Town planners charge forward with housing plan
The Truckee Planning Commission gave the green light to the town’s proposed housing element, which lays out the most aggressive tactics to date for tackling the town’s affordable housing shortage.
The document will head to the town council on March 30 for a final decision.
Despite concerns leveled by the local board of Realtors and the contractors association, the planning commission adopted the state mandated document with few changes. The draft includes two items, an inclusionary housing ordinance and a jobs-housing linkage ordinance, that drew disapproval from the two organizations, but were applauded by the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe.
The inclusionary housing ordinance would require that 15 percent of new residential projects be affordable units. The jobs-housing linkage would require that large new development that attracts employees be responsible to house half of those workers.
The housing element, mandated by the state to plan for future housing for all income levels, is required to be updated every five years. The town’s document, which is three years overdue for revision, is being considered ahead of the town General Plan update to give Truckee a better shot at securing state housing grants.
The board of realtors is concerned that certain sectors of the community will carry an unequal burden in solving the town’s affordable housing problems, said John Falk, spokesman for the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors.
The inclusionary housing ordinance is “problematic at its core,” said Falk, and a jobs-housing linkage ordinance is “questionable.”
“It really does saddle one particular segment of the community with the problem,” said Falk. “It is a societal problem that needs a societal fix.”
Pat Davison, executive director of the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe, said the town has managed to create affordable housing without the use of the “heavy regulatory hammer,” and questioned why the ordinances were proposed now.
After the meeting Davison, who had urged the commission to support a economic study that would analyze the element’s effects on the price of market-rate housing and the building community, said she was disappointed with the commission’s decision.
“I’m certainly disappointed that the questions we raised are still unanswered,” said Davison. “Before you make this decision shouldn’t you know how this effects us, good or bad?” she added.
But Rachelle Pellissier, executive director of Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe, said the town made the right decision in pursuing both incentives and requirements to address the area’s tightening affordable market.
“We’ve seen that we can’t keep the status quo,” said Pellissier.
Truckee resident Brendan Riley agreed.
“The problem is getting worse, not better,” he said, urging the town to uphold the aggressive ordinances proposed in the element.
The draft housing element also includes a minimum density requirement, encourages the creation of a local housing organization and promotes setting aside land for affordable housing.
The housing element, said Town Planner Duane Hall, will set the town on the road to actually addressing the affordable housing shortage in town.
“The housing element is just the first step,” said Hall. “The implementation of the affordable housing programs will be the next step.”
The housing document, if approved by the town council next month, will then go to the state for certification.
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