Leaders announce formation of Mountain Housing Council
Housing costs are on the rise everywhere, and more homeowners are opting to rent their places on AirBNB or VRBO rather than to long-term tenants. In Lake Tahoe, the diminishing long-term rental market isn’t just a problem for ski lift operators and waitresses, but for professionals as well.
“I have a confession to make,” Truckee Mayor Morgan Goodwin said to a room full of elected officials, business owners and community members. “I am a renter.”
Goodwin said he was recently given notice to relocate after his landlord decided to use the home to vacation in over the summer.
While the mayor’s housing dilemma has since been resolved, the lack of housing available to North Lake Tahoe’s predominantly service-based workforce is a growing concern.
Local leaders and members of the public met at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, in Truckee High School’s theater for the first gathering of the Mountain Housing Council — a new collective focused on solving the region’s housing crisis.
“We need to take responsibility for the fact that Truckee has become unaffordable for a lot of folks who work here, or want to work here, in the service industry or other trades that frankly don’t pay enough to cover housing costs,” Nevada County District 5 Supervisor Richard Anderson said.
“As a boomer, my generation is beginning to retire and we are what is called the ‘Silver Tsunami.’ We will be selling our homes in the Bay Area and Sacramento and such, and coming to places like Truckee,” Anderson said. “This will outbid the locals here … it’s critical that the elected, people like myself, be engaged in trying to resolve the problems that we face.”
According to the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s 2016 Regional Housing Study, which was released in August, 76 percent of Lake Tahoe and Truckee area residents spend more than a one-third of their income on rent, and 26 percent spend more than half of their income on rent.
As the region grows in popularity with visitors, businesses are also struggling to keep employees in the area.
More than 58 percent of the workforce in Lake Tahoe and Truckee commutes from somewhere else, according to the study.
Renters aren’t the only ones affected either. According to Zillow.com, the median home price in Truckee has gone up 7.2 percent in the last year, and is currently $543,000.
“This was not an easy year to get people up here from Reno,” Tahoe City Public Utility District General Manager Cindy Gustafson said.
She said that TCPUD is committed to resolving the housing crisis because it has been increasingly difficult for district employees to respond to emergencies when they’re forced to live in other communities.
In video shown during the event, former Truckee Police Chief Adam McGill said that the police department also struggles to respond efficiently when its officers are forced to commute from the neighboring communities of Auburn and Reno.
The town of Truckee, Nevada County and Placer County, as well as Vail Resorts, Squaw Valley, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, and the Tahoe Truckee Airport, to name a few, all pledged their commitment to collectively coming up with solutions by joining the new council and committing varying amounts of funds.
Other participants include the Tahoe City and Tahoe-Donner public utility districts, the Tahoe Forest Hospital, the Contractors Associate of Truckee Tahoe, the Tahoe Donner Homeowners Association, the Truckee Chamber of Commerce, the Family Resource Center of Truckee and the North Tahoe Family Resource Center.
The event was a public presentation to announcing the development of the council, and who’s part of the group. There were a number of community members present, and they took turns approaching the podium and presenting their own ideas on the housing problem.
Some of the suggestions included revising how the lodging tax, called the Transient Occupancy Tax, is spent; removing the option for developers to pay a fee instead of providing housing; requiring drivers to pay a toll; and making sure that renters of all levels are represented on the council.
There was no date provided for the Mountain Housing Council will meet to tackle these issues.
Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @akrhoades.