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Housing studies should provide direction for Truckee’s General Plan Update

Scott Hess

Every year, Truckee and the surrounding area sees hundreds of people come to the community for seasonal work. Every year, according to a recently-released worker study, that number increases.

The Town of Truckee knows affordable and workforce housing is in great demand these days, and it hired Bay Area Economics to conduct two studies – a seasonal worker study and an affordable housing land-use study. The purpose of the studies is to determine what, if anything can be done to alleviate the housing problem.

“For the seasonal workers study, it’s going to provide information on how many seasonal workers are out there and what the town can do to help the situation,” said Truckee Town Planner Duane Hall.

The affordable housing will answer the question, “Do we have a sufficient amount of land zoned for affordable housing needs?” he said.

The two studies will come to a workshop on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, where the Truckee community can voice its opinions. At the end of the workshop, Hall said, the town council will make decisions and give direction to the town staff. Once the studies are approved as a valid town document, the findings will be used in the town’s General Plan Update.

The studies were conducted by Bay Area Economics and were funded through two grants from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Affordable housing

The affordable housing land-use study identifies how many residences there are in Truckee and how many the town must add to address the increasing affordable housing shortage. It shows how many affordable units there are currently, how many are under construction or planned in new developments, and how many additional units the town would need.

In turn, the town will set a required amount of housing for each new development, based on the study. While there already is a town requirement, the study may change the numbers. In addition, if after the workshop the town does not have enough property zoned for residential uses, some areas of Truckee could be re-zoned.

Hall said it is important to check these zonings, “Especially for low- and very low-income people over the next 10 to 20 years.”

While the study was conducted and demand was quantified for 15 years from now, Hall said state law mandates the housing element of a general plan has to be updated every five years, “so you’re still on target.”

Seasonal workers

The seasonal worker study identifies how many seasonal workers live and/or work in Truckee and how many residences and/or rooms the town has available to them.

“We can see where these seasonal workers work and where they live,” Hall said.

BAE researched the winter months, because winter is the time of year with the most seasonal winters – hundreds come up to the area to work at ski resorts.

BAE looked not only at Truckee businesses for the study, but also in surrounding areas like Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sugar Bowl, Soda Springs, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Donner Ski Ranch. Hall said the reason for this many seasonal workers work at these areas – which are located just outside Truckee – but rent or buy in Truckee.

The study also identified other communities and programs the cities had set up for employee housing. One idea mentioned in the draft of the study is affordable housing bonds, which the town could offer to ski resorts in exchange for providing affordable and/or employee housing. Bonds would be a low cost alternative to conventional loans, BAE mentioned in the study.

What can the public do?

Hall said the town will gladly accept public comment about the studies before the workshop. The study can be found on the Town of Truckee Web site, http://www.townoftruckee.com, or at Town Hall, at 10183 Truckee Airport Road.


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