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Truckee affordable housing update: Home sweet home?

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun
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Finding housing for workers in Truckee is challenging business owners ” especially as talk of a recession looms over the economy.

The Town of Truckee’s policy requires new commercial and industrial projects to provide housing for a portion of the workers they generate, but opinions in the community differ greatly on how to turn that policy into law.

“Whose responsibility is it to provide housing opportunities for new commercial and industrial development employees when there is already a deficit?” asked Breeze Cross, former president of the Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe.



The crux of the issue, Cross said, is the need for commercial and industrial growth for local economy, but at the same time to provide employees a place to live.

John Eaton, a member of the Truckee Affordable Housing Working Group, said keeping middle class employees is key to maintaining a vibrant community, decreasing traffic from commuters and reducing pollution.



“Our community is being eviscerated because all the young people are being pushed out,” Eaton said. “That makes us a town of rich retired people and second home owners, and that’s not the Truckee I moved to.”

But placing the burden of new housing on those building the new businesses may stop new growth before it starts, said Pat Davison, executive director of the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe.

“If a project … cannot become profitable, we’re not going to get any affordable housing,” said Davison, also a member of the affordable housing working group.

And a study commissioned by the Town of Truckee to study the economic impacts requiring affordable housing would have on a non-residential project wasn’t encouraging, Davison said.

“The town has to stand back and look at what’s happening with the economy and allow projects to come to the town with suggestions on what they can do for affordable housing,” Davison said.

Town staff has offered a few compromises, and has suggested sending the issue back to the affordable housing working group before town council makes a decision, said Town Planner Duane Hall.

“Staff’s approach is ” this has been the public comment, so lets take some time to actually look at some of these issues,” Hall said.

A potential change to the working document may include giving developers the option of providing housing for either 25 percent of median, low, and very low income employees, or 50 percent of employees across the board, Hall said.

The town could also change the minimum size of a project that would be subject to the ordinance, Hall said.

And perhaps most significantly, staff has suggested a freeze on the policy while the economy is in a downturn, Hall said.


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