David Polivy: Yes on Measure K for Truckee
Truckee voters have an opportunity to provide more affordable housing for our residents, prepare our community for wildfires and preserve open space — without raising taxes for Truckee residents or businesses.
Truckee’s high housing costs have made hiring difficult for local businesses, putting a strain on our local economy. Hardworking residents struggle to afford a home and still have money for other basic necessities. Measure K helps create the affordable, workforce housing needed to sustain Truckee’s economy and support our residents. As recent wildfire seasons have become more destructive, Measure K helps prepare for wildfires, emergencies and evacuations. Measure K also provides resources to preserve the beautiful open space Truckee is known for as opportunities become available.
Voting YES on K increases the hotel tax rate paid by hotel and short-term rental guests from 10% to 12%.
In a recent column in this newspaper, Robert French asked for more specifics on Measure K. In the name of transparency and ensuring Truckee voters are able to cast an informed vote, here are detailed responses to some of Mr. French’s questions.
How was Measure K developed and how were the priorities identified?
Measure K is the result of extensive study and community input. The Town Council identified increasing the availability of affordable and achievable housing for local residents as a high priority goal. In 2018 the Town began assessing the feasibility of creating a sustainable local funding source to support workforce and affordable housing programs and services. In 2019, the Town convened a community advisory committee to explore a potential local funding measure. The advisory committee included diverse representation – affordable housing advocates, public safety and business leaders, environmentalists and hotel and short-term rental owners. The proposed TOT rate increase was arrived at based on input from local lodging professionals to help ensure it would not discourage tourism in Truckee and keep the rate below levels in other California tourist destinations. The priority use of funds for housing, fire prevention and open space preservation were based on input from the advisory committee as well as information from a survey of Truckee residents.
How can the estimated $700,000 generated annually by Measure K address all these priorities?
The reality is that $700,000 per year is not a lot of money to address Truckee’s needs. However, taken over 20 years, Measure K generates over $14 million for housing, open space and wildfire prevention.
These local funds can leverage millions more through private and public investments. For example, Measure K funds can be the subsidy that an affordable housing developer needs to build affordable units for local residents. If the opportunity comes along for a more significant investment, future Measure K collections can be used to secure bond financing for a project.
Measure K funds can be used in partnership with Cal Fire and our local fire district to expand defensible space and evacuation planning efforts. Measure K could also be used as the public component of public-private partnerships to purchase and permanently preserve open space or improve public access to open space.
While Measure K’s annual proceeds are somewhat limited, when viewed as a catalyst for bigger projects, its impact can be significant.
How can we be sure Measure K funds will be spent for housing, fire prevention and open space protection?
Measure K is intended to address Truckee’s immediate affordable housing needs, and also provide long-term resources to help address changing needs. Measure K is structured as a general tax under California law, meaning funds can’t be earmarked for a specific purpose. The structure of Measure K allows the Town to be flexible over the 20-year life of the measure. Measure K requires a clear system of accountability. The Town will create a separate accounting fund to record Measure K expenditures, require an annual Measure K report, and a citizens’ oversight committee will review expenditures. This ensures the public knows how Measure K funds are spent.
Truckee’s Fire Chief, Truckee Donner Land Trust, Truckee Trails Foundation, Sierra Business Council, CATTPAC and dozens of local leaders support Measure K. Please join them in voting Yes on K for a safer, stronger and more affordable Truckee without increasing taxes for residents. YesonKTruckee.org
David Polivy is the mayor of Truckee and co-owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports.
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