheaply, but I think that it’s time for local, state, and the federal governments to figure out how to give enough tax incentives so that developers are willing to build single family residences where individuals can purchase a home and gain equity. 30 year restrictive covenants that prevent families from accruing wealth ultimately only hurt the individuals that they are intended to serve.

There is no easy policy answer. I know that. At the same time, there isn’t much effort to think outside the box. I’ve been reading Michelle Poler’s book, Hello, Fears, and one of my main takeaways is that the desire to remain safe and comfortable too often supersedes our efforts to become uncomfortable so that we can grow. The decision to approve Napa Cove should be a simple one (👍 ) but we shouldn’t stop there. There are other spots of infill that can be used for housing and the Planning Commission, Council, and in particular staff should work with developers and look for unique ways to present a different solution.

One thought on “American Canyon Needs More Affordable Housing

  1. Pingback: Deep thoughts…for the week of January 14, 2022 | Richard Peterson, Realtor

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