Housing plan gives reason for optimism | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Housing plan gives reason for optimism

Gregory Crofton

The nine-year waiting list to build a house at South Lake Tahoe could become a thing of the past for residents who earn a moderate income.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency last week promised to allow residents to avoid the long wait for a development allocation, a crucial part of a building permit, if they agree to permanently restrict the deed of their home as moderate-income housing.

To qualify as a moderate-income household, a family must have a combined income between 81 and 120 percent of median county income ($64,100 in El Dorado and $65,100 for Douglas County), according to the TRPA. These are the thresholds for four-person households, and would be adjusted for households of different sizes.

The only catch is that South Lake Tahoe residents cannot access the pool of no-wait allocations – just as residents of any other local government jurisdiction in the Lake Tahoe Basin cannot – until local planners craft a moderate-income housing plan for their jurisdiction and get it approved by the TRPA.

South Lake Tahoe has not yet had a chance to start working on its plan.

“Soon there will be a tool available for moderate-income housing, we’re not sure how soon,” said Lisa O’Daly, South Lake Tahoe associate planner. “We call it good news on the horizon. The city is eager to implement a program in compliance with what the TRPA adopted last week.”

The TRPA also requires people who receive the development allocation to live in the house they’ve built for at least 10 months a year. The allocations provided by the TRPA are available because sensitive land in the basin has been purchased and retired from development, said Julie Regan, TRPA communications director.

As things stand, many contractors and land owners at South Shore spend about $40,000 to buy and retire a sensitive parcel of land to avoid the nine-year waiting list.

The incentive approved by the TRPA could be the last one approved by the agency. Its executive director, John Singlaub, has repeatedly said he wants the agency out of the housing business.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know why we spend so much time on housing,” Singlaub said last week at a TRPA Governing Board retreat. “We’re not a housing authority. It’s really outside our core mission.”

Also last week, the TRPA approved a change that could encourage the construction of more multifamily housing in South Lake Tahoe. Zoning rules allow for multiple units to be built on parcels of land in certain areas, but technicalities made it difficult to transfer development rights required for multifamly projects.

“It was cleanup amendment to ensure that people could implement permissive uses,” O’Daly said.

The areas affected by the change include: Lakeview Heights, Lakeside Park, Bijou, Sierra Tract (commercial), Highland Woods, Al Tahoe, and the Stateline/Ski Run Community Plan.

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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