Chris Craiker’s Architex Angle: Napa’s unrealistic inclusionary housing


Affordable housing

Providing affordable housing is a huge challenge, especially in Napa. Between the Pandemic, economic uncertainties and relentless fires, our desperate need has only accelerated and construction costs continue to spiral higher.

Currently, all new homes and multifamily projects pay housing fees or set aside up to 15% of their units as permanent affordable-income units. As a reminder, the developer does not pay these fees. The market-rate buyers and renters pay higher prices for the privilege of living in Napa.

Napa City has tried to be more flexible, encouraging developers to propose alternate solutions instead of paying outrageous fees that go nowhere. There are many options that could be considered. Here’s some:

1. Developers could provide affordable units in an alternate location where land or construction costs are less. Some may consider this ghettoization, but it could provide professionally managed housing that’s better than amateur landlords.

2. New state law AB 68 allows expanding existing multifamily projects up to 25% by converting existing carports, garages or exercise rooms to additional apartments. This could be extended to proposed new projects. Currently, additional units can only be proposed after the project is constructed. Allow them as part of any proposal up-front.

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