City Council plans affordable housing workshop |

City Council plans affordable housing workshop

Many low-wage earners who help support the tourism economy are forced to live in substandard housing conditions. Part of the problem is a shortage of housing in South Lake Tahoe. The demand is high and the supply is low.

“This is a larger issue than just dilapidated housing,” said Patrick Conway, housing and economic coordinator. “We need more affordable housing.”

But the housing supply continues to dwindle as more people buy vacation homes that are occupied only a few times a year.

“We have done so much in our city and in the basin to be conscious of our environment and to help tourism,” said Councilwoman Brooke Laine. “But where will the people who work here live? I want the answer to be Tahoe.”

The multifamily housing task force was formed a year and a half ago, but has gotten little done.

The task force proposed a solution for code enforcement, which would require an additional $300,000 to $500,000 a year in staff time, a figure well beyond the city’s budget. The City Council subcommittee and the department of Housing and Economic Development had planned on looking into grant funding for the project, but has not done so yet, according to a city staff report.

But Laine is concerned about what the city can do now to address housing issues.

“We need it to be on the front burner,” she said.

The workshop will address housing problems, review what is being done to solve these problems and work on finding solutions.

“There is not one solution that we are offering,” Conway said. “We are offering a range of solutions for the council to discuss.”

City Councilman Bill Crawford said increased wages are necessary to deal with poor housing conditions.

“Somehow we have to create a local economy that pays a living wage,” he said.

One of the major issues is environmental restrictions that make the construction of affordable housing difficult. Discussion on how to modify Tahoe Regional Planning Agency codes to encourage development could be a key component of the workshop. Code inspection programs and a code enforcement hotline are among other topics that will be discussed.

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