Opinion: Tahoe-Truckee workforce housing major part of TEA campus project
This is a My Turn opinion column that was submitted to the Sun for publication.
Recently, the Sierra Sun published an article on the upcoming environmental review for the Tahoe Expedition Academy’s proposed campus in the Martis Valley.
The school would be located on property now owned by the Martis Fund, a nonprofit created by collaborative agreement established by Mountain Area Preservation, Sierra Watch and DMB Highlands for the purpose of promoting workforce housing and the acquisition, management and restoration of open space and forest habitat.
The Martis Fund is committed to using funds from the sale of the school site for workforce housing opportunities in the Truckee/Martis region.
The Martis Fund has promoted local workforce housing through a number of programs including providing $700,000 funding for down payment assistance loans for families working in Truckee and the Martis region, support to the Family Resource Center for programs directed at keeping very-low and low income families in their homes and support for Community House in Kings Beach which provides a range of housing related services.
As part of the collaborative agreement forming the Martis Fund, DMB Highlands agreed to abandon its Hopkins Ranch project and instead set aside that land for open space and workforce housing purposes.
Approximately 200 acres were granted to the Truckee Donner Land Trust as open space and 42 acres were transferred to the Martis Fund as a potential workforce housing site. Due to high infrastructure costs and limited grant funding there has been no interest from workforce housing developers in pursuing a project at the site since it became available in 2006.
When approached by TEA in 2015 to discuss a possible sale of the property for school use, the Martis Fund determined that sale of the land to TEA and use of the proceeds from the sale would advance workforce housing in the region more effectively and sooner than continuing to hold vacant land.
In order to address concerns related to the visibility of the site, the property’s topography and the wetland areas, conditions were placed on the property regarding the placement of buildings and infrastructure. Additionally as part of the sale TEA has agreed to grant $200,000 per year in perpetuity for tuition support for local families.
The Martis Fund has had a positive impact on conservation, habitat restoration, and the availability of workforce housing in the Tahoe Truckee Region. It’s our assessment that the sale of the Hopkins Ranch property will further our ability to create meaningful opportunities for workforce housing in the area.
David Welch is president of The Martis Fund Board of Directors, and is also a director with Sierra Watch. Visit martisfund.org to learn more.
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