Kings Beach housing project awarded large grant

Karen McIntyre
Sierra Sun

A project that proposes to triple the amount of affordable housing on four Kings Beach sites is one step closer to accomplishing its goal after recently being awarded a $3.3 million grant from California’s Infill Infrastructure Program.

The grant puts a “positive spin” on the Kings Beach Housing Now project, Domus Development President Meea Kang said.

San Francisco-based Domus Development is working with the Placer County Redevelopment Agency and other entities to develop 74 units of family rental housing in Kings Beach, one of the projects in the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Community Enhancement Program.

“The county really stepped up and supported the project,” Kang said.

Domus plans to redevelop six scattered parcels, a concept that differs from the conventional norm of building a single, large complex. The parcels, both vacant and occupied, are located on Deer Street and Rainbow Avenue, Fox Street, Chipmunk Street and Trout Street. The 32 low-cost units currently on those sites house more than 130 people. The finished project will result in 100 units on the same properties which could house 300 residents.

In addition to the cost associated with building on scattered lots, development in the area is especially costly because it involves improvements to Kings Beach’s substandard infrastructure, making the Infill Infrastructure grant particularly appropriate for this location. Kings Beach was developed before World War II, and the streets and infrastructure originally served mostly seasonal recreational visitors. As the area evolved into a year-round community with full-time residents, much of the basic infrastructure of roads and water, sewer and drainage systems have become inadequate.

Kang said the project had all the markings to earn the “extremely competitive grant,” which the Loan Committee for the State Department of Housing and Community Development approved June 19 in Los Angeles. The grant is funded by state bonds authorized by the 2006 Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act. The program funds infrastructure improvements needed to enable the development of new affordable housing.

The Kings Beach Housing Now project shows the need for these improvements, Kang said, and the environmental benefits are a plus. The grant money is slated to pay for street improvements, utility upgrades, a parking structure and new facilities to protect water quality and control runoff into environmentally-sensitive Lake Tahoe. The project is also planned to include Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified green building design.

The Redevelopment Agency has been working with Domus since early 2007 to plan and advance the project, which totals four acres of infill redevelopment. Domus has submitted entitlement applications to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and to Placer County. Kang said she is hopeful the applications will be processed by the end of the year or early 2009. The project will be built in phases, redeveloping the vacant sites first when funding becomes available. The best case scenario is that construction of the first phase would begin next year.

The project is expected to address the critical need for more affordable workforce housing, which was expressed in housing studies conducted by Domus, the Redevelopment Agency, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and local nonprofit groups. A survey conducted in September 2007 of more than 300 Kings Beach households found that 50 percent of the respondents spent more than half of their household income on housing. Low-cost housing is considered to cost one third or less of a household’s income. Forty-two percent of the respondents reported living in overcrowded conditions, based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guideline of a maximum of two people per bedroom.

Since 2003, San Francisco-based Domus Development has completed about 400 new housing units, including recent projects in Sacramento, Sonoma, Oakland and Pittsburg.

“We are thrilled to have been awarded the funds,” said Domus President Meea Kang. “Since improving the infrastructure in Kings Beach is expensive, complicated and necessary, this award is instrumental in moving our project from vision to reality. It will allow us to address the urgent affordable housing need while protecting the beauty of the lake.”

The Placer County Redevelopment Agency and Domus Development received a $3.3 million grant from California’s Infill Infrastructure Program to help fund the Kings Beach Housing Now project. The project proposes to redevelop four, scattered, low-cost housing areas in Kings Beach and improve the area’s poor infrastructure. The finished project will house 300 residents in the same areas that currently house 130 residents.

Domus Development has submitted entitlement applications, which should be approved by the end of this year or early 2009. The project will be built in phases when funding becomes available. In the best case scenario, the first phase would begin next year.

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