Truckee to move more focus to housing update | SierraSun.com

Truckee to move more focus to housing update

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

The lack of affordable housing in Truckee continues to be a large focus with the town council, which is moving forward to dedicate more resources to the Housing Element in the General Plan update.

“This is one of the community’s priorities,” said Denyelle Nishimori, community development director. “More than half of our residents are paying more than they should be for housing and we should be concerned about that.”

Committing more of the town’s resources to completing the Housing Element update may involve using currently contracted consultants to do a more detailed update. According to a staff report, dedicating more resources to the planning division would allow the town to do the necessary environmental work and rezoning to increase capacity on key housing sites.

It would also allow the town to make more educated decisions about which housing projects are right for Truckee, the report said.

“More than half of our residents are paying more than they should be for housing and we should be concerned about that.”— Denyelle NishimoriTown of Truckee community development director

“We need to be looking at this creatively,” said Council Member Anna Klovstad. “Our community really believes that maintaining Truckee as an authentic mountain town, where people are able to live, work and play, is critical to our identity. This is the path forward.”

“More resources for the housing element is absolutely the right way to go,” said Council Member Morgan Goodwin.

The town has held two housing workshops, one in November and one in February, to gather community input on future housing. The workshops presented four focus areas with the potential for future housing projects. These included the downtown area, the Gateway area near the Tahoe Forest Hospital, the Brockway corridor that includes Joerger Ranch and Soaring Way, and the North 89 corridor that includes Gray’s Crossing parcels.

Out of these four areas Nishimori said participants in the workshops favored more housing in downtown Truckee than other focus areas. Additionally, a diverse housing range was also a popular topic raised among the participants.

While town staff is still trying to determine what the community wants, Nishimori said “we’re not afraid of change.”

Currently, the town is on a tight deadline as they must adopt a Housing Element by August or face penalties from the state. If the town goes out of compliance with state regulations it may lose some of their regulatory authority, according to Nishimori. For example, a project that would normally go through review through the Planning Commission would be streamlined and only be subject to staff review to ensure it meets General Plan criteria before it is cleared.

Contrary to the previous Housing Element update, which was a four-year period, this update will last for eight years. According to Town Manager Jeff Loux, staff will be able to revisit the Housing Rlement down the road to update it, if necessary.

“We have to continually pay attention and modify even through this eight-year timeframe,” said Nishimori. She said this will ensure that the town is ready to meet the state’s expectations, as well as that of the community during the next cycle.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.