Chamber still undecided about affordable housing project |

Chamber still undecided about affordable housing project

Sally J. Taylor

The Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday again discussed an affordable housing project planned for the Kingsbury Grade area and again deferred a vote of support due to the lack of a quorum.

That, even though the 64-unit Lake Vista Apartments already has Tahoe Regional Planning Agency approval and does not need the nod of Douglas County Commissioners since it meets community plan requirements.

“We felt it was something we should grapple with,” Chamber Executive Director Kathleen Farrell explained following the meeting. Developers need community support for funding under federal affordable housing statutes, she said.

“We (the chamber) don’t mind people making money on it. We understand that’s the only way to make it happen.”

During the meeting, board members raised concerns with John Nisby, a consultant for developer Falcon Capital, regarding details of the project.

The Lake Vista Apartments, as well as a time-share project in Round Hill, will be constructed with units retired from the Lake Park Apartments on Kahle Drive. That 186-unit low income housing complex will be demolished in stages and the land restored to a stream environment zone.

It’s not an even swap, chamber members pointed out.

Besides the reduction in the number of apartments, each are only one- or two-bedroom units. Federal housing laws restrict the two-bedroom units to a family of four and then only if older children in one bedroom are the same gender. Plus, due to the high cost of housing in the lake portion of Douglas County, rent in the new complex will beyond the means of most families now in the Lake Park Apartments.

“I firmly support affordable housing. It’s badly needed by the community,” said Chamber President Pat Atherton. “The restrictions (on qualifying residents) are what bothered me. The families who vacate from Kahle, the restrictions don’t allow them to go into the new apartments.”

Kahle residents may not be moving into Lake Vista, but they must have housing before the old complex can be demolished, Nisby said.

He is working with families to relocate, preferably in the area, and to receive state assistance if necessary. In some cases, Kahle tenants are able to buy their own homes.

Of 27 families moved out of Lake Park Apartment Building 5, which will be demolished first, none moved to California, two moved off the hill, one into a mobile home in the Stateline area and 23 moved into other complex buildings lower on the demolition schedule.

“It’s obvious to most of us that something needs to be done,” said Douglas County Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen told the board. “The 64 units doesn’t meet the needs of every family involved but it does meet some needs.”

The Tahoe-Douglas Chamber staff will take a telephone poll of board members then issue a statement regarding the project.

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