Meeting will look at affordable housing |

Meeting will look at affordable housing

Amanda Fehd

Affordable housing will be the topic of a meeting at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency this Friday, where officials and developers hope to iron out some solutions to the ever-increasing cost of living in Tahoe.

Developer Danny Freeman has proposed six projects, five of which were refused by TRPA, saying they do not meet present codes on coverage and height limits.

“TRPA is the only thing in the way of affordable housing,” said Freeman, who owns three motels along Highway 89, and an acre near the airport, all of which he’d like to convert to affordable housing units.

“We’d like them to give it a real chance,” he said. He’s asking to be able to build a third story and increase density requirements on his lots.

TRPA senior planner Peter Eichar said for projects like these to go through, either TRPA code will have to change, which may happen as a result of Pathway 2007, or the project specifications will have to change.

“They are looking to make these private projects work financially,” Eichar said. “But unfortunately the way our code is currently written, we can’t permit it.”

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South Lake Tahoe City Councilman John Upton said he’s hopeful some of the projects can stay alive. He is a TRPA board member and is on the Local Government Committee which will be host to the meeting.

“We’ve been able to identify code changes that we believe are necessary to enable those projects to go ahead,” Upton said.

In 1987, the TRPA allotted 1,400 affordable housing units in its regional plan. Since then, 400 have been used, most in the last five or six years.

“There are multiple affordable housing projects going forward that are consistent with our regulations,” said Angela Moniot, TRPA spokeswoman.

Salaries have not kept pace with rapidly increasing home prices in Tahoe, making it difficult for schools, fire and police departments, and the hospital to attract qualified people to the area, said South Lake Tahoe City Councilmember Ted Long, who will also attend the meeting.

Projects near the state line have as many as seven stories, Freeman pointed out, and higher density allowances.

These projects fall under a special height district, Moniot said.

At present a multi-family project has a limit of 15 units per parcel, while a commercial or timeshare lot has a maximum of 40 units, Freeman said. He hoped to be able to keep the density allotments on his motels.

Developers such as Freeman stand to gain more from building multimillion-dollar homes on their parcels than workforce housing, Long said.

“Danny could build a $4 million house without anyone batting an eye,” Long said, “or he could build 18 affordable housing units with beautiful views, and not make as much money, but he has to jump through hoops to do it.”

If you go

What: Affordable housing meeting

Where: TRPA headquarters, 128 Market St., Stateline

When: Friday 9 a.m.

Who: TRPA Local Government Committee