Douglas County task force to address affordable housing |

Douglas County task force to address affordable housing

Claire Cudahy

Douglas County is taking steps to help facilitate more affordable housing in its communities.

In July, Douglas County entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA). A part of that MOU included the creation of an affordable housing task force.

Members of the task force include Heather Ferris, Douglas County Community Development; Karen Beckerbauer, Douglas County Community Services; Rex Massey, community leader representing sousing; Carl Schnock, WAVE; Brandy Thomson, Douglas County Business Council; and Mary Anne Martin, Douglas County District Attorney’s Office; and Dennis McDuffee and Torry Johnson, community leaders representing the real estate industry from both the Valley and Lake Tahoe, respectively.

The goals of the task force are to determine the current pricing for affordable housing in the area or areas it could be developed, establish a process by which NRHA can assist Douglas County in attracting more affordable housing, and identify viable undeveloped land sites or existing properties that could work for affordable housing.

Lastly, the task force plans to create a list of “realistically proposed housing development initiatives.”

“The intent would be to work with developers to offer incentives towards including ‘Obtainable, Affordable, and Workforce Housing’ in future development projects,” said Brad Hurley, assistant county manager.

Currently Douglas County offers a maximum 25 percent density bonus for projects that include certain thresholds of affordable housing units.

“Community Development has plans to bring to a December [Board of County Commissioners meeting] revisions to the code with updated language and incentives,” said Hurley.

At present, Douglas County — which has a population of around 48,000 — has fewer than 500 units of affordable housing countywide, with around 133 units in the Tahoe Basin.

An affordable housing project that would’ve nearly doubled that number was derailed this summer.

In July, the sale of the Kingsbury Middle School to a developer with plans for 420 units of affordable housing fell through after the Douglas County School District Board unanimously voted to deny another extension of escrow.

Glenbrook-based developer Lake Parkway LLC entered into a purchase agreement for the property back in July 2016 for $3.15 million. After several extensions, the board voted to put the vacant school back on the market.

The affordable housing project received vocal pushback from nearby residents who cited potential impacts to recreation, the environment and the small community.

Douglas County’s housing task force is not the first of its kind in the region.

Last November, El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel assembled a bi-state affordable housing task force with representatives from all counties in the Basin — Washoe, Douglas, El Dorado and Placer counties — in addition to the City of South Lake Tahoe and bi-state agencies like TRPA, Tahoe Prosperity Center and Tahoe Transportation District.

The results of the six meetings of this task force have not yet been released to the public.

The Douglas County Affordable Housing Task Force will meet for the first time on Monday, Nov. 6, at 3 p.m.

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