Increasing housing opportunities a high priority for South Tahoe (Opinion)
A healthy community requires the availability of housing that individuals and families of all income levels can afford. Quality affordable housing is a critical issue impacting all residents of South Lake Tahoe including individuals, families, students, businesses and employers.
Along with other government agencies and private stakeholders, the city participated in development of the South Shore Housing Needs Assessment and Action Plan which identified several trends contributing to the lack of affordable housing and poor housing conditions — decreased number of resident occupied housing, lack of new development priced within reach of local income levels, and the loss of housing units.
In April 2020, the city council supported a city specific housing workplan that is focused on the needed action items outlined in the South Shore Housing Action Plan. The city’s workplan identifies as first year priorities, supporting construction of new workforce housing and simplifying and streamlining city regulations and permitting for housing projects.
The city is working with several developers and partners proposing to construct new deed restricted low- and moderate-income affordable housing projects. The city is pursuing partnerships to assist developers in the form of grant funding or loan applications, sale of land, or by providing development commodities, land coverage, or sewer units to reduce development costs.
One of these projects involves a partnership with the Saint Joseph Community Land Trust to develop three moderate income homes on land owned by the city in the Al Tahoe neighborhood near the Harrison Avenue district. The homes would be available for purchase by a moderate-income buyer where the land is owned by the Land Trust, and the home is owned by the buyer. This allows for a permanently reduced cost of home ownership. A qualified moderate-income household of four people currently would earn up to $103,550 annually.
The largest of the potential projects is the Sugar Pine Village which could include 248 housing units, deed restricted for low income residents. A qualified low-income household of four people currently would earn up to $69,050 annually.
With these potential projects along with several others that are proposed or in review, we expect that there could be over 350 new workforce housing units constructed in the city within the next four years.
The city is experiencing an increased interest in developing multi-family rental properties and is also working to simplify and streamline the permitting process through a complete rewrite of the residential development and design standards contained in the city code. The standards are being rewritten to provide clarity and provide the opportunity for more housing projects to be reviewed through a process that does not require public hearings or discretionary findings if specified objective standards can be met.
The new city code section will also include standards to allow for the development of accessory dwelling units within neighborhoods. These accessory dwelling units may be attached, detached or contained within an existing residential structure.
The initiatives identified in the City Housing Workplan are setting the foundation for the city to reestablish itself as a leader in the efforts to provide diverse housing opportunities in the community. These efforts will create more opportunities for the City to pursue funding for additional housing programs and projects in the future. Future city housing programs and projects will be identified during the community effort to update the General Plan Housing element which is required to be completed by June of 2022.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to participate in that process throughout 2021.
For more information on housing programs and initiatives, visit http://www.cityofslt.us/381/Housing-Resources.
Hilary Roverud is the developmental services director for the city of South Lake Tahoe.
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