As I reported the other day, a reporter for Channel 10 News in Sacramento was at the latest Nevada City Planning Commission hearing for the B&B wars in Nevada City. He was wearing a tie, no less.
Except for me and him, nobody from the journalism world that I could see was present. The Union’s report appeared 1 1/2 days later.
The Channel 10 segment aired on Monday night. The issue will go before the City Council as early as Oct. 13 — a new detail. The print version is below and the video is here. “It has opened a Pandora’s box of questions,” according to the report. No kidding!
Is this the kind of attention we want in the “flatlands” from a tourism perspective? No. Did the Sacramento TV station do a better job than The Union of discussing the issue? Yes.
How embarrassing for us locals on multiple fronts. We need to stop fighting each other and draw tourists to our small town. As for the caliber of our local journalism, well, you’ve heard it before. (Unlike The Union, the TV station interviewed the real estate agent of the previous homeowner, who alleged the city denied “multiple requests” to turn the house back into a B&B).
“NEVADA CITY, CA – The Nevada City Council is considering a new ordinance that would change the rules for bed and breakfast homes in Nevada City.
Some people are concerned that the proposed rule change was designed with only one house in mind, and that the new ordinance would go against a law that was approved by a vote of the people in 1994.
At the center of the debate is an historic home on Broad Street, near central Nevada City. The Aaron Sargeant House, constructed in 1856, has long been known as a bed and breakfast. That status changed in 2004 when a family bought the home and turned it into their private residence.
When the family tried to sell the home, however, they couldn’t find any takers, and it went into foreclosure this summer. The way in which that foreclosure came about, and what happens next with the Sargeant House, has brought on a myriad of questions and debate.
“The (city) council, as a whole, needs to decide what to do,” said Nevada City Mayor Robert Bergman. Bergman is waiting to see how things play out with his councilmembers, who are considering an ordinance that would allow houses like the Sargeant home to go back to being bed and breakfasts.
That’s what the previous owners wanted to do before they lost it in foreclosure, according to their Realtor Scott Hicks.
The family declined a request for an interview. Hicks, however, said Nevada City officials denied multiple requests to turn the house back into a bed and breakfast, as the family fielded offers from people who wanted to operate the property as a B&B.
Under current city law, that transformation from private residence to bed and breakfast would violate Measure G, which was approved by voters in Nevada City in 1994. The ordinance keeps future B&Bs from opening, and prevents homes that lost their B&B status, like the Sargeant House, from reverting back.
Bergman said there is some question as to how Measure G is impacted by Measure B, which was approved in the mid-1980s. The mayor said Measure B allowed B&Bs to open up anywhere in town. The combination of the two measures on the books in Nevada City has created confusion.
According to Bergman, the city attorney determined the presence of the two measures together essentially nullifies both of them.
Even so, the city is considering an ordinance that would go against Measure G, and allow B&Bs to reopen after being a private residence. One of the reasons for that is the interest of City Treasurer Andy Howard in the issue.
“I requested it,” said Howard, when asked what his involvement was with the new ordinance being drafted for consideration by city council. If the ordinance passes, he said he wants to buy and reopen the Sargeant House as a bed and breakfast.
That’s something the city flat-out stopped the previous owners from doing.
“I think the best thing for the town would be for it to reopen,” said Howard. “It was a great source of vitality for this town; it is a draw unto itself.”
“Of course it has the specter of favoritism in it,” said Bergman in regard to the involvement of a city official in the process. “But from everything I know, that is absolutely not true.”
Bergman has a bigger concern: is the city changing a measure that was passed by the people just because of this one property? If that’s the case, Bergman already knows how he would vote. “I don’t support it,” he said.
The mayor will have to wait and see whether the rest of the council agrees with him. The measure is on the agenda for discussion and a vote on Oct. 13 at City Hall in Nevada City.”