City looking to aquire low-cost housing funds | TahoeDailyTribune.com

City looking to aquire low-cost housing funds

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

If only buying a house were this easy.

In a slam-dunk action that illustrates a communitywide need, the South Lake Tahoe City Council approved Tuesday using $100,000 in low-income redevelopment housing funds as leverage to apply to the state for five times that amount.

The decision, intended to fund the city’s immensely popular first-time home-buyer program through Community Development Block Grant Funds, received support from Heavenly Ski Resort — one of the largest employers in the area.

Andy Strain, vice president of planning, called the focus of attention “good for the economy, good for the environment and good for the community.”

Since 1995, the city has loaned $1 million to city residents who have captured the American Dream. But the funds never fail to attract suitors seeking up to $60,000 in low-interest loans.

“I would think our chances would be great,” said Cathy Kope, who runs the program for the city.

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The city’s housing department is trying to keep up with the demand by applying for the money before the latest allotment runs out.

The state’s $34 billion budget shortfall has also stepped up the urgency of locking in funding requests, City Manager David Jinkens told the council.

“I look at the price of housing, and it doesn’t appear to be changing. Anything we can do to protect those funds I’ll support,” Councilman John Upton said of the community’s 21 percent increase in property values in recent years.

It passed on a 3-0 vote, with councilmen Tom Davis and Hal Cole absent.

That was not the only unanimous vote of the day.

After a long discussion that consumed the majority of the 9 a.m. meeting, the council voted 3-0 to deny an appeal by the Kiwanis Club to have an arts and crafts fair over the Fourth of July weekend — one of the city’s busiest holidays next to New Year’s. This year the day falls on a Friday.

The city code prohibits the scheduling of more than one arts and crafts show on the same weekend. In October, the Kiwanis Club and the Tahoe Arts Project applied for the permit. The latter was chosen in a lottery to have its Lake Tahoe Festival of Fine Arts show.

Despite the 1984-adopted city code, an administrative error resulted in both events taking place last year. Kiwanis President David Kelly called the mistake “an accident that worked out fine. I’m asking for the same accident this year.”

Changing the code sparked debate over the fairness of altering the rules so close to the day in question. Moreover, doubt emerged over whether the code could be changed in time.

A motion brought forth by Upton that attempted to make the change for this year was defeated 2-1.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com.

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