Nikki Caravelli: Dollar Creek Crossing project perfect for the area | SierraSun.com

Nikki Caravelli: Dollar Creek Crossing project perfect for the area

Other Voices
Nikki Caravelli

As a born and raised Tahoe local who cannot afford housing in my hometown on the north shore of Tahoe, I am writing to express my strong support for the Dollar Creek Crossing project on Dollar Point and urge everyone to do the same.

Unfortunately, some folks are opposing this project, arguing that they won’t be able to walk their dogs there, that they don’t want “those” people — low-income, working families and individuals — to live near them, and that the roads will be more clogged. What these folks fail to see is that they are getting in the way of a desperately needed, low-carbon, affordable housing project that will actually result in fewer cars on the road.

I trick-or-treated, went to BBQs at friends’ houses, went to school, worked a part-time job, and took the bus to and fro — all in this exact Dollar Hill neighborhood. I am one of “those people” that would love to live in this development. I literally can’t think of a better place to start a family and career. Access to the bus system, school, trails, just five minutes from town, and one minute to the sheriff’s station (so safe).

But I can’t afford to live there, and so I don’t.

Our community desperately needs affordable workforce housing to the tune of 12,000 units … These are needed for existing teachers and seasonal, health care, construction and Caltrans workers so they don’t have to drive from Auburn and Reno, clogging our air and already strained highways.

I graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude from North Tahoe High School, have a bachelor’s degree and now work for a local nonprofit. I’m passionate about community, economy and the environment. But I earn below 80% of the area median income and I can’t afford to live in the area I was born and raised without this project.

Our community desperately needs affordable workforce housing to the tune of 12,000 units, according to the Mountain Housing Council. These are needed for existing teachers and seasonal, health care, construction and Caltrans workers so they don’t have to drive from Auburn and Reno, clogging our air and already strained highways. People are getting forced out of mobile-home parks because they can’t afford rent increases. Every business in town has struggled to find employees because of the housing problem like Safeway in Tahoe City.

Boatworks Mall has been in a downward spiral for at least a decade. We need a change. We also need a place that is dense and walkable because not everyone wants or can afford to live in a three-bedroom house with a huge backyard right now. Not everyone owns four cars; some people own just one or zero. There are no stepping stones here for low income folks, for modest middle class families just starting out, or people like me — millennials that are getting married later, having fewer kids, and value a low-carbon lifestyle. We need more locals that can sustain our economy year round and more diversity of people and housing.

There are better ways to build and sustain a community than just saying no. We as a collective community are better, with bigger hearts and smarter ideas.

I urge this community to open your minds and hearts and stand for a vision that is inclusive of low incomes, people of color, struggling recent graduates, immigrant families, small new families, and others who so desperately want and need to live here — who we as a community need to help us thrive collectively. This project is that vision: innovative, perfect for the area, and well designed.

I urge you to support moving this project forward now at the density proposed, at the parking proposed, for the people that need housing now, because it’s the right thing to do for the needs of our current and future community — not the community of the past.

Nikki Caravelli lives in Tahoe Vista.