Truckee looking to offer alternatives to housing requirements
With Truckee still locked in a housing crisis the town is reevaluating its inclusionary housing ordinance for other methods for developers to meet requirements.
The ordinance requires all residential projects to designate 15 percent of units as affordable. However, developers have proposed other “alternative equivalents” to that requirement, including paying an in-lieu fee. All proposals have been considered on a case-by-case basis.
“I’d like to be as open minded as we can possibly be to get as much housing as we can,” said Council Member Jessica Abrams.
Since the ordinance was adopted in 2007 only a handful of alternative proposals have been approved, according to a staff report. The most recent being Coburn Crossing, which agreed to make its housing units 100 percent deed restricted to locals in perpetuity, but with no affordability caps.
According to a staff report, several developers have asked if a variety in length of deed restrictions can be considered an alternative equivalent. Council Member Anna Klovstad said a deed restriction would only solve part of the problem.
“I’m not comfortable saying as a broad stroke we’d allow locals only as the equivalent,” said Klovstad. “I’d agree that a short term 10- to 15- to 20-year deed restriction is not really satisfying,” she said. “Our need for housing isn’t going to change in 10, 15, 20 years.”
Other developers have proposed building smaller units that are affordable by design but are reluctant to deed restrict or commit to price levels.
“All housing is equally important but we definitely have to focus on our achievable or below,” said Polivy, adding that any deed restriction should be at least 25 years.
Affordable housing is defined by the town as units affordable to extremely low-income households up to above moderate income households.
An extremely low income household is defined as a household earning a gross income of no more than 30 percent of the median income while above moderate income households earn no more than 160 percent of the median income. Very low income households earn no more than 50 percent of the median income and low income households earn no more than 80 percent of the median income.
Since the town adopted its inclusionary housing ordinance several projects have been constructed. Currently there are 611 affordable housing units in Truckee that are either constructed, being built or approved. Out of the town’s 13,232 units, the 611 affordable units make up 4.6 percent of the housing stock.
Since the housing ordinance was passed in 2007, 137 affordable units have been built.
The 349 affordable units that have been built include 92 units at Hennes Flats, 50 of which are for very low income households, and the 31 very low income units at Frishman Hollow. Other projects that provide housing for low income households are the Sierra Village Apartments, Truckee Pine Apartments, Truckee Donner Apartments, River View Homes and Stoneridge.
MORE ON THE WAY?
There are 262 affordable units currently being built. These include 138 units at Coburn Crossing, 77 units at the Artist Lofts and 48 units at Coldstream. Only the 55 units at the Artist Lofts, part of the downtown Railyard project, are suitable for extremely low or very low income households.
According to a staff report, there is a significant shortage in the availability of affordable units for extremely-low to moderate income households. This could be due to the lack of diversity in housing, as 84 percent of Truckee’s housing stock is single family residential.
A 2016 regional housing study reported that the region lacked 12,160 units to serve the local workforce. Of those units, 57 percent are needed for low income households.
While the Mountain Housing Council has established a policy to broaden the definition of affordable housing to include local achievable housing, the town has not yet adopted a broader definition of affordable housing.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.