Commentary: Rancho Cordova can be afforadble housing example

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

Soon after Rancho Cordova incorporated as a city, its new City Council agreed to require that at least 10 percent of the homes in any new development in the city must be affordable for people of moderate to low incomes. The city is now poised to back away from that commitment. That would be a mistake.

Without a hard, unambiguous numerical requirement for affordable housing in place, Rancho is in danger of becoming divided into a city of haves and have-nots. Future residents who move into new housing likely to be built over the next decade on huge swaths of undeveloped land south of Highway 50 will be the haves. Those who continue to live in the older parts of Rancho, mostly north of Highway 50, will be the have-nots.

Council members who support the change, including Mayor Linda Budge, insist that the city remains committed to the goal of mixed income neighborhoods. Budge thinks that in the current tough economic times, the city urgently needs to encourage new construction. Builders need as much flexibility as possible.

But once a hard number is removed, the city's commitment to affordable housing is undermined. A standard that was once clear becomes ambiguous. The unmistakable signal the council will send to home builders is that they no longer have to worry about building affordable housing in Rancho Cordova.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.