TRPA hides behind bureaucracy |

TRPA hides behind bureaucracy

Robert Stern

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency made a deal with Falcon Capital developers and both made out like bandits.

The TRPA gets a stormwater retention pond and Falcon Capital gets to build a lucrative time-share project in Round Hill.

The low-wage earners are forced out, property values rise and the environment is saved.

But wait, what about the low-wage earners? You know the ones who toil in the tourism industry at Lake Tahoe and make the select few rich.

Now your probably asking yourself: Wait a second? How did this editorial get on the subject of low-wage earners?

Well it’s simple: Allocations or the right to build are needed to construct apartments, houses, hotels or whatever. In this case, Falcon Capital needed market-rate allocations to build a lucrative time-share project in Round Hill. To do this it bought Lake Park Apartments on Kahle Drive about three years ago, so it could knock them down and transfer the allocations to the Round Hill project.

In this situation, the TRPA required Falcon Capital to provide replacement housing for the displaced tenants of Lake Park Apartments.

But the replacement housing, Lake Vista Apartments, which is partially funded by federal and state funding sources in the form of grants, tax credits and tax exemption bonds, has minimum income requirements to qualify. If you do not make enough money, you cannot qualify for this affordable housing.

And the tenants of Lake Park most likely won’t qualify.

Meanwhile the TRPA is playing dumb, acting like they had no idea this was happening. Either they are lying or they are not doing their job.

But more importantly what will they do about it? Will the TRPA just hide behind the rules set by the federal government that define affordable housing in Douglas County – rules that don’t meet the needs of the Tahoe Basin and more importantly don’t meet the needs of the Lake Park residents? Will they throw their hands in the air, sigh and say, “Oh well.” And then pat themselves on their backs for creating the first affordable housing project on the Nevada side of the Tahoe Basin?

Meanwhile, the TRPA will give Falcon Capital valuable bonus units or free allocations to show its appreciation for their brand new stormwater retention pond and for restoration of the stream environment zone, which Lake Park occupied.

Property values in the basin are skyrocketing as it is, but what makes property even more expensive is the cost of TRPA allocations, permits and limitations on density and on land coverage. All these factors drive up construction costs and make affordable housing almost impossible to provide. It’s hard to get a return on your investment when the amount of money you can charge for rent is limited, and therefore the amount of money you have to pay off your debt for the project is limited.

So maybe if the TRPA chilled out a little bit, the developers it requires to build affordable housing would be able to afford to build real affordable housing, the kind that low-wage earners, who support the tourism industry, can afford.

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