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Affordable housing project may hit snag

The quest for a proposed disabled affordable housing project at Emerald Bay Road could fizzle by Nov. 30, according to Matt Crellin, director of real estate for Accessible Space Inc.

But others in the company said that Accessible Space has already decided to look for a different site in South Lake Tahoe.

“We have no intention of developing the Emerald Bay site,” said Mike Ramos, project coordinator for Accessible Space.



Although residents have turned out in force to oppose the project location, Accessible Space denies that this played a role in its decision and instead cites negative feedback from federal funding sources.

“We are abandoning that location because of the low rating that (Housing and Urban Development) gave it,” said David Piltz, director of organizational development for Accessible Space. “As best as we can tell, based on the information we have, the site is isolated in relationship to various amenities in the city – such as doctors and health care and those types of things.”




David Kelly from the Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled, a partner in the project, said that opposition to the project, voiced at the Nov. 7 South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting, may have played more of a role in Accessible Space’s decision than a federal report card.

“Tuesday night, the prejudice that came out appears to have altered Accessible Space’s decision,” Kelly said.

Tahoe Area Coordinating Council and Accessible Space must either purchase the property or extend its option to buy by Nov. 30. At that time, Crellin said Accessible Space will decide whether it will pursue the Emerald Bay site.

But Kelly said that even if Accessible Space pulls out of the project, the Tahoe Area Coordinating Council will try to build an affordable housing project at Emerald Bay Road even if it is not for the disabled.

According to Accessible Space, the federal government gave the proposed site 0 points on a 7-point scale when it was considered for the $1.7 million federal grant.

But Crellin concedes that part of the reason the site scored so low is because it does not meet zoning requirements and would require approval by City Council, City Planning and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The 19-unit project is estimated to cost $2.7 million. Plans for funding include $1 million from a state grant that the city voted to pursue Nov. 7, and $1.7 million from a federal grant. The federal grant, however, was denied last month.

A public zoning workshop on the site is scheduled for Nov. 20.

“We are leaning against this site because it scored poorly on the application, but that could change depending on how the workshop goes,” Crellin said.

But if Accessible Space pursues another project location, spaces in South Lake Tahoe could be difficult to find. According to Patrick Conway, coordinator for housing and economic development, South Lake Tahoe only has about 10 to 15 undeveloped sites that meet zoning requirements.

“We have been in other cities that have had strange zoning and tree requirements, so it wouldn’t be the first time we had to deal with this,” Piltz said.

Conway is bargaining that a newly installed water line near the proposed housing project makes the Emerald Bay Road site a likely candidate to be rezoned for affordable housing and considers any decision to abandon the project site as premature.


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