Across the Universe: Lake Tahoe housing study needs everyone’s voice
February 16, 2016
Exactly three weeks from today, I will turn 32 years old.
That number is of importance when it comes to being editor of any newspaper, particular one that covers a region that boasts not only a tourism-focused economy, but also a strong contingent of local — and vocal — residents.
In the grand scheme of one's definition of who a "Tahoe local" is, I come up on the weaker end of the spectrum, having lived throughout North Shore-Truckee for nearly 9 years now.
But whether it's been 9 years or 90, I am among thousands of people who call this region home.
And while residents of different age and stature may disagree — that definition of "home" sure has changed over the years.
In January, we spoke with Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook, who commented on our region's "housing crisis."
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"I think one of the biggest issues we face right now — we got a bit of a hiatus during the recession — is the cost of housing compared to the wages paid by local employment. It's a challenge," he said.
And, as we reported a month earlier, it's no secret that the locals' Tahoe these days is one struggling with underpaying employment opportunities, challenging housing conditions, blighted residences and aging infrastructure.
To put it in better context, the Lake Tahoe region has a greater income-to-housing-cost disparity than even San Francisco, according to a recent 66-page report from the Tahoe Prosperity Center.
The report indicates the Tahoe region's average-household-income-to-home-value ratio is 10 to 1, meaning average home cost is roughly 10 times higher than average annual wages. San Francisco, by comparison, is 8 to 1.
What's more, it also reveals — among many other anecdotes and statistics — that the average annual income for a Lake Tahoe resident is around $30,000, while the median single-family-home price is closer to, gulp, $500,000.
If you haven't yet read the report, I urge you to go to tahoeprosperity.org, click on "Measuring for Prosperity" at the top and check it out. It's got some really eye-opening content.
Now, around the same time that report was released, the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation launched a pair of surveys as part of the region-wide 2016 Regional Housing Study, under the premise that, "Accommodating the housing needs of a resort community with evolving demographics through times of financial uncertainly has been a substantial challenge for the Truckee North Lake Tahoe region," according to the study.
TTCF has taken ownership of the effort after the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee in 2014 got the ball rolling by hosting a housing conversation that moved local leaders to plan the Regional Housing Study.
The project is funded by the town of Truckee, Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe, Nevada County and Placer County.
Please visit ttcf.net/impact/regional-housing-study and take a few minutes to participate in the online surveys.
Whether you live or work here — and no matter how old you are — it's important to make your voice heard so that funding is to put to the best possible use in the future, "to provide a collective baseline for the region to agree and act upon," as TTCF and the partners suggest.
Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun. He may be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.