A new mixed income neighborhood for locals and working professionals is being envisioned for the Dollar Hill community in North Lake Tahoe. On Monday March 19, the Development team comprised of Related California, Pacific West Communities and Dinsmore Sierra held their first community open house to hear and gather community feedback about the development. Representatives from Placer County and the Mountain Housing Council (MHC) kicked off the meeting with a presentation on the workforce housing needs in the region and volunteers from the MHC recorded public comments at each of the developer stations. Comments will inform the design and site plan of the future community that will house the local workforce.
The majority of the attendees were neighbors and community members. The development team is hoping for additional feedback from the local workforce so that housing type, size and preferences can also be considered in this early planning phase of the development. Please send comments and thoughts on the development to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Meetings: May 20, 2019 and July 19, 2019 in Tahoe City, location TBD.
What is the number one issue housing developers have shared that would help make projects pencil in the Lake Tahoe region? Parking reduction! The cost of a parking spot in a housing development in California is at least $24,000 for an above ground spot. More if underground and in places like Lake Tahoe where land and coverage is expensive. But, think about that for one minute – $24,000 for one parking spot, that often is empty if the housing is near transit, or in town where people don’t need a car to get to work. “For every $24,000 for a parking spot, that is $24,000 less to spend on affordable housing” according to Meea Kang, the housing developer who built Kings Beach’s Dolmus, one of our region’s most positive examples of affordable, local housing development.
To fix that, the Housing Tahoe Partnership Policy Workgroup developed a consensus-based parking policy that allows for flexible options for future affordable and full-time resident housing. The Tahoe Prosperity Center, facilitator of the Housing Tahoe Partnership will be working over the next few months to ensure that the jurisdictions in Lake Tahoe adopt this new flexible parking policy.
This policy will ensure projects in town, near transit and that include full-time resident housing won’t have to build parking spots that will end up empty. One recent example is the amount of parking at Sierra Gardens Apartments. This 76-unit affordable apartment building in South Lake Tahoe has more than 1/3 of its parking spaces empty most of the time. That doesn’t improve our environment since all that pavement contributes to runoff and loss of lake clarity. Now, the Flexible Parking Standards Policy will let each developer work to ensure enough spaces for their development and ensure that most of the project funding goes into housing – not empty parking spots.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD) Board of Directors changed their administrative code in September 2018 to allow for the transfer of sewer and water units from one parcel to another in order to encourage the building of affordable housing projects. In addition, they reduced the sewer hook-up fees by reducing the rate from $2700 to $100 as long as the sewer fees are dedicated to affordable and workforce housing projects (up to 120% of Area Median Income.) The $100 fee will cover administrative costs at the district associated with the transfers.
The significance of this cannot be understated – this is a potential game-changer for housing projects in the South Shore. One motel owner who was wanted to convert 10 motel rooms into affordable rental studio units previously was unable to afford the $27,000 to add small oven ranges to the rooms. Now that he would only have to pay the $100 administrative fee per oven, his cost is $1,000 instead for the ten units. This savings of $26,000 is not only an incentive to convert, it allowed him to invest in each of the units to make them more desirable for renters.
On a larger scale workforce housing project, one of the Tahoe Prosperity Center pro-formas showed a savings of $123,000 on a 45-unit project. That savings, along with other cost saving policy changes the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Tahoe Prosperity Center are promoting, can make the difference for developers looking to build workforce housing in South Lake Tahoe.
Learn more about South Lake Tahoe’s Housing Tahoe.
On February 19th and 28th, two delegations of MHC members traveled to Sacramento for meetings with key policymakers. The purpose was two-fold: to bring awareness to the housing crisis in the Tahoe-Truckee region and to learn how proposed state policies would affect our region. Among the policy priorities conveyed by the group were support for policies that develop and unlock accessory dwelling units (ADUs), dedicated funding for rural areas in statewide affordable housing funding programs, and incentives for mobile home parks to be sold to residents or community organizations. The group met with several housing leaders, including Senator Jim Beall (representing San Jose), Louise Bedsworth (Executive Director of the Strategic Growth Council), and Ronda Paschal (Governor Newsom’s Housing Legislative Deputy). MHC will continue cultivating partnerships with policy makers and statewide organizations in an effort to bring resources to our region’s housing crisis.
“Our region was well represented, organized and articulate. We presented MHC’s policy interest to multiple legislatures and staffers throughout a very busy day, and specifically weighed in on policies and language that helped advance our regions’ need for solutions to housing.I was personally so proud of being with colleagues that showed up to advocate for the needs of our region,” said Stacy Caldwell, CEO of Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) – the lead organization of the Council.