Potential affordable housing site pondered
Several Truckee council members and planning commissioners got a firsthand look Tuesday at nearly 10 acres of land off of Alder Drive.East West Partners Project Manager Rick McConn, whose company still owns the land but will soon donate it to the Town of Truckee, led the group around the 9.5-acre wooded site, which is bordered on one side by a wetland.The town council originally decided that the property should be designated as open space during the General Plan update. But subsequent petitions by the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe (WHATT) and over 30 individuals convinced the town to take a closer look at the site.
Decisions on the site have been hampered by a lack of definitive information on the features of the site and its suitability for housing.But WHATT has pointed out that the site’s proximity to school, jobs and transit make it a great choice for affordable housing. During the site visit, Planning Commissioner Paul Leyton said the site presented an opportunity to build something that “fits the land and fits the community.” “I think that this is an exciting prospect,” said Leyton. “Here’s an opportunity to do something great, and people will want to be there.”Access to the property and issues with the wetlands have been a major concern on the property – a concern that even prompted the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District to decline pursuing the property for its use. But walking through the site illustrated the amount of land that could be built upon. The wetland snakes along the western property line, only excluding about one acre from the site, according to Rachelle Pellisier, WHATT’s executive director.
But access may still be one of the primary hurdles because Caltrans will not allow access off of State route 89. But McConn and Pellisier pointed to access coming off of Donner Pass Road and through land owned by East West Partners as the cheapest and easiest route. Another alternative is to bring in a road from Coachland. Approximately 25 acres owned by Coachland north of their is zoned for high-density residential housing. Thirdly, and most expensively, the wetlands could be spanned to offer access from the Alder Creek Middle School site.Leyton said that any Alder Drive housing should be “engaged if not married” to the development south of it. But others, like Councilman Ted Owens, say that development on the land should be limited so it doesn’t mar the scenic nature of that portion of state Route 89 north. In a letter to the town, WHATT said that the “site give us an opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get to work building solutions to our affordable housing deficit.”
The association has discussed attracting a nonprofit housing outfit to build on the site if it becomes available for housing. With donated land and a nonprofit housing firm, there is an opportunity to build truly affordable housing, the association contends.But the partnership between public and private entities is something that has never been attempted before on this scale, said Pellisier. And if it happens it may take some time to figure out.”I look at this as a learning curve for all of us,” said Pellisier.The Alder Drive site will come up during the General Plan update at the planning commission, June 16, and the town council, June 22.