Lake Tahoe affordable housing task force prepares for first meeting |

Lake Tahoe affordable housing task force prepares for first meeting

Claire Cudahy
El Dorado County Supervisor and multi-board member Sue Novasel's idea to form a bistate affordable housing task force is becoming a reality as the group prepares for its first meeting next week.
Courtesy / TRPA |

A bi-state task force focusing on addressing issues of affordable housing in the Lake Tahoe region is tentatively planning on holding its first meeting next week.

El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel first publicized the idea of a task force at Tahoe Regional Young Professionals’ Town Hall in August, an event that aired the numerous Basin-wide issues tied to affordable housing.

As low-wage seasonal jobs, TRPA development restrictions, VHRs and second-home owners, low and poor-quality housing inventory, and high rental and purchasing costs were discussed, it was clear that the solution needed to be multi-faceted — and the conversation was just getting started.

“The hope is that we can end up with a very relevant and timely type of action plan so that we can have some results on the housing task force. There are so many issues that are involved,” said Novasel.

“We can’t just talk about California; we can’t just talk about Nevada. We have to work together.” Sue Novasel, El Dorado County Supervisor

On Oct. 25, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors approved $15,000 to hire consultant Michael Ward, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer with HighBar Global Consulting, to facilitate the task force meetings.

“El Dorado County stepped up and said this is a county issue, but also a Tahoe issue, so the Board of Supervisors approved by a vote of five to hire the consultant,” said Novasel.

Ward has proposed a six-meeting process with specific topics for each session.

The first meeting will assess the forces and assumptions influencing housing availability, the next will look at the data, policy and regulatory variables, and the third will focus on stakeholder analysis to map needs by demographic segments.

The next topic is institutional roles, contributions and accountability, followed by short-, mid- and long-term prospective strategies and solutions, and lastly, strategic agreements and implementation commitments.

The first meeting will include representatives from all counties in the Basin — Washoe, Douglas, El Dorado and Placer counties — in addition to the City of South Lake Tahoe and bi-state agencies like TRPA, Tahoe Prosperity Center and Tahoe Transportation District.

Further details — including time, date and location of the first meeting; who specifically will be on the task force; and if or how the public can attend or participate in the meetings — were not clear for this story.

“We certainly have piqued the interest of many private parties. Realtors have called and said they would like to get involved,” said Novasel. “It has to be a private-public collaboration.”

In her opinion, the most critical issue is workforce housing.

“In Tahoe we have some of the more common barriers that other areas see around the state and county, such as unemployment and the cost of housing being artificially high because of second-home ownership, but we also have some artificial barriers put up by TRPA,” said Novasel, pointing to restrictions on the height and density of multi-family units.

When asked about divisive language used to separate California and Nevada — such as council candidate Tamara Wallace’s recent press release warning California residents from being “fooled or coerced into doing Nevada’s bidding” with the Loop Road Project — Novasel said we must not focus on the state-line boundary when tackling Basin-wide issues.

“I’m on a lot of committees. I kind of have a 360-degree view of what we need,” said Novasel, who currently serves on 10 boards and committees in the region.

“There are no boundaries here. [Housing] is an issue for the entire Basin. I think we have to go beyond our specific little silos and collaborate because that’s how we are going to see real progress.

“We can’t just talk about California; we can’t just talk about Nevada. We have to work together.”

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