Report details city’s affordable housing plight |

Report details city’s affordable housing plight

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

A survey has nailed down South Lake Tahoe’s perplexing housing problem — more than half of the lowest income residents pay more than they should for shelter.

Fifty-seven percent of those making less than $25,749 a year are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the South Lake Tahoe City Council learned Tuesday from a Sacramento-based planning consulting firm.

As home seekers have come to know, the city lacks affordable housing, and its existing units in some areas need work to make its diverse workforce comfortable.

“On one hand, we knew what was going to be in the report. But on the other hand, we didn’t have the list, and now we have the list,” Councilman John Upton said during the workshop.

All of this has come about as the city works to update the housing section of its general plan, with its final document due for compliance with the state requirement by Dec. 31.

Leading up to that date, Parsons consultants were paid $75,000 by the city to complete the legwork.

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Along with conducting more than 50 interviews with community leaders, the consultant surveyed 5,166 units in the city — from the Al Tahoe to the Triangle areas. The latter is located east of Ski Run Boulevard along Highway 50. Its 988 units near Stateline ranked the worst for housing conditions, with about half in need of rehabilitation, the survey found.

It also rated 110 of 451 units in the Sierra Tract area as needing repair.

Almost two-thirds of the housing stock were built between 1960 and 1979.

Given land use restrictions and availability, providing housing to sustain the diverse workforce has presented a challenge. Real estate values have risen 21 percent during the last six years.

A state mandate requires the city provide 11 more housing units for very low income residents; 11 for low income; 31 for moderate income; and 213 above that level by 2007.

“It’s that moderate income group where we’ll have to be creative,” city planner Lisa O’Daly told the council.

The survey rated the moderate segment of El Dorado County as earning between $41,189 and $61,779, while South Lake Tahoe’s median household income is $34,707.

The issue is so widespread in the basin that Sacramento Area Council of Governments Director of Planning Ken Hough suggested the area come up with a regional housing plan that taps into several surrounding jurisdictions.

There’s talk of doing so through the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s affordable housing committee, which will meet April 4 to take up the matter — which includes the rollover of building allocations necessary for constructing units.

City staff plans to deliver the final housing document to the planning commission and council by the end of September.

-Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at