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.