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Second housing forum held

Jeremy Morrison, Sierra Sun

KINGS BEACH – Round two: the community vs. the lack of affordable housing.

During the second meeting of the Truckee-North Lake Tahoe Affordable Housing Forum, interested members of the public heard from a collection of relevant speakers, most notably developer Bill Span. The meeting, held Thursday at the North Tahoe Community Conference Center, concentrated on existing affordable housing options, as well as touching on the possibility of developing new affordable projects.

“I don’t want to paint too gloomy of a picture, but …,” said Span, referencing the environmental and fiscal constraints facing any affordable housing project. “I sometimes wonder what I’m getting myself into, coming up here and trying to make this happen.”

Span, a developer with Corporate Housing Development Corporation, has been exploring different avenues toward some type of affordable housing; the area’s jacked-up real estate market and governmental restrictions pose formidable snares, he said.

Another hurdle that must be jumped en route to affordable housing projects is public perception, or misconception.

Some residents believe the introduction of affordable housing in proximity to their own property will somehow diminish their living comfort; this segment of the population is such a force in the Tahoe area it has garnered an acronym – NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

“The typical response I get is the image of army barracks,” Ruth Frishman, a local attorney, said earlier in the meeting. “We don’t build housing like that anymore.”

Span described the kind of housing units his company develops as aesthetically pleasing and appropriate accommodations for teachers, police officers and firemen – “not welfare-recipient types.”

“We’re forever having to fight that battle,” Span said of NIMBYs, their perception of affordable housing and the effects of such.

The meeting also featured presentations pertaining to current, or in-the-near-future, housing possibilities. Placer County Redevelopment Program Manager Mark Heckey spoke of possible affordable housing sites, such as the Stoker Property in Kings Beach and the Dollar Hill Nahas Property slated for a senior-housing development.

Heckey said there was also a chance for 80 units of affordable housing inside Olympic Valley, but because of the high value of the land the property owners had not yet committed.

“The owners are now deciding if they want luxury condominiums and to not work with us,” Heckey said.

The third and final meeting in the housing forum – sponsored by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce – will be held June 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the North Tahoe Community Conference Center.

The final meeting will focus on the next steps toward seeing affordable housing evolve into a Tahoe reality.


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