Housing issue still important to Tahoe Regional Planning Agency | SierraSun.com
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Housing issue still important to Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

MARY THOMPSON, Sun NewsService

The classified advertisements tell the whole story: three-bedroom, two-bath house in South Shore’s Al Tahoe neighborhood – $850 per month.

On the next page, jobs are offering a minimum wage.

Current market conditions make it difficult to afford homes for the area’s work force, which is primarily service-oriented.

Area governments – including the city of South Lake Tahoe, county governments on both sides of the state line and even the basin’s bistate planning authority – are working to change that.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has decided to keep on the area’s affordable housing issues, despite concerns that its staff is already overworked and that the issue falls beyond the agency’s mission to “preserve, restore and enhance the unique

The agency’s 14-member board voted in favor Wednesday of postponing a finding that local governments around the lake have demonstrated a commitment to their responsibility in providing affordable housing.

That decision, which called out dissents from boardmembers Don Miner and Jim Galloway, set in motion a moratorium on dividing vacant lots in the Lake Tahoe Basin’s affordable housing hot spots.

Some are concerned that dividing parcels will result in lavish condominium developments as opposed to affordable housing units.

The moratorium will last at least until October, when the board plans on revisiting the finding.

Passing the finding would have meant that the moratorium on dividing parcels would have died and local governments would have to pass a checklist of efforts to help foster affordable housing growth in December 2001.

Still the agency’s role in the affordable housing issue, which is typically the responsibility of the state and local governments, was questioned.

Boardmember Hal Cole said it’s TRPA’s mission that has brought the agency to the issue.

“We made ourselves have to be involved because we’ve created all these obstacles that make it difficult to do it,” he said.

Suggestions from Douglas County’s planners included amending the TRPA code for incentives to build affordable housing.

They want to see lifts on TRPA’s density provision, slack in height requirements and flexibility in land coverage in areas where affordable housing may be built.

Save Tahoe First

The League to Save Lake Tahoe, a nonprofit environmental organization, has maintained that it typically doesn’t take a stance on affordable housing except when it concerns the environment.

This issue may have crossed that line.

Rochelle Nason, the League’s executive director, urged the agency to drop affordable housing from its to-do list.

“Don’t allow affordable housing to become an excuse for damaging Lake Tahoe,” Nason said. “Until your thresholds are met and water clarity is not declining, you should not be trying to take on new roles that are not part of your mission.”

The agency has asked that representatives from local governments organize and devise a plan before the board revisits the issue in October.


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