My view: Affordable housing directly impacted by TRPA policy (opinion)
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Housing is a major issue no matter where you turn — be it affordable housing, vacation rentals or old motels. From my perspective they are all interrelated. We have a lack of housing as many have become rentals, fueled by high home prices in the Bay Area and the availability of AirBnB. The best visitor accommodations are not traditional hotels, but houses in neighborhoods. At the same time old motels, which should house visitors, have become low-income housing. South Shore has been turned upside down, pitting one part of the community against the other. These issues are connected and are complex to solve. But they all have a direct line to Tahoe Regional Planning Agency policies on Tourist Accommodation Units (TAUs).
TAUs were developed by TRPA as a way to limit development, which was the TRPA objective decades ago. The problem is the South Shore doesn’t need as many hotel rooms as it has. In the past 30 years the city has rarely ever had an occupancy rate over 50 percent. What it does need is better-quality rooms — and the TAUs prevent would-be investors from buying these old properties and transforming them into new ones that would provide better revenue, employment and taxes. Keep in mind that no other place in the country has this arrangement. None!
Imagine if South Shore had upgraded, quality, new lodging properties closer to entertainment, recreation, bike trails, skiing, the beach and all the other amenities visitors look to enjoy while on vacation. Lodging would give visitors an alternative to staying in vacation rentals, which would free up homes to become long-term rentals again. These new lodging properties, when built, would install the newest and best technology to reduce erosion and sediment loading into the lake.
From the clerk at the front desk to the board chairman at TRPA, everyone knows these TAUs have to go; they are destroying our local economy and community and preventing the very environmental improvements the agency wants. While the TRPA has a three-year program (which means five years) to study the issue and make recommendations — which is to be applauded — this time frame is simply unacceptable. The TAUs need to be eliminated in six months. You can be sure the TRPA did not spend three years studying TAUs when they came up with the idea. For the TRPA to continue this program is not only damaging to the very environment they are charged with protecting, it’s destroying the local community — and because of this it is immoral to continue one day more.
A lawsuit was also filed against the city to stop the vote on the Loop Road, instigated by Bruce Grego, John Cefalu, Bill Crawford and Laurel Ames. I hope the city does not spend one penny defending it. Between this issue, which the city has no part of, and the lawsuit by city councilwoman JoAnn Conner, the city has wasted far too much of the public’s time and money.
THE BIG PICTURE
For years people have been looking for an outsider candidate, not tied to ideology and political party dogma, ready to shake it up. I just don’t think Donald Trump gets it done. At the same time some people are looking to continue Obama’s direction. I just don’t think Hillary Clinton gets it done either. It looks like one of those elections you have to pick the least worst candidate.
Don’t miss Monitor Pass in the evening. The lighting is incredible and it’s one of the places that make the Sierra special.
IT’S A WRAP
This column is dedicated to all those fallen police officers and their families. May they rest in peace.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org