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Incline Village seeks new path on housing crisis

Some Incline residents want independence from Washoe County

Elizabeth White
Sierra Sun
Local real estate agents say that home prices in Incline Village and Crystal Bay are higher than on the California side.
Elizabeth White/Sierra Sun

Since the pandemic, local governments and organizations around the lake and in Truckee have been scrambling to come up with solutions to the housing crisis.

That’s included putting moratoriums on short-term rentals, building multiple workforce housing developments, and even offering thousands of dollars to second homeowners to rent their vacant homes to local workers and families.

Among this expedient change, Crystal Bay and Incline Village have been experiencing some of the worst effects of the housing crisis. Recently, the Village Market of Incline closed its doors after 42 years — in part due to a lack of employees.



Tahoe Luxury Properties real estate agent Amie Quirarte said that the Nevada side of the lake has always been a hot spot due to its low property taxes.

“…the second piece, which is arguably the biggest, is that there were so many changes happening in the political climate across every state and because… the coronavirus has become so highly politicized people left California… and Nevada was a really great state for people to relocate to as far as retirement benefits go and capitalizing on some tax benefits over there if you were switching your residency and Incline saw a huge demand,” Quirarte said. “We just saw a $60 million dollar sale over there – the prices are much higher there than on the California side.”



Due to the lack of affordable housing, much of the local workforce has been pushed out and left many businesses at a loss for employees. Incline Village General Improvement District has also been experiencing an impact to its ability to recruit and retain employees, according to General Manager Indra Winquest – but it does not have as much autonomy over housing as some may think.

“A lot of people think that IVGID has more abilities than it does in regard to how we control (housing) as the local government,” said Tim Callicrate, chairman of the district’s Board of Trustees. “The tough part is we can’t – we have to work with the county. Though we have many, many people here in town who have been really forthright and stepping up and trying to come up with a positive, workable solution. … we’re a general improvement district under the auspices of the county. These are zoning issues that we have no control over … so far we’re doing the best that we can with the limitations that we have as a general improvement district.”

INCORPORATION

So far, Washoe County has put certain regulations on short-term rentals in the mountains in order to incentivize long-term rentals. According to Callicrate, short-term rentals can be rented for no less than 28 days, cannot hold more occupants than there are bedrooms, and must comply with North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District rules and regulations for fire safety and defensible space.

“It’s different in Truckee because they are incorporated for the purpose of being able to regulate how zoning is going to happen and things of that nature, and we’re not there yet. We would have to incorporate as either a city or a township to where we could have our own zoning ordinances and the whole list of things that the town of Truckee is able to do. We can’t do that here because we’re not set up for it.” Callicrate said.

Apart from the regulations, there have been some efforts made by the Incline Village General Improvement District to find workforce housing in the area. The district looked into purchasing an old elementary school across from Wells Fargo, off Southwood Boulevard, for workforce housing in March 2019 when the school district offered the property for $2 million, but trustees at the time declined the offer. That opened the door for other buyers and Tahoe Transportation District purchased the property. Callicrate said TTD plans to use the property as a mobility hub.

“… the community is up in arms because, one, it’s the wrong place and, two, it would be better used as either workforce housing or a community center, but now that option has been taken off the table.”

Callicrate said there have also been some grassroots community efforts made by two local groups of concerned citizens to solve this issue by incorporation – which could give Incline Village the autonomy required to address it’s housing needs. One group’s focus is to incorporate the district into a township or city, and the other is focusing its efforts on opportunities to incorporate with Carson City. Callicrate said that this would be a difficult feat to accomplish due to the fact that it would require a majority vote.

“…everything’s in the infancy stage at this point. It would take the community property owners and residents and the people voting to decide what it would like to do, and then what are the short, medium, and long-term ramifications … there’s a lot of moving parts, but there is support within the community to pursue one of those options.”

Reno has also been overwhelmed with its population growth since the pandemic, said Callicrate.

“…with Tesla, Switch, and the other big corporations moving into the Tahoe business park, the need for housing just exploded … I think that the county has actually tried to do its best, but the county itself is being overwhelmed with the amount of people who have moved here. So trying to balance what’s going on in the valley and up in the mountains and keep everybody happy is pretty much impossible … but I would give the county credit for trying to work with our community,” Callicrate said.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that IVGID declined to purchase the old elementary school site for $2 million when the school district offered it to them in March 2019.

Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune. She can be reached at ewhite@sierrasun.com


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