Monday, March 21, 2005

Vacaville must plan now for housing mix of the future

Perfect Blend

City must plan now for housing mix of the future

Staring 20 years into the future, Vacaville's city planners see a city of 120,000 people taking up not much more geography than the existing landscape. While that may sound like explosive growth, it represents a slow, but steady advancement.

Getting from here to there will not be so much an issue of how fast we grow, but more importantly, what type of housing we provide.

The remaining two frontiers are North Village in the northern range of the triangle formed by Interstate 80, I-505 and Midway Road, and a portion of lower Lagoon Valley. About 10,000 of the anticipated 25,000 to 30,000 new residents will find housing in those two regions.

The remainder will fill homes, townhouses and apartments in so-called "in-fill" developments - small tracts on the fringe of the city, modest subdivisions on vacant land within, and tiny parcels where 10 to 15 houses may be constructed.

It will take two decades for the city to reach what today's civic leaders say is its destiny, at least in terms of housing the growing population of California. The pace to achieve that will be deliberate as the city expects to stay within its current housing goal of adding no more than 750 homes per year.

By comparison, the current rate of home construction is about 300 homes per year.

The end result, when Vacaville has realized its "build-out" potential, must be a city with a healthy mix of housing - small houses and large, upscale homes blending with the mass-market supply of typical subdivisions. Sprinkled in that composite are townhomes, apartments and senior living units.

Last weekend, our front-page story itemized the next dozen projects that will produce about 5,000 new living units. They included some less expensive townhouses and some high-end, large-lot houses. And some projects' ingredients are still to be determined.

With that in mind, the city planners and City Council should calculate the end-result sum. If plans proceed as presented to date, what would be the final mix? And what should it be? And are we going to achieve that preferred combination of homes, apartments, high-density townhouses and executive housing that Vacaville needs to be a well-rounded community that comprises a diverse populace of homeowners?

Considering the final "build-out" is in sight today, planning for the perfect blend begins now.

The Reporter Editorial

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