Affordability, Energy Problem-Solving

Here are a couple of examples of the sort of shelter alternatives that are becoming more and more common, one in the field of affordable housing and the other of energy efficiency.

The Quail Meadows community, on Santa Maria Way just off U.S. 101 in Santa Maria, is both a manufactured housing subdivision and a mobile home park, and has sold 152 of its 307 spaces in the five months it has been open.

The western section is the subdivision, where residents buy both house and lot. Two- and three-bedroom homes ranging from 1,184 to 1,770 square feet in size are priced from $58,950 to $76,950. Lots are priced from $29,850 to $35,950.

The developer, Pat Loomis, says move-in times are usually one to two months. "We run a turnkey operation," he explained. Sixty-seven of the 115 house-and-lot parcels are sold.

The other section contains 191 rental lots, 85 of them now occupied. Monthly rentals range from $249 to $279; leases are offered up to 20 years, with annual increases keyed to the national Consumer Price Index. Loomis added that the leases are assumable, so that one can sell his house through any real estate broker and the new buyer can take over the lease with no increase in rent.

Each section has its own clubhouse and pool area. Amenities include clubhouses, swimming pools, spas, court games, a jogging trail and a private five-acre park. A recreational vehicle parking area is planned. The subdivision section allows a limited number of children while the leased area is for adults only.

Solar energy is being used more and more. Such features as "solar hot water" or "pre-plumbed for solar" are commonly listed among the inducements advertised for residential developments of all kinds. But developments planned from the beginning with as near-complete use of solar energy as the state of the art will allow in every unit are not at all common.

One such is Bellpark Townhomes, on Park Street between Lakewood Boulevard and Clark Avenue in Bellflower. It consists of 39 two-level town houses (23 had been sold early this week) with two and three bedrooms in 1,192 to 1,500 square feet, priced from $89,990 to $119,990.

The developer, George Holiday, said that each town house contains more than $20,000 worth of the most modern solar energy utilization equipment, which he says could save each buyer as much as $50,000 during the remainder of this century, based on projected price increases for natural gas and electricity--in addition to state and federal tax incentives.

In addition to rooftop solar collector panels for domestic hot water and space heating, the homes contain solar atriums, skylights, reversible fans and controllable exhaust turbines. Wood-burning fireplaces with heat-recirculating systems and a gas-fired heating system are included for prolonged periods of bad weather.

Cooling is accomplished by a thermostatically controlled system that, in effect, reverses the heating system and pushes the hot air out, backed up by a conventional refrigerated system for use during extremely hot weather.

Builders Sales Corp., the sales agent, staffs four models daily from 11 a.m. to dusk.

--Gov. George Deukmejian signed Senate Bill 298 in September, 1983; it contained a provision permitting lessees of solar energy systems to claim a tax credit on the "principal recovery portion" of the lease payments. Late last month (more than a year later!)the state Franchise Tax Board and Energy Commission issued an interpretation to help lessees determine what that portion is. It's very technical; details should be sought from the tax board, the commission or a tax expert.

--The first national conference on microcomputer applications for conservation and renewable energy will be held Feb. 26-28 in Tucson, sponsored by the University of Arizona College of Engineering, the federal Department of Energy and the Arizona Solar Energy Commission. Information is available from the university's engineering college, Harvill Building, Box 9, Tucson, Ariz. 85721.

--More than $350,000 has been made available by the Agency for International Development and the State Department's Trade & Development Program for low- and middle-income wood housing demonstration projects in several Latin American countries where severe housing shortages exist and wood is underutilized. Details are available from the American Plywood Assn. or Rep. Don Bonker (D-Wash.).

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