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Government developed housing

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I want to thank the Shredder for bringing focus to the quality of life problem facing our county because of the high cost of housing ("Double trouble housing bubble," July 27). Rather than doing political gymnastics to try to get private contractors to jump into the unprofitable business of building housing in our county, why not consider a different and more viable direction.

I think the solution to the high cost of housing in SLO County is to develop a program of government-developed housing. Think about it. Since the challenge to achieving affordable housing is a combination of the high cost of government entitlements and building permits, the ever-increasing legal hurdles and delays caused by environmentalists, and the high cost of land, these can all be mitigated through government housing. Let me explain.

San Luis Obispo County, by focusing on the best interests of the entire community, could fast track the entitlement process and waive all permit fees. They could work with environmental groups so that all housing projects meet their approval in advance. And, finally, they could donate unused government land or purchase farmland and then change the zoning of that land to make it eligible for housing, thus acquiring said land for pennies on the dollar.

Then, with only one new hire, a licensed general contractor, all building activities could be done through subcontractors thus not burdening the county with additional staff. Once completed, these properties could be sold for whatever price the county deems fair to the workforce. This could be at market value, at total construction cost to the county or below. And if it were sold below cost, then the taxpayers in the community, those so interested in promoting affordable housing, would pick up the difference. A small investment by many for the benefit of an underrepresented few.

I doubt that anyone could find fault with this idea so I encourage our Board of Supervisors to pick up and run with this, so simple, an idea.

Gary Wechter

Arroyo Grande


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