City wants views on affordable housing |

City wants views on affordable housing

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The city wants to throw down the welcome mat to South Lake Tahoe residents giving their opinions about the basin’s complex housing issue.

In the last stretch of development before meeting a California-mandated deadline, city staff will bring the housing element — a component to the general plan — to the planning commission today at 3 p.m. in council chambers.

If the commission gives its blessing, the draft will end up before the city council.

The final document is due by Dec. 31.

“This gives us a vision for the next five years,” city planner Lisa O’Daly said Wednesday.

The housing element dictates how many housing units — whether apartments or single-family homes — are needed for the varying income segments of the population.

The state requires the city provide 53 more housing units under its guidelines, which are passed through the Sacramento Area Council of Governments as Tahoe’s region on the California side.

O’Daly listed the number of units necessary to serving the community, with 11 units for the “very-low” income category, defined as a household making less than $25,749 annually. This group constitutes 57 percent of the population.

The list also includes 11 units rated “low,” 31 as “moderate” and 213 considered “above moderate.” The latter was defined as a household income level of between $41,189 and $61,779 a year.

South Lake Tahoe’s median household income is $34,707.

Rising property values have made it more difficult for many people to buy real estate. Values have increased on the average by 21 percent for the last six years. The trend represents a dilemma marked by happy homeowners watching their investment grow and unhappy workers trying to live at the lake.

The trend has prompted many to move away.

The city is carefully watching this trend in trying to put the mechanisms in place to accommodate the area work force.

The local government isn’t responsible for building the housing units. It needs to ensure the area has been zoned for such uses.

But given the changing nature of the housing stock and population base around the basin, some say the city can’t tackle such a fundamental issue alone.

City Manager Dave Jinkens has said he wants the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to take over the role as the leading housing authority for the lake.

“Housing is bigger than South Lake Tahoe,” he said. “We can’t be the sole agency in the region. There has to be a comprehensive plan.”

Upon conducting an affordable housing study, SACOG Director of Planning Ken Hough suggested the same approach.

TRPA Deputy Director Carl Hasty said there has been no formal request for the regulatory agency to take on such a task.

The upgrade in the land-use planning agency would require a policy decision by the Governing Board.

“We know we have a role to play. We’re working with the local governments as they work with state government,” he said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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