Partnerships and progress for housing (Opinion)
Twelve months ago the Tahoe Prosperity Center championed this series of columns to bring to light the various housing issues in Tahoe’s communities. We heard from almost all of the Housing Tahoe Partners including: the city and El Dorado County, nonprofit organizations like Tahoe Home Connection, and employers like Barton, who have unique and important perspectives on the domino effect of not having sufficient housing in a community.
All of this while the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted businesses, the community, and of course, worsened the current housing crisis.
While there is work still to do, tremendous progress has been made in the past year despite the many challenges and changes Tahoe has faced.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is forging ahead with much needed policy changes to allow greater adoption of accessory dwelling units and increased flexibility for density when converting a motel to residential units.
The city of South Lake Tahoe has already converted 40 hotel rooms to housing this year, with 60 more in process. We anticipate that the TRPA density changes will allow for even more units to be converted, which is an invaluable resource for Tahoe’s critical seasonal workforce.
South Tahoe Public Utility District not only reduced fees for workforce housing projects, but began a new sewer unit transfer program which allows banked sewer units to be used for affordable housing projects.
The Sugar Pine Village rental homes project, and the Saint Joseph Community Land Trust Riverside Avenue project, consisting of permanently affordable homes for ownership, are both charging ahead. Several other multi-family developments are in progress as well.
Is this progress enough to solve the housing crisis? Of course not. In fact, the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic created a shift that has made some local housing issues even more acute.
Meaningful actions must be taken as soon as possible. There are a host of immediate strategies available: an incentive program for renting vacant homes in Tahoe to locals; further incentivizing accessory dwelling units to house local workers; providing capital to homeowners via a rehabilitation fund to fix deferred maintenance so they can rent their properties; potentially even a tax on vacant second homes to provide a sustainable revenue stream for future housing projects.
These actions are all valuable steps in the right direction, whether they center around incentives, new construction, or policy change. But we must keep the momentum going. As a community, we must keep pushing to increase all types of housing, especially housing for Tahoe’s workforce.
These changes can’t happen without you. We encourage and ask you to get involved with the Tahoe Prosperity Center’s work to create housing solutions for Tahoe’s communities.
For more information, or to help support the Tahoe Prosperity Centers efforts, please visit our website tahoeprosperity.org/housing-tahoe/
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This past year has been a rollercoaster for the Lake Tahoe region. As the coronavirus pandemic dragged on, undeterred visitors continued to flock to the area.